Sukhumi, Abkhazia – On August 14, 1992, war exploded across the beaches and towns of Abkhazia, a small province squeezed between the Black Sea coast and the Caucasus mountains in the Republic of Georgia – itself newly gaining independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Fighting continued for 16 months between Abkhaz separatist forces backed by their Russian and North Caucasian allies and Georgian government troops.
The Abkhaz, despite only making up about 17 percent of the population of Abkhazia (the majority being ethnic Georgian), fought for independence from Georgia. Up to 15,000 people were killed with atrocities committed on both sides.
Hundreds of thousands of people were forcibly displaced from their homes, principally those of Georgian ethnicity living in Abkhazia, whose official identity remains unresolved to this day.
Abkhazia is recognised internationally as a province of Georgia, with only a handful of states – some recognised, others not – acknowledging its sovereignty.
Abkhaz celebrate their independence on August 26, when, in 2008, Russia formally recognised them, alongside Georgia’s other breakaway territory of South Ossetia.