Georgia

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Posted by kaori 02/28/2009 @ 02:02

Tags : georgia, states, us

News headlines
Georgia's Abkhazia less secure without monitors: UN - Reuters
By Matt Robinson TBILISI (Reuters) - Failure to extend the United Nation's monitoring presence in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region would undermine stability and leave ethnic Georgians there unprotected, the mission head said on Friday....
Georgia's jobless claims rise but at slower rate - Forbes
By DIONNE WALKER , 06.11.09, 02:37 PM EDT ATLANTA -- First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Georgia increased in May, but at a rate that suggested the pace of job losses may be slowing across the state, Department of Labor officials said...
Oops! Georgia Family Distraught After Contractor Destroys Wrong House - ABC News
By SARAH NETTER A Georgia homeowner whose cherished family home was mistakenly demolished said he wants to know how a contracted demolition crew could make such an egregious error. Al Byrd said his family is devastated that the house his father built...
Cheating scandal sparks rule change - Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Kristina Torres As investigations continue into a cheating scandal that has ensnared four elementary schools across Georgia, officials in one system have tightened testing rules because of the breach. Administrators last summer at DeKalb County's...
Southern States Poach Businesses Amid Downturn - Wall Street Journal
Georgia quickly offered more than $100 million in tax and training incentives. State officials connected NCR with six Georgia research universities willing to license new technologies and train workers. NCR and other companies are moving operations to...
Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams presented as kindred spirits at ... - San Jose Mercury News
By Sura Wood Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keeffe are indisputable titans of American art. Adams' iconic black-and-white photographs have come to define the American West at its most forbidding and ruggedly beautiful, while O'Keeffe is the sublime colorist...
National Guard - Who are they? What are they. - Part Two -Georgia ... - Examiner.com
This weekend - we here in Georgia - have experienced the great loss of three brave men who did not give part - but all. If before deployment, you had asked these three men what they did and they would have said, "We guard America....
Georgia's Chris Hill Wins Second Straight NCAA Javelin Title To ... - WCTV
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. --- Although several states away from his home on his birthday, Georgia throws coach Don Babbitt got one of the best presents possible at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday. The Bulldog throwers scored 13...
Nine changes in Ireland A line-up - BBC Sport
Declan Kidney has made nine changes in the Ireland A team from the win over Canada for Sunday's Churchill Cup game against Georgia in Denver (2230 BST). Ulster's Niall O'Connor, Johne Murphy and Fergus McFadden are retained in the backs with Neil Best,...
Georgia Watering Ban Lifted - Examiner.com
Today the Georgia Environmental Protection Division announced that the watering ban that had been in place since May 2008 has been lifted. The watering rules have now reverted to an odd-even schedule with no time limits on when watering may occur....

Savannah, Georgia

Official seal of Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Chatham County, Georgia, USA. Savannah was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. Savannah attracts millions of visitors, who enjoy the city's architecture and historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America). Today, Savannah's downtown area, the Savannah Historic District, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966).

Savannah is located at 32°3′3″N 81°6′14″W / 32.05083°N 81.10389°W / 32.05083; -81.10389 (32.050706, -81.103762). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 78.1 square miles (202.3 km²), of which, 74.7 square miles (193.6 km²) of it is land and 3.4 square miles (8.7 km²) of it (4.31%) is water. It is the primary port on the Savannah River and is located along the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway.

Savannah is prone to flooding. Four canals and pumping stations have been built to help reduce the effects: Fell Street Canal, Kayton Canal, Springfield Canal and the Casey Canal, with the first three draining north into the Savannah River.

Savannah is the largest principal city of the Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Savannah and Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan areas, which had a combined estimated population of just over 394,000 in 2006 (up from 364,914 at the 2000 census).

Savannah's population was estimated to be 130,331 in 2007, slightly down from the official 2000 U.S. Census report of 131,510 residents. However, over this same seven-year period the estimated population of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties, grew from 294,000 to 329,329, an increase of 12.4 percent. Savannah's MSA is ranked third among Georgia cities.

As of the census of 2000, there were 131,510 people, 51,375 households, and 31,390 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,759.5 people per square mile (679.4/km²). There were 57,437 housing units at an average density of 768.5/sq mi (296.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.08% African American, 38.86% White, 1.52% Asian, 0.23% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.23% of the population.

There were 51,375 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 13.2% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,038, and the median income for a family was $36,410. Males had a median income of $28,545 versus $22,309 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,921. About 17.7% of families and 21.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 15.1% of those age 65 or over.

Agriculture was the background of Savannah's economy in its first two centuries. Silk and indigo production, both in demand in England, were early export commodities; by 1767 almost a ton of silk per year was exported to England.

The Savannah region's mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which became the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production (under the plantation system) helped the city's European immigrants to achieve wealth and prosperity.

The Port of Savannah was one of the most frequented in the United States and Savannah's inhabitants had the opportunity to consume some of the world's finest goods, imported by foreign merchants. Savannah's port has always been a mainstay of the city's economy. In the early years of U.S. history, goods produced in the New World had to pass through ports such as Savannah's before they could be shipped to England.

Joining the Georgia Port, manufacturing and the military, the Tourism industry rounds out Savannah's four major economic drivers. In 2006, the Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau reports over 6.85 million people visited the city. Lodging, dining, entertainment,and visitor-related transportation accounts for over $2 billion dollars in visitors spending per year while employing over 17,000.

For years, Savannah was the home of Union Camp, which housed the world's largest paper mill. The plant is now owned by International Paper, and it remains one of Savannah's largest employers. Savannah is also home to the Gulfstream Aerospace company, maker of private jets, as well as various other large industrial interests.

In 2000, JCB, the third largest producer of construction equipment in the world and the leading manufacturer of backhoes and telescopic handlers, built its North American Headquarters in Savannah on I-95 near the airport.

Savannah is home to most of the public schools in the Chatham County public school system, the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools.

The city is the home of four colleges and universities offering bachelor's, master's and professional doctorate degree programs: Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah State University, and South University. Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. programs in engineering are also offered through Georgia Tech Savannah, the Savannah campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Southern University maintains a satellite campus in the downtown area. Savannah Technical College, a public, 2-year institution of technical and adult education also operates in the city. The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is a marine science research institute located on the northern end of Skidaway Island near Savannah.

Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah (formerly Oatland Island Education Center; the center was given the new name in 2007) is also a part of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools,and the premier environmental education center in the southeast, serving thousands of students from school systems throughout the region. Located just east of Savannah on a marsh island, the Center features a 2-mile (3.2 km) "Native Animal Nature Trail" that winds through maritime forest, salt marsh, and freshwater wetlands. Along the way, visitors can observe native animals such as Florida panthers, Eastern timber wolves, alligators, and many more in their natural habitat.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is located west of Savannah off Interstate 95. Airlines serving this airport are Delta, Delta Connection, Northwest Airlink, Continental Express, United Express, US Airways, and American Eagle. Until September 2008, DayJet provided on-demand air transportation service between Savannah and cities throughout the Southeast.

Amtrak operates a passenger terminal at Savannah for the Palmetto and Silver Service trains running between New York City and Miami, Florida with three southbound and three northbound trains stopping at the station daily. Savannah is visited infrequently by special excursion trains operated by GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, and Georgia's SAM Shortline Specials.

Public transit throughout the region is provided by Chatham Area Transit.

The DOT (Downtown Transportation) system provides fare free transportation in the Historic District. Services include an express shuttle buses, the River Street Streetcar, and a ferry to Hutchinson Island and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

On February 12, 1733, General James Oglethorpe and his settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were greeted by Tomo-Chi-Chi, the Yamacraws, and Indian traders John and Mary Musgrove. (Mary Musgrove often served as a translator.) The city of Savannah was founded on that date, along with the colony of Georgia. In 1751, Savannah and the rest of Georgia became a Royal Colony and Savannah was made the colonial capital of Georgia.

In 2003, Savannah and Chatham County merged their city and county police departments. Although advertised as a way to cut costs and improve efficiency, the merger has cost more than expected and has not avoided a 100-officer shortage that the department is trying to fix.

While some see the police merger as a step toward city-county consolidation, Savannah is actually one of eight incorporated cities or towns in Chatham County. (The others are Bloomingdale, Garden City, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Thunderbolt, Tybee Island, and Vernonburg). Although these seven smaller localities would remain independent from a consolidated government, they have long opposed any efforts to adopt a city-county merger. One fear is that consolidation would reduce county funding to areas outside of Savannah. Efforts toward city-county consolidation are also opposed by some wealthier Chatham County communities, including The Landings on Skidaway Island, since these residents fear higher tax rates in a consolidated government. However, consolidation is favored by some city and county boosters, including Savannah's main newspaper, and merger plans have been presented to state legislators in the recent past. Should consolidation pass, Savannah would become Georgia's second-largest city (behind Atlanta's nearly 520,000), with a population of more than 205,000. By state law, the almost 35,000 residents of the seven smaller incorporated towns would remain independent; they are not included in a Savannah-Chatham consolidation plan. Without special provisions, however, some of these towns would find themselves permanently locked into their current city limits without possibility of further annexation.

The total number of violent crimes in the Savannah-Chatham County reporting area ran just above 1,000 per year from 2003 through 2006. In 2007, however, the total number of violent crimes jumped to 1,163. Savannah-Chatham has recorded between 20 and 25 homicides each year since 2005.

In 2007, Savannah-Chatham recorded a sharp increase in home burglaries but a sharp decrease in larcenies from parked automobiles. During the same year, statistics show a 29 percent increase in arrests for Part 1 crimes.

2008 saw an additional increase in burglaries with 2,429 residential burglaries reported to Savannah-Chatham police that year. That reflects an increase of 668 incidents from 2007. In 2007, there were 1,761 burglaries, according to metro police data.

Savannah's architecture and history are internationally known, as is its reputation for Southern charm and hospitality; for example, the city's former promotional name was "Hostess City of the South," a phrase still used by the city government. Each year, Savannah attracts millions of visitors from across the country and around the world. Savannah's downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.

The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations. Tybee Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee Island Light Station, the first lighthouse on the southern Atlantic coast. Other picturesque towns adjacent to Savannah include the shrimping village of Thunderbolt and two residential areas that began as summer resort communities for Savannahians: Beaulieu and Vernonburg.

The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is located on Hutchinson Island, across from downtown Savannah and surrounded by the Savannah River. The Belles Ferry connects the island with the mainland, as does the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

The Savannah Civic Center is located on Montgomery Street and is host to over 900 events each year, including the Memorial Health Hockey Classic.

Savannah's historic district has 24 squares. The squares vary in size and personality, from the formal fountain and monuments of the largest, Johnson, to the playgrounds of the smallest, Crawford. Elbert, Ellis, and Liberty Squares are classified as the "lost squares," destroyed due to development in the 1950s. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for a realignment of US 17, while Ellis Square was demolished to build the City Market parking garage. Separate efforts are under way to revive each of the three lost squares. The city has recently razed the City Market parking garage in order to build a new parking facility underground, with a new park on the street level.

Savannah is home to a number of historic houses of worship.

Founded in 1733, with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the longest continuous Christian congregation in Georgia. Early rectors include English evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on the original site on Johnson Square, Christ Church continues as an active congregation.

The First Bryan Baptist Church is an African-American church that was organized by Andrew Bryan in 1788. The site was purchased in 1793 by Bryan, a former slave who had also purchased his freedom. The first structure was erected there in 1794. By 1800 the congregation was large enough to split: those at Bryan Street took the name of First African Baptist Church, and Second and Third African Baptist churches were also established. The current sanctuary of First Bryan Baptist Church was constructed in 1873.

