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The Abazin, Abazinians or Abaza (Abaza and Abkhaz: Абаза; Circassian: Абазэхэр; Russian: Абазины; Turkish: Abazalar; Arabic: أباظة), are an ethnic group of the Northwest Caucasus, closely related to the Abkhaz and Circassian people. They live mostly in Turkey, Egypt and in Karachay-Cherkessia and Stavropol Krai in the North Caucasus region of Russia. The Tapanta (ru:Тапанта), a branch of the Abaza, lived between the Besleney and Kabardian princedoms on the upper Kuban.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Abaza, Russian, Arabic, Turkish|
|Predominantly Sunni Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
Abaza people speak the Abaza language, a Northwest Caucasian language closely related to Abkhaz and Circassian. There are two dialects of Abaza spoken in Karachay-Cherkessia: Ashkharua and Tapanta. The culture and traditions of the Abazin are similar to those of the Circassians. On many old maps Abazin territory is marked as part of Circassia (Adygea).
According to the 2010 Russian census, there were 43,341 Abazins in Russia.
The Abazin originally inhabited the Sadzen region in the western part of Abkhazia and migrated from Abkhazia to Abazinia between the 14th and 16th centuries. They later migrated to various regions of the former Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since the late 18th century, their dominant religion is Sunni Islam (Hanafi).
Most of them belong to Ashkharua clan that fought against the Tsarist army and emigrated to Turkey after losing the battle of Kbaada (Krasnaya Polyana in today's Sochi), whereas the Tapanta clan fought with the Russian forces.
A prominent example in Egypt is the Abaza family, a large Abazin clan. The Abaza family still holds to this day an élite place in Egyptian society and constitutes Egypt's largest family, with well over 15,000 members active in all aspects of society.
Historically, the Abazin engaged in animal herding and some farming.
The Abazins are dominantly Sunni Muslims. The Abazins first encountered Islam during their migrations to the Abazinia region via contact with the Nogais and other Muslim peoples. The Abazins adopted Islam via the influence of Muslim merchants and missionaries from the 16th to 19th centuries.
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