Georgia


Georgia
/jawr"jeuh/, n.
1. a state in the SE United States. 5,464,265; 58,876 sq. mi. (152,489 sq. km). Cap.: Atlanta. Abbr.: GA (for use with zip code), Ga.
2. Also called Georgian Republic. a republic in Transcaucasia, bordering on the Black Sea, N of Turkey and Armenia: an independent kingdom for ab. 2000 years. 5,174,642; 26,872 sq. mi. (69,700 sq. km). Cap.: Tbilisi. See map on next page.
3. Strait of, an inlet of the Pacific in SW Canada between Vancouver Island and the mainland. 150 mi. (240 km) long.
4. a female given name: George + feminine ending -a.

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Georgia

Introduction Georgia
Background: Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918- 1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Ethnic separation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, poor governance, and Russian military bases deny the government effective control over the entirety of the state's internationally recognized territory. Despite myriad problems, progress on market reforms and democratization support the country's goal of greater integration with Western political, economic and security institutions. Geography Georgia -
Location: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 42 00 N, 43 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 69,700 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 69,700 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries: total: 1,461 km border countries: Armenia 164 km, Azerbaijan 322 km, Russia 723 km, Turkey 252 km
Coastline: 310 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: warm and pleasant; Mediterranean- like on Black Sea coast
Terrain: largely mountainous with Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south; Kolkhet'is Dablobi (Kolkhida Lowland) opens to the Black Sea in the west; Mtkvari River Basin in the east; good soils in river valley flood plains, foothills of Kolkhida Lowland
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m highest point: Mt'a Mqinvartsveri 5,047 m
Natural resources: forests, hydropower, manganese deposits, iron ore, copper, minor coal and oil deposits; coastal climate and soils allow for important tea and citrus growth
Land use: arable land: 11.21% permanent crops: 4.09% other: 84.71% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 4,700 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: earthquakes Environment - current issues: air pollution, particularly in Rust'avi; heavy pollution of Mtkvari River and the Black Sea; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil pollution from toxic chemicals Environment - international party to: Air Pollution,
agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategically located east of the Black Sea; Georgia controls much of the Caucasus Mountains and the routes through them People Georgia
Population: 4,960,951 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19% (male 481,669; female 462,966) 15-64 years: 68.2% (male 1,631,351; female 1,752,230) 65 years and over: 12.8% (male 246,663; female 386,072) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.55% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 11.48 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 14.61 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/ female total population: 0.91 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 51.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.67 years female: 68.32 years (2002 est.) male: 61.19 years
Total fertility rate: 1.48 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 500 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Georgian(s) adjective: Georgian
Ethnic groups: Georgian 70.1%, Armenian 8.1%, Russian 6.3%, Azeri 5.7%, Ossetian 3%, Abkhaz 1.8%, other 5%
Religions: Georgian Orthodox 65%, Muslim 11%, Russian Orthodox 10%, Armenian Apostolic 8%, unknown 6%
Languages: Georgian 71% (official), Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, other 7% note: Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% male: 100% female: 98% (1989 est.) Government Georgia
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Georgia local short form: Sak'art'velo former: Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic local long form: none
Government type: republic
Capital: T'bilisi Administrative divisions: 9 regions, (mkharebi, singular - mkhare), 9 cities* (k'alak'ebi, singular - k'alak'i), and 2 autonomous republics** (avtomnoy respubliki, singular - avtom respublika); Abkhazia or Ap'khazet'is Avtonomiuri Respublika** (Sokhumi), Ajaria or Acharis Avtonomiuri Respublika** (Bat'umi), Chiat'ura*, Gori*, Guria, Imereti, Kakheti, K'ut'aisi*, Kvemo Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, P'ot'i*, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Rust'avi*, Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli, T'bilisi*, Tqibuli*, Tsqaltubo*, Zugdidi* note: the administrative centers of the 2 autonomous republics are shown in parentheses
Independence: 9 April 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 26 May (1918); note - 26 May 1918 is the date of independence from Soviet Russia, 9 April 1991 is the date of independence from the Soviet Union
