Arabic ĵurĵan/ĵurzan. Lore-based theories were given by the traveller Jacques de Vitry, who explained the name's origin by the popularity of St. George amongst Georgians, while traveller Jean Chardin thought that Georgia came from Greek γεωργός ('tiller of the land'). Alexander Mikaberidze wrote that these century-old explanations for the word Georgia/Georgians are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian word gurğ/gurğān (گرگ, 'wolf') as the root of the word. Starting with the Persian word gurğ/gurğān, the word was later adopted in numerous other languages, including Slavic and West European languages. This term itself might have been established through the ancient Iranian appellation of the near-Caspian region, which was referred to as Gorgan ("land of the wolves").
Iberians (Iberoi, Ἰβηροι in some Greek sources). The Georgian circumfixsa-X-o is a standard geographic construction designating 'the area where X dwell', where X is an ethnonym.
Today the official name of the country is Georgia, as specified in the Georgian constitution which reads "Georgia is the name of the state of Georgia." Before the 1995 constitution came into force, the country's official name was the Republic of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს რესპუბლიკა, romanized:Sakartvelos Resp'ublik'a). It is sometimes still referred to as the "Republic of Georgia" by people and the media.
converted the nation to Christianity in the 4th century.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Georgia has been the
Iberia in the east. In Greek mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius' epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. In the 4th century BC, a kingdom of Iberia – an early example of advanced state organization under one king and an aristocratic hierarchy – was established.
Iberia (eastern Georgia), and was widely practised there.
Located on the crossroads of protracted Roman–Persian wars, the early Georgian kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for the remaining Georgian realms to fall victim to the early Muslim conquests in the 7th century.
The extinction of the
Iberian monarchy, remaining Georgian lands were divided among rival authorities, with Tbilisi remaining in Arab hands
The Kingdom of Georgia reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period during the reigns of David IV (r. 1089–1125) and his great-granddaughter Tamar (r. 1184–1213) has been widely termed as Georgia's Golden Age or the Georgian Renaissance. This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its Western European analogue, was characterized by impressive military victories, territorial expansion, and a cultural renaissance in architecture, literature, philosophy and the sciences. The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem The Knight in the Panther's Skin, the latter which is considered a national epic.
David suppressed dissent of feudal lords and centralized the power in his hands to effectively deal with foreign threats. In 1121, he decisively defeated much larger Turkish armies during the Battle of Didgori and liberated Tbilisi.
Queen Tamar, the first woman to rule medieval Georgia in her own right.
The 29-year reign of Tamar, the first female ruler of Georgia, is considered the most successful in Georgian history. Tamar was given the title "king of kings" (mepe mepeta). She succeeded in neutralizing opposition and embarked on an energetic foreign policy aided by the downfall of the rival powers of the Seljuks and Byzantium. Supported by a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated the Caucasus, and extended over large parts of present-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, and eastern Turkey as well as parts of northern Iran, until its collapse under the Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar's death in 1213.
The revival of the Kingdom of Georgia was set back after Tbilisi was captured and destroyed by the
sheep Turkomans constantly raiding its southern provinces.
was caught between rival regional powers.
The Kingdom of Georgia
Ottoman Turkey subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.
The rulers of regions that remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. However, subsequent Iranian and Ottoman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of incessant Ottoman–Persian Wars and deportations, the population of Georgia dwindled to 784,700 inhabitants at the end of the 18th century.Eastern Georgia (Safavid Georgia), composed of the regions of Kartli and Kakheti, had been under Iranian suzerainty since 1555 following the Peace of Amasya signed with neighbouring rivalling Ottoman Turkey. With the death of Nader Shah in 1747, both kingdoms broke free of Iranian control and were reunified through a personal union under the energetic king Heraclius II in 1762. Heraclius, who had risen to prominence through the Iranian ranks, was awarded the crown of Kakheti by Nader himself in 1744 for his loyal service to him. Heraclius nevertheless stabilized Eastern Georgia to a degree in the ensuing period and was able to guarantee its autonomy throughout the Iranian Zand period.
In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, by which Georgia abjured any dependence on Persia or another power, and made the kingdom a protectorate of Russia, which guaranteed Georgia's territorial integrity and the continuation of its reigning Bagrationi dynasty in return for prerogatives in the conduct of Georgian foreign affairs.
However, despite this commitment to defend Georgia, Russia rendered no assistance when the
punitive campaign subsequently launched against Qajar Iran in 1796, this period culminated in the 1801 Russian violation of the Treaty of Georgievsk and annexation of eastern Georgia, followed by the abolition of the royal Bagrationi dynasty, as well as the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Pyotr Bagration, one of the descendants of the abolished house of Bagrationi, would later join the Russian army and rise to be a prominent general in the Napoleonic wars.
