South Ossetia is a tiny breakaway region inside the internationally recognized borders of Georgia, which has lost de facto control of this region. While not officially recognized, South Ossetia is an enduring entity on the South Caucasus political map and deserves attention and nuanced study.
The South Caucasus is considered foremost a place of boundaries and divisions. It has been for centuries a borderland and is today fragmented by blockades and frontlines as a result of conflicts that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union broke down.
South Ossetia has fissured away from its North borders and subsumed after the fall of the Soviet Union into the newly independent state of Georgia. That didn’t go down well with the South Ossetians and fighting broke out toward the end of 1990, leading to some 1,000 deaths. A cease-fire in 1992 muted tensions for a time, but an escalation in August 2008 led to a full-blown five-day war with the participation of Ossetian, Russian and Georgian forces.
Despite winning South Ossetia nominal nationhood, the European Union doesn’t recognize this Georgian breakaway. Not many countries aside from a few Russian allies — such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Syria — and three small Pacific Ocean Island states have recognized South Ossetia as an independent state. It is often referred to as disputed territory in analytical reviews and the media.