Constitution: adopted 17 October 1995
Legal system: based on civil law system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Eduard Amvrosiyevich SHEVARDNADZE (previously elected chairman of the Government Council 10 March 1992; Council has since been disbanded; previously elected chairman of Parliament 11 October 1992; president since 26 November 1995); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President Eduard Amvrosiyevich SHEVARDNADZE (previously elected chairman of the Government Council 10 March 1992; Council has since been disbanded; previously elected chairman of Parliament 11 October 1992; president since 26 November 1995); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers election results: Eduard SHEVARDNADZE reelected president; percent of vote - Eduard SHEVARDNADZE 80% elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 9 April 2000 (next to be held NA 2005)
Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme Council (commonly referred to as Parliament) or Umaghiesi Sabcho (235 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) election results: percent of vote by party - CUG 41.85%, AGUR 25.65%, IWSG 7.8%, all other parties received less than 7% each; seats by party - CUG 130, AGUR 58, IWSG 15, Abkhaz (government-in-exile) deputies 12, independents 17, other 3 elections: last held 31 October and 14 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2003)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges elected by the Supreme Council on the president's recommendation); Constitutional Court Political parties and leaders: Citizen's Union of Georgia or CUG [Zarab ZHVANIA]; Georgian People's Front [Nodar NATADZE]; Georgian United Communist Party or UCPG [Panteleimon GIORGADZE]; Greens [Giorgi GACHECHILADZE]; Industry Will Save Georgia or IWSG [Georgi TOPADZE]; Labor Party [Salva NATELASHVILI]; National Democratic Party or NDP [Irina SARISHVILI- CHANTURIA]; New National Movement [Mikheil SAAKASHVILI]; New Rightists [Levaii GACHECHILADZE]; Republican Party [David BERDZENISHVILI]; "Revival" Union Party or AGUR [Alsan ABASHIDZE]; Socialist Party or SPG [Irakli MINDELI]; Traditionalists [Akaki ASATIANI] Political pressure groups and Georgian independent deputies from
leaders: Abkhazia (Abkhaz faction in Georgian Parliament); separatist elements in the breakaway region of Abkhazia; supporters of the late ousted President Zviad GAMSAKHURDYA remain a source of opposition International organization BSEC, CCC, CE, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE,
participation: FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Levan MIKELADZE chancery: Suite 300, 1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009 FAX: [1] (202) 393-6060 telephone: [1] (202) 387-2390 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Richard
US: MILES embassy: #25 Antoneli Street, T'bilisi 380026 mailing address: use embassy street address telephone: [995] (32) 989-967/68 FAX: [995] (32) 933-759
Flag description: maroon field with small rectangle in upper hoist side corner; rectangle divided horizontally with black on top, white below Economy Georgia -
Economy - overview: Georgia's main economic activities include the cultivation of agricultural products such as citrus fruits, tea, hazelnuts, and grapes; mining of manganese and copper; and output of a small industrial sector producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals. The country imports the bulk of its energy needs, including natural gas and oil products. Its only sizable internal energy resource is hydropower. Despite the severe damage the economy has suffered due to civil strife, Georgia, with the help of the IMF and World Bank, has made substantial economic gains since 1995, achieving positive GDP growth and curtailing inflation. However, the Georgian government suffers from limited resources due to a chronic failure to collect tax revenues. Georgia also suffers from energy shortages; it privatized the T'bilisi distribution network in 1998, but collection rates are low, making the venture unprofitable. The country is pinning its hopes for long-term recovery on its role as a transit state for pipelines and trade. The start of construction on the Baku- T'bilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in summer 2002 will bring much-needed investment and job opportunities to the country.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $15.5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 8.4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,100 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 25% industry: 20% services: 55% (2001 est.) Population below poverty line: 54% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 2.3%
