Georgia

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 5.126
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 51
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: -0.329
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 69,5


Population origin

Georgians 83.8%, Azeris 6.5%, Armenians 5.7%, Russians 1.5%, , Ossetians and Abkhazians 3%



Main Cities Population
Tbilisi 1 095 000
Kutaisi 190 100
Batumi 122 100
Rustavi 118 200



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in T'bilisi (GMT+4 ).



Languages
Georgian 71% (Official language). Other languages are: Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, Others 7%. Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia.

Free translation tools

Personal Site
Free Georgian-English Dictionary





Religion
Religious practises : Georgian Orthodox 82%, Muslim 9.9%, Russian Orthodox 2%, Roman Catholic 0.8%, Armenian Apostolic 3.9%, Unknown 0.7%


Political context

Georgia is a Republic state based on parliamentary democracy. It got independence from Soviet Union in 1991.
The chief of the state is the President who is elected by a popular vote for a five-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and holds the executive powers. President is also head of government for the power ministry and the state security; while as the Prime Minister is head of the remaining ministries. President appoints the Cabinet of Ministers. The Georgian state is highly centralized, except for the two autonomous regions of Abkhazia and Ajara which have special autonomous powers since Soviet rule.
The legislature in Georgia is unicameral. It consists of Supreme Council (commonly referred to as Parliament), with its 235 members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. President cannot directly dissolve the parliament or veto its enactment without taking parliament into confidence. The citizens of Georgia enjoy limited political rights.
The judiciary is not fully independent, with courts influenced by pressure from the country's executive branch. The main source of the law is the constitution of 1995, which is based on civil law system. Georgia accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Georgia is a member of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). Georgian is the judicial language in the country; with Abkhaz being the judicial language in Abkhazia.
Georgia is not ruled by law. Foreign nationals cannot expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system. A high degree of corruption exists in the country. The payment of bribes to judges is reported to be very common.


Major political parties

Georgia has a multi-party system. The major political parties in Georgia are:
- UNM (National Movement Democratic Front) – center-right liberal party, favours radical reforms & close ties with NATO and European Union; 
- NRP (New Rights Party) – a liberal conservative political party;
- Industry Will Save Georgia – a right-wing political party, draws support from private industrial workers;
- Georgia's Way – advocates liberalism and democratic values, pro-EU.


Major political leaders

President: Mikheil SAAKASHVILI (since January 2004) - UNM
Prime Minister: Lado GURGENIDZE (since November 2007) - Democratic national movement.


Next political election dates

Presidential: Year 2009
Parliamentary: Spring 2008




Climate

 

 

Georgia's climate is warm and pleasant and Mediterranean-like on the Black Sea coast. The warm climate of Georgia is determined largely by the mountains of the Greater Caucasus, which keep cold northern winds away from Georgia. Winters are short and mild, and also high mountain regions offer a lot of sun.
Georgia is a relatively small country but covers different climatic zones, which are determined by distance from the Black Sea and by altitude. The climatic zones range from humid subtropical to the eternal snow and glaciers.

WEST GEORGIA: Along the Black Sea coast, from the Russian to the Turkish border, and in the region known as the Colchic Lowlands the dominant subtropical climate features high humidity and heavy precipitation, which allows several varieties of palm trees to grow there. Mid-winter average temperature here is 5 degC and the midsummer average is 22degC.
EAST GEORGIA: The plains of eastern Georgia are shielded from the influence of the Black Sea by the Likhi Mountains that provide a more continental climate. The average temperature in summer here is 20-24degC, in winter 2-4degC. Humidity is lower.
Alpine and highland regions in the east and west, as well as the semi-arid region on the Lori Plateau to the southeast have distinct microclimates. Alpine conditions start at 2,100 meters above sea level and above 3,600 meters year-round snow and ice is present.

