Khulo, a Muslim Region in Christian-majority Sakartvelo

Khulo (ხულო) is located in the Eastern part of Adjara (აჭარა), which is the Southwest-most province of Georgia (საქართველო), as well as the province with the second highest Muslim population. Georgia’s population is about 10% Muslim, while Adjara’s population is about 30% Muslim, and Khulo’s population is probably somewhere between 70% and 90% Muslim.

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Khulo is known for a number of things: its exceptional precipitation (in the old days it was said to be the rainiest part of the USSR), the great poverty of its inhabitants, their alcoholism, and their attachment to Islam even as most of the rest of Adjara abandoned it for Christianity.

The population of Khulo is decreasing. Firstly, young people are leaving for the big cities in search of education and jobs. Secondly, landslides and other natural disasters have been destroying people’s homes, forcing them to move to more urban areas.

Khulo’s population problem is not unique. Georgia’s total population is decreasing as well, largely due to unemployment-related emigration.

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From what I’ve read it seems that among the people of Khulo there is rampant alcoholism, the women very often don’t cover up properly, the consumption of pork is not uncommon, and the populace in general has a smaller knowledge of Islam than one would find in other countries. Perhaps these problems arise from Khulo’s isolation from most of the Muslim world. On a positive note, the people of Khulo are reportedly extremely hospitable.

I also read that Sufism is less common among the Muslims of Khulo than among the rest of the Georgian Muslim populace. I would imagine the dominant Sufi orders in Georgia are the same as in Chechnya: the Naqshbandiyya and the Qadiriyya.

Anyways, this is a lot of hearsay. I would recommend going there and checking it out yourself. But if you are brown or Muslim watch out, the Georgian border police are bigoted and may refuse you entry without explanation, then take your passport, like they did when I tried to go there. No wonder the Muslims of Khulo are isolated from the rest of the Muslim world.

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