Bagrationi royal family was deported from the kingdom. The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin.
In May 1801, under the oversight of General Carl Heinrich von Knorring, Imperial Russia transferred power in eastern Georgia to the government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lazarev. The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until 12 April 1802, when Knorring assembled the nobility at the Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were temporarily arrested.
In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near
1804–13 Russo-Persian War and saved Tbilisi from reconquest now that it was officially part of the Imperial territories. Russian suzerainty over eastern Georgia was officially finalized with Iran in 1813 following the Treaty of Gulistan. Following the annexation of eastern Georgia, the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler, Solomon II, died in exile in 1815, after attempts to rally people against Russia and to enlist foreign support against the latter, had been in vain.
From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars now against
Mingrelia, although a Russian protectorate since 1803, was not absorbed until 1867.
Russian rule offered the Georgians security from external threats, but it was also often heavy-handed and insensitive. By the late 19th century,
, who became the dominant political force in Georgia in the final years of Russian rule.
Georgian–Armenian War, which erupted over parts of disputed provinces between Armenia and Georgia populated mostly by Armenians, ended because of British intervention. In 1918–1919, Georgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led an attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for the independent Georgia. In 1920 Soviet Russia recognized Georgia's independence with the Treaty of Moscow. But the recognition proved to be of little value, as the Red Army led by Joseph Stalin invaded Georgia in 1921 and formally annexed it into the Soviet Union in 1922.
Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian born Iosif Vissarionovich Jugashvili (იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი) in Gori, was prominent among the Bolsheviks. Stalin was to rise to the highest position, leading the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death on 5 March 1953.
In June 1941,
invaded the Soviet Union on an immediate course towards Caucasian oil fields and munitions factories. They never reached Georgia, however, and almost 700,000 Georgians fought in the Red Army to repel the invaders and advance towards Berlin. Of them, an estimated 350,000 were killed. The Georgian uprising on Texel
against the Germans was the last battle of the Second World War in Europe.
Throughout the remainder of the Soviet period, Georgia's economy continued to grow and experience significant improvement, though it increasingly exhibited blatant corruption and alienation of the government from the people. With the beginning of perestroika in 1986, the Georgian Soviet leadership proved so incapable of handling the changes that most Georgians, including rank and file communists, concluded that the only way forward was a break from the existing Soviet system.
On 9 April 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the
referendum held on 31 March. Georgia was the first non-Baltic republic of the Soviet Union to officially declare independence. In August 1991, Romania became the first country to recognize Georgia.
On 26 May, Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as the first President of independent Georgia. Gamsakhurdia stoked Georgian nationalism and vowed to assert Tbilisi's authority over regions such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia that had been classified as autonomous within the Georgian SSR.
He was soon deposed in a
bloody coup d'état, from 22 December 1991 to 6 January 1992. The coup was instigated by part of the National Guards and a paramilitary organization called "Mkhedrioni" ("horsemen"). The country then became embroiled in a bitter civil war, which lasted until nearly 1994. Simmering disputes within two regions of Georgia; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, between local separatists and the majority Georgian populations, erupted into widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars. Supported by Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia achieved de facto independence from Georgia, with Georgia retaining control only in small areas of the disputed territories.Eduard Shevardnadze (Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1985 to 1991) returned to Georgia in 1992.
During the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993), roughly 230,000 to 250,000 Georgians were expelled from Abkhazia by Abkhaz separatists and North Caucasian volunteers (including Chechens). Around 23,000 Georgians fled South Ossetia as well.
In 2003, Shevardnadze (who won re-election in 2000) was deposed by the Rose Revolution, after Georgian opposition and international monitors asserted that 2 November parliamentary elections were marred by fraud. The revolution was led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, former members and leaders of Shevardnadze's ruling party. Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as President of Georgia in 2004.
Following the Rose Revolution, a series of reforms were launched to strengthen the country's military and economic capabilities, as well as to reorient its foreign policy westwards. The new government's efforts to reassert Georgian authority in the southwestern autonomous republic of
The country's newly pro-Western stance, along with accusations of Georgian involvement in the
relations with Russia, fuelled also by Russia's open assistance and support to the two secessionist areas. Despite these increasingly difficult relations, in May 2005 Georgia and Russia reached a bilateral agreement by which Russian military bases (dating back to the Soviet era) in Batumi and Akhalkalaki were withdrawn. Russia withdrew all personnel and equipment from these sites by December 2007 while failing to withdraw from the Gudauta base in Abkhazia, which it was required to vacate after the adoption of the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty during the 1999 Istanbul summit.
