Travel Guides: Georgia
Georgia is a Eurasian country located at the crossing of the two continents.
The country covers an area of 69,700 square kilometers and its capital is Tbilisi. It is a republic that broke away from the former Soviet empire and which was the first who demanded independence. The country’s population is about 5,000,000 inhabitants. It is divided into 72 regions and cities. The spoken language is Georgian and is used in addition to Russian and Armenian. The national currency “lari” is divided into 100 Tetri. The country was shaken in recent years by the civil war in Abkhazia and South East Asia. Stalin’s country of birth is generally an agricultural land and famous wines are produced here. The country’s western border is formed by the Black Sea coast. In the northern side are the Caucasus Mountains with the highest peak at Kasbek, 5048 m Kasbek.
To the east of the capital are met a lot of woods that end in the grassy steppes. The country’s populated areas are along the rivers and mountains which cover over 80% of the country’s topography. Inside the country is met a temperate continental climate, but south towards the Black Sea, sub-tropical climate is conducive to grape crops, citrus and tea. 70% of the population is formed by Georgians, followed by Armenians 8%, 6.3% Russians, 5.7% Azerbaijani and 1.7% Abkhazians. 75% of the population is orthodox of which 10% is Russian Orthodox. There are 11% Muslim.
The country’s oil resources are not finished yet however Georgia still depends on Russia for electricity and oil. In the south of the country, Georgia recently opened a major refinery financed mostly by Americans. The extracted resources of cobalt and vanadium are not exploited at maximum capacity. The country takes advantage of the exports of cereals, the main product in the south of the country. Wine exports are exploited at maximum Instability in the region has left deep traces in the country’s tourism industry. There are not many tourists to venture here but a light would appear as if the country lately seems to be on the right path. All press and mass media is government controlled so there is no freedom of the press or television here.
Because of the civil war the country’s infrastructure was severely damaged. There are few state highways and national roads in the country in a good shape. After the breakup of the Soviet Union it tried to impose on history in schools and colleges and tried to rouse the spirit of the mother tongue of each Georgian citizen. Former elite holiday destination for the Soviet Union, Georgia is an area blessed with a superb landscape composed of high valleys, mineral springs spas, caves and waterfalls, a favorable climate and a rich variety of flora and fauna. Located in the Caucasus, Georgia has been in the path of the Silk Road, which brought many different cultures on its borders. Due to the location between two continents, Georgia was invaded and occupied by various forces, such as Persians, Romans, Arabs and Mongols Caliphs. Testimonies to these facts are impressive archaeological ruins, some dating from the fifth century BC, fortresses and ancient churches.
Main attractions: the capital Tbilisi has a Mediterranean atmosphere and is located on the banks of the river Mtkvari, in a valley surrounded by hills. The old city lies south of the river and has numerous frescoed churches, nineteenth-century houses with arches and galleries on the upper floor, a castle and a surprising number of cafes and shops for tourists. Georgian State Museum in Tbilisi, Rustaveli Prospekt market houses collections of icons, frescoes and porcelain, and jewelry found in pre-Christian tombs. Downtown art museum includes many works by artists from the nineteenth century, such as Niko Pirosmani. Mtskheta is a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the center of the Georgian Christianity since XII century.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (Pillar of Life) is located at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi and was the holiest place in old Georgia. According to legend, the church is built on the spot where Christ’s robe was left after he was crucified, brought from Jerusalem by a Jew in 328. They say that inside the church there are fragments of the robe. Other attractions are the cathedral Jvari and the monastery Samtavro. The village Shatili is a monument of art of Georgian building, and by the towers collected, creating a fortress. Georgian Military Highway walks 220 km from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz (formerly Ordzhonikidze) in North Ossetia. This route was built by Russians in the nineteenth century, to be able to conquer the Georgian territories. The road winds through the spectacular scenery of the Caucasus Mountains. Along the road there are several attractions: Sameba Church (Holy Trinity), town of Mtskheta and the ski resort Gudauri.