In 1832, a controversy over doctrine caused the First African Baptist congregation at Bryan Street to split. Some members left, taking with them the name of First African Baptist Church. In 1859, the members of this new congregation (most of whom were slaves) built their current church building on Franklin Square.

The oldest standing house of worship is First Baptist Church, Savannah (1833), located on Chippewa Square.

Other historic houses of worship in Savannah include: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Temple Mickve Israel, and St. John's Church (Episcopal).

Television in the city consist of all the major broadcast networks in the United States, such as FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, The CW, and MyNetworkTV. Savannah also has a PBS affiliate, which is partnered by South Carolina Educational Television . WXSX serves as an MTV2 affiliate, and W48CX, or also known as WHHI-TV, is an independent station.

WSAV 3 serves as an NBC affiliate on analog, and on digital television it serves for MyNetworkTV. WTOC 11 is under CBS, WTGS 28 is under FOX, WJCL 22 is ABC, and WGSA 13 falls under the affiliation of The CW Network.

Savannah Dance Theatre: Savannah Dance Theatre was established in 1998 as a nonprofit organization and has grown to become the city’s largest dance company. Performing both the traditional classics as well as original works, Savannah Dance Theatre is also well known for their annual production of The Nutcracker at the Historic Lucas Theatre for the Arts.

The Coastal Jazz Association: Presents a variety of jazz performances throughout the year in addition to hosting the annual Savannah Jazz Festival.

The Savannah Children's Choir: choir for children in 2nd through 8th grades that performs throughout the community and in annual holiday and spring concerts.

The Savannah Concert Association: Presents a variety of guest artists for chamber music performances each season. Performances are generally held in The Lucas Theatre For The Arts.

The Savannah Music Festival: An annual music festival of diverse artists.

The Savannah Orchestra: Savannah's professional orchestra, which presents an annual season of classical and popular concert performances.

The Savannah Philharmonic: Professional orchestral & choral organization presenting year round concerts (classical, pops, education).

The Savannah Winds: Amateur concert band hosted by the music department of Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Cardinal Rep: A community theater with an emphasis on professional aesthetic and community-building outreach. The productions of Cardinal Rep are focused around new and unproduced works, literary adaptations and regional premieres.

Savannah Children's Theatre: A non-profit, year-round drama theatre company geared toward offering elementary through high school students (and adults) opportunities for participation in dramatic and musical productions.

Savannah Community Theatre: A full theater season with a diverse programming schedule, featuring some of Savannah's finest actors in an intimate, three-quarter-round space.

Little Theatre of Savannah: Founded in 1950, The Little Theatre of Savannah, Inc., is a nonprofit, volunteer-based community organization dedicated to the celebration of the theater arts. Recognizing the unique social value, expressive fulfillment and opportunity for personal growth that theater provides its participants, the Little Theatre of Savannah invites all members of the community to participate both on- and off-stage.

Savannah Theatre: Savannah's only fully professional resident theater, producing music revues with live singers, dancers and the most rockin' band in town. Performances happen year-round, with several different titles and the well-liked holiday show, A Christmas Tradition.

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Georgia (country)

Flag of Georgia (country)

Georgia ( /ˈdʒɔrdʒə/ (help·info); Georgian: საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a transcontinental country in the Caucasus region, located at the dividing line between Europe and Asia. It is bordered by the Russian Federation to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia to the south, and Turkey to the southwest. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km²; its population, excluding Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is 4.4 million, of whom nearly 84% are ethnic Georgians.

The history of Georgia can be traced back to the ancient Kingdom of Colchis and Iberia, and it was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as an official religion early in the 4th century. At the beginning of the 19th century Georgia became a part of the Russian Empire. After a brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922.

Independence was restored in 1991. Like many post-communist countries Georgia suffered from the economic crisis and civil unrest during the 1990s. After the bloodless Rose Revolution, however, the new leadership has established efficient government institutions, reformed the economy and guided the country through a period of the fastest economic growth in its history.

Georgia is a representative democracy, organized as a secular, unitary semi-presidential republic; however the idea to restore the constitutional monarchy is popular in certain circles, most notably in the Georgian Orthodox Church It is currently a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. The country seeks to join NATO and, in the longer term, accession to the European Union.

In August 2008, Georgia engaged in an armed conflict with Russia and separatist groups from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In the aftermath of the conflict Russia recognized the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, but almost no country followed suit, and the West insists that they are still part of Georgia. On August 28, 2008, the Parliament of Georgia passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia "Russian-occupied territories".

Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). According to legend, the ancestor of the Kartvelian people was Kartlos, the great grandson of the Biblical Japheth.

The native Georgian name for the country is Sakartvelo (საქართველო). The word consists of two parts. Its root, kartvel-i (ქართველ-ი), specifies an inhabitant of the core central-eastern Georgian region of Kartli – Iberia of the Classical and Byzantine sources. By the early 9th century, the meaning of "Kartli" was expanded to other areas of medieval Georgia held together by religion, culture, and language. The Georgian circumfix sa-X-o is a standard geographic construction designating "the area where X dwell", where X is an ethnonym. (For another example, the Mingrelian minority in Georgia lives in Samegrelo.) The term Sakartvelo came to signify the all-Georgian cultural and political unity early in the 11th century and firmly entered regular official usage in the 13th century.

Ancient Greeks (Strabo, Herodotus, Plutarch, Homer, etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to early eastern Georgians as Iberians (Iberoi in some Greek sources) and western Georgians as Colchians.

The terms Georgia and Georgians appeared in Western Europe in numerous medieval annals including that of Crusaders and later in the official documents and letters of the Florentine de’ Medici family. The French chronicler Jacques de Vitry and the English traveler Sir John Mandeville wrote that Georgians are called Georgian because they especially revere and worship Saint George. Notably, in January 2004 the country adopted the five-cross flag, featuring the Saint George's Cross; it has been argued that the flag was used in Georgia from the 5th century throughout the Middle Ages.

Modern Georgian states have used differing names in different periods. The first modern Georgian state proclaimed on May 26, 1918 adopted the name Democratic Republic of Georgia. As part of the USSR from February 25, 1921, the country was called the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. When Georgia broke from the USSR on December 25, 1991, it adopted the name Republic of Georgia. Since it adopted its present constitution on August 24, 1995, the official name of the country is simply Georgia.

The territory of modern-day Georgia has been continuously inhabited since the early Stone Age. The classic period saw the rise of the early Georgian states of Colchis and Iberia. The proto-Georgian tribes first appear in written history in the 12th century BC. Archaeological finds and references in ancient sources reveal elements of early political and state formations characterized by advanced metallurgy and goldsmith techniques that date back to the 7th century BC and beyond. In the 4th century BC a unified kingdom of Georgia - an early example of advanced state organization under one king and the hierarchy of aristocracy, was established.

Christianity was declared the state religion as early as AD 337 proving a great stimulus to literature, arts and the unification of the country. As a crossroad between Christian and Islamic traditions, Georgia experienced the dynamic exchange between these two worlds which culminated in a true renaissance around 12-13th centuries CE.

The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity, known to ancient Greeks and Romans as Iberia (Georgian: იბერია) (in the east of the country) and Colchis (Georgian: კოლხეთი) (in the west), were among the first nations in the region to adopt Christianity (in AD 337, or in AD 319 as recent research suggests).

In Greek Mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius' epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. In the last centuries of the pre-Christian era, the area, in the form of the kingdom of Kartli-Iberia, was strongly influenced by Greece to the west and Persia to the east. After the Roman Empire completed its conquest of the Caucasus region in 66 BC, the kingdom was a Roman client state and ally for nearly 400 years. In AD 330, King Mirian III's acceptance of Christianity ultimately tied the kingdom to the neighboring Byzantine Empire, which exerted a strong cultural influence for several centuries.

Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis was often the battlefield and buffer-zone between the rival powers of Persia and Byzantine Empire, with the control of the region shifting hands back and forth several times. The early kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for Arabs to conquer Georgia in the 7th century. The rebellious regions were liberated and united into a unified Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the 11th century. Starting in the 12th century CE, the rule of Georgia extended over a significant part of the Southern Caucasus, including the northeastern parts and almost the entire northern coast of what is now Turkey.

Although Arabs captured the capital city of Tbilisi in AD 645, Kartli-Iberia retained considerable independence under local Arab rulers. In AD 813, the prince Ashot I also known as Ashot Kurapalat became the first of the Bagrationi family to rule the kingdom: Ashot's reign began a period of nearly 1,000 years during which the Bagrationi, as the house was known, ruled at least part of what is now the republic.

Western and eastern Georgia were united under Bagrat V (r. 1027-72). In the next century, David IV (called the Builder, r. 1099-1125) initiated the Georgian golden age by driving the Seljuk Turks from the country and expanding Georgian cultural and political influence southward into Armenia and eastward to the Caspian Sea.

The Georgian Kingdom reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period has been widely termed as Georgia's Golden Age or Georgian Renaissance during the reign of David the Builder and Queen Tamar. This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its European analogue, was characterized by the flourishing of romantic- chivalric tradition, breakthroughs in philosophy, and an array of political innovations in society and state organization, including religious and ethnic tolerance. The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin". The struggle against the Seljuk invaders was led by David the Builder, who employed tens of thousands Kipchak soldiers and settled them, in 1118, in his kingdom.

The revival of the Georgian Kingdom was short-lived however, in 1226 Tblisi was captured by Mingburnu and the Kingdom was eventually subjugated by the Mongols in 1236 (see Mongol invasions of Georgia). Thereafter, different local rulers fought for their independence from central Georgian rule, until the total disintegration of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Georgia was subjected, between 1386 and 1404, to several disastrous invasions by Timur. Neighbouring kingdoms exploited the situation and from the 16th century, the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.

The rulers of regions which remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. Subsequent Persian and Ottoman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of wars the population of Georgia was reduced to 250,000 inhabitants at one point. Eastern Georgia, composed of the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti, had been under the Persian suzerainty since 1555. However, with the death of Nader Shah "The Persian Napoleon" in 1747, both kingdoms broke free of the Persian control and were reunified through a personal union under the energetic king Heraclius II in 1762.

In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, according to which Kartli-Kakheti received protection by Russia. Despite Russia's commitment to defend Georgia, it rendered no assistance when the Turks invaded in 1785 and again in 1795. This period culminated in the 1801 Russian annexation of remaining Georgian lands and the deposing of the Bagrationi dynasty.

On December 22, 1800, Tsar Paul I of Russia, at the alleged request of the Georgian King George XII, signed the proclamation on the incorporation of Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire, which was finalized by a decree on January 8, 1801, and confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801. The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin. In May 1801, Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring dethroned the Georgian heir to the throne David Batonishvili and instituted a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev.

The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring compassed the nobility in Tbilisi's Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were arrested temporarily.

In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near Zagam defeated the Persian army and saved Tbilisi from conquest.

Western Georgian principalities of Mingrelia and Guria assumed the Russian protection in 1800s. Finally in 1810, after a brief war, the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler Solomon II died in exile in 1815. From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against Turkey and Iran, several territories were annexed to Georgia. These areas (Batumi, Akhaltsikhe, Poti, and Abkhazia) now represent a large part of the territory of Georgia. The principality of Guria was abolished in 1828, and that of Samegrelo (Mingrelia) in 1857. The region of Svaneti was gradually annexed in 1857–59.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918 in the midst of the Russian Civil War. The parliamentary election was won by the Georgian Social-Democratic Party, considered to be pro-Mensheviks, and its leader, Noe Zhordania, became prime minister. In 1918 a Georgian–Armenian war erupted over parts of Georgian provinces populated mostly by Armenians which ended due to British intervention. In 1918–19 Georgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led a Georgian attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for independent Georgia. The country's independence did not last long, however. Georgia was under British protection from 1918-1920.

