Brief History of Georgia

Georgia, a country nestled at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, has a rich and diverse history that spans thousands of years. Ancient civilizations, such as the Colchians and the Iberians, once thrived in the region, and their legends even made their way into classical texts, such as the tale of the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology.

Christianity arrived early in Georgia, with the nation adopting it as the state religion in the 4th century AD, making it one of the first countries to do so. Over the centuries, Georgia faced numerous invasions from empires like the Persians, Mongols, and Ottomans.

The nation’s golden age came under the rule of Queen Tamar in the 12th century, during which the arts, literature, and architecture flourished. By the late 18th century, fearing more incursions from neighboring empires, Georgia sought protection from Russia and became a protectorate.

However, this relationship soon transformed, and Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. After a brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1921.

It remained a Soviet Republic until 1991 when, amidst the dissolution of the USSR, Georgia declared its independence. The subsequent years saw civil unrest, wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and political upheavals.

However, the 21st century also brought significant reforms, closer ties with the West, and aspirations for integration into European and NATO structures. Georgia’s rich history is reflected in its diverse culture, architecture, and traditions, making it a unique blend of European and Asian influences.

About Georgia

Country Code: +995.

Crime: During the late 20th century, especially in the turbulent 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and during Georgia’s transition to independence, the country experienced significant civil unrest, separatist movements, and economic challenges. This era saw a rise in organized crime, corruption, and black market activities.

Georgia was once notorious for its influential “thieves-in-law”, a criminal underworld akin to the mafia in other countries. These criminal kingpins had significant influence during the chaotic years of the 1990s and early 2000s. The government, under President Mikheil Saakashvili who took office in 2004, made a concerted effort to dismantle these networks and reduce the influence of organized crime. This effort was largely successful, with many crime lords being arrested or driven out of the country.

After the Rose Revolution in 2003, significant reforms were initiated to combat corruption and crime. The police force underwent a massive overhaul; old officers were laid off, new ones were rigorously trained, and the entire force was modernized. The reforms were visible in everyday life: the iconic blue police patrol cars became a symbol of the new era, and police stations made of glass were constructed to symbolize transparency. Corruption, especially within the police and public services, reduced significantly, and Georgia began to climb in global rankings for ease of doing business.

By the 2010s and into the 2020s, Georgia had seen a significant decrease in serious crime and was often cited as one of the safer countries in the region. Petty crimes like pickpocketing in tourist areas do exist, as they do in many countries, but violent crime had become relatively rare.

Despite improvements, challenges remain. Some regions of Georgia, like the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, are not under the control of the central government, leading to different crime dynamics in those areas. Moreover, while corruption has been reduced significantly, it hasn’t been entirely eradicated, especially in some sectors of the government and economy.

Currency: Georgian Lari.

Electricity: Type C (2-pin round), Type F (2-pin round, 2 earth pins). Georgia operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Language: Georgian.

Latitude and Longitude: 32.1574° N, 82.9071° W.

Population: 3.709 million (2021).

President: Salome Zourabichvili.

National Parks

Tusheti National Park: Located in northeastern Georgia on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, known for its pristine landscapes, traditional villages, and ancient defensive towers, making it a favorite for trekkers.

Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park: One of Georgia’s largest, sprawls over 85,000 hectares of native forest and alpine meadows in the south-central region, and the nearby town of Borjomi is famed for its mineral waters.

Lagodekhi Protected Areas, on the southern foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, boasts a rich biodiversity with its waterfalls, lakes, and rare species, with conservation efforts dating back to the early 20th century.

Mtirala National Park, near Batumi, earns its name from the word for “crying” due to its high rainfall, covering vast stretches of temperate rainforests with trails meandering through waterfalls and offering Black Sea views.

Kazbegi National Park: Centered around the stunning Mount Kazbek, showcases Georgia’s dramatic mountain landscapes, with the Gergeti Trinity Church near Stepantsminda being one of the country’s iconic landmarks.

Algeti National Park: is positioned in southern Georgia by Tetritskaro and spans the easternmost part of the Trialeti Range, notable for its diverse flora, fauna, and archaeological landmarks like the Birtvisi Fortress.

Javakheti National Park: Located in southern Georgia offers a landscape sculpted by volcanic activity with numerous lakes, making it an essential habitat for various bird species and a hotspot for birdwatchers.

Top Tourist Attractions

Uplistsikhe: An ancient rock-hewn town near Gori, Uplistsikhe boasts intricate tunnels, chambers, and halls, reflecting Georgia’s early history and offering panoramic views of the Mtkvari River below.

Narikala Fortress: Dominating the skyline of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, Narikala Fortress, dates back to the 4th century and provides visitors with panoramic views of the city and the Kura River.

Batumi: Georgia’s coastal city on the Black Sea, Batumi is known for its modern architecture, beaches, and the Batumi Boulevard, with its dancing fountains and the Ali and Nino moving sculpture.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral: Located in Mtskheta, this UNESCO World Heritage site is an architectural wonder dating back to the 11th century and is one of Georgia’s most sacred religious sites.

Gergeti Trinity Church: Perched high near the town of Stepantsminda, this iconic church offers breathtaking views against the backdrop of Mount Kazbek, drawing tourists and pilgrims alike.

Martvili Canyon: This natural wonder in western Georgia entices visitors with its turquoise waters, allowing boat rides through its serene and picturesque gorges.

Vardzia: An impressive cave monastery complex built into the cliffs of the Erusheti Mountain, Vardzia tells tales of Georgia’s medieval history and the reign of Queen Tamar.

Ananuri Castle Complex: Located on the Aragvi River, this fortress complex showcases architectural elements from the 16th and 17th centuries and offers splendid views of the Zhinvali Reservoir.

Rabati Castle: In the town of Akhaltsikhe, Rabati Castle blends various architectural styles, bearing witness to Georgia’s multicultural history, and housing a museum, mosque, and church.

Prometheus Cave: Near Kutaisi, this natural attraction mesmerizes with its array of stalactites, stalagmites, and underground lakes, all illuminated in a dazzling display of lights.

Tbilisi’s Old Town: A labyrinth of narrow streets, historic churches, and colorful wooden balconies, the old town reflects Tbilisi’s rich past, making it a favorite for those keen on history and architecture.