Tensions between Georgia and Russia began escalating in April 2008. A bomb explosion on 1 August 2008 targeted a car transporting Georgian peacekeepers. South Ossetians were responsible for instigating this incident, which marked the opening of hostilities and injured five Georgian servicemen. In response, several South Ossetian militiamen were killed by snipers. South Ossetian separatists began shelling Georgian villages on 1 August. These artillery attacks immediately caused Georgian servicemen to return fire periodically.
On 7 August 2008, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili announced a unilateral ceasefire and called for peace talks. However, escalating assaults against Georgian villages (located in the South Ossetian conflict zone) were soon matched with gunfire from Georgian troops, who then proceeded to move in the direction of the capital of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) on the night of 8 August, reaching its centre in the morning of 8 August. According to Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, the Ossetian provocation was aimed at triggering the Georgian response, which was needed as a pretext for premeditated Russian military invasion. According to Georgian intelligence, and several Russian media reports, parts of the regular (non-peacekeeping) Russian Army had already moved to South Ossetian territory through the Roki Tunnel before the Georgian military action.
Russia accused Georgia of "aggression against South Ossetia",
Abkhaz forces opened a second front on 9 August by attacking the Kodori Gorge held by Georgia. Tskhinvali was seized by the Russian military by 10 August. Russian forces occupied Georgian cities beyond the disputed territories.
During the conflict, there was a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Georgians in South Ossetia, including destruction of Georgian settlements after the war had ended. The war displaced 192,000 people, and while many were able to return to their homes after the war, a year later around 30,000 ethnic Georgians remained displaced. In an interview published in Kommersant, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said he would not allow Georgians to return.
European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia was dispatched to the buffer areas. Since the war, Georgia has maintained that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied Georgian territories. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Georgia has topped the list of countries which Russian exiles departed to after the war began; Russians are allowed to stay in Georgia for at least one year without a visa, though many Georgians view the presence of more Russian citizens in Georgia as a security risk.
Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament of Georgia. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, of whom 30 are elected by plurality to represent single-member districts, and 120 are chosen to represent parties by proportional representation. Members of parliament are elected for four-year terms. On 26 May 2012, Saakashvili inaugurated a new Parliament building in the western city of Kutaisi, in an effort to decentralize power and shift some political control closer to Abkhazia. Saakashvili's rivals, who came to power later in 2012, never truly accepted the move to Kutaisi and six years later Parliament returned to its old location in Tbilisi after adapting the constitutional clause.
Different opinions exist regarding the degree of political freedom in Georgia. Saakashvili believed in 2008 that the country is "on the road to becoming a European democracy."Freedom House lists Georgia as a partly free country (2008), recognizing a trajectory of democratic improvement surrounding the 2012–13 transfer of power, yet observing a gradual backslide in later years.
Recent political developments
Parliament of Georgia is a supreme national legislature for the country. The executive power is vested in the office of a Prime Minister, but is accountable only before the parliament, as the president of a country is a ceremonial head of state.
parliamentary elections in October 2012, bringing an end to nine years of UNM rule and marking the first peaceful, electoral, transfer of power in Georgia. President Saakashvili acknowledged the defeat of his party on the following day. Georgian Dream was founded, led and financed by tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country's richest man who was subsequently elected by parliament as new Prime Minister. Due to the incomplete transition to parliamentary democracy, a year of uneasy cohabitation between rivals Ivanishvili and Saakashvili followed until the October 2013 presidential elections.
In October 2013, Giorgi Margvelashvili, a candidate of the Georgian Dream party, won the presidential election. Margvelashvili succeeded president Mikheil Saakashvili, who had served the maximum of two terms since coming to power after the bloodless 2003 "Rose Revolution". However, the new constitution made the role of president largely ceremonial. With the completed transfer of power, Prime Minister Ivanishvili stepped aside and named one of his close business associates as next Prime Minister. Ivanishvili has since been called the informal leader of Georgia, arranging political reappointments from behind the scenes.
In October 2016, the ruling party Georgian Dream won the parliamentary elections with 48.61 percent of the vote while the opposition United National Movement (UNM) gained 27.04 percent of the vote. Most of Georgian Dream's coalition parties had left the coalition and landed outside of parliament. As result of the mixed proportional-majoritarian system, with a threshold of 5% for the proportional vote and redefined majoritarian districts, only four parties entered parliament, with the Georgian Dream party gaining a constitutional majority of 77% (+36 seats). This electoral imbalance became a key issue of political and civil society strife in the following years. After international mediation to overcome the deep political crisis in the runup to the 2020 parliamentary elections an amended electoral system was adopted, specifically for the 2020 elections.
