In the 1570s, the Ottoman navy occupied the Georgian fort of Tskhumi on the Abkhazian coastline, turning it into the Turkish fortress of Suhum-Kale (hence, the modern name of the city of Sokhumi). In 1555, Georgia and the whole South Caucasus was divided between the Ottoman and Saffavid Persian empires, with Abkhazia, along with rest of western Georgia, remaining in the hands of the Ottomans.
As a result, Abkhazia came under the increasing influence of Turkey and Islam, gradually losing its cultural and religious ties with the rest of Georgia.Towards the end of the 17th century, the principality of Abkhazia broke up into several fiefdoms, depriving many areas of any centralized authority. The region became a theatre of widespread slave trade and piracy. According to several Georgian and Western scholars, it was when a number of the Adyghe clansmen (mainly Apsua tribe) migrated from the North Caucasus mountains and blended with the local ethnic Mingrelians, significantly changing the region's demographic situation. In the mid-18th century, the Abkhazians revolted against the Ottoman rule and took hold of Suhum-Kale, but soon the Turks regained the control of the fortress and granted it to a loyal prince of the Shervashidze family.