After 7 months of constant movement, we have settled down for at least a month to enjoy Tbilisi, Georgia. Also to do some work writing/researching for an altogether different country, but that’s besides the point.
Where is it?
Georgia has borders with Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and stretches between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Its in the “confusion zone”, which seems to go by many names including the Near East, the Middle East, the Caucasus, South Western Asia, and Eurasia.
Here is it on a map:
People and Politics
The capital of Georgia is Tbilisi. St George is a patron saint of Georgia, and the flag shows a red cross on a white background, usually called the Georgian cross.
Georgia (and the kingdoms of the area that came before) has been invaded over the centuries by the Romans, the Persians, the Mongols, the Turks and the Russians. After a period of Russian rule, and a brief period of sovereignty, Georgia became a part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s, and remained so until 1991.
Civil war followed, and though the country has seen stability for some years now, there are continued tensions in some regions. Shevarnadze, elected in 1995 and a number of times since, was deposed in 2003 as a result of a disputed ballot and claims of fraud and corruption (random fact, he lives on my street now).
Since then, I am told, things have been more settled in Georgia (excepting South Ossetia and Abkhazia) and the country is seeing increasing safety and prosperity.
Stats and Facts
- Population: 4,585,874
- Median Age: 41.6 years old
- Fertility Rate: 1.45 children per woman
- Life expectancy at birth: 77.12 years
- Religions: Orthodox Christian (official) 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7% (2002 census)
- Languages: Georgian (official) 71%, Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, other 7%
note: Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia
- Ethnic Groups: Georgian 83.8%, Azeri 6.5%, Armenian 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other 2.5% (2002 census)
- Literacy: 100% of the population over 15 years can read and write
- Main Industries: steel, aircraft, machine tools, electrical appliances, mining (manganese and copper), chemicals, wood products, wine
- GDP per capita: $4 900
- Unemployment rate: 16.4% (in 2009, this may have dipped)
- Gini Index: 40.8 (this means wealth is distributed less equally than the UK and more equally than the USA).
Did you know…?
Georgia was the first nation state to claim Christianity as the official religion around 330AD.
Georgia claims to have invented wine, and the earliest physical evidence of wine making found here is wine dust in barrels from 8000 years ago.
The mythical Golden Fleece would have resided in what is now Georgia.
Stalin was from Georgia.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the capital Tbilisi was without power for around three years, during a period of civil war. Of all the horror stories I’ve been told, not one has been of the soviet era, they’ve all been about post-soviet times. That said, there’s time, so maybe I’ll hear a few.