Sochi is a city in Krasnodar region, Russia, situated on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia. Greater Sochi sprawls for 145 kilometers (90 mi) along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a permanent population of 343,334; up from 328,809 recorded in the 2002 Census, making it Russia’s largest resort city.
Sochi will host the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games in 2014, as well as the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014 until at least 2020. It is also one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Sochi has a humid subtropical climate with mild winters (average 11 °C (52 °F) during the day and 4 °C (39 °F) at night in the period from December to March) and warm summers (average 24 °C (75 °F) during the day and 16 °C (61 °F) at night in the period from May to October).
Before the whole area was conquered by Cimmerian, Scythian and Sarmatian invaders. The Zygii people lived in the area under the Kingdom of Pontus’ then the Roman Empire’s influence in antiquity. From the 6th to the 11th centuries, the area successively belonged to the Georgian kingdom of Lazica and Georgian kingdom of Abkhazia who built a dozen churches within the city boundaries. From the 11th to the middle of the 19th century it was a part of the Georgian Kingdom. The Christian settlements along the coast were destroyed by the invading Gokturks, Khazars, Mongol Empire and other nomadic empires whose control of the region was slight. The northern wall of an 11th-century Byzantinesque basilica still stands in the Loo Microdistrict.
In the 14th–19th centuries, the region was dominated by the Abkhaz, Ubykh and Adyghe tribes, the current location of the city of Sochi known as Ubykhia was part of historical Circassia, and was controlled by the native people of the local mountaineer clans of the north-west Caucasus, nominally under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, which was their principal trading partner in the Muslim world. The coastline was ceded to Russia in 1829 as a result of a Caucasian War and Russo-Turkish War, 1828–1829; however, the Circassians did not admit the Russian control over Circassia and kept resisting the newly established Russian outposts along the Circassians coast Adyghe. Provision of weapons and ammunition from abroad to the Circassians caused a diplomatic conflict between the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom that occurred in 1836 over the mission of the Vixen.
The Russians had no detailed knowledge of the area until Baron Feodor Tornau investigated the coastal route from Gelendzhik to Gagra, and across the mountains to Kabarda, in the 1830s. In 1838, the fort of Alexandria, renamed Navaginsky a year later, was founded at the mouth of the Sochi River as part of the Black Sea coastal line, a chain of seventeen fortifications set up to protect the area from recurring Circassian resistance. At the outbreak of the Crimean War, the garrison was evacuated from Navaginsky in order to prevent its capture by the Turks, who effected a landing on Cape Adler soon after.
The last battle of the Caucasian War took place at the Godlikh river on March 18, 1864 O.S., where the ubykhs were defeated by the Dakhovsky regiment of the Russian Army. On March 25, 1864, the Dakhovsky fort was established on the site of the Navaginsky fort. The end of Caucasian War was proclaimed at Kbaade tract (modern Krasnaya Polyana) on June 2 (May 21 O.S.), 1864, by the manifesto of Emperor Alexander II read aloud by Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia.
After the end of Caucasian War (during the period of 1864–1870) almost all Ubykhs and a major part of the Shapsugs, who lived on the territory of modern Sochi, were either killed in the Circassian Genocide or expelled to the Ottoman Empire (see Muhajir). Starting in 1866 the coast was actively colonized by Russians, Armenians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Greeks, Estonians, Germans, Moldavians, Georgians and other people from inner Russia.
An Adyghe strike on a Russian Military Fort which built over a Shapsugian village that aim to free the Circassian Coast from the occupiers in 1840 during the Circassians Resistance
In 1874–1891, the first Russian Orthodox church, St. Michael’s Church, was constructed, and the Dakhovsky settlement was renamed Dakhovsky Posad on April 13, 1874 (O.S.). In February 1890, the Sochi Lighthouse was constructed. In 1896, the Dakhovsky Posad was renamed Sochi Posad (after the name of local river) and incorporated into the newly formed Black Sea Governorate. In 1900–1910, Sochi burgeoned into a sea resort. The first resort, «Kavkazskaya Riviera», opened on June 14, 1909 (O.S.). Sochi was granted town status in 1917.
During the Russian Civil War, the littoral area saw sporadic armed clashes involving the Red Army, White movement forces, and the Democratic Republic of Georgia, after war sochi become Russian territory. In 1923, Sochi acquired one of its most distinctive features, a railway which runs from Tuapse to Georgia within a kilometer or two of the coastline. Although this branch of the Northern Caucasus Railway may appear somewhat incongruous in the setting of beaches and sanatoriums, it is still operational and vital to the region’s transportation infrastructure.
Sochi was established as a fashionable resort area under Joseph Stalin, who had his favorite dacha built in the city; Stalin’s study, complete with a wax statue of the leader, is now open to the public. During Stalin’s reign the coast became dotted with imposing Neoclassical buildings, exemplified by the opulent Rodina and Ordzhonikidze sanatoriums. The centerpiece of this early period is Shchusev’s Constructivist Institute of Rheumatology (1927–31). The area was continuously developed until the demise of the Soviet Union.
Following Russia’s loss of the traditionally popular resorts of the Crimean peninsula (transferred away from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev), Sochi emerged as the unofficial summer capital of the country. During Vladimir Putin’s term in office, the city witnessed a significant increase in investment, although many Russian holidaymakers still flock to the cheaper resorts of neighbouring Abkhazia, Ukraine, or to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Additionally, Sochi has also served as the location for the signing of many treaties, especially those between the Georgian, separatist Abkhazian, and separatist South Ossetian governing authorities.