In February 1921 Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. The Georgian army was defeated and the Social-Democrat government fled the country. On February 25, 1921 the Red Army entered capital Tbilisi and installed a Moscow directed communist government, led by Georgian Bolshevik Filipp Makharadze. Nevertheless the Soviet rule was firmly established only after a 1924 revolt was brutally suppressed. Georgia was incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR uniting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The TSFSR was disaggregated into its component elements in 1936 and Georgia became the Georgian SSR.

The Georgian-born Ioseb Jughashvili, better known by his nom de guerre Stalin (from the Russian word for steel: сталь) was prominent among the Russian Bolsheviks, who came to power in the Russian Empire after the October Revolution in 1917. Stalin was to rise to the highest position of the Soviet state.

From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, almost 700,000 Georgians fought in the Red Army against Nazi Germany. (A number also fought on the German side.) About 350,000 Georgians died in the battlefields of the Eastern Front.

The Dissidential movement for restoration of Georgian statehood started to gain popularity in the 1960s. Among the Georgian dissidents, two of the most prominent activists were Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Dissidents were heavily persecuted by Soviet government, and their activities were harshly suppressed.

On April 9, 1989, a peaceful demonstration in the Georgian capital Tbilisi ended in a massacre in which several people were killed by Soviet troops. Before the October 1990 elections to the national assembly, the Umaghlesi Sabcho (Supreme Council) — the first polls in the USSR held on a formal multi-party basis — the political landscape was reshaped again. While the more radical groups boycotted the elections and convened an alternative forum with alleged support of Moscow (National Congress), another part of the anticommunist opposition united into the Round Table—Free Georgia (RT-FG) around the former dissidents like Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The latter won the elections by a clear margin, with 155 out of 250 parliamentary seats, whereas the ruling Communist Party (CP) received only 64 seats. All other parties failed to get over the 5%-threshold and were thus allotted only some single-member constituency seats.

On April 9, 1991, shortly before the collapse of the USSR, Georgia declared independence. On May 26, 1991, Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as a first President of independent Georgia. Gamsakhurdia stoked Georgian nationalism and vowed to assert Tbilisi's authority over regions such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia that had been classified as autonomous oblasts under the Soviet Union. However, he was soon deposed in a bloody coup d'état, from December 22, 1991 to January 6, 1992. The coup was instigated by part of the National Guards and a paramilitary organization called "Mkhedrioni" or "horsemen". The country became embroiled in a bitter civil war which lasted almost until 1995. Eduard Shevardnadze returned to Georgia in 1992 and joined the leaders of the coup — Kitovani and Ioseliani — to head a triumvirate called the "State Council".

In 1995, Shevardnadze was officially elected as president of Georgia. At the same time, simmering disputes within two regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, between local separatists and the majority Georgian populations, erupted into widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars. Supported by Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with the exception of some "pockets" of territory, achieved de facto independence from Georgia. Roughly 230,000 to 250,000 Georgians were expelled from Abkhazia by Abkhaz separatists and North Caucasians volunteers (including Chechens) in 1992-1993. Around 23,000 Georgians fled South Ossetia as well, and many Ossetian families were forced to abandon their homes in the Borjomi region and move to Russia.

In 2003, Shevardnadze (who won reelection in 2000) was deposed by the Rose Revolution, after Georgian opposition and international monitors asserted that the November 2 parliamentary elections were marred by fraud. The revolution was led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, former members and leaders of Shevardnadze's ruling party. Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as President of Georgia in 2004.

Following the Rose Revolution, a series of reforms was launched to strengthen the country's military and economic capabilities. The new government's efforts to reassert Georgian authority in the southwestern autonomous republic of Ajaria led to a major crisis early in 2004. Success in Ajaria encouraged Saakashvili to intensify his efforts, but without success, in the breakaway South Ossetia. These events along with accusations of Georgian involvement in the Second Chechen War, resulted in a severe deterioration of relations with Russia, fuelled also by Russia's open assistance and support to the two secessionists areas. Despite these increasingly difficult relations, in May 2005 Georgia and Russia reached a bilateral agreement by which Russian military bases (dating back to the Soviet era) in Batumi and Akhalkalaki were withdrawn. Russia fulfilled the terms, withdrawing all personnel and equipment from these sites by December 2007, ahead of schedule.

In July 2008, hostilities started between Ossetian separatists and Georgian armed forces. This quickly evolved into a full-scale war between Georgia on the one side and Russia, Ossetian, and Abkhazian separatists on the other. In the evening of August 7, Georgian armed forces began pushing into South Ossetia, supported by artillery and multiple rocket launcher fire on Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) on Friday August 8. Russia immediately accused Georgian government of "genocide", claiming that 1,600 South Ossetian civilians had been killed by the Georgian army. These allegations have not been substantiated, and Human Rights Watch investigators in South Ossetia accused Russia of exaggerating the scale of the casualties. On August 8 armed formations of Russian 58th army entered South Ossetia through the Russian-controlled Roki tunnel. At the same time Russian air-force launched a series of air strikes against various targets on Georgian territory.

Due to the intensive fighting in South Ossetia there were many disputed reports about the number of casualties on both sides, targets which had fallen under aerial attacks, troop movements and the current front line between the Georgian and Russian-Ossetian combat units.

After a few days of heavy fighting Georgian troops were ejected from South Ossetia. Meanwhile, Russian military stationed in another separatist region of Abkhazia began marching into Western Georgia on August 11. This advance into Georgia was accompanied by reports of widespread looting, burning, and killing of civilians by Ossetian militia. On August 12, however, President Medvedev ordered a halt to Russian military operations in Georgia.

On August 12, Russian President Medvedev met the President-in-Office of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and approved a six-point peace plan. Late that night Georgian President Saakashvili agreed to the text. The translation of the six points is by the Times, from a French language document provided by a Georgian negotiator. Sarkozy's plan originally had just the first four points. Russia added the fifth and sixth points. Georgia asked for the additions in parentheses, but Russia rejected them, and Sarkozy convinced Georgia to agree to the unchanged text.

1. No recourse to the use of force.

2. Definitive cessation of hostilities.

3. Free access to humanitarian aid (addition rejected: and to allow the return of refugees).

4. Georgian military forces must withdraw to their normal bases of encampment.

5. Russian military forces must withdraw to the lines prior to the start of hostilities. While awaiting an international mechanism, Russian peacekeeping forces will implement additional security measures (addition rejected: six months).

6. Opening of international discussions on the modalities of lasting security in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (addition rejected: based on the decisions of the U.N. and the O.S.C.E.).

According to RIA Novosti, "Sarkozy told a briefing after talks with his Georgian counterpart that the deal also includes some changes requested by Georgia... 'we have removed the issue of South Ossetia's status from the document'". But the New York Times, citing a Georgian negotiator, reported that Sarkozy convinced Georgia to accept the Russian version unchanged, after Medvedev waited two hours to return his phone call and then rejected the proposed changes. The U.S. newspaper further asserted that the fifth point was crucial, and Russia used it to justify continuing hostilities into Georgia proper after the agreement.

On August 14, Dmitry Medvedev met with separatist leaders Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia and Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia, where they signed the six principles.

On August 22, Russian Defence Minister reportely said that "the Russian Army units used in the peace enforcement mission finished the withdrawal from the territory of Georgia by 19:50 Moscow time". Apparently, the minister was misquoted, for the Russian troops were still in Georgia as of October 5. So far Russia has signalled no intention to end its military presence in the disputed Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In fact on August 25, 2008, Russia recognized these as independent states. Russia now maintains that its troops stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are there according to the agreement between Russian and local governments and their status is not regulated by the Medvedev-Sarkozy peace plan.

In the north, Georgia has a 723 km common border with Russia's Northern Caucasus federal district. The following Russian republics/subdivisions—from west to east—border Georgia: Krasnodar Krai, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan. Georgia also shares borders with Azerbaijan (322 km) to the south-east, Armenia (164 km.) to the south, and Turkey (252 km.) to the south-west.

Mountains are the dominant geographic feature of Georgia. The Likhi Range divides the country into eastern and western halves. Historically, the western portion of Georgia was known as Colchis while the eastern plateau was called Iberia. Due to a complex geographic setting, mountains also isolate the northern region of Svaneti from the rest of Georgia.

The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range separates Georgia from the North Caucasian Republics of Russia. The main roads through the mountain range into Russian territory lead through the Roki Tunnel between South and North Ossetia and the Darial Gorge (in the Georgian region of Khevi). The Roki Tunnel is vital for the Russian military in the ongoing 2008 South Ossetia War.

The southern portion of the country is bounded by the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range is much higher in elevation than the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, with the highest peaks rising more than 5,000 meters (16,400 ft) above sea level.

The highest mountain in Georgia is Mount Shkhara at 5,201 meters (17,059 ft), and the second highest is Mount Janga (Jangi-Tau) at 5,051 meters (16,572 ft) above sea level. Other prominent peaks include Kazbegi (Kazbek) at 5,047 meters (16,554 ft), Tetnuldi (4,974 m./16,319ft.), Shota Rustaveli (4,960 m./16,273ft.), Mt. Ushba (4,710 m./15,453ft.), and Ailama (4,525 m./14,842ft.). Out of the abovementioned peaks, only Kazbegi is of volcanic origin. The region between Kazbegi and Shkhara (a distance of about 200 km. along the Main Caucasus Range) is dominated by numerous glaciers. Out of the 2,100 glaciers that exist in the Caucasus today, approximately 30% are located within Georgia.

The term, Lesser Caucasus Mountains is often used to describe the mountainous (highland) areas of southern Georgia that are connected to the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range by the Likhi Range. The area can be split into two separate sub-regions; the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, which run parallel to the Greater Caucasus Range, and the Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland, which lies immediately to the south of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The overall region can be characterized as being made up of various, interconnected mountain ranges (largely of volcanic origin) and plateaus that do not exceed 3,400 meters (approximately 11,000 ft) in elevation. Prominent features of the area include the Javakheti Volcanic Plateau, lakes, including Tabatskuri and Paravani, as well as mineral water and hot springs. The Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland is a young and unstable geologic region with high seismic activity and has experienced some of the most significant earthquakes that have been recorded in Georgia.

The Voronya Cave (aka Krubera-Voronia Cave) is the deepest known cave in the world. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range, in Abkhazia. In 2001, a Russian–Ukrainian team had set the world depth record for a cave at 1,710 metres. In 2004, the penetrated depth was increased on each of three expeditions, when a Ukrainian team crossed the 2000-meter mark for the first time in the history of speleology. In October 2005, an unexplored part was found by the CAVEX team, further increasing the known depth of the cave. This expedition confirmed the known depth of the cave at 2,140 (± 9) metres.

Two major rivers in Georgia are the Rioni and the Mtkvari.

The geographical inclusion of Georgia in Eastern Europe is a controversial subject. Most modern maps align Europe's southeastern border with the skyline of the Caucasus Mountains, placing minor parts of Georgia -- the Khevi, Khevsureti, and Tusheti regions -- in Europe. Philip Johan von Strahlenberg's 1730 definition of Europe, which was used by the Russian Tsars and which first set the Urals as the eastern border of the continent, drew the continental border along the Kuma-Manych Depression to the Caspian Sea, excluding Georgia (and all the Caucasus) from the continent.