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Georgia 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 368 548 ..
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
1) TBILISI:
The capital of Georgia stands on the banks of the River Mtkvari, in a valley surrounded by hills. The name for the city derives from the word tbili (warm). It is best seen from the top of Mount Mtatsminda. With its warm climate, stone houses built around vine-draped courtyards, and winding streets, the city has a lively, Mediterranean atmosphere which was even present during the Soviet period.
The old city, spreading out from the south bank of the river, has numerous frescoed churches (the most noteworthy being the sixth-century Sioni Cathedral), 19th-century houses with arcaded open galleries on the upper floors, a castle and a surprising number of cafés and enticing tourist shops selling locally produced arts and crafts. Prospekt Rustaveli, Tbilisi's main thoroughfare, features an assortment of stylish public buildings testifying to the city's prosperity at the turn of the century. The Georgian State Museum on Prospekt Rustaveli houses a collection of icons, frescoes and porcelain, as well as an outstanding display of jewellery discovered in pre-Christian Georgian tombs. The Georgian Museum of Arts, in the centre of town, includes many works by the much-loved 19th-century 'primitive' artist, Niko Pirosmani. The Narikala Fortress, first established by the Persians in the fourth century AD and most recently rebuilt in the 17th century, is a good vantage point for views over the old city. Visitors can still experiment with health-giving sulphur baths in a domed, oriental-style 19th-century bath house just north of the Metekhi Bridge. Popular with visitors today, Georgian sulphur baths were also frequented by writers such as Pushkin and Tolstoy. The open-air Museum of Ethnography, located in a western suburb, has interesting examples of rural buildings and artefacts.
2) MTSKHETA:
Located 20 Km (12 miles) to the northwest of Tbilisi, this town, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, predated Tbilisi as the capital of Ibera until the fifth century AD, and remained the centre of Georgian Christianity until the 12th century. The 15th-century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (Pillar of Life), standing at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, was the holiest place in old Georgia. According to legend, the church is built on the spot where Christ's crucifixion robe was dropped to the ground in AD 328, having been brought from Jerusalem by a local Jew, and fragments of the robe are said to be kept inside the cathedral. The existing church has some impressive royal tombs, a fine icon stand and distinctive carved decoration, including bulls' heads and semi-pagan fertility symbols. Also of interest are the Samtavro Monastery (still functioning although founded in the 11th century, it is famous as the burial place for the first Christian king, Mirian and his wife Nana) and the sixth-century Jvari Cathedral, the design of which became a prototype for Georgian ecclesiastical architecture.
3) GEORGIAN MILITARY HIGHWAY:
Leading 220km (137 miles) from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz (formerly Ordzhonikidze) in North Ossetia (now part of the Russian Federation), this route was built by the Russians in the 19th century to help them control their conquered Georgian territories. The road winds through the dramatic mountain scenery of the high Caucasus, apparently little changed since the 19th-century novelist Lermontov described the route in A Hero of our Time. Sites of interest along the road include the 14th-century Tsminda Sameba (Holy Trinity) Church, overlooking the mountain town of Kazbegi, and the city of Mtskheta (see above).
4) GORI:
The birthplace of Iosif Dzhugashvili, better known to the world as Stalin, lies 95km (59 miles) west of Tbilisi. The town has the last surviving public statue of Stalin in the former USSR, as well as a park and a museum devoted to Stalinist hagiography. It also contains the ruins of a 12th-century fortress and a 16th-century church dedicated to St George.
Some 10km (6 miles) east of Gori is Uplistsikhe (Fortress of God), a large complex of natural caves. Inhabited from the 6th century BC to the 14th century AD, the caves were gradually transformed into increasingly sophisticated dwellings, shops and public buildings, including the most ancient theatre in Georgia, dungeons and enormous wine cellars. The Ateni Sioni Church, 10km (6 miles) south of Gori, stands in a beautiful setting and is highly prized for its 11th-century stonecarvings and frescoes.
5) TORI:
The spa town of Bordzhomi, 150km (93 miles) west of Tbilisi in the Tori region, produces much acclaimed mineral water. It is possible to hike in the surrounding hills. Bakuriani is located 29km (18 miles) southeast of Bordzhomi at an altitude of 1700m (5580ft). There is a luxury hotel complex run by the same company that owns the Metekhi Palace in Tbilisi. 10km (6 miles) from Bakuriani, heading towards Bordzhomi, is the 12th-century Daba Monastery, and nearby a 60m (197ft) waterfall. During the summer it is also possible to visit Lake Tabatskuri, sunk into a hollow high in the mountains.
6) BATUMI:
A seaside resort and port in the southwest of the republic, Batumi is the capital of the Ajarian Autonomous Republic. Close to the Turkish border (20km/12.5 miles) away, the town has a decidedly Turkish character, with a mosque and 19th-century bath house. However, its charm lies less in any particular sights than in its lush, subtropical setting, among citrus groves and tea plantations, with mountains rising up from the edge of the sea. The Ajarian Museum (with its superb national costume collection), the circus, park, Botanical Garden and the theatre are also well worth visiting.
7) SUKHUMI:
The capital of Abkhazia, in the far northwest of Georgia, was until recently a relaxed, sunny port/resort, renowned for its beaches fringed with palms and eucalyptus trees, lively open-air cafés and cosmopolitan population. The ruined 11th-century Castle of the Georgian Bagratid King, the Botanical Gardens, Shroma Cave with its amazing stalactites and stalagmites and the monkey-breeding farm were particular favourites among visitors. Abkhaz, Georgians, Greeks, Russians, Turks and others lived here in apparent harmony until recent years when the city was overtaken by civil war and thousands of refugees fled.

