The State of Adzhatia is a democratic republic in the Barentzsea, north east of Norway. Originally the island was solely inhabited by Finno-Ugric people close to Finns and Karelians, but during and after the second world war, the entire people of the Adzhatians were transported to the island, where they mingled with the indigenous inhabitants. The Adzhatic language contains a lot of Finno-Ugric and Russian loan words, a development which isn't likely to slow down any time soon, as there is a discussion about granting the most important Finno-Ugric dialect official status.

HISTORY
The history of Adzhatia is somewhat complicated, as the physical country (the archipelago in the Barentsz Sea; the island of Valya and its surroundings) and the Adzhatian people didn't share their histories until around 1940. Around that year, the larger part of the Adzhatian people was moved from their homeland in western Russia to Valya. What prompted the move is not entirely clear. Some say that Stalin had a weak spot for the Adzhatians and their culture as the Adzhatian way of living resembled the ideal communism very closely. Others say that high ranking Adzhatians in Moscow brought up the idea of moving the entire people to Valya to build a more significant population on the island and create a workforce there for the contruction of submarines and other sorts of military vessels.

In the period between 1940 and 1990, much was done to make the Adzhatians get use to their new environment and to the indigenous Finno-Ugric people. The Adzhatians used to be a small agricultural, not very intellectual society, but now the pride of the Adzhatian people (within the Soviet Union) was boosted, state symbols created and the (written) language modernised. Much to thank for was the popular first Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Adzhatian A.S.S.R., Miheĺ Iĺicśŭn, who ruled (with one small interruption) from 1950 to 1986. He paved the way for Adzhatia to become an independent republic without too much trouble in 1991. The history of Adzhatia after 1990 is therefore one of a political somewhat chaotic, but societally coherent country.

History of the Adzhatian people
Originally the Adzhatian people inhabited the region that is now southeastern Belarus, northern Ukraine and the bordering regions of Russia; they were part of the Russian empire and after that of the Soviet Union. The highest concentrations of Adzhatians lived in the triangle of Gomel or Homieĺ (Belarus), Sumy (Ukraine) and Bryansk (Russia). They were a mostly agrarian society, although Homieĺ (Adzhatic: Ħŭmeĺ) had a large amount of urban Adzhatians. Other settlements with high concentrations of Adzhatians were Pocheb (Adzhatic: Pućei, now in Russia), Pogar (Adzhatic: Pugăŕ, now in Russia), Chausy (Adzhatic: Cvestei, now in Russia), Kholmy (Adzhatic: Ħŭlvei, now in Ukraine) and Shchors (Adzhatic: Śħureź, now in Ukraine). The number of ethnic Adzhatians was estimated on 22,000 in 1936. A few years later however, Soviet authorities ordered the massive involuntary relocation of the Adzhatians to the island of Valya in the Barentsz Sea, where they would get new lives in building and reparing military sea vessels, warships, submarines etc. For most Adzhatians however the forced move to the north meant surival, because many of the few Adzhatians that managed to stay behind, were killed during the War between Russia and Nazi-Germany. The population in the original region of the Adzhatians was estimated on something between 500 and 2000 in 2010. Most of them are in an advanced process of assimilation with Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians (depending on where they live) and the Adzhatic language is dying out in this region as the youth is increasingly unable to speak it. The number of Adzhatians in the Adzhatian A.S.S.R. however grew significantly in the fifties and the sixties. The government stimulated families to have many children, in order to expand the work force. In 1981, the highest population rate was reached with slightly less than 800,000 inhabitants. After that, the population began to decline.

History of Valya

The largest island that is now part of the Adzhatian State is called Vaalo or Vaalon Saar in the Tansa language (Tansakeli), the most important local Finno-Ugric language on the island. In Norwegian and Swedish the island is known as Valø resp. Valö. In Russian it was first known as Валя ('Valya') or Вальски Остров ('Valski Ostrov'), later as Иличшунски Остров ('Ilichshunski Ostrov'). In Adzhatic the current official name of it is Valaze Saŕ / Валазе Саʀ. The most frequently used name in English is 'Valya'.

Although the first settlers were Sami people, the language became closer to Karelian and Finnish when the Tansa people (Tansalaen) came to Valya in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In the summer of 1594, Valya was visited by the Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz during his first voyage to Novaya Zemlya. Although in later centuries there were also some settlers from Germanic origin (mostly Norwegians), the island was never officially claimed, until the Russian empire did so in 1874, after which the island was colonised by Russian administrators. The first town founded by Russians was Креста Город ('Kresta Gorod'), present-day Kercei.

Valya was however regarded as a remote and inhospitable corner of the empire, and only in the thirties and fourties of the twentieth century the Soviet authorities found a 'suitable' goal for it by moving the Adzhatian people there.