Meanwhile, Salome Zurabishvili won the 2018 presidential election in two rounds, becoming the first woman in Georgia to hold the office in full capacity after Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze held the office as female interim President twice, in 2003 and 2007. Zurabishvili was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. It was the last direct election of a Georgian president, as additional constitutional reforms removed the popular vote.
On 31 October 2020, the ruling Georgian Dream again led by Bidzina Ivanishvili secured over 48% of votes in the parliamentary election under a different electoral system. 120 parliamentary seats were elected through proportional vote while 30 seats were elected through single mandate majoritarian constituencies. The threshold for the proportional vote was lowered to 1%, which resulted in 9 parties being represented in parliament. As largest faction, having secured 90 out of 150 seats, Georgian Dream formed the country's next government and continued to govern alone. The opposition made accusations of fraud, which the Georgian Dream denied. Thousands of people gathered outside the Central Election Commission to demand a new vote. This led to a new political crisis that was (temporarily) resolved with an EU brokered agreement, from which the Georgian Dream later withdrew.
In February 2021, Irakli Garibashvili became Prime Minister of Georgia, following the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Garibashvili, who had an earlier term as prime minister in 2013–15, is known as a political hardliner.
On 1 October 2021, former President Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested on his return from exile. Saakashvili led the country from 2004 to 2013 but was later convicted in absentia on corruption charges and abuse of power, which he denied.
The explicit western orientation of Georgia, deepening political ties with the US and European Union, notably through its EU and NATO membership aspirations, the US Train and Equip military assistance programme, and the construction of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, have frequently strained Tbilisi's relations with Moscow. Georgia's decision to boost its presence in the coalition forces in Iraq was an important initiative. The European Union has identified Georgia as a prospective member, and Georgia has sought membership.
Georgia is currently working to become a full member of
NATO. In August 2004, the Individual Partnership Action Plan of Georgia was submitted officially to NATO. On 29 October 2004, the North Atlantic Council of NATO approved the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) of Georgia, and Georgia moved on to the second stage of Euro-Atlantic Integration. In 2005, the agreement on the appointment of Partnership for Peace (PfP) liaison officer between Georgia and NATO came into force, whereby a liaison officer for the South Caucasus was assigned to Georgia. On 2 March 2005, the agreement was signed on the provision of the host nation support to and transit of NATO forces and NATO personnel. On 6–9 March 2006, the IPAP implementation interim assessment team arrived in Tbilisi. On 13 April 2006, the discussion of the assessment report on implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan was held at NATO Headquarters, within 26+1 format. The majority of Georgians and politicians in Georgia support the push for NATO membership.
In 2011, the North Atlantic Council designated Georgia as an "aspirant country". Since 2014, Georgia–NATO relations are guided by the Substantial NATO–Georgia Package (SNGP), which includes the NATO–Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre and facilitation of multi-national and regional military drills.
In September 2019, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "NATO approaching our borders is a threat to Russia." He was quoted as saying that if NATO accepts Georgian membership with the article on collective defence covering only Tbilisi-administered territory (i.e., excluding the Georgian territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are currently Russian-supported unrecognized breakaway republics), "we will not start a war, but such conduct will undermine our relations with NATO and with countries who are eager to enter the alliance."
EU and Georgia reached the agreement on visa liberalization for Georgian citizens. On 27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation on visa liberalization for Georgians travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
military industry. The first exhibition of products made by STC Delta was in 1999. STC Delta now produces a variety of military equipment, including armoured vehicles, artillery systems, aviation systems, personal protection equipment, and small arms.
In Georgia, law enforcement is conducted and provided for by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. In recent years, the Patrol Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has undergone a radical transformation, with the police having now absorbed a great many duties previously performed by dedicated independent government agencies. New duties performed by the police include border security and customs functions and contracted security provision; the latter function is performed by the dedicated 'security police'.
In 2005, President
US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law-Enforcement Affairs has provided assistance to the training efforts and continues to act in an advisory capacity.
The new Patruli force was first introduced in the summer of 2005 to replace the traffic police, a force which was accused of widespread corruption. The police introduced a 0-2-2 (currently, 1-1-2) emergency dispatch service in 2004.
Prior to the Rose Revolution, Georgia was among the most corrupt countries in the world. However, following the reforms brought by the peaceful revolution, the level of corruption in the country abated dramatically. In 2010, Transparency International (TI) named Georgia "the best corruption-buster in the world." In 2012, the World Bank called Georgia a "unique success" of the world in fighting corruption, noting "Georgia's experience shows that the vicious cycle of endemic corruption can be broken and, with appropriate and decisive reforms, can be turned into a virtuous cycle."
