A Brief History of Georgia
- Georgia has a long history. During the classical era it was divided into two main kingdoms, Colchis, in the east and Iberia, to the west. This is exciting. Colchis was where Jason ventured, with his Argonauts, to fetch the Golden Fleece. Apparently, fleeces were used to sift gold dust from rivers at that time. The people here were known as "Gurj". They were devotees of St George. Theory has it that the crusaders made the connection and named the country Georgia. The flag definitely represents St George too.
- Georgie emerged from the World Wars, as a Soviet republic, and then an independent republic, under Soviet style leadership. President Eduard Shevardnadze was ousted in 2003, in the (bloodless) so called Rose Revolution. Since then Georgia has strongly pursued a pro-Western foreign policy, aimed at membership of NATO and integration into the European Union. Unsurprisingly, this led to worsening relations with Russia and, at one point, a brief war. It's all peaceful now, I hope.
Facts and Factoids
- Georgia on my Mind, though not the American state, which is what Google overwhelmingly throws at you, if you type Georgia into the search engine. But the country of Georgia sits right at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is a part of the Caucasus region, bounded to the west by the Black Sea. Debatably - in Europe. In Asia, if you count the Caucasus as the boundary. Ask the Georgians? They want to be European. Well, the ones in capital, Tbilisi, do.
- The Georgians don't call their country Georgia - that's the western name - see above. They call their country Sakartvelo.
- Joseph Stalin was born here and there are a multiplicity of portraits of him around. The people aren't sure whether to be proud or ashamed.
- This is a religious country. Most of the people say they belong to the Orthodox Church of Armenia. And there are plenty of churches.
- The Georgian language is very different. Georgians have their own alphabet, possibly (like the Armenian one) based on the Ethiopian. Mama means daddy and dadi means mummy. (Honestly.)
What To See in Georgia?
Read about my train trip here.