Before the Russian conquest the native inhabitants of this region were Kabardians, Circassians (Adigheh) and Abkhasians, also a Circassian race.
The population belongs almost entirely to the Kartvelian or Georgian group, and is distributed as follows: Imeretians, 41.2%; Mingrelians and Lazes, 2 2.5%; Gurians, 7.3%; Ajars, 5.8%; Svanetians, 1.3%; of other nationalities there are 6% of Abkhasians, 2.6% of Turks, 2.3% of Armenians, besides Russians, Jews, Greeks, Persians, Kurds, Ossetes and Germans.
Pop. 43,000, of whom two-thirds are Mingrelians and one-third Abkhasians, a Cherkess or Circassian race.
The total number of Abkhasians in the two governments of Kutais and Kuban was 72,103 in 1897; large numbers emigrated to the Turkish empire in 1864 and 1878.
The next seven years were occupied with the subjugation of the Abkhasians along the Black Sea coast, and of other Circassian tribes in the west.