percentage share: highest 10%: 27.9% (1996) Distribution of family income - Gini 37.1 (1996)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 2.1 million (2001 est.) Labor force - by occupation: industry 20%, agriculture 40%, services 40% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 17% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $499 million expenditures: $554 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: steel, aircraft, machine tools, electrical appliances, mining (manganese), chemicals, wood products, wine Industrial production growth rate: 3% (2000) Electricity - production: 7.404 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 20.99% hydro: 79.01% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 7.886 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 200 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 1.2 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: citrus, grapes, tea, vegetables, potatoes; livestock
Exports: $450 million (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: scrap metal, machinery, chemicals; fuel reexports; citrus fruits, tea, wine, other agricultural products
Exports - partners: Turkey 22.3%, Russia 20.6%, Germany 10.4%, Azerbaijan 6.3%, Armenia 4%, US 2.2% (2000)
Imports: $723 million (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuels, machinery and parts, transport equipment, grain and other foods, pharmaceuticals
Imports - partners: EU 23.8%, Turkey 16%, Russia 12.8%, US 10.1%, Germany 7.9% (2000)
Debt - external: $1.7 billion (2001) Economic aid - recipient: $212.7 million (1995)
Currency: lari (GEL)
Currency code: GEL
Exchange rates: lari per US dollar - 2.1888 (January 2002), 2.0730 (2001), 1.9762 (2000), 2.0245 (1999), 1.3898 (1998), 1.2975 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Georgia Telephones - main lines in use: 620,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 185,500 (2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: local - T'bilisi and K'ut'aisi have cellular telephone networks; urban telephone density is about 20 per 100 people; rural telephone density is about 4 per 100 people; intercity facilities include a fiber-optic line between T'bilisi and K'ut'aisi; nationwide pager service is available international: Georgia and Russia are working on a fiber-optic line between P'ot'i and Sochi (Russia); present international service is available by microwave, landline, and satellite through the Moscow switch; international electronic mail and telex service are available Radio broadcast stations: AM 7, FM 12, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios: 3.02 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 12 (plus repeaters) (1998)
Televisions: 2.57 million (1997)
Internet country code: .ge Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (2000)
Internet users: 20,000 (2000) Transportation Georgia
Railways: total: 1,583 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial lines broad gauge: 1,546 km 1.520-m gauge narrow gauge: 37 km 0.912-m gauge (2000 est.)
Highways: total: 33,900 km paved: 29,500 km (includes some all- weather gravel-surfaced roads) unpaved: 4,400 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: crude oil 370 km; refined products 300 km; natural gas 440 km (1992)
Ports and harbors: Bat'umi, P'ot'i, Sokhumi
Merchant marine: total: 64 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 210,620 GRT/288,565 DWT ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 46, container 5, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 1 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Belize 1, Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 1, Ecuador 1, Egypt 4, Gibraltar 1, Greece 5, Jordan 1, Latvia 1, Liberia 1, Malta 1, Panama 9, Romania 8, Russia 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Saudi Arabia 2, Syria 5, Turkey 2, Ukraine 7, United Arab Emirates 11, United Kingdom 1, United States 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 31 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 16 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 8 914 to 1,523 m: 2 under 914 m: 3 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 15 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 under 914 m: 6 (2001) 914 to 1,523 m: 4
Transportation - note: transportation network is in poor condition resulting from ethnic conflict, criminal activities, and fuel shortages; network lacks maintenance and repair Military Georgia
Military branches: Ground Forces (includes National Guard), combined Air and Air Defense Forces, Naval Forces, Republic Security and Police Forces (internal and border troops) Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,300,259 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 1,027,407 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 41,561 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $23 million (FY00)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 0.59% (FY00)
GDP:
Military - note: a CIS peacekeeping force of Russian troops is deployed in the Abkhazia region of Georgia together with a UN military observer group; a Russian peacekeeping battalion is deployed in South Ossetia Transnational Issues Georgia Disputes - international: Chechen and other insurgents transit Pankisi Gorge to infiltrate Akhmeti region; boundary with Russia has been largely delimited, but not demarcated; several small, strategic segments remain in dispute
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for domestic consumption; used as transshipment point for opiates via Central Asia to Western Europe and Russia

