About Georgia, country overview
Georgia is located to the east of the Black Sea and to the south of Great Caucasus Mountain Range. This region is known as the "South Caucasus" or "Transcaucasia" currently in Western languages. It shares borders with the Russian federation in the north, Turkey and Armenia in the south and Azerbaijan in the east.
Area: 69.700 km2
Capital (and largest city): - Tbilisi (Population: 1,480,000)
Total population: 4,570,934
Georgian - The only language in the Ibera Caucasian family written in ancient script, with its own unique alphabet.
(Russian, Ossetian, Mingrelian, Armenian, Azeri and Abkhazian are also spoken).
Christian majority, mainly Greek Orthodoxy, other confessional groups include Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Armenian Gregorian, Catholics, Baptists, Judaists.
Government: Presidential Republic.
There are quite a wide range of climates in Georgia, from the warm, humid, subtropical Bleak Sea coast, via the colder wet alpine climate of the High Caucasus, to the arid steppes of the east. The Greater Caucasus and the South Georgian Upland join with the Likhi Range divides Georgia into two contrasting climatic zones: Western and Eastern Georgia. At the same time The Greater Caucasus range moderates local climate by serving as a barrier against cold air from the north. Temperatures in the mountains range from an average of 5.7 °C.
In high mountains the winter lasts for eight months, with an average temperature of -15 °C. On the coast of Adjara, temperatures range from 5.8 °C in January to 23.8 °C in August. In eastern Georgia temperatures range from 0.5 °C in January to 23 °C in august. Kakheti (East Georgia) - is considerably hot part of Georgia.
In summer temperature varies from + 30 - +40 °C, in winter -8 - +5 °C.
The best suggestions for travelers would from late spring till early fall tours, in winter snow resorts in Caucasus Mountain.
Time Zone: GMT + 4
Calling code: +995
Georgian National currency is Lari (GEL). 1 Lari = 100 Tetri.
All payments are made in Lari on the territory of Georgia.
Among foreign currencies the most wide-spread are USD, EUR.
The Georgians have exceptionally strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and codes of personal honour. They believe that guests come from God.
The statue of Mother of Georgia (Kartlis deda) that stands in the hills above Tbilisi perhaps best symbolizes the national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine with which she greets her friends and in her right is a sword drawn against her enemies. The Georgians are proud, passionate, and fiercely individualistic, yet deeply connected with each other by a shared sense of belonging to a greater Georgian family. Women are highly esteemed in society and are accorded a chivalric respect.
Everything in Georgia speaks about its greatness and wealth. Numerous monuments – cult structures of the early Christianity, ancient churches and monasteries hiding in the Caucasian Mountains are silent witnesses to its rich history. The unique landscapes of this part of the world: high mountains, rapid rivers, green meadows, the turquoise sea … eloquently “speak” about the rich nature… The generosity of the inhabitants of Georgia has become in best expressed by the saying “the Georgian hospitality” which implies a noisy cheerful feast with endless toasts and rivers of magnificent Georgian wines.
Everything in Georgia is unique, original and exotic indeed. It is the country of highly developed culture which evolved like a colorful mosaic for centuries before it has turned into the national asset of the country and can be compared only with Georgian native land so treasured by its people – beautiful, rich, long-suffering but proud and independent.
Georgians are very much fond of their country calling it Sakartvelo and consider it the heavenly spot on the earth. To prove this they even created an amusing legend: “When the God divided the Earth among the people, Georgians were late because of their traditional feast, and by the moment of their arrival the entire world had already been divided. When the God asked them to what they had drunk Georgians just answered:”To you, oh Lord, to us, to peace”. The God liked their answer. So told them that although all lands were taken, he reserved a small plot for himself and now he decided to give it Georgians. According to the God the land was incomparable in its beauty and all people would admire and cherish it forever.”
And it did come true: the beauty of Georgia is impossible to describe but sing about it. So Georgians prefer singing about the beauty of their land in their original harmonious songs.
The landscapes of Georgia are a unique mixture of all four seasons. The mountain tops are sparkling with snow, the autumn fog with rain and snow reigns in the foothills, in the river valleys there are spring flowers and fruit trees, and finally, hot summer – among evergreen palm trees on the Black Sea shore. It is not surprising that the fertile Georgian land inspired such Great Russian classic writers and poets as Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy and many others.
The beauty of Georgian nature, the purest air, the unique coniferous forests, the beautiful mountain lakes, the Alpine meadows and healing mineral springs; sacred places – the unique monuments of early Christian culture, numerous resorts known all over the world – Batumi, Tskhaltubo, Borjomi and many other things attract tourist from around the globe. All in all there are about 300 mountain, seaside, balneal and healing mud resorts in Georgia.
Georgia possesses a huge tourist potential. Just think about it – in the 1980s there came up to 4-5 million people a year! After the country gained its independence this figure was considerably reduced. It was connected with the political instability in the country. But today the troubles are over and Georgia is again opened for tourists and travelers from all over the world. The popularity of this destination is rapidly increasing and he projected number of visitors coming there will soon reach one million tourists per year.