Although Georgia has been very successful in reducing blatant forms of corruption, other more subtle corrupt practices have been noted. For example, in its 2017 report,
The government came under criticism for its alleged use of excessive force on 26 May 2011 when it dispersed protesters led by Nino Burjanadze, among others, with tear gas and rubber bullets after they refused to clear Rustaveli Avenue for an independence day parade despite the expiration of their demonstration permit and despite being offered to choose an alternative venue. While human rights activists maintained that the protests were peaceful, the government pointed out that many protesters were masked and armed with heavy sticks and molotov cocktails. Georgian opposition leader Nino Burjanadze said the accusations of planning a coup were baseless, and that the protesters' actions were legitimate.
Since independence, Georgia maintained harsh policies against drugs, handing out lengthy sentences even for
marijuana use. This came under criticism from human rights activists and led to protests. In response to lawsuits from civil society organizations, in 2018 the Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled that "consumption of marijuana is an action protected by the right to free personality" and that "[Marijuana] can only harm the user's health, making that user him/herself responsible for the outcome. The responsibility for such actions does not cause dangerous consequences for the public." With this ruling, Georgia became one of the first countries in the world to legalize cannabis, although using the drug in the presence of children is still illegal and punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.
Georgia contains two official autonomous regions, of which one has declared independence. Officially autonomous within Georgia,
North Ossetia. It was called South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast when Georgia was part of Soviet Union. Its autonomous status was revoked in 1990. De facto separate since Georgian independence, offers were made to give South Ossetia autonomy again, but in 2006 an unrecognized referendum in the area resulted in a vote for independence.
In both Abkhazia and South Ossetia large numbers of people had been given Russian passports, some through a process of forced passportization by Russian authorities. This was used as a justification for Russian invasion of Georgia during the 2008 South Ossetia war after which Russia recognized the region's independence. Georgia considers the regions as occupied by Russia. The two self-declared republics gained limited international recognition after the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Most countries consider the regions to be Georgian territory under Russian occupation.
Georgia is a mountainous country situated almost entirely in the
some slivers of the country are situated north of the Caucasus Watershed in the North Caucasus. The country lies between latitudes 41° and 44° N, and longitudes 40° and 47° E, with an area of 67,900 km2 (26,216 sq mi). The Likhi Range divides the country into eastern and western halves. Historically, the western portion of Georgia was known as Colchis while the eastern plateau was called Iberia.
above sea level
The highest mountain in Georgia is Mount
Kazbek and Shkhara (a distance of about 200 km (124 mi) along the Main Caucasus Range) is dominated by numerous glaciers.
Mount Kazbek in eastern Georgia
The term Lesser Caucasus Mountains is often used to describe the mountainous (highland) areas of southern Georgia that are connected to the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range by the Likhi Range.
Georgia's diverse climate creates varied landscapes, like these flat marshlands in the country's west
Eastern Georgia's landscape (referring to the territory east of the
Mtkvari and Alazani River plains have been deforested for agricultural purposes. The general landscape of eastern Georgia comprises numerous valleys and gorges that are separated by mountains. In contrast with western Georgia, nearly 85 per cent of the forests of the region are deciduous. Coniferous forests only dominate in the Borjomi Gorge and in the extreme western areas. Out of the deciduous species of trees, beech, oak, and hornbeam dominate. Other deciduous species include several varieties of maple, aspen, ash, and hazelnut.
At higher elevations above 1,000 metres (3,281 ft)
pine and birch forests dominate. In general, the forests in eastern Georgia occur between 500–2,000 metres (1,640–6,562 ft) above sea level, with the alpine zone extending from 2,000–2,300 to 3,000–3,500 metres (6,562–7,546 to 9,843–11,483 ft). The only remaining large, low-land forests remain in the Alazani Valley of Kakheti.
. Georgia has a subtropical climate, with frequent rain and thick green vegetation.
The climate of Georgia is extremely diverse, considering the nation's small size. There are two main climatic zones, roughly corresponding to the eastern and western parts of the country. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range plays an important role in moderating Georgia's climate and protects the nation from the penetration of colder air masses from the north. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains partially protect the region from the influence of dry and hot air masses from the south.