At about 10 km from Gori was Uplistsikhe (Fortress of God), a large complex of natural caves. Inhabited since the fourteenth century, the caves were gradually transformed into sophisticated homes, shops and public buildings, dungeons and enormous wine cellars. Discover Zion Church Athens, 10 km south of Gori, which is distinguished by the frescoes of the eleventh century. Discover Turkish atmosphere in Batumi, Autonomous Republic Ajarian capital and visit the mosque, public baths in the nineteenth century, Ajarian museum, circus, park, botanical garden and theater. The most important cities in Georgia are Tbilisi, the capital, Kutaisi and Batumi.
Tbilisi is the capital and largest city of Georgia with a population of 1,345,000 inhabitants and an area of 350 km². The city is located on the Kura River. Tbilisi was founded in the fifth century by the King of Georgia Vakhtang I Gorgasali (452-502), although there is a village in the same place in the fourth century. In Tbilisi there are the parliament and government of Georgia and also an important center of culture and trade, with the following key institutions: the Georgian Academy of Sciences, State University of Tbilisi, Georgian Medical University, Georgian Agrarian University, Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi State Pedagogical University, Tbilisi State Conservatory, the National Bank of Georgia, Georgian Parliament National Public Library.
On the territory of Georgia today were built large churches in Bolnisi (V) and Urbnisi (VI). In the immediate plan of these buildings has been developed typical Georgian architecture in the form of a cross. The first of the monuments erected on this plan was the monastery Holy Cross (Jvari), on a hill of Iberia’s capital at the time, Mtsjeta (VI). Other important churches were built in Parkhali, Bana, Oski and Khakhuli; other important monuments of Christian architecture: the cathedral Bagrat III of Kutaisi (1003), the Mesjeta Svetitskhoveli cathedral, the cathedral of Alaverdi (beginning of XI century), Gelati Monastery (founded in 1106) or the monastery in rock from Vardzia (1185). Monuments protected by UNESCO are: Bagram Cathedral, Gelati Monastery, Mtsjeta historical monuments, upper Svaneti.
The oldest monumental paintings and mosaics dating back to Georgia eleventh century show the influence of Byzantine art at the time. There are worth visiting the frescoes and mosaics of Bethany, Qintsvisi and Gelati. Miniature and painting of icons had at that time schools and centers in Gelati in Chachuli. Batumi is an exotic subtropical Black Sea city, Tbilisi – a cosmopolitan city with stunning architecture and historical monuments, Cave City – a city of caves built in the 12th century, Cathedral of Sveti-Tskhoveli – the largest cathedral in Georgia and the place where Jesus was buried in his robe, Tbilisi History Museum. The best time to visit Georgia is mid-year (May-June) when the weather is pleasant. Especially in July and August are very hot and humid temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Georgian cuisine combines Turkish influences, Arabic, Greek and even Indian. Food is often spicy, especially coriander, tarragon and “khmeli suneli”, a blend of spices. Cold and hot dishes are served with tomato, cucumber, green onion, cheese and bread (pure) together. A typical festive meal includes mashed greens and spinach and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, “Khachapuri” (bread made with cheese), “satsivi” (chicken in peanut sauce), “chanakhi” (lamb stew vegetables), “tolma” (force-meat rolls) and “badrizhani nivrit” (eggplant with garlic). Wine is an essential part of the meal and the Georgians have a variety of red wines (such as Mukuzani) and white (like Tsinandali). There are pronounced differences in eating habits, according to regions.
Georgian cuisine and wines are valued around the world. One of the unique Georgian traditions is “supra”, the Georgian meal, a mean of socializing with friends and distant family members, where the head of the table is the “tamada”, caring for everyone to enjoy and light toasts. Various historical regions of Georgia are known for specific dishes: “Khinkali”, in the country’s mountainous eastern and “Khachapuri” of Imereti and Adjara and Mingrelia.
Passport scheme: Passport Simple: no need for a short stay visa. Passport Service: not required for a short stay visa. Diplomatic Passport: not required for a short stay visa. Short period of stay (days): 90. Conditions of entry and residence regime: Citizens have access to the territory of Georgia without a visa for a period of 90 days. For detailed information it is recommended consulting the official data provided by the Georgian authorities. Emergency Calls: 022, police. Customs Regulations: If you purchase paintings and art objects (including souvenirs) you must keep the receipt for their payment. If you have a high value it is recommended that you obtain a certificate from the Georgian Ministry of Culture, to show that those assets are not part of the national heritage.