For more information about tourism in Georgia , check out the following web site(s) :
Georgia Department of Industry Trade & Tourism



Food


Traditional dishes
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.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. For a breakfast with a difference, try the khachi, a soup of tripe, cow hoof and lots of garlic.
Local dishes include pkhali (made from young spinach leaves pounded together with spices) and cured meat (basturma). Georgians pride themselves, with some justification, on being the bons viveurs of the former Soviet Union, and their culinary tradition has survived better than most the dead hand of Soviet mass-catering. The cuisine makes extensive use of walnuts, which are used to thicken soups and sauces (anything including the word satsivi will be served in a rich sauce flavoured with herbs, garlic, walnuts and egg). Walnuts also feature as desserts, coated in caramelised sugar (gozinaki), or in churchkhela, when they are threaded on string then dipped in thickened, sweetened grape juice which is subsequently dried into chewy, flavoursome 'candles'. There is less emphasis on lamb to the exclusion of other kinds of meat than in other parts of the Caucasus. Khmeli Suneli from Georgian is a traditional Georgian spicy herbs mixture. It is popular in Georgia and entire Caucasus region.
Both red and white wine is produced in Georgia. Kindzmareuli, a fruity, red wine, is reputed to have been Stalin's favourite tipple. Tsinandali is a dry white wine, as is Gurdzhaani. Akhasheni and Teliani are two of the commoner red wines, fruity and dry respectively.


Food-related taboos
It is difficult to find any major food related taboo in Georgia.
However, the Georgian dinning table is conducted in a wise manner in accordance with the ancient ritual. The head of the table "tamada" is elected as proposed by the host. The tamada must be a man of humour with an ability for improvisation and a philosopher's wisdom. If there are many guests at the table he appoints assistants who in Georgian are called "tolumbashis". The tamada's toasts follow one another in a strict never violated order. The guest is obliged to listen attentively to each toast and appreciate the beauty of style and the purpot of the worlds said. If you as a guest wish to say a toast, you must by all means have the tamada's consent or else you will find yourself in an awkward position.
The feast proceeds among jokes and is accompanied by a dance competition, table songs and music, quotations and aphorisms from the works of poets and writers.

Last modified on mai-07

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