The matter may be related to Georgia's desire to join NATO. Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty limits membership extension to European states, so Georgia needs territory in Europe to qualify for membership.

The landscape within the nation's boundaries is quite varied. Western Georgia's landscape ranges from low-land marsh-forests, swamps, and temperate rain forests to eternal snows and glaciers, while the eastern part of the country even contains a small segment of semi-arid plains characteristic of Central Asia. Forests cover around 40% of Georgia's territory while the alpine/subalpine zone accounts for roughly around 10% of the land.

Much of the natural habitat in the low-lying areas of Western Georgia has disappeared over the last 100 years due to the agricultural development of the land and urbanization. The large majority of the forests that covered the Colchis plain are now virtually non-existent with the exception of the regions that are included in the national parks and reserves (i.e. Paleostomi Lake area). At present, the forest cover generally remains outside of the low-lying areas and is mainly located along the foothills and the mountains. Western Georgia's forests consist mainly of deciduous trees below 600 meters (1,968 ft) above sea level and comprise of species such as oak, hornbeam, beech, elm, ash, and chestnut. Evergreen species such as box may also be found in many areas. Ca. 1000 of all 4000 higher plants of Georgia are endemic in this country. The west-central slopes of the Meskheti Range in Ajaria as well as several locations in Samegrelo and Abkhazia are covered by temperate rain forests. Between 600–1,500 meters (1,968-4,920 ft) above sea level, the deciduous forest becomes mixed with both broad-leaf and coniferous species making up the plant life. The zone is made up mainly of beech, spruce, and fir forests. From 1,500-1,800 meters (4,920-5,904 ft), the forest becomes largely coniferous. The tree line generally ends at around 1,800 meters (5,904 ft) and the alpine zone takes over, which in most areas, extends up to an elevation of 3,000 meters (9,840 ft) above sea level. The eternal snow and glacier zone lies above the 3,000 meter line.

Eastern Georgia's landscape (referring to the territory east of the Likhi Range) is considerably different from that of the west. Although, much like the Colchis plain in the west, nearly all of the low-lying areas of eastern Georgia including the Mtkvari and Alazani River plains have been deforested for agricultural purposes. In addition, due to the region's relatively drier climate, some of the low-lying plains (especially in Kartli and south-eastern Kakheti) were never covered by forests in the first place. The general landscape of eastern Georgia comprises numerous valleys and gorges that are separated by mountains. In contrast with western Georgia, nearly 85% of the forests of the region are deciduous. Coniferous forests only dominate in the Borjomi Gorge and in the extreme western areas. Out of the deciduous species of trees, beech, oak, and hornbeam dominate. Other deciduous species include several varieties of maple, aspen, ash, and hazelnut. The Upper Alazani River Valley contains yew forests. At higher elevations above 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) above sea level (particularly in the Tusheti, Khevsureti, and Khevi regions), pine and birch forests dominate. In general, the forests in eastern Georgia occur between 500–2,000 metres (1,640–6,560 ft) above sea level, with the alpine zone extending from 2,000/2,200–3,000/3,500 metres (roughly about 6,560–11,480 ft). The only remaining large, low-land forests remain in the Alazani Valley of Kakheti. The eternal snow and glacier zone lies above the 3,500 metre (11,480 ft) line in most areas of eastern Georgia.

Due to its high landscape diversity and low latitude Georgia is home to a large number of animal species, e. g. ca. 1000 species of vertebrates (330 birds, 160 fish, 48 reptiles, 11 amphibians). A number of large carnivores live in the forests, e. g. Persian leopard, Brown bear, wolf, and lynx. The species number of invertebrates is considered to be very high but data is distributed across a high number of publications. The spider checklist of Georgia, for example, includes 501 species. Non-marine molluscs of Georgia also include high diversity.

The climate of Georgia is extremely diverse, considering the nation's small size. There are two main climatic zones, roughly separating Eastern and Western parts of the country. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range plays an important role in moderating Georgia's climate and protects the nation from the penetration of colder air masses from the north. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains partially protect the region from the influence of dry and hot air masses from the south as well.

Much of western Georgia lies within the northern periphery of the humid subtropical zone with annual precipitation ranging from 1000–4000 mm. (39–157 inches). The precipitation tends to be uniformly distributed throughout the year, although the rainfall can be particularly heavy during the Autumn months. The climate of the region varies significantly with elevation and while much of the lowland areas of western Georgia are relatively warm throughout the year, the foothills and mountainous areas (including both the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains) experience cool, wet summers and snowy winters (snow cover often exceeds 2 meters in many regions). Ajaria is the wettest region of the Caucasus, where the Mt. Mtirala rainforest, east of Kobuleti receives around 4500 mm (177 inches) of precipitation per year.

Eastern Georgia has a transitional climate from humid subtropical to continental. The region's weather patterns are influenced both by dry, Central Asian/Caspian air masses from the east and humid, Black Sea air masses from the west. The penetration of humid air masses from the Black Sea is often blocked by several mountain ranges (Likhi and Meskheti) that separate the eastern and western parts of the nation. Annual precipitation is considerably less than that of western Georgia and ranges from 400–1600 mm (16–63 inches). The wettest periods generally occur during Spring and Autumn while Winter and the Summer months tend to be the driest. Much of eastern Georgia experiences hot summers (especially in the low-lying areas) and relatively cold winters. As in the western parts of the nation, elevation plays an important role in eastern Georgia where climatic conditions above 1500 metres are considerably colder than in the low-lying areas. The regions that lie above 2000 meters frequently experience frost even during the summer months.

Currently, the status of South Ossetia, an autonomous administrative district (also known as the Tskhinvali region), is being negotiated with the Russian-supported separatist government. Recently, these negotiations have broken down in light of Russia's decision to reinforce the region militarily and give Russian passports to South Ossetians. The government of Georgia has expressed that it views these moves as attempts by Russia to annex the region effectively. The Georgian government levels the same criticism against Russian involvement in Abkhazia, another breakaway region; Abkhazia has the status of an autonomous republic, but operates as a de facto state. This condition follows the ethnic cleansing of at least 200,000 Georgians in the War in Abkhazia in 1992-1993. Ajaria gained autonomy unilaterally under local strongman Aslan Abashidze with help from a Russian military brigade located on a base in Ajaria. Current Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili restored the region to Georgian control after a local uprising against Abashidze's perceived corruption.

Georgia is a democratic semi-presidential republic, with the President as the head of state, and Prime Minister as the head of government.

The executive branch of power is made up of the President and the Cabinet of Georgia. The Cabinet is composed of ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, and appointed by the President. Notably, the ministers of defense and interior are not members of the Cabinet and are subordinated directly to the President of Georgia.

Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament of Georgia. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, from which 75 members are proportional representatives and 75 are elected through single-member district plurality system, representing their constituencies. Members of parliament are elected for 5 five-year term.

Five parties and electoral blocs had representatives elected to the parliament in the 2008 elections: the United National Movement (governing party), the Electoral Bloc The Joint Opposition, the Christian-Democrats, the Labour Party and Republican Party.

Despite considerable progress made since the Rose revolution Georgia is still not a full-fledged democracy. Political system remains in the process of transition, with frequent adjustments to the balance of power between the President and Parliament, and proposals ranging from transforming the country into parliamentary republic to re-estabilishing the monarchy. Observers note the deficit of trust in relations between the Government and the opposition. Different opinions exist regarding the degree of political freedom in Georgia. President Saakashvili believes that the country is essentially free, many opposition leaders claim that Georgia is a dictatorship, and Freedom House puts Georgia in the group of partly free countries, along with countries like Turkey and Bosnia.

Georgia maintains good relations with its direct neighbours Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey and participates actively in regional organizations, such as the Black Sea Economic Council and the GUAM. Georgia also maintains political, economic and military relations with Japan, South Korea ,Israel, Ukraine and many other countries. The growing US and European Union influence in Georgia, notably through proposed EU and NATO membership, the US Train and Equip military assistance programme and the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, have frequently strained Tbilisi's relations with Moscow. Georgia's decision to boost its presence in the coalition forces in Iraq was an important initiative.

Georgia is currently working to become a full member of NATO. In August 2004, the Individual Partnership Action Plan of Georgia was submitted officially to NATO. On October 29, 2004, the North Atlantic Council of NATO approved the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) of Georgia and Georgia moved on to the second stage of Euro-Atlantic Integration. In 2005, by the decision of the President of Georgia, a state commission was set up to implement the Individual Partnership Action Plan, which presents an interdepartmental group headed by the Prime Minister. The Commission was tasked with coordinating and controlling the implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan.

On February 14, 2005, the agreement on the appointment of Partnership for Peace (PfP) liaison officer between Georgia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into force, whereby a liaison officer for the South Caucasus was assigned to Georgia. On March 2, 2005, the agreement was signed on the provision of the host nation support to and transit of NATO forces and NATO personnel. On March 6-9, 2006, the IPAP implementation interim assessment team arrived in Tbilisi. On April 13, 2006, the discussion of the assessment report on implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan was held at NATO Headquarters, within 26+1 format. In 2006, the Georgian parliament voted unanimously for the bill which calls for integration of Georgia into NATO. The majority of Georgians and politicians in Georgia support the push for NATO membership. Currently, it is expected that Georgia will join NATO in 2009.

George W. Bush became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country. The street leading to Tbilisi International Airport has since been dubbed George W. Bush Avenue.

From the European commission website: President Saakashvili views membership of the EU and NATO as a long term priority. As he does not want Georgia to become an arena of Russia-US confrontation he seeks to maintain close relations with the United States and European Union, at the same time underlining his ambitions to advance co-operation with Russia.

On October 2, 2006, Georgian and the European Union signed a joint statement on the agreed text of the Georgia-European Union Action Plan within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The Action Plan was formally approved at the EU-Georgia Cooperation Council session on November 14, 2006 in Brussels.

On February 2, 2007, Georgia officially became the most recent regional member of the Asian Development Bank. They currently hold 12,081 shares in the bank, 0.341 percent of the total.

Georgia joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in December 1993, two years after the creation of the organization. On 12 August 2008, following the breakout of the military conflict with Russia in South Ossetia, Georgia's president Saakashvili announced at a rally outside the country's parliament that Georgia would leave the CIS and urged Ukraine to follow suit. On 18 August 2008 Georgia notified the CIS executive organs of the unanimous decision of its parliament to leave the regional organization. In accordance with Section II, Article 9 of the CIS Charter, Georgia's membership is scheduled to expire in August 2009.

Georgia's military is organized into land, air, maritime, special forces and national guard branches. They are collectively known as the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF). The mission and functions of the GAF are based on the Constitution of Georgia, Georgia’s Law on Defense and National Military Strategy, and international agreements to which Georgia is signatory. They are performed under the guidance and authority of the Ministry of Defense.

Since coming to power in 2004, Saakashvili has boosted spending on the country's armed forces and increased its overall size to around 45,000. Of that figure, 12,000 have been trained in advanced techniques by U.S. military instructors. Some of these troops have been stationed in Iraq as part of the international coalition in the region, serving in Baqubah and the Green Zone of Baghdad. In May 2005, the 13th "Shavnabada" Light Infantry Battalion became the first full battalion to serve outside of Georgia. This unit was responsible for two checkpoints to the Green Zone, and provided security for the Iraqi Parliament. In October 2005, the unit was replaced by the 21st Infantry Battalion. Soldiers of the 13th "Shavnabada" Light Infantry Battalion wear the "combat patches" of the American unit they served under, the Third Infantry Division.

