National Geographic : 2006 Dec
PH0T0J0URNAL JONAS BENDIKSEN A handful of beachgoers enjoy warm Black Sea waters edging Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia that was once a luxury resort for favored Soviets; Joseph Stalin kept a house here. Tourism is only starting to rebound after the brutal 1993 civil war that killed thousands and drove tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians from the region. Soviet heroes Marx and Lenin watch over patrons of Red Heat, a bar in Tiraspol, Transdniestria's largest city. Lodged between the Dniester River and the southwest border of Ukraine, the region fought a civil war with Moldova more than a decade ago and declared itself indepen dent. Transdniestrians cling to the trappings of their communist past and maintain close relations with Moscow.