The culture of Georgia can be tracked up in ancient times because of cultural and linguistic homogeneity that characterized the Georgian people throughout its history. Georgian folklore is almost unique in the world where there’s polyphony and is therefore protected by UNESCO as a cultural asset. Personalities: David IV (1073 – 1125) – Also known as David the Builder, was king of Georgia in the years 1089-1125. He was considered the greatest king in the history of Georgia; Nina Ananiashvili (1963-present) – Soviet first ballerina who danced with New York City Ballet in 1988. She danced in “Apollo”, “Symphony in C” and others. In 1993 she became principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre; Ketevan “Katie” Melua (1984 – present) – Georgia-born singer moved to England when aged 14. In 2006 she was first to market of England and Europe with the most albums sold.
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the juncture of Eastern Europe and western Asia it is bounded on the west by the Black Sea, north of Russia, south of Turkey and Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the east. Georgia occupies an area of 69.700 km² and its population is 4.3 million inhabitants. Currently it is a member of the United Nations, Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Community of Democratic Choice and GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. The country wants to join NATO and the European Union. Autonomous republics: Abkhazia (self declared), Ajaria. Cities: Batumi, Chiatura, Gori, Kutaisi, Pitunda, Poti, Rustavi, Sokhumi, Tbilisi, Tq’ibuli, Tsq’altubo, Tskhinvali. Districts: Abasha, Adigeni, Akhalgora, Akhaltsikhe, Akhmeta, Ambrolauri, Aspindza, Baghdati, Bolnisi, Borjomi, Chkhorotsq’u, Chokhatauri, Dedoplistsq’aro, Dmanisi, Dusheti, Gardabani, Gurjaani, Java, Kareli, Kaspi, Kharagauli, Khashuri, Khobi, Khoni, Lagodekhi, Lanchkhuti, Lentekhi, Marneuli, Martvili, Mesta, Mtskheta, Ninotsminda, Oni, Ozurgeti, Q’azbegi, Q’vareli, Sachkhere, Sagarejo, Samtredia, Senaki, Sighnaghi, Telavi, Terjola, Tetritsq’aro, Tianeti, Tsageri, Tsalenjikha, Tsalka, Vani, Zestaponi, Zugdidi.
Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi, they nominate their country Sakartvelo and Kartuli is their language. These names are derived from the name of a pagan god called Kartli, which is said to be the father of all Georgians. The name Georgia, used throughout Europe, is derived from Persian Gurji, via Jurj from Arab. Since writing was influenced by Greek root – georg, the word has been wrongly assumed to have its origin in George (patron saint of the country), or γεωργία (Georgia, agriculture). The ancient name trough which were referred the inhabitants of eastern Georgia was Iberians, from the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia – thus confusing the geographers of the ancients applied the name to the inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar and Olivenca).
Gurj, the Persian name of the Georgians, is also the source of Turkish gürcü and Russian Gruzin. Country name is Gurjestan in Persian, Turkish Gürcüstan and Gruzija in Russian. The Persian name is probably related to the Armenian words for Georgian and Georgia, respectively, Vrastan and vir. (There are other cases in which the Persian word gu- is derived from an earlier wi- or wa-). Thus, both the Persian and Armenian appear to be related to the name Iberia, with loss of initial i- and substitution of w or v to b in Iberia. Also, in all likelihood, an etymological connection between the name Iberia and the historic province of Georgia called Imereti.
Culture of Georgia can be tracked up in ancient times because of cultural and linguistic homogeneity that characterized the Georgian people throughout its history. As Christianity spread in the Caucasian lands since the fourth century, the cultural heritage of Georgia sums up some of the oldest monuments of Christian architecture. And later, between XI and XIII centuries, churches have been raised both by outstanding architecture and murals by assemblages that host. Literature on the Georgian language was developed early and gave the world one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages, Shota Rustaveli, and romantic Nicoloz Baratasvili. Georgian folklore is almost unique in the world where there’s polyphony and is therefore protected as a cultural asset by UNESCO.