Archaeological research demonstrates that Georgia has been involved in commerce with many lands and empires since the ancient times, largely due its location on the Black Sea and later on the historical Silk Road. Gold, silver, copper and iron have been mined in the Caucasus Mountains. Wine making is a very old tradition.

Throughout Georgia's modern history agriculture and tourism have been principal economic sectors, due to the country's climate and topography.

For much of the 20th century, Georgia's economy was within the Soviet model of command economy.

Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Georgia embarked on a major structural reform designed to transition to a free market economy. However, as with all other post-Soviet states, Georgia faced a severe economic collapse. The civil war and military conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia aggravated the crisis. The agriculture and industry output diminished. By 1994 the gross domestic product had shrunk to a quarter of that of 1989.

The first financial help from the West came in 1995, when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund granted Georgia a credit of USD 206 million and Germany granted DM 50 million.

As of 2001 54% of the population lived below the national poverty line but by 2006 poverty decreased to 34%. In 2005 average monthly income of a household was GEL 347 (about 200 USD).

Since early 2000s visible positive developments have been observed in the economy of Georgia. In 2007 Georgia's real GDP growth rate reached 12%, making Georgia one of the fastest growing economies in Eastern Europe. The World Bank dubbed Georgia "the number one economic reformer in the world" because it has in one year improved from rank 112th to 18th in terms of ease of doing business. However, the country has high unemployment rate of 12.6% and has fairly low median income compared to European countries.

IMF 2007 estimates place Georgia's nominal GDP at US$10.3 billion. Georgia's economy is becoming more devoted to services (now representing 65% of GDP), moving away from agricultural sector ( 10.9%).

The country has sizable hydropower resources.

The 2006 ban on imports of Georgian wine to Russia, one of Georgia's biggest trading partners, and break of financial links was described by the IMF Mission as an "external shock", In addition, Russia increased the price of gas for Georgia. This was followed by the spike in the Georgian lari's rate of inflation. The National Bank of Georgia stated that the inflation was mainly triggered by external reasons, including Russia’s economic embargo. The Georgian authorities expected that the current account deficit the embargo would cause in 2007 would be financed by "higher foreign exchange proceeds generated by the large inflow of foreign direct investment" and an increase in tourist revenues. The country has also maintained a solid credit in international market securities.

Georgia is becoming more integrated into the global trading network: its 2006 imports and exports account for 10% and 18% of GDP respectively. Georgia's main imports are natural gas, oil products, machinery and parts, and transport equipment.

Since coming to power Saakashvili administration accomplished a series of reforms aimed at impoving tax collection. Among other things a flat income tax was introduced in 2004 As a result budget revenues have increased fourfold and once large budget deficit has turned into surplus.

Georgia is developing into an international transport corridor through Batumi and Poti ports, an oil pipeline from Baku through Tbilisi to Ceyhan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) and a parallel gas pipeline, the South Caucasus Pipeline.

Tourism is an increasingly significant part of the Georgian economy. About a million tourists brought US$313 million to the country in 2006. According to the government, there are 103 resorts in different climatic zones in Georgia. Tourist attractions include more than 2000 mineral springs, over 12,000 historical and cultural monuments, four of which are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi and Gelati Monastery, historical monuments of Mtskheta, and Upper Svaneti).

Georgians (with Adjarians, Mingrelians, Svans, Lazs) form a majority, about 83.8%, of Georgia's current population of 4,661,473 (July 2006 est.). Other major ethnic groups include Azeris, who form 6.5% of the population, Armenians - 5.7%, Russians - 1.5%, Abkhazians, and Ossetians. Numerous smaller groups also live in the country, including Assyrians, Chechens, Chinese, Georgian Jews, Greeks, Kabardins, Kurds, Tatars, Turks and Ukrainians. Notably, Georgia's Jewish community is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.

Georgia also exhibits significant linguistic diversity. Within the South Caucasian family, Georgian, Laz, Mingrelian, and Svan are spoken. South Caucasian groups other than ethnic Georgians often speak their native languages in addition to Georgian. The official languages of Georgia are Georgian and also Abkhaz within the autonomous region of Abkhazia. Georgian, the country's official language, is spoken by 71% of the population, 9% speak Russian, 7% Armenian, 6% Azeri, and 7% other languages. Georgia's literacy rate is said to be 100%.

In the early 1990s, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, violent separatist conflicts broke out in the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Many Ossetians living in Georgia left the country, mainly to Russia's North Ossetia. On the other hand, more than 150,000 Georgians left Abkhazia after the breakout of hostilities in 1993. Of the Meskhetian Turks who were forcibly relocated in 1944 only a tiny fraction returned to Georgia as of 2007.

Georgia's net migration rate is -4.54, excluding Georgian nationals who live abroad. Georgia has nonetheless been inhabited by immigrants from all over the world throughout its independence. According to 2006 statistics, Georgia gets most of its immigrants from Turkey and People's Republic of China.

Today most of the population practices Orthodox Christianity of the Georgian Orthodox Church (81.9%). The religious minorities are: Muslim (9.9%); Armenian Apostolic (3.9%); Russian Orthodox Church (2.0%); Roman Catholic (0.8%). 0.8% of those recorded in the 2002 census declared themselves to be adherents of other religions and 0.7% declared no religion at all.

Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years with its foundations in Iberian and Colchian civilizations, continuing into the rise of the unified Georgian Kingdom under the single monarchy of the Bagrationi. Georgian culture enjoyed a golden age and renaissance of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century. The Georgian language, and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli, were revived in the 19th century after a long period of turmoil, laying the foundations of the romantics and novelists of the modern era such as Grigol Orbeliani, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela, and many others. Georgian culture was influenced by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, and later by the Russian Empire which contributed to the European elements of Georgian culture.

Georgia is well known for its rich folklore, unique traditional music, theatre, cinema, and art. Georgians are renowned for their love of music, dance, theatre and cinema. In the 20th century there have been notable Georgian painters such as Niko Pirosmani, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani; ballet choreographers such as George Balanchine, Vakhtang Chabukiani, and Nino Ananiashvili; poets such as Galaktion Tabidze, Lado Asatiani, and Mukhran Machavariani; and theatre and film directors such as Robert Sturua, Tengiz Abuladze, Giorgi Danelia and Otar Ioseliani.

Georgian architecture has been influenced by many civilizations. There are several different architectural styles for castles, towers, fortifications and churches. The Upper Svaneti fortifications, and the castle town of Shatili in Khevsureti, are some of the finest examples of medieval Georgian castle architecture.

Georgian ecclesiastic art is one of the most fascinating aspects of Georgian Christian architecture, which combines classical dome style with original basilica style forming what is known as the Georgian cross-dome style. Cross-dome architecture developed in Georgia during the 9th century; before that, most Georgian churches were basilicas. Other examples of Georgian ecclesiastic architecture can be found outside Georgia: Bachkovo Monastery in Bulgaria (built in 1083 by the Georgian military commander Grigorii Bakuriani), Iviron monastery in Greece (built by Georgians in the 10th century), and the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem (built by Georgians in the 9th century).

Other architectural aspects of Georgia include Rustaveli avenue in Tbilisi in the Hausmann style, and the Old Town District.

The art of Georgia spans the prehistoric, the ancient Greek, Roman, medieval, ecclesiastic, iconic and modern visual arts. One of the most famous late nineteenth/early twentieth century Georgian artists is the primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani. Pirosmani's works can also been seen as early impressionistic, due to the fact that his work inspired Lado Gudiashvili and Elene Akhvlediani, who represent the more mainstream impressionism of the twentieth century. Contemporary Georgian surrealism is represented by Ramaz Razmadze and Rezo Kaishauri.

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.

In addition to traditional Georgian dishes, the foods of other countries have been brought to Georgia by immigrants from Russia, Greece, and recently China.

The education system of Georgia has undergone sweeping modernizing, albeit painful and controversial, reforms since 2004. The adult literacy rate in Georgia is given as 100 %. Education in Georgia is mandatory for all children aged 6-14.

The school system is divided into elementary (6 years; age level 6-12), basic (3 years; age level 12-15), and secondary (2 years; age level 15-17), or alternatively vocational studies (2 years). Students with a secondary school certificate have access to higher education. Only the students who have passed the Unified National Examinations may enroll in a state-accredited higher education institution, based on ranking of scores he/she received at the exams. Most of these institutions offer three level studies: a Bachelor's Programme (3-4 years); a Master's Programme (2 years), and a Doctoral Programme (3 years). There is also a Certified Specialist's Programme that represents a single-level higher education programme lasting for 3-6 years. As of 2008, 20 higher education institutions are accredited by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. Gross primary enrollment ratio was 94 % for the period of 2001-2006.

According to the Constitution of Georgia, religious institutions are separate from government and every citizen has the right of religion. However, most of the population of Georgia (82%) practices Orthodox Christianity and Georgian Orthodox Church is an influential institution in the country.

The Gospel was preached in Georgia by the Apostles, Andrew the First Called, Simon the Canaanite, and Matthias. Iberia was officially converted to Christianity in 326 by Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who is considered to be the Enlightener of Georgia and the Equal to Apostles by the Orthodox Church. The Georgian Orthodox Church, once being under the See of Antioch, gained an autocephalous status in the 4th century during the reign of King Vakhtang Gorgasali.

Religious minorities of Georgia include Russian Orthodox (2%), Armenian Christians (3.9%), Muslims (9.9%), Roman Catholics (0.8%), as well as sizeable Jewish Communities and various Protestant minorities.

Despite the long history of religious harmony in Georgia, there have been several instances of religious discrimination in the past decade — such as, for example, acts of violence against Jehovah's Witnesses and threats against adherents of other "nontraditional faiths" by followers of the defrocked Orthodox priest Vasil Mkalavishvili.

Among the most popular sports in Georgia are football, basketball, rugby union, wrestling, hockey and weightlifting. Historically, Georgia has been famous for its physical education; it is known that the Romans were fascinated with Georgians' physical qualities after seeing the training techniques of ancient Iberia. Wrestling remains a historically important sport of Georgia, and some historians think that the Greco-Roman style of wrestling incorporates many Georgian elements. Within Georgia, one of the most popularized styles of wrestling is the Kakhetian style. However, there were a number of other styles in the past that are not as widely used today. For example, the Khevsureti region of Georgia has three different styles of wrestling. Other popular sports in 19th century Georgia were polo, and lelo, a traditional Georgian game later replaced by rugby union.

1 Has part of its territory outside Europe.  2 Entirely in West Asia but having socio-political connections with Europe.  3 Has dependencies or similar territories outside Europe. 4 Name disputed by Greece; see Macedonia naming dispute. 5 Declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 and is recognised by 55 United Nations member states.

For dependent and other territories, see Dependent territory.

1 Partly or significantly in Europe.  2 The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not officially recognized by the United Nations; see Political status of Taiwan. 3 Partly or significantly in Africa.  4 Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania.

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History of Georgia (country)

Iberian King Mirian III established Christianity in Georgia as the official state religion in 327 AD

The history of Georgia began with the rise of the early Georgian states of Colchis and Iberia, which in c.1000 BC formed the Georgian civilization and achieved its renaissance and golden age in the twelfth through thirteenth centuries. The history of Georgia has been marked by a series of invasions and subjugation by several empires (such as Rome, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire). However, throughout the long history of turmoil, the Georgian nation has endured and preserved its national identity.

