Customs and Traditions of Abkhazia
Population and religion
According to Countryaah, the population of the republic at the beginning of 2011 is about 243 thousand people. Having significantly decreased after the military events of the 1990s, the population is gradually moving towards natural growth. Of the 243 thousand people, about 65 thousand (almost a third of the population) are residents of the capital of the republic Sukhum. In the surrounding villages and suburbs of the Sukhumi region, the population in total barely exceeds the mark of 12 thousand people.
The national composition changes from year to year. The main nation of the republic is the Abkhazians, they are home to about 95 thousand throughout the territory, the second place is shared by Georgians (whose number is declining annually) and Armenians, approximately 45 thousand people each.
There are fewer and fewer Russians in Abkhazia every year, according to the results of the last population census, Russians make up about 10% of the population of the republic, which is approximately equal to 23 thousand people.
In terms of religious composition in Abkhazia, Christians are in the lead (60% of the population), followed by Muslims (16%) and small groups of people are adherents of Judaism, paganism and other religions.
The issue of religion in Abkhazia is a special one, since the majority of “official” Christians and Muslims, but Abkhazians by blood consider themselves adherents of the so-called “Abkhazian faith”. This monotheistic religion preaches a single God-almighty. Belonging to this religion justifies non-observance of fasting by Christian Abkhazians. And not circumcision and pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslim Abkhazians.
A number of researchers of Eastern religions attribute the “Abkhazian faith” to the unique ancient monotheistic religions that have survived to this day, and put it on a par with such a religion as Zoroastrianism.
The official language of the Republic of Abkhazia is the Abkhaz language. Along with the Abkhazian, the second state language is Russian, as the language of state institutions. Writing in the republic has undergone changes from Latin and traditional Georgian writing to Cyrillic. At the moment, all signs in large cities are written in Cyrillic, some inscriptions have been preserved as traditional Georgian writing.
Rules of conduct for tourists
Abkhazians treat guests with warmth and respect, partly this warmth and respect is due to the fact that tourists are an important part of the republic’s GDP, but in most cities Russians are sincerely welcomed.
Being in public places, in no case should one speak with disdain about local traditions, about the national composition – this can provoke a serious conflict.
When addressing the service staff at the hotel, it is necessary to show mutual courtesy, arrogance and rudeness on the part of the guests can result in unmade bed linen and untimely completed orders to the room.
While waiting for an order in a restaurant or in any other place of public catering, in no case should you leave bags, wallets, and any other valuables unattended – theft is a common thing here.
In the dark, it is not recommended to drink alcohol in an unfamiliar environment. Offers to walk or go to visit from unfamiliar people must be answered with a categorical refusal – this is a favorite way of theft.
For women – you should not wear too revealing clothes outside the resort area, this can cause a negative reaction from the local population, it is not recommended to sunbathe topless on the beaches, as this will lead to an extremely unhealthy reaction of the male population, up to persecution. If local men turned out to be too persistent with their signs of attention – do not be afraid to contact the management of the hotel or boarding house, the reaction will be quite adequate.
As in any Caucasian resort, public kissing of couples, even married couples, is not recommended, this is contrary to local traditions.
If you are invited to a national holiday, sitting at a common table, try to repeat the behavior of the Abkhaz – get up from your chair during a toast, talk quietly, drink alcohol slowly, and not too much.
Holidays of Abkhazia
In Abkhazia, all public holidays of the Russian Federation are celebrated, except for May 1 (not a day off), there are no New Year holidays in the republic, the New Year is celebrated on the first 2 days of January.
National holidays include: January 13 (Creation Day), July 23 (National Flag Day), September 30 (Independence Day), November 26 (Constitution Day).