Literature: The oldest Georgian inscriptions were found in the Georgian monastery of the Holy Cross church in Palestine and Sioni church near Bolnis from the year 433, 492 respectively. The oldest manuscript contained Şuşanik Holy Passion (C’amebaj c’midisa Shushanik’isi, dedoplisa), a work of James of Tsurtaveli, in 483. From this era is known Antim Peter Prince (412-480), who made a career as a philosopher at the Byzantine court. In the late sixth century – old Georgian literary language was developed, which was adopted both in worship and in politics. Culture is written in the early Middle Ages especially in the subjects’ hagiographical works, but it also contains a large volume of translations from the Greek, Armenian and Arabic. Outstanding works of hagiographic genre are the Martyrdom of Abo of Tbilisi by John Sabanisdze and the Life of Grigol Khandzteli Merchule Giorgi. In the Middle Ages were the first reviews, and the Christianization about Georgia. Collections of hymns of the time used their own system of musical notes. From the ninth-century dates a Christian adaptation of the legend of Gautama Buddha, in the Georgian epic Balavariani. Perhaps trough the translation of Eutimiu from Atos Georgian monk (955-1028) the work became known later in Greek as the novel Barlaam and Jehoshaphat.
During the flowering of Georgian culture, from the eleventh century and twelfth century, wrote literary and philosophical works Eprem Mtsire, Arsen Iqaloeli and Ioane Petritsi. Written culture has developed especially in the Gelati Monastery, endowed by the founder David IV (1073 – 1125) with numerous Greek manuscripts and thus dubbed by Georgian historians later as “the second Athens”. In the so-called “Golden Age” were written first treated by law, mathematics, astronomy and medicine. Historiography also developed, focusing first on the origins of the nation’s proximity to kartvelic and other Caucasian peoples, and themes but treating all Georgian members in language and history, as Kartlis Tskhovreba compilation. Epic genre was cultivated by Savteli and Chakhruhadze, but the most famous poet of the time was Shota Rustaveli, author of “Brave in the tiger skin” in the twelfth century. As in “Orlando the angry” the protagonist of the epic, the warrior is blinded by love.
The first printing press with moveable types in the Georgian language was founded in 1710 by Mikhail Stefanovich in Tbilisi, through the intercession of Lovers, Metropolitan Romanian native of Caucasian Iberia (Iveria). The first book printed in Georgian was a Missal with a dedication in Romanian with the Georgian characters for the Vahtang IV, from the sixth century, who called Stefanovich from Walachia. A significant number of Georgian churches were built in V and VI centuries beyond the boundaries of Georgia, Palestine, Syria and Egypt. Vestiges of a thirteen churches and cathedrals have been discovered near the Georgian Antioch, a Georgian monastery was founded in the fifth century on the territory of the Theban necropolis. Inscriptions on the Georgian language in the same century were found in the desert of Judaea.
On the territory of Georgia today were built large churches in Bolnisi (V) and Urbnisi (VI). In the immediate plan of these buildings has been developed typical Georgian architecture in the form of a cross. The first of the monuments erected on this plan was the monastery of Holy Cross (Jvari). Other important churches were built in Parkhali, Bana, Oski and Khakhuli. Monuments protected by UNESCO: Cathedral Bagram in 1994 with the cultural heritage of mankind; Gelati Monastery in 1994 in the cultural heritage of mankind; Mtsjeta historical monuments, the 1994 historical heritage of mankind; upper Svaneti (1996). The oldest monumental paintings and mosaics dating back to Georgia of the eleventh century show the influence of Byzantine art at the time. The Georgian language has been preserved the oldest collections of hymns from orthodoxy.
It was rich and Islamic music, especially songs by decorating with oriental melisms (Georgia was mostly under Persian ruling and hence direct contact with other remarkable musical tradition), but also Russian and Western influences. Music is the oldest choir in the Georgian tradition, and is almost alone in Europe to develop polyphony. Only the music of Corsica and Sardinia encounters such a phenomenon, but there is more evident influence responsorial church. Polyphony is more spread at Georgians in the central plains than in the Caucasus foothills. In east is formed usually the choir, sometimes in only one voice, the bass accompaniment for one or two soloists independent of each other and in the west mix three songs between them, apparently without predetermined rules. Female voices are missing in traditional Georgian choirs, which fall mainly in the repertoire of songs fights for feast or labor, and mourning or religious hymns.
