The Pankisi Gorge is a valley region in Georgia, in the upper reaches of River Alazani just south of Georgia’s historic region of Tusheti between Mt Borbalo and the ruined 17th-century fortress of Bakhtrioni. Administratively, it is included in the Akhmeta municipality of the Kakheti region. An ethnic group called Kists of Chechen roots form the majority (75%) in the area.Georgia always has been a multi-ethnic state, where people with different ethnic origin and religious affiliation peacefully co-existed. Akhmeta Municipality and in particular, Pankisi Gorge has been an exemplary model of such peaceful cohabitation.After the Chechen war of 1999, Georgia received a large group of Chechen refugees. 90% of these refugees still live in Pankisi. Now more than 900 Chechen refugees and naturalized refugees reside in Pankisi Gorge. Since 2009, the Georgian state has been providing them with the Georgian citizenship through naturalization (granting dual Georgian and Russian citizenships).
From 17 villages of Pankisi Gorge, 12 villages are densely populated with Chechen refugees and Kists, they constitute 17% of the Akhmeta Municipality (more than 8400 persons). 50% of them (more than 3000) are 15-25 years old.