Evidence for the earliest occupation of the territory of present day Georgia goes back to ca. 1.8 million years ago, as evident from the excavations of Dmanisi in the south-eastern part of the country. Later prehistoric remains (Acheulian, Mousterian and the Upper Palaeolithic) are known from numerous cave and open-air sites in Georgia. The earliest agricultural Neolithic occupation is dated sometime between 6000 and 5000 B.C. Numerous excavations in tell settlements of the "Sulaveri-Somutepe-Group" have been conducted since the 1960s. In the 1970s, archaeological excavations revealed a number of ancient settlements that included houses with galleries, carbon-dated to the 5th millennium BC in the Imiris-gora region of Eastern Georgia. These dwellings were circular or oval in plan, a characteristic feature being the central pier and chimney. These features were used and further developed in building Georgian dwellings and houses of the 'Darbazi' type. In the Chalcolithic period of the fourth and third millennia B.C., Georgia and Asia Minor were home to the Kura-Araxes culture, giving way in the second millennium BC. to the Trialeti culture. Archaeological excavations have brought to light the remains of settlements at Beshtasheni and Ozni (4th - 3rd millennium BC), and barrow burials (carbon dated to the 2nd millennium BC) in the province of Trialeti, at Tsalka (Eastern Georgia). Together, they testify to an advanced and well-developed culture of building and architecture.

Between 2100 and 750 B.C., the area survived the invasions by the Hittites, Urartians, Medes, Proto-Persians and Cimmerians. At the same period, the ethnic unity of Proto-Kartvelians broke up into several branches, among them Svans, Zans/Chans and East-Kartvelians. That finally led to the formation of modern Kartvelian languages: Georgian (originating from East Kartvelian vernaculars), Svan, Megrelian and Laz (the latter two originating from Zan dialects). By that time Svans were dominant in modern Svanetia and Abkhazia, Zans inhabited modern Georgian province of Samegrelo, while East-Kartvelians formed the majority in modern eastern Georgia. As a result of cultural and geographic delimitation, two core areas of future Georgian culture and statehood formed in western and eastern Georgia by the end of the 8th century B.C. The first two Georgian states emerged in the west known as the Kingdom of Colchis and in the east as the Kingdom of Iberia.

A second Georgian tribal union emerged in the 13th century BC on the Black Sea coast under the Kingdom of Colchis in western Georgia. The ancient Greeks knew of Colchis, and it featured in the Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts, who travelled there in search of the Golden Fleece. Starting around 2000 BC, northwestern Colchis was inhabited by the Svan and Zan peoples of the Kartvelian tribes. Another important ethnic element of ancient Colchis were Greeks who between 1000 and 550 BC established many trading colonies in the coastal area, among them Naessus, Pitiys, Dioscurias, Guenos, Phasis (modern Poti), Apsaros, and Rhizos (modern Rize in Turkey). In the eastern part of Georgia there was a struggle for the leadership among the various Georgian confederations during the 6th – 4th centuries BC which was finally won by the Kartlian tribes from the region of Mtskheta. According to the Georgian tradition, the Kingdom of Kartli (known as Iberia in the Greek-Roman literature) was founded around 300 BC by Parnavaz I, the first ruler of the Parnavazid dynasty.

Between 653 and 333 BC, both Colchis and Iberia survived successive invasions by the Median Empire, and later the Persian Empire. At the end of the 3d century B.C southern Iberia witnessed the invading armies of Alexander the Great, who established a vast Greco-Macedonian empire to the south of the Caucasus. Neither Iberia nor Colchis were incorporated into the empire of Alexander or any of the successor Hellenistic states of the Middle East. However, the culture of ancient Greece still had a considerable influence on the region, and Greek was widely spoken in the cities of Colchis. In Iberia Greek influence was less noticeable and Aramaic was widely spoken.

Between the early 2nd century BC and the late 2nd century A.D. both Colchis and Iberia, together with the neighboring countries, become an arena of long and devastating conflicts between major and local powers such as Rome, Armenia and the short-lived Kingdom of Pontus. In 189 BC the rapidly growing Kingdom of Armenia took over more than half of Iberia, conquering the southern and southeastern provinces of Gogarene, Taokhia and Genyokhiaas, as well as some other territories. Between 120 and 63 BC, Armenia’s ally Mithridate VI Eupator of Pontus, conquered all of Colchis and incorporated it into his kingdom, embracing almost all of Asia Minor as well as the eastern and northern Black Sea coastal areas.

This close association with Armenia brought upon the country an invasion (65 BC) by the Roman general Pompey, who was then at war with Mithradates VI of Pontus, and Armenia; but Rome did not establish her power permanently over Iberia. Nineteen years later, the Romans again marched (36 BC) on Iberia forcing King Pharnavaz II to join their campaign against Albania.

During this time Armenia and Pontus were actively expanding at the expense of Rome, taking over its Eastern Mediterranean possessions. However, the success of the anti-Roman alliance did not last long. As a result of the brilliant Roman campaigns of Pompey and Lucullus from the west, and the Parthian invasion from the south, Armenia lost a significant part of its conquests by 65 BC, devolving into a Roman-Parthian dependency. At the same time, the Kingdom of Pontus was completely destroyed by the Romans and all its territory including Colchis were incorporated into the Roman Empire as her provinces. The former Kingdom of Colchis became the Roman province of Lazicum ruled by Roman legati. The following 600 years of Georgian history were marked by struggle between Rome and Persia (Iran) including Parthians and Sassanids who were fighting long wars against each other for the domination in the Middle East including Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Albania, and Iberia. In the 2nd century AD, Iberia strengthened her position in the area, especially during the reign of King Pharsman II who achieved full independence from Rome and reconquered some of the previously lost territories from declining Armenia. In the early 3rd century, Rome had to give up Albania and most of Armenia to Sassanid Persia. The province of Lazicum was given a degree of autonomy that by the end of the century developed into full independence with the formation of a new Kingdom of Lazica-Egrisi on the territories of smaller principalities of the Zans, Svans, Apsyls, and Sanyghs. This new Western Georgian state survived more than 250 years until 562 when it was absorbed by the Byzantine Empire.

Before adoption of Christianity, the cult of Mithras and Zoroastrianism were commonly practiced in Iberia from the first centuries AD. The cult of Mithras, distinguished by its syncretic character and thus complementary to local cults, especially the cult of the Sun, gradually came to merge with ancient Georgian beliefs. The western Georgian Kingdom of Iberia became one of the first states in the world to convert to Christianity in 327 AD, when the King of Iberia Mirian II established it as the official state religion. However, the date varies based on numerous accounts and historical documents, which indicate Iberia adopting Christianity as a state religion in AD 317, 324, etc. According to Georgian chronicles, St. Nino of Cappadocia converted Georgia to Christianity in AD 330 during the time of Constantine the Great. By the middle of the 4th century though, both Lazica (formerly the Kingdom of Colchis) and Iberia adopted Christianity as their official religion. During the 4th and most of the 5th centuries, Iberia (known also as the Kingdom of Kartli) was under Persian control. The Kingdom was abolished and the country was ruled by the governors appointed by the Shahs. At the end of the 5th century though, Prince Vakhtang I Gorgasali orchestrated an anti-Persian uprising and restored Iberian statehood, proclaiming himself the King. After this, the armies of Vakhtang launched several campaigns against both Persia and the Byzantine Empire. However, his struggle for the independence and unity of the Georgian state did not have lasting success. After Vakhtang’s death in 502, and the short reign of his son Dachi (502-514), Iberia was reincorporated into Persia as a province once again. However this time the Iberian nobility were granted the privilege of electing the governors, who in Georgian were called erismtavari. By the late 7th century, the Byzantine-Persian rivalry for the Middle East had given way to Arab conquest of the region.

The first decades of the 9th century saw the rise of a new Georgian state in Tao-Klarjeti. Ashot Courapalate of the royal family of Bagrationi liberated from the Arabs the territories of former southern Iberia. These included the Principalities of Tao and Klarjeti, and the Earldoms of Shavsheti, Khikhata, Samtskhe, Trialeti, Javakheti and Ashotsi, which were formally a part of the Byzantine Empire, under the name of “Curopalatinate of Iberia”. In practice, however, the region functioned as a fully independent country with its capital in Artanuji. The hereditary title of Curopalate was kept by the Bagrationi family, whose representatives ruled Tao-Klarjeti for almost a century. Curopalate David Bagrationi expanded his domain by annexing the city of Theodossiopolis (Karin, Karnukalaki) and the Armenian province of Basiani, and by imposing a protectorate over the Armenian provinces of Kharqi, Apakhuni, Mantsikert, and Khlat, formerly controlled by the Kaysithe Arab Emirs.

The first united Georgian monarchy was formed at the end of the 10th century when Curopalate David invaded the Earldom of Kartli-Iberia. Three years later, after the death of his uncle Theodosius the Blind, King of Egrisi-Abkhazia, Bagrat III inherited the Abkhazian throne. In 1001 Bagrat added Tao-Klarjeti (Curopalatinate of Iberia) to his domain as a result of David’s death. In 1008-1010, Bagrat annexed Kakheti and Ereti, thus becoming the first king of a united Georgia in both the east and west.

The second half of the 11th century was marked by the strategically significant invasion of the Seljuk Turks, who by the end of the 1040s had succeeded in building a vast nomadic empire including most of Central Asia and Persia. In 1071, the Seljuk army destroyed the united Byzantine-Armenian and Georgian forces in the Battle of Manzikert. By 1081, all of Armenia, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and most of Georgia had been conquered and devastated by the Seljuks. In Georgia, only the mountainous areas of Abkhazia, Svanetia, Racha, and Khevi-Khevsureti remained out of Seljuk control and served as a relatively safe havens for numerous refugees. The rest of the country was dominated by the conquerors who destroyed the cities and fortresses, looted the villages, and massacred both the aristocracy and the farming population. In fact, by the end of the 1080s, Georgians were outnumbered in the region by the invaders.

The struggle against the Seljuk invaders in Georgia was led by the young King David IV of the Bagrationi royal family, who inherited the throne in 1089 at the age of 16 after the abdication of his father George II Bagrationi. Soon after coming to power, David created the regular army and peasant militia in order to be able to resist Seljuk colonization of his country. The First Crusade (1096-1099) and the Crusaders’ offensive against the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia and Syria favored David’s successful campaigns in Georgia. By the end of 1099 David had stopped paying tribute to the Seljuks and had liberated most of the Georgian lands, with the exception of Tbilisi and Hereti. In 1103 he reorganized the Georgian Orthodox Church and closely linked it with the state by appointing as Catholicos (Arch-Bishop) a Crown Chancellor (Mtsihnobart Ukhutsesi) of Georgia. In 1103–1105 the Georgian army took over Hereti and made successful raids into still Seljuk-controlled Shirvan. Between 1110 and 1118 David took Lori, Samshvilde, Rustavi and other fortresses of lower Kartli and Tashiri, thus turning Tbilisi into an isolated Seljuk enclave.

In 1118-1119, having considerable amounts of free, unsettled land as a result of the withdrawal of Turkish nomads, and desperately needing qualified manpower for the army, King David invited some 40,000 Kipchak warriors from North Caucasus to settle in Georgia with their families. In 1120 the ruler of Alania recognized himself as King David’s vassal and afterwards sent thousands of Alans (allegedly modern day Ossetians) to cross the main Caucasus range into Georgia, where they settled in Kartli. The Georgian Royal army also welcomed mercenaries from Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia (all those westerners were defined in Georgia as “the Franks”) as well as from Kievan Rus.

