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ABOUT GEORGIA
                            
   


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HISTORICAL MAPS


Map of Georgia



Location of Georgia

Georgia, situated at the dividing line of Asia and Europe, bordered by the Russian Federation (in the North), Turkey (in the South), Armenia (in the South), Azerbaijan (in the East) and the Black Sea (in the West).

Area: 69,700 sq km; Population: 4,677,401 (July 2005 est.)

 

Location of Georgia

 

Georgia


Satellite images of Georgia

Georgia is a country of contrast, on it's territory of only 26,911 sq miles (69,700 sq km) there are great ranges of Caucasus mountains with regular snowline above 2,800-3,600 meters (on the North), swamps (west), deserts (east) and numerous lowlands and uplands. As a whole Georgia has moderate Subtropical climate.

 

Satellite View

 

Satellite View with Borders and Cities

 

Physical Map of Georgia


Physical Map with Borders and Cities


Road Map of Georgia

The highway that connects Georgia and Russia along the Abkhazian coast via the Caucasian Range tunnel is closed. Other road entry points include the route via the Georgian Military Highway, which runs through the Dariali gorge and through to Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the south.

 

Roads and Regions

 

Main Roads



 Geography

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.

 Brief History

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.


Climate

Georgia's climate is warm and pleasant and Mediterranean-like on the Black Sea coast.

The warm climate of Georgia is determined in big part by the mountains of the Greater Caucasus, which keep cold northern winds away from Georgia. Winters are short and mild, and also high mountain regions offer a lot of sun.

The relatively small territory covers different climatic zones, which are determined by distance from the Black Sea and by altitude. The climatic zones range from humid subtropical to the eternal snow and glaciers.

West Georgia: Along the Black Sea coast, from the Russian to the Turkish border, and in the region known as the Colchic Lowlands, inland from the coast, the dominant subtropical climate features high humidity and heavy precipitation, which allows several varieties of palm trees to grow there. Midwinter average temperature here is 5�C and the midsummer average is 22�C.

East Georgia: The plains of eastern Georgia are shielded from the influence of the Black Sea by the Likhi Mountains that provide a more continental climate. The average temperature in summer here is 20-24�C, in winter 2-4�C. Humidity is lower.

Alpine and highland regions in the east and west, as well as the semi-arid region on the Lori Plateau to the southeast have distinct microclimates. Alpine conditions start at 2,100 meters above sea level and above 3,600 meters year-round snow and ice is present.


 Flora and Fauna

Georgia's unusually rich geographical diversity is well reflected in its flora and fauna - a paradise for nature lovers, botanists and for tracing wildlife.

The country has between 4000 and 4500 species of vascular plants, of which around 15% are endemic to the Caucasus. Of these, around 300 are endemic to Georgia alone. Ten species of Peonies and five of the eleven species of Snowdrop in the world can be found.

Georgia is, without any doubt, a bird-watching paradise. It is the habitat for 360 species of birds, four vultures and eleven types of eagles. In addition, four endemic species can be seen only here.

The southern region of Georgia is especially rich in birdlife, including most of the highland raptors as well as the many wetland varieties.

The forests still cover 40% of Georgia's territory - home to wolves, bears, jackals, lynx and other predators. The mountain regions encounter many hoofed animals: roe deer, red deer, chamois, wild boar, wild or bezoar goat - and the endemic Caucasian tour, still found in herds high in the Greater Caucasus.

It's often overlooked that the common pheasant, found across Europe and North America originates from the Caucasian Phasianus Colchicus, named after the Phasis River - today's Rioni River in western Georgia. Later, Greeks and Romans brought it to Europe and beyond.

In 2003, a spectacular discovery was made: remote sensing cameras captured an adult male Anatolian Leopard in the Vashlovani National Park. This beautiful but critically endangered animal had been considered long extinct in Georgia.


 Culinary & Wine

cul_01.jpgNobody forgets Georgia's unique cuisine. Born of a landscape rich in alluvial minerals washed down from the mountains, the vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses have spawned a very individual culture cul_04.jpgof food. Much is still organic, and the ingredients of Georgia's varied cuisine profit from the mild climate that provides fresh vegetables for three quarters of the year. Numerous aromatic wild herbs give the dishes their special and unique aroma.

Visitors always remark on the amazing abundance of different dishes.

Among these are Khachapuri, the traditional cheese-bread of Georgia, Tkemali, the several kinds of delicious sour plum sauces born of Georgia's popular Tkemali tree, Bashe, a rich garlic and creamed walnut sauce, Pkhali, the generic term for numerous vegetable pates made with ground walnuts, Khinkali, the famous dough pocketscul_02.jpg filled with meat, Satsivi, chicken in walnut sauce, Mtsvadi, meat grilled to perfection over a vine-wood fire, Ajika, the devil's own spicy, hot sauce and Churchkhela, hazel and walnuts stung together in a thickened wine sauce.

All these have their tastes refined and heightened by Georgia's unique selection of white and red wines.


