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Georgia (country)

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Georgia (საქართველო Sakartvelo in Georgian), known from 1991 to 1995 as the Republic of Georgia, is a country to the east of the Black Sea in the southern Caucasus. A former republic of the Soviet Union, it shares borders with Russia in the north and Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan in the south.

Flag of Georgia
Georgian coat of arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: ძალა ერთობაშია' The Power is in Unity
Location of Georgia
Official language Georgian
Capital and
largest city
Capital'Coordinate" title ="Coordinate">coordinates 41° 43' N, 44° 48' E
President Mikheil Saakashvili
Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania
Speaker of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 118th
69,700 km┬▓
- Total (July 2004 est.)
- Density
Ranked 113th
From Soviet Union
9 April 1991
Currency Lari (GEL)
Time zone UTC +3 (DST +4)
National anthem Tavisupleba (Freedom)
Internet TLD .ge
Calling Code 995


Main article: History of Georgia

Two Georgian Kingdoms of late antiquity, Iberia in the east of the country and Egrisi in the west, were among the first nations in the world to adopt Christianity (In 337 AD and 523 AD, respectively.) Iberia was suffering from the aggressive expansionism of neighboring Persian Kingdom and disloyalty of strong feudal rulers, while Egrisi often was a battleground of rival Persia and the Byzantine Empire, both of which managed to conquer Western Georgia time to time. As the result, those Kingdoms were disintegrated into various feudal principalities in the early Middle Ages. It made it easy for Arabs to occupy Georgia in the 7th century. The rebelious principalities were liberated and united into the Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the 11th century. Since the 12th century the rule of that Kingdom extended over the entire Southern Caucasus, as well as over almost the entire southern coast of the Black Sea in the north of modern Turkey, other north-eastern parts of that country and some north-western districts of Persia.

This Georgian Kingdom, which was tolerant towards its Muslim and Jewish subjects despite the Kingdom'Mongols" title ="Mongols">Mongols in the 13th century. Thereafter, different princes fought for their independence from the central Georgian rule, until the total disintegration of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Neighbouring kingdoms exploited the situation and from the 16th century the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire were subordinate eastern and western principalities of Georgia, respectively.

Some autonomy of the principalities was reserved and local rulers organised rebellions on various occasions, which led to frequent invasions of Persians and Turks. This further weakend local kingdoms and principalities. This time, Georgian weakness was exploited by the neighbouring Russian Empire. First to fall into Russian hands was the Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti, which was almost totally devastated by Persian invasions in the last two decades of the 18th century. The annexation of this Kingdom by the Russian Tsarist Empire took place on September 12, 1801. This conquest was officially legitimised by the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan.

All the principalities in the west of the country remained fully independent until the next decade. In 1810 the Russian Empire managed to conquer and abolish the Western Georgian Kingdom of Imereti, which had a key roll in the diplomatic efforts to maintain Georgian sovereignty in the west of the country and to unite Western Georgian principalities. Even afterwards, it took the Russian Empire another 54 years to take under it full control entire Western Georgia. Principality of Guria was abolished in 1828, Principality of Mingrelia in 1857, Principality of Svaneti was gradually annexed in 1857-1859 and the Principality of Abkhazia in 1864.

After the Russian Revolution Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918 during the Russian Civil War. This independent state was among the first nations in the world, in which women could enjoy suffrage. The parliamentary elections were won by the Georgian Social-Democratic Party and its leader, Noe Zhordania, received the post of Prime-Minister. By February 25, 1921, this Democratic Republic of Georgia was occupied by the Red Army and was incorporated into a Transcaucasian Federative Soviet Socialist Republic uniting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The TFSSR was disaggregated into its component elements in 1936 and Georgia became the Georgian SSR.

The Georgian radical Ioseb Jughashvili was prominent among the Bolsheviks, which came to power in the Russian Empire after the October Revolution (1917). Jughashvili was better known by his nom de guerre Stalin (from the Russian word for steel: сталь). Stalin was to rise to the highest position of the Soviet state and to rule ruthlessly, never sparing Georgian compatriots.

In 1941-45, during Second World War, almost 700,000 Georgians fought as the Red Army soldiers against the Nazi Germany. More than 200,000 of them died in the battlefields of eastern front.

During the Perestroika reforms of the late 1980s, one of which main architects was Georgian minister of USSR for foreign affairs, Eduard Shevardnadze*, Georgia developed a vigorous multiparty system that strongly favoured independence. The country staged the first democratic multiparty elections in the Soviet Union on October 28, 1990. On April 9, 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared independence again. Several areas, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, quickly became embroiled in disputes with Russian supported separatists that led to civil wars and widespread inter-ethnic violence. Today, those regions are de facto independent states.

*Before his appointment as foreign affairs minister, while holding the post of the first deputy of Georgian Communist Party, Shevardnadze initiated an economic experiment in Abasha district of Western Georgia, which broke the strict egalitarian rules in local collective farms and recovered the area from poverty.


