Form of government: Presidential Parliament Democracy
Head of State: President – elected for a term of 5 years.
Branches of government: Parliament – 150 members elected for a term of 4 years; Government – Prime Minister, Ministers, State Ministers – approved by the Parliament; Independent Judiciary.
Territorial-administrative division: 9 regions (Guria, Imereti, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli), 9 cities, and 2 autonomous republics.
Current population: 4.6 million.
Capital: Tbilisi, 1.3 million
Area: 69,700 sq. km., bordering on Turkey, Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan
Natural resources: Oil, coal, peat, manganese, gold, silver copper, zinc ores, bentonite clay, mineral water
The country is situated in the south of the Caucasus region and occupies 69,700 sq.km. Georgia borders with Russia in the north, Azerbaijan in the south-east, Armenia in the south, Turkey in the south-west and the Black Sea in the west.
Georgia is distinguished by its complex and varied relief. The north is dominated by the mountains of the Great Caucasus Range, while Southern Georgia is traversed by the South Georgian Plateau. From the shore of the Black Sea in the west to the Alazani Valley in the east run the inter-mountain lowlands of Georgia. The mountain range Rikoti divides the country into two parts differing in climate: Eastern Georgia and Western Georgia. The highest peak is Shkara (5198m), the lowest place (-1.5m) is the environs of lake Paliastomi in the Kolkheti Lowland. Forests constitute 38% of the country’s territory and cover 2.7million hectares (6.6 million acres).
Almost all climatic zones existing in the world, from the humid subtropical to eternal snow and icy peaks are represented in the comparatively small territory of Georgia, whose location between moderately humid Mediterranean and dry continental Arab-Caspian areas influences its climate. A humid sub-tropical climate dominates in Western Georgia.
The oldest remains of Homo Erectus in Western Eurasia (approximately 1.8 million years old) recently discovered
in Georgia only support the consensus among scholars that humans have inhabited the territory of Georgia since the very dawn of the human race. Georgians first appear in written history in the 12th century B.C. Archaeological finds and references in ancient sources reveal the brilliance and advancement of early Georgian political and state formations – their amazing urban heritage and cutting-edge metallurgy and goldsmith techniques that date back to the 7th century B.C. and beyond. In the 4th century B.C. a unified kingdom of Georgia – an early example of advanced state organization under one king and the hierarchy of aristocracy, was established. Christianity came to Georgia with its first missionaries and it was declared the state religion as early as 337 A.D. Early and medieval Christian scholarship, the links with the rest of the Christian world and dynamic exchange with the Islamic world, together with the development of national literature and the political consolidation of the state in the 11th century A.D. culminated in a true renaissance in the 12-13th centuries A.D.
This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its European analogue by several hundred years, was significant and was characterized by magnificent secular art and culture, the flourishing of a romantic- chivalric tradition, breakthroughs in philosophy, and an array of political innovations in society and state organization, including religious and ethnic tolerance, the abolition of the death penalty and a proto-parliament.
The Golden age of Georgia left a magnificent legacy of great cathedrals, brilliant romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin – revered by all Georgians since its creation for its artistic and philosophical virtue, the glorification of the ideals of universal solidarity between humans, and the values of chivalry, honour, compassion and romantic love. This Golden Age was interrupted at its peak by the Mongol Invasion in the 13th century A.D. After that time, the Georgian feudal state entered an era of decline punctuated by short-lived ascents.
In the 19th century, Georgia, on the verge of annihilation by its powerful southern rivals, was annexed by the Russian Empire. A few decades later, Georgian society produced a modernist nationalistic elite which united Georgian society around the dream of the restoration of their once glorious state. In 1918, this dream was fulfilled and the Democratic Republic of Georgia was established. This courageous democratic experiment was short-lived, as in 1921 Georgia was occupied by Bolshevik Russia. The first years of independence after the dissolution of the USSR were characterized by political instability and civil conflicts. The first wave of reforms initiated in 1995 was only partially successful. Political corruption resulted in economic decline and institutional inefficiency, which led to grave political crisis. In November 2003, the “Rose Revolution – a mass non-violent public disobedience campaign – forced the government, which had tried to falsify elections, to resign. A new wave of systemic reforms started after the election of the new Government.
People and Lifestyle
The social culture and traditions of Georgians are founded on layers of historical experience and a uniquely authentic civilizational core with occidental and oriental influences which came about through centuries of cultural exchange, travel, trade and war. Although, historically, Georgians are enthusiastic innovators and modernizers, at the same time they zealously preserve their unique culture. The Georgian lifestyle may seem a little old-world decadent. Georgians are hardly converts to the “great truths of economism or believers in an end of history – their cultural world is too rich and their historical memory as a survivor nation too long for this. Although as a rule creative and hard working, Georgians do not merely live to work In their rich social and cultural world, Georgians attach great importance to leisure, investing time in their social networks and families, dressing well and looking good, tasty food, aesthetic perfection, romantic love, chivalric ideals in social relationships, sincere hospitality, and generosity. Although passionate modernizers, often speak of spirituality and the continuity of their cultural history. For Georgians, History is not something currently irrelevant but a palpable reality of their continuing collective journey. Georgians revere their historical monuments, glorious kings and queens, national heroes and great artists. They consider themselves to be Europeans, although they have a deep understanding of the East. Personal trust and reputation are indispensable factors when doing business with Georgians.
Georgian cuisine is one of the main attractions for foreigners visiting Georgia. It is famous for its uniqueness and diversity. An experienced traveler may discern some similarities between Georgian, and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. However, Georgian cuisine is doubtlessly an authentic gastronomic phenomenon. In fact, every historical province of the country has its own distinct cuisine perfected over centuries. Georgian food includes all types of meat and fish. The choice of fruits, appetizers and vegetarian meals is even wider – as an ancient settled culture Georgians developed a rich vegetarian menu. The different combinations of a variety of spices, fresh organic food, and the excellence of the cooks, make Georgian food an unforgettable experience.