In 1121, the Seljuk Sultan Mahmud declared Jihad on Georgia and sent a strong army under one of his famous generals Ilghazi to fight the Georgians. Although significantly outnumbered by the Turks, the Georgians managed to defeat the invaders at the Battle of Didgori, and in 1122 they took over Tbilisi, making it Georgia’s capital. Three years later the Georgians conquered Shirvan. As a result, the mostly Christian-populated Ghishi-Kabala area in western Shirvan (a relic of the once prosperous Albanian Kingdom) was annexed by Georgia while the rest of already Islamicized Shirvan became Georgia’s client-state. In the same year a large portion of Armenia was liberated by David’s troops and fell into Georgian hands as well. Thus in 1124 David also became the King of Armenians, incorporating Northern Armenia into the lands of the Georgian Crown. In 1125 King David died, leaving Georgia with the status of a strong regional power. In Georgia, King David is called Agmashenebeli (English: the builder).

David Agmashenebeli’s successors (Kings Demeter I, David V and George III) continued the policy of Georgia’s expansion by subordinating most of the mountain clans and tribes of North Caucasia and further securing Georgian positions in Shirvan. However, the most glorious sovereign of Georgia of that period was definitely Queen Tamar (David’s great-granddaughter).

The reign of Queen Tamar represented the peak of Georgia’s might in the whole history of the nation. In 1194-1204 Tamar’s armies crushed new Turkish invasions from the south-east and south and launched several successful campaigns into Turkish-controlled Southern Armenia. As a result, most of Southern Armenia, including the cities of Karin, Erzinjan, Khelat, Mush and Van, came under Georgian control. Although it was not included in the lands of the Georgian Crown, and was left under the nominal rule of local Turkish Emirs and Sultans, Southern Armenia became a protectorate of the Kingdom of Georgia.

The temporary fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1204 to the Crusaders left Georgia as the strongest Christian state in the whole East Mediterranean area. The same year Queen Tamar sent her troops to take over the former Byzantine Lazona and Paryadria with the cities of Atina, Riza, Trebizond, Kerasunt, Amysos, Cotyora, Heraclea and Sinopa. In 1205, the occupied territory was transformed into the Empire of Trebizond which was dependent on Georgia. Tamar's relative Prince Alexios Komnenos was crowned as its Emperor. In 1210 Georgian armies invaded northern Persia (modern day Iranian Azerbaijan) and took the cities of Marand, Tabriz, Ardabil, Zanjan and Qazvin, placing part of the conquered territory under a Georgian protectorate. This was the maximum territorial extent of Georgia throughout her history. Queen Tamar was addressed as “The Queen of Abkhazians, Kartvels, Rans, Kakhs and Armenians, Shirvan-Shakhine and Shakh-in-Shakhine, The Sovereign of the East and West”. Georgian historians often refer to her as “Queen Tamar the Great”.

The period between the early 12th and the early 13th centuries, and especially the era of Tamar the Great, can truly be considered as the golden age of Georgia. Besides the political and military achievements, it was marked by the development of Georgian culture, including architecture, literature, philosophy and sciences.

In the 1220s, the South Caucasus and Asia Minor faced the invasion of the Mongols. In spite of fierce resistance by Georgian-Armenian forces and their allies, the whole area including most of Georgia, all Armenian lands and Central Anatolia eventually fell to the Mongols.

In 1243, Queen Rusudan of Georgia signed a peace treaty with the Mongols in accordance with which Georgia lost her client-states, ceded western Shirvan, Nakhichevan and some other territories and agreed to pay tribute to the Mongols as well as to let them occupy and de-facto rule more than half of the remaining territory. Although Mongol-occupied Tbilisi remained an official capital of the kingdom, the Queen refused to return there and stayed in Kutaisi until her death in 1245. In addition to all the above hardships, even the part of the kingdom that remained free of the Mongols started disintegrating: The Crown started losing control over the warlords of Samtskhe (southern provinces of Georgia) who established their own relations with the Mongols and by the year 1266 practically seceded from Georgia.

The period between 1259 and 1330 was marked by the struggle of the Georgians against the Mongol Ilkhanate for full independence. The first anti-Mongol uprising started in 1259 under the leadership of King David Narin who in fact waged his war for almost thirty years. The Anti-Mongol strife went on under the Kings Demeter II (1270 - 1289) and David VIII (1293 - 1311). Finally, it was King George the Brilliant (1314 - 1346) who managed to play on the decline of the Ilkhanate, stopped paying tribute to the Mongols, restored the pre-1220 state borders of Georgia, and returned the Empire of Trebizond into Georgia’s sphere of influence.

In 1386-1403 the Kingdom of Georgia faced eight Turco-Mongolic invasions under the leadership of Tamerlane. Except in Abkhazia and Svanetia, the invasions devastated Georgia's economy, population, and urban centers.

In 15th century the whole area changed dramatically in all possible aspects: linguistic, cultural, political, etc. During that period the Kingdom of Georgia turned into an isolated, fractured Christian enclave, a relic of the faded East Roman epoch surrounded by Muslim, predominantly Turco-Iranian-Arabic world.

By the middle of the 15th century, most of Georgia’s old neighbor-states disappeared from the map within less than a hundred years. The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 sealed the Black Sea and cut the remnants of Christian states of the area from Europe and the rest of the Christian world. Georgia remained connected to the West through contact with the Genoese colonies of the Crimea.

As a result of these changes, Georgia suffered economic and political decline and in the 1460s the kingdom fractured into several states: the Kingdom of Kartli, the Kingdom of Imereti and the saatabago (atabegdom) of Samtskhe.

By the late 15th century the Ottoman Empire was encroaching on the Georgian states from the west and in 1501 a new Muslim power, Safavid Persia, arose to the east. For the next few centuries, Georgia would become a battleground between these two great rival powers and the Georgian states would struggle to maintain their independence. In 1555, the Ottomans and the Safavids signed the Peace of Amasa, defining spheres of influence in Georgia, assigning Imereti in the west to the Turks and Kartli-Kakheti in the east to the Persians. The campaigns of the most powerful Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas, to bring eastern Georgia under his sway were particularly devastating. Tens of thousands of Georgians were killed or deported to Persia and the shah had the queen mother, Ketevan, tortured to death. By the 17th century, both eastern and western Georgia had sunk into poverty as the result of the constant warfare. The economy was so bad that barter replaced the use of money and the populations of the cities declined markedly. The French traveller Jean Chardin, who visited the region of Mingrelia in 1671, noted the wretchedness of the peasants, the arrogance of the nobles and the ignorance of the clergy. The rulers were split between acknowledging Ottoman or Persian overlordship (which often entailed nominal conversion to Islam) or making a bid for independence. The emergence of a third imperial power to the north, Christian Russia, made the latter an increasingly tempting choice.

In the early 18th century, Kartli saw a partial recovery under Vakhtang VI, who instituted a new law code and tried to improve the economy. His reign saw the establishment of the first Georgian-language printing press in 1709.

Erekle II, king of Kartli-Kakheti from 1762 to 1798, turned towards Russia for protection against Ottoman and Persian attacks. The Russian empress Catherine the Great was keen to have the Georgians as allies in her wars against the Turks, but sent only meagre forces to help them. In 1769-1772, a handful of Russian troops of General Totleben battled against Turkish invaders in Imereti and Kartl-Kakheti. In 1783 Erekle signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with Russia, according to which Kartli-Kakheti was to receive Russian protection. But when another Russo-Turkish War broke out in 1787, the Russians withdrew their troops from the region for use elsewhere, leaving Erekle's kingdom unprotected. In 1795, the Persian shah, Agha Mohammed Khan, invaded the country and burnt the capital, Tbilisi, to the ground.

In spite of Russia's failure to honour the terms of the Treaty of Georgievsk, Georgian rulers felt they had nobody else to turn to. After Erekle's death, a civil war broke out over the succession to the throne of Kartli-Kakheti and one of the rival candidates called on Russia to intervene and decide matters. On January 8, 1801 Tsar Paul I of Russia signed a decree on the incorporation of Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire which was confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801. The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg, Garsevan Chavchavadze, reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Alexander Kurakin. In May 1801 Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring dethroned the Georgian heir to the throne David Batonishvili and deployed a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev.

A part of the Georgian nobility didn't accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring compassed the nobility in Tbilisi's Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the imperial crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were arrested temporarily.

In the summer of 1805 Russian troops on the river Askerani and near Zagam defeated the Persian army, saving Tbilisi from its attack. In 1810, the kingdom of Imereti (Western Georgia) was annexed by the Russian Empire after the suppression of King Solomon II's resistance. From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against Turkey and Persia, several formerly Georgian territories were annexed to the Russian Empire. These areas (Batumi, Artvin, Akhaltsikhe, Poti, and Abkhazia) now represent the majority of the territory of the present state of Georgia. Georgia was reunified for the first time in centuries but had lost its independence.

Russian and Georgian society had much in common: the main religion was Orthodox Christianity and in both countries a land-owning aristocracy ruled over a population of serfs. The Russian authorities aimed to integrate Georgia into the rest of their empire, but at first Russian rule proved high-handed, arbitrary and insensitive to local law and customs, leading to a conspiracy by Georgian nobles in 1832 and a revolt by peasants and nobles in 1841. Things changed with the appointment of Mikhail Vorontsov as Viceroy of the Caucasus in 1845. Count Vorontsov's new policies successfully won over the Georgian nobility, who became increasingly Europeanised. Life for Georgian serfs was very different, however, since the rural economy remained seriously depressed. Georgian serfs lived in dire poverty, subject to the frequent threat of starvation. Few of them lived in the towns, where what little trade and industry there was in the hands of Armenians, whose ancestors had migrated to Georgia in the Middle Ages.

Serfdom was abolished in Russian lands in 1861. The tsar also wanted to emancipate the serfs of Georgia, but without losing the loyalty of the nobility whose revenues depended on peasant labour. This called for delicate negotiations before serfdom was gradually phased out in the Georgian provinces from 1864 onwards.

The emancipation of the serfs pleased neither the serfs nor the nobles. The poverty of the serfs had not been alleviated while the nobles had lost some of their privileges. The nobles in particular also felt threatened by the growing power of the urban, Armenian middle class in Georgia, who prospered as capitalism came to the region. Georgian dissatisfaction with Tsarist autocracy and Armenian economic domination led to the development of a national liberation movement in the second half of the 19th century. A large-scale peasant revolt occurred in 1905 which led to political reforms that eased the tensions for a period. During this time, the Marxist Social Democratic Party became the dominant political movement in Georgia, occupying all the Georgian seats in the Russian State Duma established after 1905. Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili (also known as Joseph Stalin), a Georgian Bolshevik, became a leader of the revolutionary (and anti-Menshevik) movement in Georgia.

Between the years of 1855 to 1907, the Georgian patriotic movement was launched under the leadership of Prince Ilia Chavchavadze, world renowned poet, novelist and orator. Chavchavadze financed new Georgian schools and supported the Georgian national theatre. In 1877 he launched the newspaper Iveria which played an important part in reviving Georgian national consciousness. His struggle for national awakening was welcomed by the leading Georgian intellectuals of that time such as Giorgi Tsereteli, Ivane Machabeli, Akaki Tsereteli, Niko Nikoladze, Alexander Kazbegi and Iakob Gogebashvili.

The last decades of the nineteenth century witnessed a Georgian literary revival in which there emerged writers of a stature unequalled since the Golden Age of Rustaveli seven hundred years before. Ilia Chavchavadze himself excelled alike in lyric and ballad poetry, in the novel, the short story and the essay. Apart from Ilia, the most universal literary genius of the age was Akaki Tsereteli, known as "the immortal nightingale of the Georgian people." Along with Niko Nikoladze and Iaskog Gogebashvili, these literary figures contributed significantly to the national cultural revival and are therefore known as the founding fathers of modern Georgia.

