What Should I Know About the Country of Georgia?

Mary Elizabeth

Georgia is a country in southwestern Asia, with its western border formed by the Black Sea. On the north, across the Greater Caucasus Mountains, lies Russia, and to the south and east it is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The capital is Tbilisi.

Georgia is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
Georgia is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

Part of the Russian Empire in the 1800’s, Georgia had three years of independence following the Russian Revolution in 1917, and then was forcibly absorbed into the USSR. When the Soviet Union ended in 1991, things changed again. Since independence, two regions within Georgia — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — have worked to maintain separate control, and though their governments are unrecognized, they are supported by Russia.

Georgia was part of the Soviet Union from 1921 to 1991.
Georgia was part of the Soviet Union from 1921 to 1991.

The country's official name is Georgia, and it is a republic. An estimate in July, 2007 put the population at 4,646,003. Georgian is the official language of Georgia — with the exception of Abkhazia, where Abkhaz is — and is spoken by 71 percent of the population. Other prominent languages are Russian, Armenian, and Azeri, from the bordering countries. About 9 percent of the population speaks Russian, although only about 1.5 percent are ethnically Russian.

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The highest point in Georgia is Mt’a Shkhara at 17,064 feet (5,201 m), while the Black Sea is at sea level. Pollution and earthquakes are environmental concerns. Georgia is mostly mountainous, having the Greater Caucasus Mountains in the north and the Lesser Caucasus Mountains towards the southeast, and has only about 11.5 percent arable land. The agricultural products of Georgia include citrus fruit, grapes, wine, hazelnuts, and tea, as well as vegetables and livestock. Industries include steel, aircraft, machine tools, and electrical appliances.

One Georgian food tradition is a supra, a feast with large spreads of food, wine, and music — you can sample the atmosphere on Youtube. Important foodstuffs include Lobio — dried beans prepared in a variety of ways, including a spicy blend of beans, tomatoes, onions, and spices, cooked in a clay pot, and variously prepared in different areas of the Caucasus. Another bean dish is Lobiani — bean bread. Khachapuri is a bread dish filled with cheese, and sometimes eggs, again, with regional variations. Pickles are appreciated, including Mzhave Niori — pickled garlic.

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