Mountains: The landscape is mostly mountainous. Likhi mountain chain divides the country into two halves: the east half and west half. In the northern mountains of “Greater” Caucasus separates Georgia from Russia and in the south are the mountains “Lesser” Caucasus. The highest peak: Shkhara 5201 m. Sea: the Black Sea gives Georgia 310 km line of coast. Climate: Caucasus Mountains influence the climate. In the west the climate is subtropical and in the east the climate is subtropical – temperate. Black Sea coast climate is Mediterranean. Area: 69.700 km². Neighborhoods: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey and the Black Sea. Main Cities: Tbilisi, Gori, Zugdidi, Supsa, Batumi. Administrative Divisions: Nine regions, one city and two autonomous republics. Time Zone: UTC + 4.
Country code (phone): 995. Radio emission: AM 7, FM 12, ultra – 4 (1998). Today Georgia’s territory was occupied by the United Kingdom of Colchis and Iberia. The territory was under Roman influence in the early centuries and Christianity was adopted around 337. After being dominated by the Persians, Arabs and Turks, Georgia was invaded by the Mongols in 1236. In the 19th century Georgia entered in the Russian Empire. After three years of independence (1918-1921) it was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. Modern Politics: Georgian government’s attempts to manipulate national legislative elections in November 2003, protests erupted throughout the country which brought the resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze, who led Georgia in 1995.
The elections in 2004 brought to power Mikheil Saakashvili. Since Georgia gained independence market and democratization evolution of society prevents filed two civil conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. These two regions are supported by Russia and the Georgian central government has no control over them. Independence: Obtained on 9 April 1991 before the Soviet Union. Organization: Georgia was once a tourist center in the Soviet Union which has attracted over 3 million tourists a year, of which 250,000 were tourists from outside the USSR. With civil war in 1990 the tourism industry fell to the ground. Today tourism is developing. Events: Independence Day – May 26 (when Georgia gained independence from Soviet Russia).
Estimated population: 4.646.003 people. Population density: 66 persons / km². Population Distribution: Urban 48%, 52% Rural (2005). Population living below the standard: 54.5% (2003). Birth rate: 10.54 to 1000 inhabitants. Death rate: 9.37 to 1000 inhabitants. Average Age: 38 years. Education Rates: 100% – People who know how to read and write (More than 15 years). Unemployment rate: 12.6% (2004). Ethnic Groups: Georgian 83.8%, Azeri 6.5%, Armenians 5.7%, Russia 1.5%, others 2.5% (2002). Emigrants: – 4.45 inhabitants /1000 persons. Languages: Georgian (official) 71%, Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, 7%. Religion: Orthodox Christian 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7%. Transport: train, plane, car, subway.
Highways / Roads: 20.247 km, Railways: 1.612 km. Airports: 23. Ports: 2. Coin: lari (GEL). Gross Domestic Product: $ 18.16 billion (total) (2006). Minimum Wage: 115 Lari / $ 67.11. Average salary: 234 lari / $ 136.56 (2006). Industries: steel, aircraft, machinery, electronics, mining, chemicals, wood products, wine. Agriculture Products: citrus, grapes, tea, hazelnuts, vegetables, livestock. Money Advice: Accommodation at the hotel $ 6 – $ 150, restaurant meals $ 4 – $ 20. Location: South-East Asia at the edge of the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia. Area: total: 69,700 sq km, Land: 69,700 sq km, water: 0 sq km. Land Borders: total: 1.461 km, border countries: Armenia 164 km, Azerbaijan 322 km, Russia 723 km, Turkey 252 km. Climate: warm and pleasant, Mediterranean at the Black Sea. Natural Resources: forests, hydropower, manganese deposits, iron ore, copper, minor coal deposits of oil, climate, coastal and soils allow for important tea and citrus growth.