Much of western Georgia lies within the northern periphery of the humid subtropical zone with annual precipitation ranging from 1,000–2,500 mm (39–98 in), reaching a maximum during the Autumn months. The climate of the region varies significantly with elevation and while much of the lowland areas of western Georgia are relatively warm throughout the year, the foothills and mountainous areas (including both the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains) experience cool, wet summers and snowy winters (snow cover often exceeds 2 metres or 6 feet 7 inches in many regions).
Eastern Georgia has a transitional climate from humid subtropical to continental. The region's weather patterns are influenced both by dry Caspian air masses from the east and humid Black Sea air masses from the west. The penetration of humid air masses from the Black Sea is often blocked by mountain ranges (Likhi and Meskheti) that separate the eastern and western parts of the nation. The wettest periods generally occur during spring and autumn, while winter and summer months tend to be the driest. Much of eastern Georgia experiences hot summers (especially in the low-lying areas) and relatively cold winters. As in the western parts of the nation, elevation plays an important role in eastern Georgia where climatic conditions above 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) are considerably colder than in the low-lying areas.
Because of its high landscape diversity and low latitude, Georgia is home to about 5,601 species of animals, including 648 species of
game bird. The species number of invertebrates is considered to be very high but data is distributed across a high number of publications. The spider checklist of Georgia, for example, includes 501 species. The Rioni River may contain a breeding population of the critically endangered bastard sturgeon.
Slightly more than 6,500 species of fungi, including lichen-forming species, have been recorded from Georgia, but this number is far from complete. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Georgia, including species not yet recorded, is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about seven per cent of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered. Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Georgia, and 2,595 species have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country. 1,729 species of plants have been recorded from Georgia in association with fungi. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are 4,300 species of vascular plants in Georgia.
Archaeological research demonstrates that Georgia has been involved in commerce with many lands and empires since ancient times, largely due its location on the Black Sea and later on the historical Silk Road. Gold, silver, copper and iron have been mined in the Caucasus Mountains. Georgian wine making is a very old tradition and a key branch of the country's economy. The country has sizeable hydropower resources. Throughout Georgia's modern history agriculture and tourism have been principal economic sectors, because of the country's climate and topography.
For much of the 20th century, Georgia's economy was within the Soviet model of
command economy. Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Georgia embarked on a major structural reform designed to transition to a free market economy. As with all other post-Soviet states, Georgia faced a severe economic collapse. The civil war and military conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia aggravated the crisis. The agriculture and industry output diminished. By 1994 the gross domestic product had shrunk to a quarter of that of 1989.
A proportional representation of Georgia's exports in 2019
Since the early 21st century visible positive developments have been observed in the economy of Georgia. In 2007, Georgia's
As of 2001, 54 per cent of the population lived below the national poverty line but by 2006 poverty decreased to 34 per cent and by 2015 to 10.1 per cent.
agricultural sector (6.1 per cent). Since 2014, unemployment has been gradually decreasing each year but remained in double digits and worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. A perception of economic stagnation led to a 2019 survey of 1,500 residents finding unemployment was considered a significant problem by 73% of respondents, with 49% reporting their income had decreased over the prior year.
Georgia's telecommunications infrastructure is ranked the last among its bordering neighbours in the World Economic Forum's
Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country's information and communication technologies. Georgia ranked number 58 overall in the 2016 NRI ranking, up from 60 in 2015. Georgia was ranked 63rd in the Global Innovation Index in 2021, down from 48th in 2019.
Georgian Railways represent a vital artery linking the Black Sea and Caspian Sea
– the shortest route between Europe and Central Asia.
Today transport in Georgia is provided by rail, road, ferry, and air. Total length of roads in Georgia, excluding the occupied territories, is 21,110 kilometres (13,120 mi) and railways – 1,576 km (979 mi). Positioned in the Caucasus and on the coast of the Black Sea, Georgia is a key country through which energy imports to the European Union from neighbouring Azerbaijan pass.
In recent years Georgia has invested large amounts of money in the modernization of its transport networks. The construction of new highways has been prioritized and, as such, major cities like Tbilisi have seen the quality of their roads improve dramatically; despite this however, the quality of inter-city routes remains poor and to date only one
motorway-standard road has been constructed – the ს 1 (S1)
, the main east–west highway through the country.
The Georgian railways represent an important transport artery for the Caucasus, as they make up the largest proportion of a route linking the Black and
Air and maritime transport is developing in Georgia, with the former mainly used by passengers and the latter for transport of freight. Georgia currently has four international airports, the largest of which is by far Tbilisi International Airport, hub for Georgian Airways, which offers connections to many large European cities. Other airports in the country are largely underdeveloped or lack scheduled traffic, although, as of late, efforts have been made to solve both these problems. There are a number of seaports along Georgia's Black Sea coast, the largest and most busy of which is the Port of Batumi; whilst the town is itself a seaside resort, the port is a major cargo terminal in the Caucasus and is often used by neighbouring Azerbaijan as a transit point for making energy deliveries to Europe. Scheduled and chartered passenger ferry services link Georgia with Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.