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I
State (pop., 2000: 8,186,453), southeastern U.S. It is bordered by Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama; the Atlantic Ocean lies to the southeast.

The last of the original 13 English colonies, Georgia covers 58,930 sq mi (152,629 sq km) and is the largest state east of the Mississippi River; its capital is Atlanta. The area was inhabited by the Creek and Cherokee Indians when Spanish missionaries arrived in the 16th century. English settlement began in 1733 at Savannah when James Oglethorpe established a refuge for debtors. European settlement accelerated after the American Revolution, and the last of the Indians were forcibly removed in the 1830s. Georgia seceded from the Union in 1861, and the American Civil War was particularly hard on the state. It was the last former Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union in 1870. Its landscape sweeps from the Blue Ridge in the north to the Okefenokee Swamp (which it shares with Florida) in the south. For most of the 19th century it was the capital of the cotton empire of the South; in the 20th century industry predominated. The state's population grew throughout the 20th century, with Atlanta especially attracting national corporations.
II
officially Republic of Georgia

Country, Transcaucasia.

Located within the Caucasus Mountains, on the southeastern shores of the Black Sea, it includes the autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Adzharia. Area: 26,911 sq mi (69,700 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 4,961,000. Capital: Tbilisi. Two-thirds of the people are Georgian (Karttvelebi); minorities include Armenians, Russians, and Azerbaijanians. Language: Georgian (official). Religion: Georgian Orthodoxy. Currency: lari. Most of Georgia is mountainous, and many peaks rise above 15,000 ft (4,600 m). The Caucasus protect it against cold air from the north, and the climate is mainly subtropical. Fertile lowlands lie near the shores of the Black Sea. It has a well-developed industrial base noted for its hydroelectric power, coal mining and steel making, machinery production, and textiles. Agricultural land is in short supply, and farming is difficult; crops include tea, citrus fruits, grapes (for viticulture), sugar beets, and tobacco. It is a republic with one legislative body; its head of state and government is the president. Ancient Georgia was the site of the kingdoms of Iberia and Colchis, whose fabled wealth was known to the ancient Greeks. The area was part of the Roman Republic by 65 BC and became Christian in AD 337. For the next three centuries it was involved in the conflicts between the Byzantine and Persian empires; after 654 it was controlled by Muslim caliphs, who established an emirate in Tbilisi. It was ruled by the Armenian Bagratids from the 8th to the 12th century, and the zenith of Georgia's power was reached in the reign of Queen Tamara, whose realm stretched from Azerbaijan to Circassia, forming a pan-Caucasian empire. Invasions by Mongols and Turks in the 13th–14th centuries disintegrated the kingdom, and the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 isolated it from Western Christendom. There were repeated invasions over the next three centuries by the Armenians, Ottomans, and Ṣafavid Persians. Georgia sought Russian protection in 1783 and in 1801 was annexed by the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the area was briefly independent; in 1921 a Soviet regime was installed, and in 1936 Georgia became the Georgian S.S.R., a full member of the Soviet Union. In 1990 a noncommunist coalition came to power in the first free elections ever held in Soviet Georgia, and in 1991 Georgia declared independence. In the 1990s, while President Eduard Shevardnadze tried to steer a middle course, internal dissension sparked conflicts in Abkhazia.
III
(as used in expressions)
Republic of Georgia
Georgia Tech
Georgia Strait of
O'Keeffe Georgia

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▪ 2009

Area:
57,612 sq km (22,244 sq mi), excluding the disputed areas (from the early 1990s) of 8,640 sq km (5,336 sq mi) in Abkhazia and 3,900 sq km (1,506 sq mi) in South Ossetia
Population
(2008 est.): 4,360,000, excluding the roughly approximated populations of Abkhazia, 200,000, and South Ossetia, 270,000 (as estimated prior to the August 2008 war)
Capital:
Tbilisi
Head of state and government:
Presidents Nino Burjanadze (acting) and, from January 20, Mikheil Saakashvili, assisted by Prime Ministers Lado Gurgenidze and, from November 1, Grigol Mgaloblishvili

      In a preterm presidential ballot held in Georgia on Jan. 5, 2008, Mikheil Saakashvili of the United National Movement (UNM) defeated six rival candidates to win reelection, garnering 53.47% of the vote. Second-place finisher Levan Gachechiladze of the nine-party opposition National Council claimed that the official results were rigged.

      On March 21, Saakashvili scheduled a preterm parliamentary election for May 21. The outgoing parliament enacted amendments to the election law that the opposition protested were intended to preserve the UNM's majority. Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze withdrew her candidacy on April 21, citing disagreements with official policy. In the balloting the UNM won 119 of the 150 mandates, followed by the United Opposition–National Council–New Rightists bloc, which took 17 seats; the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party, with 6 seats each; and the Republican party, with 2 seats. The National Council and most Labour deputies rejected the results as rigged and announced a boycott of the new Parliament, of which Foreign Minister David Bakradze was elected speaker. On September 26 human rights ombudsman Sozar Subari criticized Georgia's leaders as authoritarian, and on September 30 he formed a new opposition party—Public Forum for Liberty and Justice—with which Gachechiladze and other prominent opposition leaders aligned themselves. President Saakashvili announced on October 28 that he was replacing Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze with Grigol Mgaloblishvili, a little-known diplomat.

