Georgia, brief information

Georgia - Europe Brief History
Georgia, one of the most ancient countries in the world, is situated at the cross-roads of Europe and Asia. About the size of Switzerland, it occupies 69,700 sq. km between the Black and Caspian Seas, with a population of about 4.5 million people. The national language, Georgian, is over 2,000 years old with its own alphabet.
Georgia has a rich scenic variety: it lies mostly in the Caucasus Mountains, and its northern boundary to Russia is partly defined by the Greater Caucasus range. The Lesser Caucasus range, which runs parallel to the Turkish and Armenian borders, and the Surami and Imereti ranges, which connect the Greater Caucasus and the Lesser Caucasus, create natural barriers that are partly responsible for cultural and linguistic differences among regions. Its western coast is defined by the Black Sea coast.
The largest river is the Mtkvari. The Rioni River, the largest river in western Georgia, has its origin in the Greater Caucasus and empties into the Black Sea at the port of Poti.
Hardly any other country except for Georgia has experienced such a great number of assaults and still been able to preserve so many of its characteristic features and its unspoilt naturalness. Numerous churches and fortifications bear witness to the country’s restless and sorrowful historic past.
Georgia’s recorded history dates back more than 3000 years. The recently discovered Dmanisi hominid in the foothills of the lesser Caucasus, provides a remarkable 1.8 million year old link with first European humankind’s earliest transitions. After the Stone Age, humans started settling on Georgian territory even more intensively. Since those ancient times, humans have always inhabited Georgian land.
Georgian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world, and it has its own distinctive alphabet. Georgian writing was first seen in the 5th century. The first examples include inscriptions in the Georgian monastery of the Holy Cross in Palestine, in the Bethlehem desert (Bir-ell-Katt), as well as those in the Sioni Church of Bolnisi, south of Tbilisi.
Georgia has historically found itself on the margins of great empires – its territory a desirable land for the great Asian empires, from the Arabs to Tamerlane, from the Mongols to the Ottomans from at least the 1st century B.C. through the 18th century. Despite numerous invasions and wars Georgia managed to unite during X-XII I centuries. David Aghmashenebeli (the Builder, 1089-1125), Georgia’s greatest and most prominent king, unified Georgia in the 12th century. This period of Georgia’s golden age – also the rule of Queen Tamar (1184-1213) – was a time of cultural renaissance, monastery building, fresco and ornament design. Richly decorated churches sprang up across the newly unified nation – some even high up in the mountains.
The last conqueror, Russia, started annexation of Georgia in 1801 and finished it in 1917. Georgia spent almost 200 years of its recent history being part of the Russian empire: first as Russia’s province (guberniya), then as a Soviet republic. Also during this time, it retained its language, culture, and distinctive qualities.
1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the U.S.S.R. 1992 Georgia became the 179th member of the UN various international and regional organizations.
In November 2003 the non-violent, democratic Rose Revolution took place and launched the 3rd wave of Eastern Europe liberation. Today Georgia is a presidential democracy led by the president Mikheil Saakashvili.
**[FONT=Arial CYR][SIZE=3]Origin of the name
**[/SIZE][/FONT]Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). These names are derived from a pagan chief called Kartlos, said to be the father of all Georgians. The foreign name Georgia, used in many languages of the world, is derived from Persian گرجی Gurj via the Arabic Jurj. Because the spelling was influenced by the Greek root geōrg- (γεωργ-, indicating farming), the word has been mistakenly supposed to have come from a cognate such as St. George (the country’s patron saint), or γεωργία (geōrgía, farming).
The ancient world knew the inhabitants of eastern Georgia as Iberians, from the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia — thus confusing the geographers of antiquity, who thought this name applied only to the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. The Armenian words for Georgian and Georgia, respectively Vir and Vrastan, come from Iberia, with loss of the initial i- and substitution of w or v for the b of Iberia.
The Persian designation for the Georgians, گرجی Gurj, is also the source of Turkish Gürcü (pronounced “Gürdjü”) and Russian Ãðóçèí (“Gruzin”). The name of the country is Gorjestan in Persian, Gürcistan in Turkish, Ãðóçèÿ in Russian (“Gruziya”), גרוזיה (“Gruzya”) or גאורגיה (“Georgya”) in Hebrew. The Persian name is probably also derived from Iberia, in the same way as the Armenian name mentioned above. (There are other cases in which a Persian word-initial gu- is derived from an older wi- or wa-, e.g. gul ‘rose, flower’, from ward, and gurg ‘wolf’, from warg.) According to others, the name may be related to the the Persian word for wolf (gurg), object of an old cult by the Caucasian peoples, hence Gorjestan - land of wolves. Yet another proposed etymology relates the Persian name to a PIE word meaning ‘mountainous’.
There is also, in all likelihood, an etymological connection between the name Iberia and the historic province of Georgia called Imereti.

Georgian Tourist Board for more information, see internet site
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