RELIGION
The current constitution of Adzhatia provides freedom of religion and therefore normally politics don't intervene with religious activities. According to official figures, 94% of the Adzhatian people are Eastern Orthodox Christians, but recently doubt has been expressed if this number is correct. The remaining 6% are listed as 'other', which include Protestants, Roman-Catholics, as well as small group of Jews and Buddhists. Critics claim that, although there is freedom of religion, the government is favouring the Orthodox Church of Adzhatia above the other religious groups, e.g. by granting them building permits more easily.

The Orthodox Church of Adzhatia (Adźaciaisa Sħereślikisciŕ) is an autonomous church under the Russian Orthodox Church and overlaps with the Metropolis of Kercei, which has 2 eparchies (Kercei and Huśte) and 108 parishes. There is one monastery on the Island of Takaĺ. Church languages are Adzhatic and Slavonic. Church music is Byzantine and Russian. The head of the Orthodox Church of Adzhatia is Metropolitan Vassiĺ, who is a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The largest church building is the Church of All Saints (Jana Dźevităm Erfciŕ) in Kercei.

ECONOMY
Due to its location, only 17% of the Adzhatian economy consists of agriculture, the most part of which is reserved for cattle-breeding. Industry currently forms about 45% of the economy, down from 55% before the collapse of the Soviet Union and still decreasing. As a result, the most growing part of the economy is the service sector. Adzhatia's main export products are chemical products, refrigerators and fish, whereas oil, technological products, cars, provisions and raw materials are the most important import products.

In 2011, Adzhatia was one of the poorer European countries; the nominal GDP rate was $6,388 million according to that year's IMF list.

Energy
Although there are suspicions of oil quantities under the Adzhatian territorial waters, more serious research started only recently. Energy supplies are therefore imported, mainly from Russia. In Adzhatia a lot of research is done after natural energy sources such as solar and wind energy; also the comfortable amount of water in Adzhatia's vicinity is used to gain energy. The country has one nuclear facility, located in the district of Drezeńe Adźaciaisa Krais, near the south-western coastal town of Barhveź.

Development
Between 1990 and 2004, the Adzhatian was liberalized at a speed less high than in some other former Soviet republics. The strict policies of former president Miheĺ Pjotarśŭn prevented all too sudden changes of the economy and in 2004 the Adzhatian economy was quite stable and healthy. Due to this, Adzhatians have a relatively high GDP per capita. Sloppy maintenance following the end of Pjotarśŭn's presidency and the several coup d'états that followed, as well as the world wide financial crisis of 2008 were more than the economy could take; the country has been in a recession since half way 2006.

Telecommunications
Currently the government is investing in mobile phone and internet penetration. In the four largest cities internet has been a common communication method for some years now and around 80% of the population in the districts of Kŏpunceźiś Krais, Gĕĺa Koŕzăm Krais and Kerceze Krais uses mobile phones. In the next few years the rest of the country should be disclosed.

Tourism
Recently there have been plans to improve the tourist industry of Adzhatia, which will focus mainly on the country's natural landscapes. Currently the city centre of the country's capital city of Ashtinok is being restyled and modernised; the northernmost capital of the world should become a wanted destination for short city trips.

Transport
The main highway of Adzhatia is the A1 between Ŏvanalăć and Alidaŕ, which passes Vredŭla Cħvaśźiś, Ashtinok, Kercei, Pruteilăć and Ŭce. Then there is the A2 from Kosegińdrăt to Ħŭŕć, which intersects the A1 near Ashtinok. Around the capital, parts of the highways have four lanes; the rest has two lanes.

There is one railroad in Adzhatia, between Ashtinok and Alidaŕ. This railroad could use some maintenance and was in 2009 one of the most dangerous railroads of Europe.

The largest airport of Adzhatia is the one of Ashtinok. Since 2005 it has been nameless, as the former name Miheĺ Iĺicśŭn International Airport of Adzhatia was abolished in that year. From Ashtinok regular connections are maintained with three smaller regional airports: Ŏvanalăć in the north, Barhveź in the south and Ćŭŕdveź in the district of Sarăm Krais. Other airfields maintain irregular connections with Ashtinok. There are international connections between Ashtinok and Moscow, Minsk, Kiev, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, London and Düsseldorf (Germany).

Some of the larger coastal towns and cities in the east of the country maintain ferry services with the islands of Sarăm Krais. Weekly ferry services are maintained between Adzhatia and Russia and Norway.

