Ajara has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The first settlements belong to the Palaeolithic Age. Ajara used to be part of the earlier Georgian kingdoms of Iberia and Colchis. Famous heroes of ancient Greek mythology, such as Prometheus, Argonauts, and motives by Homer's Odyssey are associated with this area.
Ajara used to be the early centre of bronze and steel manufacturing relations with ancient centres of Greece and Rome. Most of the land, marine and river routs, including Trans-Caucasus Route, used to pass through Ajara.
Some highlights of history of the region are given below:
- 1300 BC – Part of the ancient western Georgian Kingdom of Colchis
- 500 BC – Greek colonies appear on the coastal part.
- 200 BC – Increasing Roman influence
- 400 AD – Part of Kingdom of Lazika/Egrisi
- 900 AD – Part of United Georgian Kingdom
- 1260 – Part of Western Georgian Kingdom of Imereti
- 1614 – Ottoman Rule established
- 1878-1918 – Part of Russian Empire
- 1918-1921 – Part of Georgian Democratic Republic
- 1921 – 1991 – Autonomous status within Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic
- Since 1991 – Autonomous status within newly independent state – Georgia
GEOGRAPY & NATURE
Ajara is located on the south-eastern coast of the Black Sea and extends into the wooded foothills and mountains of the lesser Caucasus. Georgian regions of Guria and Samtskhe-Javakheti are located respectively to the north and east of Ajara and Turkey to the south. Most of Ajara's territory is hilly and mountainous; the highest mountain rises up to 2992 meters (9816 feet) above the sea level.
Numbers of metal or mineral ores have been explored in Ajara including copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, alunite, various gems, construction materials such as syenite, diabase/dolerite, gabbro, breccia, fireproof clay, brick, clay, etc.
Ajara is rich with hydro resources including rivers, springs, mineral and ground waters. There are 1564 rivers with length more than 5 km, total length reaching 8600 km.
68% of Ajara is covered with forest, most of which particularly on the Meskheti Range (the west facing slopes) are temperate rain forests. Due to the high precipitation levels, broadleaf deciduous forests constitute the main vegetation type.
The forests are home to brown bears, wolves, jackals, lynxes, roe deer and other species. The coastal forests, peatlands and lakes-estuaries are the important stepping stones for the migratory species of waterfowl, passerines and raptors, passing through the eastern Black Sea migration route, many of which are globally threatened.
There are 4 protected areas in Ajara, which make up to 15% of its territory.
- 1. Kintrishi Nature Reserve
- 2. Mtirala National Park
- 3. Kobuleti Nature Reserve
- 4. Matchakhela Protected Area
Protected areas have been established to preserve unique ecosystems of temperate rainforest and coastal wetland/peatlands. Besides nature protection, they serve as a major attraction for tourists.
LAW & GOVERANCE
The Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara is a local legislative body.
It embodies legislative activities over its purviews and monitors activities of the Government of Ajara.
The status of Autonomous Republic of Ajara is defined by Georgia's constitutional law on the Status of Ajara A.R.
The law identifies special spheres of governance delegated to the government of Ajara A.R. including: state symbols, local legislation, elections of Ajara, Supreme Council, local budget, economy and finances, tourism, education, culture, sport, urban development, healthcare and social security, agriculture, forestry, local taxes and dues, state property management. The local legislative body, Supreme Council of Ajara consists of 18 members and is elected for four years. The Supreme Council approves the Chairman of the Government of Ajara, nominated by the President of Georgia.
Ajara is well-known for its humid and warm subtropical climate, especially along the coastal regions. Mountainous parts of Ajara are drier and winter usually brings considerable snowfall, often reaching several meters.