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Described variously as part of Europe, Central Asia or the Middle East, Georgia has long been a flash point for cultural and geographical collision. Its weather and landscape are a meeting of east and west. Its history is a lengthy list of empires rising and falling, of invasions, skirmishes, massacres and wars. But it is also a nation of survival, and of great natural, cultural and gastronomic beauty. Georgia is holding its arms open to the world. And as civil unrest calms, the world is beginning to notice.

Georgia is a newly independent nation, and while living conditions are improving, they're not yet at the western standards desired by the government. Tourist facilities outside of the capital, Tbilisi, are not highly developed and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available. Despite this, and despite an area in the north of the country being basically off-limits due to separatist control, terrorist activity and an abundance of land mines, Georgia presents a proud face to the world. Its culture is ancient and built around a vast variety of influences; its people are a mix of traditional and very modern; and the food! Oh, my, the food!


Because of the presence of land mines and high incidence of kidnapping, visitors are advised to avoid travelling near the Russian border region, especially Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Kabarda-Balkar and Karachay-Cherkessia. The breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should also be avoided.

Full country name: Georgia
Area: 69,700 sq km (27,200 sq mi)
Population: 5.2 million
Capital city: Tbilisi
People: Georgian (70%), Armenian (8%), Russian (6%), Azeri (6%)
Languages: Georgian (71%), Russian (9%), Armenian (7%), Azerbaijani (6%)
Religion: Georgian Orthodox (60%), Russian Orthodox (10%), Muslim (11%), Armenian Apostolic (8%)
Government: Presidential Republic
Head of State: President Eduard Shevardnadze

GDP: US$11.2 billion
GDP per head: US$2200
Growth rate: 4%
Inflation: 10.5%
Major industries: Heavy industry (steel, aircraft, machine tools, locomotives, cranes, motors, trucks), textiles, shoes, wood products, wine
Major trading partners: Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria
Member of EU: No


Georgia is at the junction of Europe and Asia, and this has led to a diverse, moderate culture developing over thousands of years. According to ancient tradition, when God was handing out land to the peoples of the planet, the Georgians were too busy eating and drinking and arrived late. God told them that there was no land left, and the Georgians told him that they had been toasting his health. They invited God to join them, and he had such a wonderful time at the Georgians' table that he gave them all the land he had been saving for himself. Truly God's own country.

Food in Georgia is one of the biggest attractions for visitors, and is the centrepiece of domestic cultural activity. Part of this family focus, and an unusual phenomenon for foreign visitors, is Georgian meal-time. Complicated ritual relationships are manifested in it. The table is led by tamada, who proposes traditional toasts throughout the meal. To the outsider, it can seem as though nothing is done before everyone drinks to it. It's best not to toast while drinking beer; it's regarded as a subtle insult.

During Soviet rule, Georgian restaurants spread through the republic, and are still favourite haunts for discerning foodies throughout Russia and its former states. Each part of Georgia has its unique cuisine with flavours derived from spice combinations, but as a rule, a focus on herbs and garlic predominates. The only difficulty you will experience buying food will be because the locals are so keen to give it away! Cafes and restaurants mostly serve Georgian and more traditional European food, while fast food restaurants offer local dishes such as khinkali, kabab, barbecue and khachapuri. American-style fast food restaurants serve the usual collection of hot-dogs and hamburgers. For a breakfast with a difference, try the khachi, a soup of tripe, cow hoof and lots of garlic.

Coke and Fanta are ubiquitous, however traditional Georgian mineral waters and fruit drinks have a well-deserved reputation. They are mostly sold in specialty shops. For thousands of kilometers around, Georgian wines are regarded as the best quality. The country's unique climate and soil quality have made it a major wine-making region for many thousands of years.

While surrounding countries use Cyrillic script when writing, Georgia goes it alone. The Georgian alphabet includes 33 symbols (5 vowels and 28 consonants). The shape of the letters is absolutely unique and it cannot be compared to any other existing alphabet.

Georgia Search Engine

Georgia NewsPaper

Country Facts
From the Duke Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies funds course.

full name: Georgia
local name: Sak'art'velo
languages: Armenian, Azeri, Georgian, Russian
currency: lari introduced September 1995 replacing the coupon
independence: 9 April 1991 (from Soviet Union)
total area: 69,700 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than South Carolina
borders: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey
population: 5,108,527 (July 1998)
life expectancy: male 61.36 years, female 68.4 years



many links to sites on Georgian facts, history, religion, language, literature, culture, science, economy, politics, travel, media and a fantastic layout

Georgia Resource Page
An enormous selection of links on Georgian history, culture, travel, media, business, news and more

Georgia - A Country Study
The Library of Congress page, full of historical, economical and political information


Imagemap of Georgia
interactive Georgian map with information and pictures of various cities

The World Travel Guide Online - Georgia
A nice overview of Georgia and concerns particular to the traveller - concise but useful

Travel Document Systems - Georgia
basic facts, travel information and a few links

Georgia @ Travel Notes
Lots of links, but some nice original content

Georgia - Summary Profile
Health concerns for travellers to Georgia, by Travel Health Online

Georgia - Consular Information Sheet
The latest government travel advisory


Ethnologue: Georgia
Basic facts on the languages of Georgia, mostly of interest to linguists

The Georgian Language
a nicely detailed description of the Georgian language to make linguists salivate

Learn Georgian Easy!
six brief Georgian lessons with sound, at tbilisi.com

Georgian Fonts
from the Yamada Language Center


Georgian National Ballet
information about Georgian dances and the Ballet itself, which has been touring the world since 1945

Georgia Culture
information on Georgian architecture, painting, sculpture and music

Monuments of Ancient Georgia
photos and information on Georgian monuments


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
foreign policy, news and events, consular information and resources

Virtual Tourist

Georgia Page
photos and text by Leslie McClure
Tbilisi, Georgia photos by Philip Kronenberg

Georgian Legend

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