Georgia is a country with ancient and rich original culture which goes back as far as millennia. Its knowledge and recognition has crossed national borders and entered the international level to become the cultural legacy of the mankind.
Georgian monumental architecture, world-renowned art of singing and music, book miniature, rich spiritual and secular literature, colorful dances, jewelry, chasings and paintings along with the hospitable Georgian people are inalienable part of this ancient country.
The original geographical position of Georgia on the border between European and Asian continents reflected on its culture which absorbed Near-Eastern, European and local Caucasian traditions. The important trading ways crossing the territory of Georgia and connecting the north with the south, and the east with the west were the source of penetration for the elements of new cultures, traditions, trends, tendencies, doctrines etc.
Deliberate wisdom of the Orient and progressing dynamism of the West met there in Georgia. The period of the 11 th – the 12 th centuries were the Renaissance of Georgian state when monks in academies, churches and monasteries put forward new humanistic ideas. Even during the Midle Ages philosophy and historiography, theology and law, poetry and art prospered in Georgia.
Architecture, astronomy, geography and other branches of knowledge were being developed. Applied art began to arise; especially jeweler’s business and art of metals processing (chasing) which still prosper.
Blossoming of secular culture occurred in the 19 th century when Georgian writers and artists under the influence of European enriched the treasury of national and world art. The most considerable place n the treasury of spiritual culture of Georgian people is occupied by musical and dancing folklore – art of harmonious choral singing and national dances recognized all over the world.
Georgians practice Orthodox Christianity. By the way, Georgia was the second (after Armenia) to accept Christianity as the established religion in 326 AD.
Despite the huge influence of Christianity in Georgia they are very tolerant and respectful toward the representatives of other religions. There are a lot of Moslems. Some Abkhazians and Georgians from southern and southwest areas (Adzharia etc.) practice Sunnite Islam. Azerbaijanis, Assyrians and Kurds are Moslems too. Armenians, Greeks and Russians have their own orthodox churches. In Georgia there is also a small number of Catholics.
Georgian cuisine is probably the most important attraction of the country. Since the traditional Georgian feast is an integral element of culture, Georgian entertainment should match its high level. Georgians have managed to make their cuisine not only magically delicious but also bright, original, exquisite, unique and unforgettable.
Therefore, Georgian cuisine absorbed the best culinary traditions of many people of Transcaucasia, Asia and the Black Sea coast. The western part of Georgia was affected by Turkish cuisine, the eastern – by Iranian. Therefore, in the western Georgia widespread are the corn flour flat cakes from– mchadi, while in the eastern Georgia people prefer white bread baked in huge clay jugs.
The weasterners use corn flour to cook thick mash – gomi – and eat it instead of bread with meat and vegetable dishes. Eastern Georgians cook mutton, use many animal fats along with the core Georgian meat – beef, while in the Western Georgia they eat much less meat and favor poultry – chicken and turkeys.
In the western Georgia they prefer rennet cheeses- suluguni and Imeretian. As for the eastern Georgia there they prefer spicy and salty cheeses – Kobian, Tushin and Georgian. Both western and eastern Georgias are famous for their special spice sauce from nuts and spices used with meats.
However, these insignificant differences can not be the reason of distinguishing between western and eastern cuisines. There is only one “Georgian cuisine” when it comes to reception of a guest of honor. And of course only the freshest ingredients, obligatory sauces, seasonings, spices and greens are used for cooking …
“When God was distributing portions of the world to all the people of the Earth, the Georgians were having a party and doing some serious drinking. As a result, they arrived late and were told by God that all the land had been distributed. When they replied that they were late only because they had been lifting their glasses in praise of Him, God was pleased, and gave the Georgians that part of Earth He had been reserving for Himself.” (The Legend)
Current Georgia is probably the oldest wine region in the world. The fertile valleys of the South Caucasus, which Georgia straddles, are believed by many archaeologists to be the source of the world’s first cultivated grapevines and neolithic wine production, over 8,000 years ago. Due to the many millennia of wine in Georgian history, an its key economical role, the traditions of its viticulture are entwined and inseparable with the country’s national identity.
Among the best-known regions of Georgia where wine is produced are Kakheti (further divided onto micro-regions of Telavi and Kvareli),Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti.UNESCO added the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the Kvevri clay jars to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Traditional Georgian grape varieties are little known in the West. Now that the wines of Eastern and Central Europe are coming to international awareness, grapes from this region are becoming better known. Although there are nearly 400 to choose from, only 38 varieties are officially grown for commercial viticulture in Georgia:
Rkatsiteli (white) is a variety that is so widely grown in Eastern and Central Europe that it ranks third in theworld in hectares grown. It is the most important grape varietiy used to make Georgian white wines. It is high in acidity and is capable of producing wines with fine character.
Saperavi (red) produces substantial deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging, up to fifty years. Saperavi has the potential to produce high alcohol levels and is used extensively for blending with other lesser varieties. It is themost important grape variety used to make Georgian red wines.
Mtsvani (or Mtsvane) (white) is also important in Georgian wines, and is often blended with Rkatsiteli to which it adds a fruity,aromatic balance. In the Georgian language Mtsvane means green.