      Earlier in the year, tensions between the Georgian government and the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia increased following an April 16 edict by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin on intensifying cooperation with them. Abkhazia rejected new peace proposals unveiled by Saakashvili on March 28 and those put forward on July 17 by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Steinmeier, Frank-Walter ).

      Following several weeks of sporadic exchanges of gunfire between Georgian troops and Ossetian militants, Saakashvili ordered Georgian troops into South Ossetia on August 7, just hours after having announced a cease-fire. Russian tanks and troops advanced into South Ossetia on August 8; bombed Gori, the port of Poti, and several military bases on August 9; and occupied Gori on August 11. In western Georgia, Russian and rebel forces expelled Georgian troops from the Kodori gorge. Several hundred servicemen and civilians died during the fighting, and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes. Talks on August 12 between Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev (Medvedev, Dmitry ) and French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy yielded a cease-fire agreement that was augmented on September 8. Following the deployment of some 200 EU observers, Russian troops withdrew from the conflict zones by the October 10 deadline.

      President Saakashvili announced on August 12 that Georgia would quit the Commonwealth of Independent States to protest the Russian incursion. Three days after Russia formally recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states on August 26, Tbilisi severed diplomatic ties with Moscow. Georgia was not offered a membership action plan either at the NATO summit in April in Bucharest, Rom., or at the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in December.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2008

Area:
70,152 sq km (27,086 sq mi), of which 8,640 sq km (5,336 sq mi) in the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia and 3,900 sq km (1,506 sq mi) in the breakaway Republic of South Ossetia
Population
(2007 est.): 4,613,000, of which in Abkhazia 177,000 and in South Ossetia 49,000
Capital:
Tbilisi
Head of state and government:
Presidents Mikheil Saakashvili and, from November 25, Nino Burjanadze (acting), assisted by Prime Ministers Zurab Nogaideli and, from November 22, Lado Gurgenidze

 Antagonism between the Georgian leadership and the opposition worsened in 2007. In early September the opposition rejected as “a collection of toasts” the new government program unveiled by Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli following a minor cabinet reshuffle.

      On September 25 former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili announced the creation of a new opposition movement (For a United Georgia), and in a televised interview he accused Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili of engaging in protectionism, condoning high-level corruption, and proposing the murder of a political opponent. Okruashvili was arrested on September 27 and charged with abuse of office and money laundering, but he was released on $6 million bail on October 9 after retracting his allegations. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest Okruashvili's arrest and demand the abolition of the presidency. Ten opposition parties aligned in late September in a national council and on November 2 convened a mass protest in Tbilisi that police forcibly dispersed on November 6. President Saakashvili imposed a nationwide state of emergency on November 7 but lifted it one week later under pressure from the international community. On November 8 Saakashvili scheduled a preterm presidential election for Jan. 5, 2008; he resigned on November 25, and parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze became acting president. On November 16 Nogaideli left office, and Lado Gurgenidze became head a new cabinet.

      On May 23 former intelligence chief Irakli Batiashvili was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for his imputed support of the abortive July 2006 insurrection led by Emzar Kvitsiani. Twelve associates of fugitive former national security minister Igor Giorgadze, who had been arrested in 2006, were sentenced on August 24 to between three and nine years' imprisonment on charges of plotting a coup.

      The Georgian parliament on May 8 endorsed President Saakashvili's proposal to create a temporary administration for the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. Two days later Saakashvili named Dmitry Sanakoyev, who was elected alternative South Ossetian “president” in November 2006, to head that administration.

      On March 12, unidentified combat helicopters fired rockets in the Kodori Gorge but caused no casualties. A UN investigation implicated Russia. Two unidentified aircraft entered Georgian air space on August 6 and dropped a missile that failed to explode. International experts tentatively concluded that the aircraft were Russian, but an investigation by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe declined to blame Moscow. Georgian special forces killed two Russian military instructors in Abkhazia on September 20 and took seven Abkhaz border guards prisoner.

