ADZHARIA Adjaria; Ajaria.
Autonomous Republic in southwestern Georgia; capital Batumi. It lies at the western end of the Lesser Caucasus, on the eastern shores of the Black Sea, and bordering on Turkey.
The region, on the edge of the Byzantine Empire, was part of medieval Georgia, but was added to the Ottoman Empire in 1564. It was ceded to Russia in 1878, becoming part of the province of Kutais.
In 1921 it became the Adzharian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within Georgia. Although over four-fifths of the population is Georgian, Adzharia’s long years within the Ottoman Empire led to almost all of them being Moslem in faith. Thus, uniquely, the Adzharian ASSR owed that status to the religious differences between itself and the SSR of which it was part, and not, as with all the others in the Soviet Union, to differences of language. This unusual acknowledgement by the atheistic state of cultural differences based on religion came about because of Soviet-Turkish collaboration at a time when both states were isolated among the powers and each needed friends.
In 1991 Adzharia became a Republic within Georgia.