Georgia - the birthplace of wine

marani.jpgArchaeological research provides evidence of viniculture as far back as 7000 years in the Caucasus region. Many say that the generic word 'wine' stems from the Georgian word 'gvino.' Certainly Georgia has many more original varieties of grape than any other country - over 500. Georgia's moderate climate and moist air, influenced by the Black Sea, provide the best conditions for wine culturing. Saperavi, Tsinandali, Mukuzani, are names now extending beyond the former Soviet empire, into the super-markets of western Europe and America.

Rkatsiteli (pronounced "Katsitelli") creates a robust white wine, which is full of character. Mtsvane is popular as a blending partner for Rkatsiteli; the red variety Saperavi provides wines, which are powerful and fiery, with an aroma consisting of plums, spices and almonds. In the Kachetien regions of Kindzmaraulli, Khvanchkara and Akhasheni it also acquires a naturally cultivated sweetness. Central European varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon occasionally crop up in the grapes_culinary_01.jpgassortments.

Amongst the red wines, the Barrique cultivation method is now virtually standard practice. The old Caucasian method is still practised in the East. For thousands of years grapes have been placed in large, earthenware vessels called Qvevri. Buried in the ground up to their necks and kept in wine vaults called 'merani', these are then sealed and left for three to four months. cul_05.jpgThis technique has a long tradition and is still being used today. Thus, a wine rich in tannine and vitamins matures.


            The Georgian table is conducted in a wise manner in accordance with the ancient ritual. The head of the table “tamada” is elected as proposed by the host. The tamada must be a man of humour with an ability for improvisation and a philosopher’s wisdom. If there are many guests at the table he appoints assistants who in Georgian are called “tolumbashis”. The tamada’s toasts follow one another in a strict never violated order. The guest is obliged to listen attentively to each toast and appreciate the beauty of style and the purpot of the worlds said. If is not allowed to interrupt the tamada when he is saying the toats. The tamada’s assistants and other guests may only add something to the toast or develop its ideas. If you wish to say a toast, you must by all means have the tamada’s consent or else you will find yourself in an awkward position. This table ritual does not put restraints on the guests but maintains discipline at the table. The feast proceeds among jokes and is accompanied by a dance competition, table songs and music, quotations and aphorisms from the works of poets and writers.

 

Georgian Cuisine
(Exotic, Mysterious and Unique food from Georgia)

Georgian cuisine uses well familiar products but due to varying proportions of its obligatory ingredients such as walnut, aromatic herbs, garlic, vinegar, red pepper, pomegranate grains, barberries and other spices combined with the traditional secrets of the chef ‘s art the common products do acquire a special taste and aroma, which make Georgian cuisine very popular and unique.

Georgian national cuisine is notable for an abundance of all possible kinds of meat, fish and vegetable hors d’oeuvres, various sorts of cheese, pickles and pungent seasonings, the only ones of their kind.


 

Georgian Cuisine
(Exotic, Mysterious and Unique food from Georgia)

All countries and nations have their favourite dishes, which have long stepped over the national boundaries and because of their virtues have suited everybody’s taste. Suffice it to recall Hungarian goulash, English beefsteak, Austrian schnitzel, Russian boef a la Stroganoff and others. But not everybody can boast of what one might call the national cuisine-a list of dishes differing in gustatory sensation and slightly similar in some qualities. People throughout the world know French cuisine notable first of all for its exquisite sauces; Russian cuisine known for appetizing fish dishes, pies and pancakes; Chinese cuisine differing from all others in using uncommon products and possessing quite a specific taste of its own.

Georgian cuisine uses well familiar products but due to varying proportions of its obligatory ingredients such as walnut, aromatic herbs, garlic, vinegar, red pepper, pomegranate grains, barberries and other spices combined with the traditional secrets of the chef ‘s art the common products do acquire a special taste and aroma, which make Georgian cuisine very popular and unique.

Georgian national cuisine is notable for an abundance of all possible kinds of meat, fish and vegetable hors d’oeuvres, various sorts of cheese, pickles and pungent seasonings, the only ones of their kind.

A guest invited to the Georgian table is first of all offered to eat the golden-brown khachapuri which is a thin pie filled with mildly salted cheese; then he is asked to try lobio (kidney bean) (ripened of fresh green beans) which nearly in every family is cooked according to its own recipes; stewed chicken in a garlic sauce; small river fish “tsotskhali” cooked when it is still still alive; sheat-fish in vinegar with finely chopped fennel; lori, a sort of ham; muzhuzhi, boiled and soaked in vinegar pig’s legs; cheese “sulguni” roasted in butter, pickled aubergines and green tomatoes which are filled with the walnut paste seasoned with vinegar, pomegranate grains and aromatic herbs; the vegetable dish “pkhali” made of finely chopped beet leaves or of spinach mixed with the walnut paste, pomegranate grains and various spices. In East Georgia you will be offered wheaten bread baked on the walls of “tone”, which is a large cylinder-like clay oven, resembling a jar, while in West Georgia you will be treated to hot maize scones (Mchadi) baked on clay frying-pans “ketsi”.