      Georgia's GDP grew by 12.5% during the first six months of 2007, but the foreign-trade deficit widened. This was largely due to the ban imposed by Russia in March 2006 on selected Georgian imports.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2007

Area:
70,152 sq km (27,086 sq mi), of which 8,640 sq km (5,336 sq mi) in the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia and 3,900 sq km (1,506 sq mi) in the breakaway Republic of South Ossetia
Population
(2006 est.): 4,474,000, of which in Abkhazia 177,000 and in South Ossetia 49,000
Capital:
Tbilisi
Head of state and government:
President Mikheil Saakashvili, assisted by Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli

      Georgia's national security apparatus was in a state of disarray in 2006. Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili dismissed his close associate, hawkish Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, on November 10, appointing him economy minister to succeed Irakli Chogovadze, but Okruashvili resigned his new post on November 17. Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, was harshly criticized following the murder in late January, by ministry officials, of banker Sandro Girgvliani and a riot on March 27 in a Tbilisi jail in which seven prisoners died, but Saakashvili ignored opposition demands for Merabishvili's dismissal.

      Troops were deployed on July 25 to the Kodori Gorge, but they failed to apprehend former regional governor Emzar Kvitsiani, whom the authorities accused of sedition. Former security minister Irakli Batiashvili was arrested on suspicion of abetting Kvitsiani. On September 6, 29 associates of another former national security minister, Igor Giorgadze, were arrested; 13 of them were later charged with plotting a coup.

      Opposition parties launched a boycott of parliamentary proceedings on March 31 but ended it in late October. The ruling National Movement–Democrats won a huge majority in local elections (originally due in December), held on short notice on October 5.

      UN-sponsored talks in Tbilisi on May 15 raised hopes of progress in resolving the Abkhaz conflict, but on June 1 Abkhazia rejected a new Georgian peace proposal. The Georgian Parliament voted on July 18 to demand the withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from Abkhazia and from South Ossetia, where during the summer several people died in explosions and interethnic clashes. South Ossetian Pres. Eduard Kokoity on November 2 rejected Saakashvili's offer of face-to-face talks. Kokoity was overwhelmingly reelected on November 12. Ossetian voters expressed overwhelming support in a referendum the same day for seeking international recognition as an independent state.

      President Saakashvili publicly blamed Russia for a January 22 explosion that disrupted Russian natural gas imports. In late March the Russian government imposed a ban on imports of Georgian wine and mineral water. Meetings between Saakashvili and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on June 13 and between the two countries' foreign ministers in Moscow in early November failed to defuse tensions in bilateral relations. On October 3 Moscow imposed a transport blockade on Georgia and began deporting Georgian nationals in retaliation for the September 27 arrest of four Russian servicemen in Tbilisi on suspicion of espionage. On November 2 Russia's Gazprom announced that in 2007 it would more than double the price it charged Georgia for natural gas.

      During Saakashvili's visit to Washington in early July, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush praised Georgia's progress in democratization and its pro-Western orientation. On September 21, NATO formally offered Georgia “Intensified Dialogue,” the next step toward full membership.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2006

Area:
70,152 sq km (27,086 sq mi), of which 8,640 sq km (5,336 sq mi) in the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia and 3,900 sq km (1,506 sq mi) in the breakaway Republic of South Ossetia
Population
(2004 est.): 4,694,000, of which in Abkhazia 176,000 and in South Ossetia 48,000
Capital:
Tbilisi
Head of state and government:
President Mikheil Saakashvili, assisted by Prime Ministers Zurab Zhvania and, from February 17, Zurab Nogaideli

      Georgia's Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was found dead at a friend's apartment early on Feb. 3, 2005; his family rejected the official verdict, endorsed by the Georgian Federal Bureau of Investigation, of accidental asphyxiation from a malfunctioning gas heater. On February 17 Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili appointed Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli as Zhvania's successor. Accusations in August that parliament deputy Koba Beqauri tried to bribe a journalist not to publicize his dubious business activities reflected badly on Saakashvili's administration, as did opposition allegations that the authorities spent millions of laris to ensure the victory of candidates from Saakashvili's National Movement in five by- elections on October 1 in each of which four opposition parties aligned to field a single candidate. On October 19 Nogaideli acceded to the parliament's demand that he dismiss Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili, and she was replaced by National Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili on the following day.