Executive: the chief of state, the president is both head of state and head of government who administers the ministries, state security (interior) and ministry of defense. Form of government: Constitutional republic. Internet domain: .ge, telephone: + 995. Using the surface: arable land: 9%, permanent crops: 4%, permanent pastures: 25%, forest: 34%, other: 28% (1993), irrigated land: 4,000 sq km (1993 estimate), natural hazards: earthquakes. Environment – current issues: air pollution, especially in Rust’avi, high pollution of the river Mtkvari and Black Sea, inadequate supply of drinking water, soil pollution due to toxic chemicals.
As a result of the crisis due to suspicions of vote rigging in parliamentary elections in 2003, Eduard Shevardnadze has resigned as president on November 23, 2003 during the peaceful Rose Revolution. Interim President has been the spokesman of parliament Nino Burjanadze. On January 4, 2004 Mikhail Saakashvili, leader of National Movement – Democrats (MND) (former United National Movement), won presidential elections and he took office on January 25. New parliamentary elections were held on 28 March and the MND has secured majority of seats (about 75% of the vote) and only one other party reached the threshold of 7% (of the Right Opposition about 7.5%). This vote is considered one of the freest of all ever held in Georgia, though a rise in tension between central government and leader of the separatist region of Ajaria, Aslan Abashidze prejudiced elections here.
Tensions between Georgia and Ajaria government continuously increased after the elections by April next year, reaching a critical point on May 1 when Abashidze responded to military maneuvers held by Georgia near the region with blowing up three bridges linking Ajaria Choloki River with the rest of Georgia. On May 5, Abashidze was forced to leave Georgia following the massive demonstrations in Batumi demanding his resignation and to pressure from Russia with reference to Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov. On February 3, 2005, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania has died in what seems a waste of gas at home to deputy governor Raul Usupov. At the emergency meeting the same day, Giorgi Baramidze was appointed interim Prime Minister. On February 17 he was elected by parliament Zurab Noghaideli, former finance minister, as prime minister.
Georgia’s economy is traditionally based on tourism on the Black Sea coast, the wine culture, the citrus and tea, and the exploitation of manganese and copper. The industry is now focused on producing metallurgical, textile and chemical industries. Georgians were known since the third century BC as makers of weapons. In the Caucasus Mountains they exploit gold, silver, copper and iron. Georgian craftsmen produced according to legend warrior swords Achaeans and Trojans fought before the walls of Ilion. Georgians have become famous over time as warriors, and as merchants. Georgia’s trade was practiced mostly by Armenians. In the eleventh century was consolidated feudalist system in Georgia. Farmers were usually tied to the land, belonging to the crown, church or nobility.
The country was administered by the vizier and regional governors (eristavis), whose functions were usually hereditary. Georgia’s economy flourished in the twelfth century and early thirteenth century, when the country became the greatest power in the Trans Caucasus. Then it developed particularly trade with the Middle East.
During the Soviet period Georgia has been able to boast a high standard of living compared to other Soviet republics, it was Western observers who called it the “Switzerland of Caucasus”. Subtropical climate allowed good harvest in agriculture in Georgia was also almost the only producer of citrus fruit and tea in the Soviet Union. Georgian wine was much appreciated by the Russians, but this was not quite favorable fro Georgian viticulture. Wine production has been forced to deal with the Moldavian SSR, wine to meet demand inexpensive meal. Thus, the area under vines increased between 1950 and 1985 from 58,000 to 128,000 hectares of wine production totaled about 800,000 tons in the 80s.
Tourism has flourished in the Soviet period. Heavy industry and weapons were developed after the Second World War. Collectivization was not general in Georgia; half of agricultural production came from the private sector. Georgian peasants were mostly wealthy and sold their products themselves in Russian cities. In the west of the country is growing cattle and sheep in the east. Georgia has only limited energy resources, which creates a dependency on natural gas from Russia which has caused much conflict. Energy issues have lately favored closer cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Georgia is already linked to these countries through the new pipeline carrying oil from the Caspian to Turkey. This pipeline known as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline linking Baku and the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, will soon be accompanied by a natural gas pipeline and a railway track that will play a crucial role in trade between Asia and Europe.