CULTURE
There is little to say about the inhabitants of Adzhatia. Most of them just go day by day, working, eating and sleeping. To interfere in state, or even regional politics is not the favourite hobby of Adzhatians, and so there is a large barrier between politicians and the normal people. A third group, that stands in between the other two group but doesn't try to bring them together, consists of the Adzhatian artists: musicians, painters, writers, etc. They are a relatively new group, because under Soviet rule it was forbidden for Adzhatians to indulge themselves in art or religion; their purpose was to keep the local (military) industry working, and little else. The rule of Miheĺ Pjotarśŭn (1990 - 2004) had done little to improve this situation, and so the State Concert Hall is a bold project of the goverment of former prime minister Ereh Ħĭnzei, the building of which has only started in April 2009.

A cultural scene has been taking form slowly since the beginning of the new millennium. Among writers who manage to have their novels published, the most noted is Ereh Maććok (*1949) (he isn't related to the former president Grigeŕ Maććok by the way), whose books The handless man and No whisky for you, Pavoĺ! were sold out in record time. His colleagues Dźarma Karolśŭn-Arhuk, Juvan Kandercei and Ĺŭdmiĺĺe Tupa enjoy a little less success, although they can't complain either.

Popular musicians, who sing and write popular, easy-going music, are legion in Adzhatia. The music is heavily influenced by the Russian popular music scenes, and most Adzhatian singers even sing in Russian every now and then. The dream of most singers is to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, but the main Adzhatian broadcasting company hasn't managed to implement all rules and conditions sufficiently, so the dream remains just a dream for now.

Classical music is on the rise. That is to say; at present, there is only one classical composer from Adzhatian origin that has managed to have his compositions performed in and outside the country. Vadim Bŏħdaneź (*1965) writes mostly chamber music, but he had his Ninth Symphony performed in Kronenburg in March 2009 - as said, there is little facility in Adzhatia to host a complete orchestra, and the Adzhatian orchestras aren't very good yet. Also note that Bŏħdaneź's Ninth symphony is in fact his first, but due to reasons of publicity he has simply skipped the first eight. Other composers include Karoĺ Koka (*1963), Vĕććeslaf Tivħereb (*1971), Śvein-Juvan Ŭrvak (*1974), Mağias Ĕŕćeniuk (*1983) and Feliks Lŏpore (*1985).

A noted architect was Đĕdrik Pasavihei (1971 - 2009). In 2008 the government invited him to redesign the eastern district of Ashtinok. Pasavihei presented his plans early 2009; with a budget of several millions of euros and complete carte blanche, the whole existing quarter was be destroyed and entirely built anew. The building started early 2010, but the government didn't present any plans to compensate and relocate the original inhabitants of the district. This resulted in a series of protests, the low of which was reached in October 2009 with the death of the architect as a result of murder. The government of prime minister Ħĭnzei fell and the new leftist government of Ŕanije Erijeź promised recompensation for the original inhabitants of the eastern district.

Popular indigenous forms of art include some music and dances that seem to be mixtures of Finno-Ugrian and old Adzhatian folk music and dances. The most popular dance is the Urpăt, which is most often danced at large family gatherings such as weddings. Traditional dishes that are served there are the typical Adzhatian paiste (sing. paisti) or stews as well as the kalittoe (sing. kalitto) or pies, both of which are Finno-Ugrian in origin as well.

LANGUAGES
In the State of Adzhatia several languages are spoken, the most important of which is of course Adzhatic. This language is the native language of 58% of the Adzhatians in Adzhatia as well as by some left-over Adzhatians in the original homeland around the Russian-Belarusian-Ucrainian border, but the number of the latter is rapidly declining. Almost 99% of the inhabitants of the State of Adzhatia master the language sufficiently in public life. The Adzhatic language is an Indo-European language and, according to most linguists, a member of the Khadurian branch. Only Adzhatian has official status.

(Note that although the Adzhatian adjective adźać refers to both language and other things, in English there is a difference between Adzhatic, which refers to the language alone, and Adzhatian, which refers to persons, geography, institutions etc. that are of Adzhatia.)

The second language is Russian. For some 13% of the Adzhatian population, Russian is still the mother tongue. 60% of the population still speak the language fluently, but this number is slowly declining in favour of English.

The most indigenous languages that are still spoken are some minor Finno-Ugric languages of the Finnic branch. They are Tansa proper (the native language of 19% of the population of Adzhatia, and mastered as second language by another 6%), Tansa Alidaŕ (some 600 native speakers; considered endangered), Varula (8% native speakers; a few dozen master it as second language) and Toini (some 1500 native speakers; a few dozen master it as second language). Tansa Alidaŕ, spoken in the vicinity of the city of Alidaŕ, is considered endangered since there is a declining number of young people speaking the language; most of them mainly speak Adzhatian and a smaller number revert to Tansa proper. Toini is spoken in a more secluded area and is in less danger of disappearing.