Lovers of soups will be delighted with the fiery rice and mutton soup “kharcho”, the tender chicken soup “chikhirtma” with eggs whipped in vinegar and the transparent light meat broth flavoured with garlic, parsley and fennel.

Even the most experienced gourmand will not be able to resist the savoury chizhi-pizhi, pieces of liver and spleen roasted in butter and whipped eggs; crisp chicken “tabaka” served with the pungent sourish sauce “satsivi”. The famous dishes include the melting-in-the-mouth sturgeon on a spit and sauce; the chicken sauce “chakhokhbili” in a hot tomato and dressing; the Kakhetian dish “chakapuli” made of young lamb in a slightly sourish juice of damson, herds and onion; roasted small sausages “kupati” stuffed with finely chopped pork, beef and mutton mixed with red pepper and barberries.

Everyone in Georgia is fond of “Khashi”, a broth cooked from beef entrails (legs, stomach, udder, pieces of head, bones) and lavishly seasoned with garlic. There exists quite a just opinion that “the onion soup in Paris and the khashi soup in Tbilisi serve the same purpose. They are eaten by the same people-by hard workers to make themselves stronger and by revelers to cure a hangover”. Remember E. Evtushenko’s lines: “Everyone who saws, transports, builds, sweeps the neighbouring streets, makes shoes, digs ditches eats khashi in the morning”.

Admirers of Khinkali-a sort of strongly peppered mutton dumplings, a favourite dish with the mountain dwellers of Georgia-keep growing in number. Like everywhere in the Caucasus, mcvadi (shashlik) is very popular in Georgia. Depending on a season, it is made of pork, mutton or spits aubergines stuffed with fat of tail and tomatoes.

The splendour of Georgia cuisine is backed up by famous white and red dry wines, among which anyone choose wine to one’s own taste: “Mukhuzani” with a pleasant bitter taste, golden cool “Tetra” light straw-coloured “Tsinandali” with a crystal sourish touch, dark amber-coloured slightly astrigent “Teliani”, rubycoloured “Ojaleshi” with a mildly sweet, emerald-like sparkling “Manavi”, garnet-red honey-tasting “Kindzmarauli”, and dark ruby-coloured velvety “Khvanchkara”, light-green “Gurjaani” dark golden fruity “Tibaani” and many others. If to Georgian wines you add best-brand cognacs, champagne, not to mention remarkable mineral waters and fruit drinks, you can fancy what pleasure Georgian cuisine will to you.

The Georgian table is conducted in a wise manner in accordance with the ancient ritual. The head of the table “tamada” is elected as proposed by the host. The tamada must be a man of humour with an ability for improvisation and a philosopher’s wisdom. If there are many guests at the table he appoints assistants who in Georgian are called “tolumbashis”. The tamada’s toasts follow one another in a strict never violated order. The guest is obliged to listen attentively to each toast and appreciate the beauty of style and the purpot of the worlds said. If is not allowed to interrupt the tamada when he is saying the toats. The tamada’s assistants and other guests may only add something to the toast or develop its ideas. If you wish to say a toast, you must by all means have the tamada’s consent or else you will find yourself in an awkward position. This table ritual does not put restraints on the guests but maintains discipline at the table. The feast proceeds among jokes and is accompanied by a dance competition, table songs and music, quotations and aphorisms from the works of poets and writers.


 

Traditions

 

Although much can be said about Georgian traditions, we will only give you a few tips on what is appropriate or inappropriate in the country. Since Georgia is at the junction of Europe and Asia, any tradition here is presented in a moderate way. Besides, you can always ask local people about the details you are interested in.

Family is one of the cornerstones of the Georgian life style. Georgian families are usually extended, i.e. often three generations parents and children live together.

An unusual phenomenon for foreign visitors is the Georgian table, which has a deeper implication than an ordinary meal.

Complicated ritual relationships are manifested in it. The table is led by "tamada", who proposes traditional toasts. Each toast is interpreted by table members before drinking it.

Georgian toasts are numerous but the most important and popular are the toasts to the guests, friends, ladies, family members, relatives, mother land, those, who passed away, etc. You can extend the list yourself.

In Georgia you never drink wine without toasting, which is not applicable to beer. Traditional tables are usually accompanied by singing.

As mentioned above, the table is led by "tamada", who is the one to propose toasts. If you want to leave the table (this especially concems men), the most appropriate way will be the following: first ask the tamada for permission to propose a toast, then toast to the host family and only after that leave the table.

In restaurants and other places the bill is never split and is paid by one person. Normally, men pay for women.

Anyone is allowed to enter a church, but, in this case it is not recommended to wear a low-necked dress, shorts or bathing suits. Women do not usually enter the church bareheaded.

In high mountainous regions it is not recommended to wear shorts, bathing suits and low-cut dresses.

Gaumarjos! - Taste it yourself!



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