This project excludes Armenia and is therefore criticized in Yerevan. The new geo-strategic importance of Georgia has not yet led to an improvement of economic situation. Georgia has arguably the world’s oldest wine growing. Partly are used ancient methods of wine-fication, the must fermentation in jars of clay (kvevri). For export wines are produced with modern methods such as mixing like Tsinandali and Mukuzani, but the Georgians themselves prefer wines made by traditional methods. Kahet Region in the East, where is produced two thirds of Georgian wine, became famous especially by heavy red wines, including Saperavi, the most common, but in the meantime produces white wines, Tibaani at acceptable level, or Gurjaani Rkatsiteli.
Kartli remains the most important wine-growing area (in southeast Georgia). In recent years foreign investors have started to produce Georgian wines exported in large quantities, and the brand appeared as Kahet GWS Group’s Pernod Ricard, the American company produces sparkling light, Bagration. Georgian wine reputation internationally is growing, despite the repeated prohibitions of the Russian market. Major problems: corruption, political instability in general and secessionist movements in particular and current standards that are inadequate, infrastructure main obstacles to economic development.
Georgia became a kingdom in the year 4 BC and Christianity was introduced in 337. During the leadership of Queen Tamara (1184-1213) Georgian territory included the entire Caucasus region. Tamerlane and the Mongols in the thirteenth century decimated the population and the country since the sixteenth century was the scene of fighting between Persia and Turkey. In the eighteenth century Georgia became a vassal of Russia in exchange for protection from the Turks and Persians. Georgia joined in 1917 Azerbaijan and Armenia to set up an anti-Bolshevik Trans Caucasian Federation and when the federation dissolved in 1918, Georgia proclaimed its independence. In 1922, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been attached to the USSR and formed the Socialist Republic of Trans Caucasus. In 1936 Georgia became a separate Soviet republic.
Georgia proclaimed its independence from the USSR in April 1991. In January 1992 Zviad Gamsakhurdia was removed as a leader, accused of dictatorial politics, close political opponents, human rights abuser and suppression of freedom of the press. Eduard Shevardnadze became president. In 1992-1993 the government was involved in an armed conflict with separatists in the province of Abkhazia. In 1994, Russia and Georgia have signed a treaty of cooperation which allowed Russia to keep three military bases in Georgia and to train and equip the Georgian army. In 1996 Georgia and South Ossetia agreed to cease hostilities in the sixth year of conflict. Abkhazia situation is not improved, but parliament voted to threaten Russia with military bases loss if it fails to extend its military control over the separatist region.
In 1998, the U.S. and Britain began the operation to remove nuclear weapons from Georgia, remnants of the Soviet years. Admired by the West since he was minister, Shevardnadze had a negative image in front of citizens, frustrated by unemployment, poverty and corruption. In the elections of 2000 Shevardnadze was reelected, though international observers noted several irregularities. Tensions between Georgia and Russia became strained due to dispute on the Pankisi gorge, which Russia says is a rebel stronghold of Islamic militants and the Czechs. In May 2003 work began on the Georgian section of oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, oil pipeline that goes through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The pipeline was opened in 2006.
After preliminary results of the 2003 parliamentary elections were held demonstrations. The opposition party says election was rigged in favor of Shevardnadze. After three weeks of protests, he resigned. In 2004 elections were won by Mikhail Saakashvili, the opposition leader. It has made remarkable progress in eliminating corruption and began a series of reforms. Saakashvili’s popularity has suffered a heavy blow in 2007 when 50,000 demonstrators gathered in front of parliament to demand the resignation and early elections. After three days of protest, the demonstrators were removed by tear gas and rubber bullets, and the president declared a state of emergency. In 2008 presidential elections were held, won by Saakashvili with 52.8%.