The population of Georgia totalled 3,688,647 as of 2022,
Georgian Jews are one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. According to the 1926 census there were 27,728 Jews in Georgia.[d] Georgia was also once home to significant ethnic German communities, numbering 11,394 according to the 1926 census.[e] Most of them were deported during World War II.
The 2014 census, carried out in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), found a population gap of approximately 700,000 compared to the 2014 data from the National Statistical Office of Georgia, Geostat, which was cumulatively built on the 2002 census. Consecutive research estimated the 2002 census to be inflated by 8 to 9 percent, which affected the annually updated population estimates in subsequent years. One explanation put forward by UNFPA is that families of emigrants continued to list them in 2002 as residents for fear of losing certain rights or benefits. Also, the population registration system from birth to death was non-functional. It was not until around 2010 that parts of the system became reliable again. With the support of the UNFPA, the demographic data for the period 1994–2014 has been retro-projected. On the basis of that back-projection, Geostat has corrected its data for these years.
The 1989 census recorded 341,000 ethnic Russians, or 6.3 per cent of the population, 52,000 Ukrainians and 100,000 Greeks in Georgia. The population of Georgia, including the breakaway regions, has declined by more than 1 million due to net emigration in the period 1990–2010. Other factors in the population decline include birth-death deficits for the period 1995–2010 and the exclusion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the statistics. Russia received by far the most migrants from Georgia. According to United Nations data, this totalled 625,000 by 2000, declining to 450,000 by 2019. Initially the out-migration was driven by non-Georgian ethnicities but increasing numbers of Georgians emigrated as well, due to the war, the crisis-ridden 1990s, and the subsequent bad economic outlook. The 2010 Russian census recorded about 158,000 ethnic Georgians living in Russia, with approximately 40,000 living in Moscow by 2014. There were 184 thousand immigrants in Georgia in 2014 with most of them hailing from Russia (51.6%), Greece (8.3%), Ukraine (8.11%), Germany (4.3%), and Armenia (3.8%).[c]
Abkhaz having official status within the autonomous region of Abkhazia. Georgian is the primary language of 87.7 per cent of the population, followed by 6.2 per cent speaking Azerbaijani, 3.9 per cent Armenian, 1.2 per cent Russian, and 1 per cent other languages.[c] Azerbaijani once served as a lingua franca for communication among various nationalities inhabiting Eastern Caucasus.
The special status of the Georgian Orthodox Church is officially recognized in the Constitution of Georgia and the Concordat of 2002, although religious institutions are separate from the state.
Religious minorities of Georgia include Muslims (10.7 per cent), Armenian Christians (2.9 per cent) and Roman Catholics (0.5 per cent).[c] 0.7 per cent of those recorded in the 2014 census declared themselves to be adherents of other religions, 1.2 per cent refused or did not state their religion and 0.5 per cent declared no religion at all.
Eastern Anatolia who settled in Georgia following the Lala Mustafa Pasha's Caucasian campaign that led to the Ottoman conquest of the country in 1578. Georgian Jews trace the history of their community to the 6th century BC; their numbers have dwindled in the last decades due to high levels of immigration to Israel.
Despite the long history of religious harmony in Georgia,
is the oldest university in Georgia and the Caucasus region.
The education system of Georgia has undergone sweeping, though controversial, modernisation since 2004.Education in Georgia is mandatory for all children aged 6–14. The school system is divided into elementary (six years; ages 6–12), basic (three years; ages 12–15), and secondary (three years; ages 15–18), or alternatively vocational studies (two years). Access to higher education is given to students who have gained a secondary school certificate. Only those students who have passed the Unified National Examinations may enroll in a state-accredited higher education institution, based on ranking of the scores received at the exams.
Most of these institutions offer three levels of study: a bachelor's programme (three to four years); a master's programme (two years), and a doctoral programme (three years). There is also a certified specialist's programme that represents a single-level higher education programme lasting from three to six years. As of 2016[update], 75 higher education institutions are accredited by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia.Gross primary enrolment ratio was 117 per cent for the period of 2012–2014, the 2nd highest in Europe after Sweden.
Tbilisi has become the main artery of the Georgian educational system, particularly since the creation of the
Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years from its foundations in the
Qajar empires), and later, from the 19th century, by the Russian Empire. This history which has shaped its cultural, religious, and political evolution translated into Georgians considering themselves a European nation.
