Adjarian Autonomous Republic or Ajarian Autonomous Republic (both: əjärˈēən) [key], formerly Adzhar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic əjärˈ or Adzharistan əjärˌĭstänˈ, əjärˈĭstănˌ, autonomous region (1990 pop. 382,600), c.1,160 sq mi (3,000 sq km), SW Georgia, on the Black Sea, bordering Turkey on the south. The capital is Batumi. Mountainous and forested, the region has a subtropical climate, and there are many health resorts. Tobacco, tea, citrus fruits, and avocados are leading crops; livestock raising is also important. Industries include tea packing, tobacco processing, fruit and fish canning, oil refining, and shipbuilding. The Adjars or Ajars, a mainly Muslim people of the South Caucasian linguistic family, constitute the bulk of the population; the remainder are Georgians, Armenians, Russians, and Greeks.
Colonized by Greek merchants in the 5th and 4th cent. B.C., the region later came under Roman rule and after the 9th cent. A.D. was part of Georgia. The Turks conquered the area in the late 17th and early 18th cent. and introduced Islam. Acquired by Russia in 1878, the region became an autonomous republic of Georgia in 1921. In 1991 it became an autonomous republic of the newly independent state of Georgia. Subsequently, the region became increasingly independent of the Georgian central government, leading to a crisis (2004) in which Georgia reasserted its supremacy and forced Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze into exile.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.