In February, 1921 the Red Army invaded Georgia and after a short war occupied the country. The Georgian government was forced to flee. Guerrilla resistance in 1921-1924 was followed by a large-scale patriotic uprising in August, 1924. Colonel Kakutsa Cholokashvili was one of the most prominent guerrilla leaders in this phase.

During the Georgian Affair of 1922, Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia (including Abkhazia and South Ossetia). The Soviet Government forced Georgia to cede several areas to Turkey (the province of Tao-Klarjeti and part of Batumi province), Azerbaijan (the province of Hereti/Saingilo), Armenia (the Lore region) and Russia (northeastern corner of Khevi, eastern Georgia). Soviet rule was harsh: about 50,000 people were executed and killed in 1921-1924, more than 150,000 were purged under Stalin and his secret police chief, the Georgian Lavrenty Beria in 1935-1938, 1942 and 1945-1951. In 1936, the TFSSR was dissolved and Georgia became the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Reaching the Caucasus oilfields was one of the main objectives of Hitler's invasion of the USSR in June 1941, but the armies of the Axis powers did not get as far as Georgia. The country contributed almost 700,000 fighters (350,000 were killed) to the Red Army, and was a vital source of textiles and munitions. However, a number of Georgians fought on the side of the German armed forces, forming the Georgian Legion.

During this period the Chechen, Ingush, Karachay and the Balkarian peoples from the Northern Caucasus, were deported to Siberia and Central Asia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis, and their respective autonomous republics were abolished. The Georgian SSR was briefly granted some of their territory until 1957.

Stalin's successful appeal for patriotic unity eclipsed Georgian nationalism during the war and diffused it in the years following. On March 9, 1956, about a hundred Georgian students were killed when they demonstrated against Khrushchev's policy of de-Stalinization that was accompanied by general criticism of the whole Georgian people and culture.

The decentralisation program introduced by Khrushchev in the mid-1950s was soon exploited by Georgian Communist Party officials to build their own regional power base. A thriving pseudo-capitalist shadow economy emerged alongside the official state-owned economy. Official growth rate of the economy of the Georgia was among the lowest in the USSR, however such indicators as savings level, rates of car and house ownership were the highest in the Union, making Georgia one of the most economically successful Soviet republics, but unfortunately also greatly increasing corruption. Among all the other union republics Georgia had the highest number of residents with high or special secondary education.

Although corruption was hardly unknown in the Soviet Union, it became so widespread and blatant in Georgia that it came to be an embarrassment to the authorities in Moscow. The country's interior minister between 1964 and 1972, Eduard Shevardnadze, gained a reputation as a fighter of corruption and engineered the removal of Vasil Mzhavanadze, the corrupt First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party. Shevardnadze ascended to the post of First Secretary with the blessings of Moscow. He was an effective and able ruler of Georgia from 1972 to 1985, improving the official economy and dismissing hundreds of corrupt officials. Soviet power and Georgian nationalism clashed in 1978 when Moscow ordered revision of the constitutional status of the Georgian language as Georgia's official state language. Bowing to pressure from mass street demonstrations on April 14, 1978 Moscow approved Shevardnadze's reinstatement of the constitutional guarantee the same year. April 14 was established as a Day of the Georgian Language.

Shevardnadze's appointment as Soviet Foreign Minister in 1985 caused him to be replaced as Georgian leader by Jumber Patiashvili, a conservative and generally ineffective Communist who coped poorly with the challenges of Perestroika. Towards the end of the late 1980s there were increasingly violent clashes between the Communist authorities, the resurgent Georgian nationalist movement and nationalist movements in Georgia's minority-populated regions (notably South Ossetia). On April 9, 1989, Soviet troops were used to break up a peaceful demonstration at the government building in Tbilisi. Twenty Georgians were killed and hundreds wounded and poisoned. The event radicalised Georgian politics, prompting many - even some Georgian communists - to conclude that independence was preferable to continued Soviet rule.

Opposition pressure on the communist government was manifested in popular demonstrations and strikes, which ultimately resulted in an open, multiparty and democratic parliamentary election being held on October 28, 1990. They were won by the "Round Table" coalition headed by the leading dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who became the head of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia. On March 31, 1991 Gamsakhurdia wasted no time in organising a referendum on independence, which was approved by 98.9% of the votes. Formal independence from the Soviet Union was declared on April 9, 1991, although it took some time before it was widely recognised by outside powers such as the United States and European countries. Gamsakhurdia's government strongly opposed any vestiges of Russian dominance, such as the remaining Soviet military bases in the republic, and (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) his government declined to join the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Gamsakhurdia was elected president on May 26, 1991 with 86% of the vote. He was subsequently widely criticised for what was perceived to be an erratic and authoritarian style of government, with nationalists and reformists joining forces in an uneasy anti-Gamsakhurdia coalition. A tense situation was worsened by the large amount of ex-Soviet weaponry available to the quarreling parties and by the growing power of paramilitary groups. The situation came to a head on December 22, 1991, when armed opposition groups launched a violent military coup d'etat, besieging Gamsakhurdia and his supporters in government buildings in central Tbilisi. Gamsakhurdia managed to evade his enemies and fled to the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya in January 1992.

The new government invited Eduard Shevardnadze to become the head of a State Council - in effect, president - in March 1992, putting a moderate face on the somewhat unsavoury regime that had been established following Gamsakhurdia's ouster. In August 1992, a separatist dispute in the Georgian autonomous republic of Abkhazia escalated when government forces and paramilitaries were sent into the area to quell separatist activities. The Abkhaz fought back with help from paramilitaries from Russia's North Caucasus regions and alleged covert support from Russian military stationed in a base in Gudauta, Abkhazia and in September 1993 the government forces suffered a catastrophic defeat which led to them being driven out and the entire Georgian population of the region being expelled. Around 14,000 people died and another 300,000 were forced to flee. Ethnic violence also flared in South Ossetia but was eventually quelled, although at the cost of several hundred casualties and 100,000 refugees fleeing into Russian-controlled North Ossetia. In south-western Georgia, the autonomous republic of Ajaria came under the control of Aslan Abashidze, who managed to rule his republic from 1991 to 2004 as a personal fiefdom in which the Tbilisi government had little influence.

On September 24, 1993, in the wake of the Abkhaz disaster, Zviad Gamsakhurdia returned from exile to organise an uprising against the government. His supporters were able to capitalise on the disarray of the government forces and quickly overran much of western Georgia. This alarmed Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and units of the Russian Army were sent into Georgia to assist the government. Gamsakhurdia's rebellion quickly collapsed and he died on December 31, 1993, apparently after being cornered by his enemies. In a highly controversial agreement, Shevardnadze's government agreed that it would join the CIS as part of the price for military and political support.

Shevardnadze narrowly survived a bomb attack in August 1995 that he blamed on his erstwhile paramilitary allies. He took the opportunity to imprison the paramilitary leader Jaba Ioseliani and ban his Mkhedrioni militia in what was proclaimed as a strike against "mafia forces". However, his government - and his own family - became increasingly associated with pervasive corruption that hampered Georgia's economic growth. He won presidential elections in November 1995 and April 2000 with large majorities, but there were persistent allegations of vote-rigging.

The war in Chechnya caused considerable friction with Russia, which accused Georgia of harbouring Chechen guerrillas. Further friction was caused by Shevardnadze's close relationship with the United States, which saw him as a counterbalance to Russian influence in the strategic Transcaucasus region. Georgia became a major recipient of U.S. foreign and military aid, signed a strategic partnership with NATO and declared an ambition to join both NATO and the EU. In 2002, the United States sent hundreds of Special Operations Forces to train the Military of Georgia - a programme known as the Georgia Train and Equip Program. Perhaps most significantly, the country secured a $3 billion project to build a pipeline carrying oil from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia (the so-called "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan" or BTC pipeline).

A powerful coalition of reformists headed by Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania united to oppose Shevardnadze's government in the November 2, 2003 parliamentary elections. The elections were widely regarded as blatantly rigged; in response, the opposition organised massive demonstrations in the streets of Tbilisi. After two tense weeks, Shevardnadze resigned on November 23, 2003 and was replaced as president on an interim basis by Burjanadze.

On January 4, Mikhail Saakashvili won the Georgian presidential election, 2004 with an overwhelming majority of 96% of the votes cast. Constitutional amendments were rushed through Parliament in February strengthening the powers of the President to dismiss Parliament and creating the post of Prime Minister. Zurab Zhvania was appointed Prime Minister. Nino Burjanadze, the interim President, became Speaker of Parliament.

The new president faces many problems on coming to office. More than 230,000 internally displaced persons put an enormous strain on the economy. Peace in the separatist areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, overseen by Russian and United Nations peacekeepers and international organizations, remains fragile and will require years of economic development and negotiation to overcome local enmities. Considerable progress has been made in negotiations on the Ossetian-Georgian conflict, and negotiations are continuing in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict.

After the Rose Revolution relations between the Georgian government and semi-separatist Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze deteriorated rapidly thereafter, with Abashidze rejecting Saakashvili's demands for the writ of the Tbilisi government to run in Ajaria. Both sides mobilised forces in apparent preparations for a military confrontation. Saakashvili's ultimatums and massive street demonstrations forced Abashidze to resign and flee Georgia.

Relations with Russia remain problematic due to Russia's continuing political, economic and military support to separatist governments in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian troops still remain garrisoned at two military bases and as peacekeepers in these regions. The separatist question is still unresolved but Saakashvili's public pledge to resolve the matter has already provoked criticism from the separatist regions and Russia.

Georgia remains a very poor country by European standards, not least because of its widespread corruption. The Georgian Government is committed to economic reform in cooperation with the IMF and World Bank, and stakes much of its future on the revival of the ancient Silk Road as the Eurasian corridor, using Georgia's geography as a bridge for transit of goods between Europe and Asia. Saakashvili has pledged to improve the economy in general and specifically to raise pay and pensions, as well as to crack down on corruption and retrieve the ill-gotten gains of figures in the previous government. In August 2004, several clashes occurred in South Ossetia.

Integration into the NATO and the EU remains the main goal of Georgia's foreign policy. On October 29, 2004, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) of the NATO approved the Individual Partnership Action Plan of Georgia (IPAP). Georgia is the first among the NATO’s partner countries to manage this task successfully.

Georgia continues to support the coalition forces in Iraq. On November 8, 2004, 300 extra Georgian troops were sent to Iraq. The Georgian government committed to send a total of 850 troops to Iraq to serve in the protection forces of the U.N. Mission. Along with increasing Georgian troops in Iraq, the US will train additional 4 thousand Georgian soldiers within frames of the Georgia Train-and-Equip Program (GTEP).

In February, 2005 Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania died, and Zurab Nogaideli was appointed as the new Prime Minister.

On 9-10 May 2005 Georgia was visited by the US President George W. Bush, who met Mikheil Saakashvili and a group of Georgian parliamentarians, and addressed tens of thousands of the Georgian people at Tbilisi Freedom Square .

Saakashvili is still (2006) under significant pressure to deliver on his promised reforms. Organisations such as Amnesty International have serious concerns over human rights , and discontent over unemployment, pensions and corruption, and the continuing dispute over Abkhazia, have greatly diminished Saakashvili's popularity in the country.

Georgia's relationships with Russia are at it lowest point in modern history due to Georgian-Russian espionage controversy and related events.

In 2007, a political crisis led to serious anti-government protests.

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Source : Wikipedia