|Map Source: Parliament of Georgia
Size: 2,900 sq. km
Main Town: Batumi (pop: 135,000)
Average salary: 130 GEL ($65) per month
Principal economic activities: Black Sea trade, seaside tourism, citrus
Minorities: Ajaria’s population is overwhelmingly ethnic Georgian and
Georgian Orthodox. Muslim Georgians make up a little less than 1/3 of
the population. Small Russian and Armenian populations are largely
concentrated in Batumi.
Birth Rate: 4.0 per 1,000 (2003)
Death Rate: 2.4 per 1,000 (2003)
Nutshell History: Part of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years, Ajaria has
always been a region apart. Regained by Russia in 1878, Ajaria was
reoccupied by Turks after World War I, before becoming an autonomous
republic within Soviet Georgia in 1921. When the Soviet Union collapsed,
Ajaria retained its autonomous state, under the leadership of Aslan
Abashidze. Under pressure from Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
and popular uprisings, the Abashidze regime finally collapsed in May
2004, returning Ajaria once again to the Georgian fold.
Claim to Fame: It’s more than Ajarian khachapuri and Black Sea beaches.
In 1921, the Ajarian capital was the site of independent Georgia’s last
battle against the invading Red Army. More recently, “babu” or
“Grandfather” Aslan Abashidze attracted attention for ruling Ajaria as a
private fiefdom, acquiring in the process an immense collection of
artwork, dogs, luxury cars, and houses.
Statistics Source: State Department for Statistics of Georgia
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