Television, magazines, and newspapers in Georgia are all operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on
subscription, and other sales-related revenues. The Constitution of Georgia guarantees freedom of speech. The media environment of Georgia remains the freest and most diverse in the South Caucasus, despite the long-term politicization and polarisation affecting the sector. The political struggle for control over the public broadcaster have left it without a direction in 2014 too.
Georgia has an ancient musical tradition, which is primarily known for its early development of polyphony. Georgian polyphony is based on three vocal parts, a unique tuning system based on perfect fifths, and a harmonic structure rich in parallel fifths and dissonances. Three types of polyphony have developed in Georgia: a complex version in Svaneti, a dialogue over a bass background in the Kakheti region, and a three-part partially-improvised version in western Georgia. The Georgian folk song "Chakrulo" was one of 27 musical compositions included on the Voyager Golden Records that were sent into space on Voyager 2 on 20 August 1977.
wine in a glass. Wine-making is a traditional component of the Georgian economy.
grapevine cultivation and neolithic wine production (Georgian: ღვინო, ɣvino) for millennia. Local traditions associated with wine are entwined with its national identity. In 2013, UNESCO added the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the Kvevri clay jars to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Georgia's moderate climate and moist air, influenced by the Black Sea, provide the best conditions for vine cultivation. The soil in vineyards is so intensively cultivated that the grapevines grow up the trunks of fruit trees eventually hanging down along the fruit when they ripen. This method of cultivation is called maglari. Among the best-known Georgian wine regions are Kakheti (further divided into the micro-regions of Telavi and Kvareli), Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Adjara and Abkhazia.
Georgian wine has been a contentious issue in recent relationships with Russia. Political tensions with Russia have contributed to the 2006 Russian embargo of Georgian wine, Russia claimed Georgia produced counterfeit wine. It was an "official" reason, but instability of economic relations with Russia is well known, as they use the economic ties for political purposes. Counterfeiting problems stem from mislabelling by foreign producers and falsified “Georgian Wine” labels on wines produced outside of Georgia and imported into Russia under the auspices of being Georgian produced. The shipment of counterfeit wine has been primarily channelled through Russian managed customs checkpoints in Russian occupied Georgian territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where no inspection and regulation occurs.
Within Georgia, one of the most popularized styles of wrestling is the Kakhetian style. There were a number of other styles in the past that are not as widely used today. For example, the Khevsureti region of Georgia has three styles of wrestling. Other popular sports in 19th century Georgia were polo, and Lelo, a traditional Georgian game very similar to rugby.
The first and only race circuit in the Caucasian region is located in Georgia.
^Alexei Zverev, Ethnic Conflicts in the Caucasus; Graham Smith, Edward A Allworth, Vivien A Law et al., pages 56–58; Abkhaz by W. Barthold [V. Minorsky] in the Encyclopaedia of Islam; The Georgian-Abkhaz State (summary), by George Anchabadze, in: Paul Garb, Arda Inal-Ipa, Paata Zakareishvili, editors, Aspects of the Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict: Cultural Continuity in the Context of Statebuilding, Volume 5, 26–28 August 2000.
^European Parliament, Resolution 2014/2717(RSP), 17 July 2014: "...pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – like any other European state – have a European perspective and may apply to become members of the Union…"
State Ministry for Reintegration. 23 October 2008. Archived from the original
(PDF) on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
^'Caucasus (region and mountains, Eurasia)'Archived 27 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010: "Occupying roughly 170,000 sq mi (440,000 km2), it is divided among Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia and forms part of the traditional dividing line between Europe and Asia. It is bisected by the Caucasus Mountains; the area north of the Greater Caucasus range is called Ciscaucasia and the region to the south Transcaucasia. Inhabited from ancient times, it was under nominal Persian and Turkish suzerainty until conquered by Russia in the 18th–19th centuries."
^Kennan, Hans Dieter; et al. (2013). Vagabond Life: The Caucasus Journals of George Kennan. University of Washington Press. p. 32. (...) Iranian power and cultural influence dominated eastern Georgia until the coming of the Russians
Avalov, Zurab (1906). Prisoedinenie Gruzii k Rossii. S.-Peterburg: Montvid.
Boeder, W. (2002). "Speech and thought representation in the Kartvelian (South Caucasian) languages". In Güldemann, T.; von Roncador, M. (eds.). Reported Discourse. A Meeting-Ground of Different Linguistic Domains. Typological Studies in Language. Vol. 52. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. pp. 3–48.
Boeder, W. (January–February 2005). "The South Caucasian languages". Lingua. 115 (1–2): 5–89.