Main article: Politics of Georgia See also Foreign relations of Georgia

Following a crisis involving allegations of ballot fraud in the 2003 parliamentary elections, Eduard Shevardnadze resigned as president on November 23, 2003 in the bloodless Rose Revolution. The interim president was the speaker of the outgoing parliament (whose replacement was annulled), Nino Burjanadze. On January 4, 2004 Mikhail Saakashvili, leader of the National Movement - Democrats (NMD) (former United National Movement) won the country'January_25" title ="January 25">January 25. Fresh parliamentary elections were held on March 28 where NMD secured the vast majority of the seats (with ca. 75% of the votes) with only one other party reaching the 7% threshold (the Rightist Opposition with ca. 7.5%). The vote is believed to have been one of the freest ever held in independent Georgia although a surge of tension between the central government and the Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze injured the elections in this region.
The tension between the Georgian government and that of Ajaria grew increasingly after the elections until late April. Climaxing on May 1 when Abashidze responded to military maneuvers held by Georgia near the region with having the three bridges connecting Ajaria and the rest of Georgia over the Choloki River blown up. On May 5 Abashidze was forced to flee Georgia as mass demonstrations in Batumi called for his resignation and Russia increased their pressure by deploying Security Council secretary Igor Ivanov.


Main article: Subdivisions of Georgia

Georgia is divided into 53 provinces, 11 cities and 2 autonomous republics.

Autonomous republics: Abkhazia, Ajaria.
Cities: Batumi, Chiatura, Gori, Kutaisi, Poti, Rustavi, Sokhumi, Tbilisi, Tq'ibuli, Tsq'altubo, Tskhinvali
Districts: Abasha, Adigeni, Akhalgora, Akhaltsikhe, Akhmeta, Ambrolauri, Aspindza, Baghdati, Bolnisi, Borjomi, Chkhorotsq'u, Chokhatauri, Dedoplistsq'Dmanisi" title ="Dmanisi">Dmanisi, Dusheti, Gardabani, Gurjaani, Java, Kareli, Kaspi, Kharagauli, Khashuri, Khobi, Khoni, Lagodekhi, Lanchkhuti, Lentekhi, Marneuli, Martvili, Mestia, Mtskheta, Ninotsminda, Oni, Ozurgeti, Q'Q%27vareli" title ="Q'vareli">Q'vareli, Sachkhere, Sagarejo, Samtredia, Senaki, Sighnaghi,Telavi, Terjola, Tetritsq'aro, Tianeti, Tsageri, Tsalenjikha, Tsalka, Vani, Zestaponi, Zugdidi

Origin of the name

Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). These names are derived from a pagan god called Kartlos, said to be the father of all Georgians. The foreign name Georgia, used throughout Western Europe, is derived from Arabic Jurj, which in turn comes from Persian Gurj. Because the spelling was influenced by the Greek root geōrg- (γεωργ-, indicating farming), the word has been mistakenly supposed to have come from a cognate such as St. George (the country's patron saint), or γεωργία (geōrg├şa, farming).

The Classical world knew the inhabitants of eastern Georgia as Iberians, from the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia — thus confusing the geographers of antiquity, who thought this name applied only to the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar and Oliven├ža). [1]

Gurj, the Persian designation for the Georgians, is also the source of Turkish G├╝rc├╝ (pronounced "G├╝rdj├╝") and Russian Gruzin. The name of the country is Gurjestan in Persian, G├╝rc├╝stan in Turkish, and Gruzija in Russian. The Persian name is probably related to the Armenian words for Georgian and Georgia, respectively Vir and Vrastan. (There are other instances in which a Persian word-initial gu- is derived from an earlier wi- or wa-.) Thus, both the Persian and the Armenian words appear to be related to the name Iberia, with loss of the initial i- and substitution of w or v for the b of Iberia.

There is also, in all likelihood, an etymological connection between the name Iberia and the historic province of Georgia called Imereti.

Former symbols

Former Georgian flag
Former Georgian flag
Former Georgian coat of arms
Former Georgian coat of arms

This flag was in use from 1991 to January 25, 2004. It was previously used from 1918 to 1921. For more information, see Flag of Georgia (country).

This coat of arms was used from 1918 to 1921 and from 1991 to 2004.


Main article: Geography of Georgia

In the north, Georgia has a 723km common border with Russia, specifically with the Northern Caucasus federal district. The following Russian republics/subdivisions - from west to east - border Georgia: Krasnodar Krai, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan.

Mountains are the dominant geographic feature of Georgia. The Likhi Range divides the country into eastern and western halves. Historically, the western portion was known as Colchis while the eastern plateau was called Iberia. Mountains also isolate the northern region of Svaneti from the rest of Georgia.

Major rivers in Georgia include the Rioni and the Mtkvari.

Main cities:

Map of Georgia (the country in the Caucasus)


Main article: Economy of Georgia


Main article: Demographics of Georgia


Main article: Culture of Georgia See also Georgian language, Georgian alphabet

Miscellaneous topics

External links and references

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