In April 2008 NATO said that a Russian fighter is responsible for the destruction of a Georgian reconnaissance aircraft, which would end Russia’s role as a neutral party in the territorial dispute between Georgia and Abkhazia. In August 2008, a day after signing the ceasefire agreement between Georgia and South Ossetia, South Ossetia erupted in violent movements. The fighting killed at least 15 civilians and 10 Russian soldiers in the peacekeeping forces. On August 9 Russia involved more, sending troops into Abkhazia and launched air strikes on the capital Tbilisi. Thousands of people have been killed, hundreds were injured and thousands have fled in South Ossetia. Russia‘s attack has been speculated that the reason was the control of export routes for gas and oil. Russian President Medvedev on August 12 ordered the end of military actions in Georgia and Russia on October 8 to begin withdrawing troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in accordance with the agreement brokered by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Georgians make up one of the oldest peoples of the world. This nation was founded from three associations of tribal kartli, megrel-chan (chests) and svan. The first state organization in the territory of Georgia today was Colhis and Iberia, which laid the foundations for a significant civilization. The history of this civilization, which reached its apogee in XII and XIII centuries, is marked by numerous invasions and conquests of the Caucasus neighboring empires over time. Despite these hardships, the people of Georgia have maintained national and cultural identity. The first evidence of some populations in present-day Georgia dates from the middle Paleolithic. Starting with Chalcolithic, these populations were noted for metalworking. It is distinguished for that period: Odischi culture, groups Maikopi and Sion (the West), Sulaveri culture, the group Sioni (the east), with the representative resorts Chramis Didi Gora and Sulaveri Gora.
In the Early Bronze Age there are changes in social structure, as evidenced by the type of burial tumulus Martqopi and Kura-Araxes Bedeni culture, the remains of fortified settlements and the development of metallurgy. A fortified settlement with two nearby necropolises was discovered in Kvazchelebi, stone or shell mounds of earth, whose burial chamber found inventories that reflect the social status of the dead, the Martqopi and Bedeni. By the middle of the Second Millennium BC in the Middle Bronze Age, existing populations in Georgia were organized in tribal associations with strongly hierarchical structure, in which were highly developed the agriculture, technology metallurgy and pottery.
Gold and silver vessels, ornaments and clay objects found in many mountainous regions in central Trialeti exhibits a high level of civilization. These testimonies are assigned generic to the Trialeti culture, which can be characterized mainly by the impressive dimensions and structure of the tumuli. In some graves were found near the port pieces of wood with four wheels. In the late Bronze and early Iron Age there are some changes in the types of habitat types of the forms of pottery and weapons. The latter are influenced by the occurrence of iron metallurgy. Archeological discoveries, linguistic features and written sources attest Georgian tribes’ contribution to the development of metallurgical technology in the Middle East and the Greek world. According to Greek sources, even the processes of production of iron ore were discovered by the ancient Georgians.
In the thirteenth century BC was founded the first kingdom in present-day Georgia, Diaochi, the union of several tribes called kartvelic. It was probably one of the most powerful organizations on the shores of the Black Sea state and lasted until the mid-eighth century BC, when it was replaced by Colhida state, whose existence is mentioned for the period between the ninth century and VIII BC, described as the “Kolcha” or “Kulcha”. This kingdom lasted until II-I centuries BC, when the region became part of the Roman state, crossed by the limes of the Caucasian. In his later period, the kingdom has beaten its own silver coins, the so-called “tetri”. Colhida mythology was influenced by the peoples of the Sumerian, Babylonian myths. The legend of Prometheus, Zeus held captive in the Caucasus Mountains, is partly, it seems, even Caucasian origin. Here, Prometheus was known as Amiran.
The legend of Argonauts of the Greeks showed keen interest in Colhid riches. Argonauts sought the Golden Fleece belonged to the legendary king of Colhida Aeetes, son of Helios and fateful father Medea. The legend mentions a river Colhid, Fazis the land identified by Rioni River, the city Eea as capital of the kingdom. Greek settlers occurred in Colhida during the VII and VI centuries BC, founding the polis Dioscuridas (today Sukhami), Fazis (now Poti) and Pityus. In regions of eastern, southern and western part of Georgia area extends from the fourth century BC the Kartli kingdom, ancient and Byzantine sources called Iberia or Iveria, with the capital at Mtsjeta, separated from Colhida Lich mountain chain. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, in 333 BC, the kingdom of Iberia and Colhida became independent.11