Most of the world calls this place Georgia, just like one of the states in USA, so sometimes people are confused. There are some controversial legends on the etymology of this name. Some consider that it is derived from St. George, the patron of this country, others think it originated from Georgi – the Greek name of agricultural tribes, and some also think that this word is derived from Persian-Arabic Gurg, which literally means the land of wolves. However, locals call themselves Kartveli and their country – Sakartvelo. The word most probably signifies a place and people from the central region in Georgia – Kartli.
Georgia is a small country with only 3.7 million in population. It is located directly on the cross road of Europe and Asia, just between Russia and Turkey. Georgia is surrounded by Caucasus Mountains and Black Sea. Southern border is shared with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Its territory is slightly less than 70,000 km2 (43,000 miles). Georgia, with its diverse landscape is located mostly in subtropical climate zone. It means that the country’s west is humid and hot, while east is more dry, however the temperature is highly depending on elevation. Lowland has some rainforests and swamps as well as a beautiful coastline of approximately the same length as in Suriname, Guinea, Bulgaria, and Cambodia. At the same time it is a very mountainous country with highest peaks above 5,000 meters (16,000ft). Such a variety of microclimates is the reason of Georgia’s amazing biodiversity and natural sightseeing all around the year.
Georgia is one of the oldest inhabited areas in the world. Archeologists have found pieces of human bones dating with 1.8 million years in Dmanisi, Georgia. These are considered to be first humans both in Europe and Asia. Ancestors of modern Georgian people have been here for more than 15,000 years. Already in the 4th century BC the first unified kingdom of Georgia appeared with rather advanced civilization. However, Georgia has rarely been an independent state. It was under the influence of Roman Empire for around 400 years, under Arab influence for 300 years in a row, and under Russian influence for more than 200 years. Moreover, between infrequent years of independence different regions of the country were conquered by Ottomans, Persians, Mongolians and others. Georgia rebelled against the latest occupant – Russia twice. First on May 26 of 1918, when it liberated for 3 years, and then in 1991, when finally, on April 9, Georgia declared independence and shortly elected the first president. Four Presidents have changed afterwards and the country’s political environment is gradually stabilizing, but wars and invasions seem to continue. The latest armed conflict occurred in 2008 with Russia. This war lasted for 5 days and as a result Georgia lost 1/3rd of its territories.
Dramatic history influenced Georgians considerably. In 90’s the population was declining, people in the streets used to wear black mostly, and almost every family had at least one member passed away as a result of war actions. Years have passed and people are becoming more optimistic about their future, education and democratic values are spreading across the country, though more time is required to recompense for the lost decades.
Georgian cuisine and wine have evolved through the centuries, adapting traditions in each era. One of the most unusual traditions of dining is supra, or Georgian table, which is also a way of socialising with friends and family. The head of supra is known as tamada. He also conducts the highly philosophical toasts, and makes sure that everyone is enjoying themselves. Various historical regions of Georgia are known for their particular dishes: for example, khinkali (meat dumplings), from eastern mountainous Georgia, and khachapuri, mainly from Imereti, Samegrelo and Adjara. Hectares of vineyards, Rtveli (Georgian harvesting) accompanied with polyphonic singing and clay vessels (Kvevri) full of wine – this is Georgia. Wine is everything here - everyone loves it. Every family will treat you with their own wine with great pleasure and pride. Vineyard is a sacred place for Georgians and winemaking – our beloved tradition. Country with population around 3.5 million, yearly produces approximately 150 million liters of wine.