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Circassia (Circassian: Адыгэ Хэку, Adyge Kheku; Russian: Черкесия, Cherkesiya), officially the Republic of Circassia, is a republic of the Soviet Union. Initially divided between several divisions within the Russian Federation, the region would become united in the Saint Petersburg Compromise of 1997, but would not become its current size (or a republic) until the Black Sea Compromise of 1999. Circassia contains a mixed population of Russians and Circassians, in which the titular and native Circassians currently make up less than a third of the population.
The Circassian people have colonized the Black Sea as far back as 8000 BC. Beginning in the 19th century, as part of their Caucasus expansion, the Russian Empire went to war with the Circassians. The conquest would follow by the Russians forcing the Circassians out, leading to the genocide of many Circassians, with the rest leaving of many others to Turkey and the Middle East.
Beginning in the 1980s, with the implementation of Glasnost, many exiled Circassians saw an opportunity to return to their homelands, which Moscow and the Soviet government were open and even assisted in the return. At the time, the Circassian populations within the USSR were divided into three autonomous entities (the Adygea AO, the Kabardino-Balkar ASSR, and the Karachay-Cherkess AO), and with scattered Circassian populations along the coast of the Black Sea. The repatriation was slow at first, especially since the Soviet government had recognized the Circassian people as two separate peoples (the Adyghes in the west, and the Kabardians in the east). Beginning in the late 1980s, the Soviet government offered access and land for the Circassians to return in greater numbers. With the Parade of Sovereignties becoming a major movement within the USSR (especially in the Caucasus), the idea and promises of a united Circassian republic within the USSR began to take real precedence within the returning Circassians.
The first major event towards unity took place in 1992, when the people of Karachay-Cherkessia would hold a referendum on to divide the autonomous republic between the Cherkess (Circassians) and the Karachay. The vote came back in support of the division, leading to the establishment of the Cherkess Autonomous Republic a year later. The people of Kabardino-Balkaria would hold a similar referendum in 1996, leading to the establishment of Kabardia in 1997 (not to mention the unification of the Karachays and Balkars into Alania). Despite having no physical connection, the move to unite the regions into a single entity gained their wish in 1997, in which the three Circassian regions (Adyge, Cherkesia, and Kabardia) were united into the Circassian Autonomous Republic (made official as part of the Saint Petersburg Compromise).
As soon as becoming united, the movement shifted to including the Shapsug communities on the (specifically named) Circassian Coast, with other hoping for the return of the Black Sea. This proposal was completely rejected by Russia. However, as tensions began to rise again in the region, the idea of a larger Circassia would be brought up in the talks leading to the Black Sea Compromise. While the Russian Federation was not supportive of giving the Circassians move land, the compromise would soon allow the Cossack regions to become a new republic. Unlike the Russian government, the Cossacks would be more sympathetic to the Circassians, and would agree to talks on the issue. What would eventually come out in the compromise would be the division of the Krasnodar Krai by means of the Kuban and Laba Rivers. The southern portion would be allowed to join in a greater Circassia, provided that this new republic recognize the rights of the Russian/Cossack communities (effectively becoming a neutral republic of Russians/Cossacks and Circassians). The Russians living in the region supported being part of a smaller republic (on the grounds mentioned before), and the unification would take place in 1999. Days after the unification, the region was upgraded into the Republic of Circassia, becoming a full republic.
Circassia has seen a population growth in the 2000s. Despite some tensions with the native Russians, the Circassian culture has begun to grow. Islam has begun to return to the region. In 2006, it was announced that the city of Sochi (the largest city in Circassia) was selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics (as well as the second time the Soviet Union would host the Olympics).