The Abkhaz language belongs to the isolate Northwest Caucasian language family, also known as Abkhaz–Adyghe or North Pontic family, which groups the dialectic continuum spoken by the Abaza–Abkhaz (Abazgi) and Adyghe ("Circassians" in English). The Abkhaz is closely ethnically related to Circassian. Classical sources speak of several tribes dwelling in the region, but their exact identity and location remain controversial due to Abkhaz–Georgian historiographical conflict (see the history section).
There are also three subgroups of the Abkhaz people. The Bzyb (Бзыҧ, Bzyph) reside in the Bzyb River region, and speak their own dialect. The Abzhui (Абжьыуа, Abzhwa) live in the Kodori River region, and also speak their own dialect, which the Abkhaz literary language is based upon. Finally, there is the Zamurzakan who reside in the southeast of Abkhazia.