      On January 12 Sergey Bagapsh was elected president of the breakaway unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia and pledged closer ties with Russia. The abduction in early June of four Georgian residents of the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia revived latent tensions with the Georgian government. A September 20 mortar attack on the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, injured 10 people. The Ossetians accused Georgia, which in turn sought to incriminate Russia. The Georgian parliament adopted a resolution on October 11 proposing that the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflict zones be replaced in mid-2006 by an international force if they continued to act in contravention of their mandate .

 Visiting Tbilisi on May 9–10 to demonstrate support for Saakashvili, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush escaped injury when a hand grenade was thrown at him during a public address. Georgian police apprehended the perpetrator after a shoot-out on July 20. On September 12 an agreement was signed allocating Georgia $295 million from the Millennium Challenge Account.

      Following fruitless talks in February and mid-May, the Georgian and Russian governments reached agreement on May 30 on the closure by 2008 of the two remaining Russian military bases in Georgia. Military hardware from those bases was withdrawn on schedule during the summer.

      Georgia's GDP grew by 7.5% during the first six months of the year. In September the World Bank approved a new Country Partnership Strategy with Georgia for 2006–09.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2005

Area:
70,152 sq km (27,086 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 4,694,000
Capital:
Tbilisi
Head of state and government:
Presidents Nino Burjanadze and, from January 4, Mikhail Saakashvili assisted by Prime Minister (titled Minister of State until February 17) Zurab Zhvania

      Mikhail Saakashvili (see Biographies (Saakashvili, Mikhail )), who led the “Rose Revolution” that culminated in the ouster of Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze in November 2003, was elected Georgian president on Jan. 4, 2004, with over 96% of the vote in a ballot deemed fair by the international community. The parliament immediately scheduled for March 28 repeat elections for the 150 parliament mandates allocated under the proportional representation system; the outcome of the Nov. 2, 2003, voting for those seats had been annulled on November 25. The ruling National Movement–Democratic Front bloc polled 67%, which gave it an overall majority of 136 seats in the 235-member legislature. On February 17 the parliament confirmed Zurab Zhvania as the new prime minister; in a cabinet reshuffle in June, Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze was named defense minister, but he was later replaced by his successor as interior minister, Irakli Okruashvili. Saakashvili appointed former French diplomat Salome Zourabichvili foreign minister and Russian entrepreneur Kakha Bendukidze economy minister.

      At his inauguration on January 25, Saakashvili pledged to crack down on corruption and restore central government control over the breakaway regions of Ajaria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Under pressure, Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze agreed to hold parliamentary elections in March, but he was forced to step down and leave Batumi, the province's main city, for Moscow on May 5 after Tbilisi emboldened the local police and population to turn against him. Saakashvili named former fellow student Levan Varshalomidze to head the new Ajarian administration; Varshalomidze was confirmed as the region's prime minister following local elections on June 20. In late May, Georgia deployed Interior Ministry forces and armour to the internal border with South Ossetia, triggering a standoff that led to an exchange of fire on July 9–10 and then an abortive assault by Georgian forces on August 19 in which 16 Georgian servicemen were killed. Agreement was reached on a cease-fire and the withdrawal of all unauthorized troops from the conflict zone, but it was implemented only after a meeting between Prime Minister Zhvania and South Ossetian Pres. Eduard Kokoity on November 5. Elections in Abkhazia on October 3 for a successor to Pres. Vladislav Ardzinba resulted in a standoff between Sergey Bagapsh, officially declared the winner, and Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba. On December 6 they agreed under pressure from Russia to participate jointly in a repeat election in January.

      Georgia's GDP grew by 9.5% during the first six months of 2004. The International Monetary Fund decided on June 4 to resume its assistance to Georgia; on June 16 international donors pledged $1 billion in financial aid. In June the EU included Georgia, together with Armenia and Azerbaijan, in its European Neighbourhood Policy.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2004

Area:
69,700 sq km (26,911 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 4,934,000
Capital:
Tbilisi
Head of state and government:
Presidents Eduard Shevardnadze and, from November 23, Nino Burdjanadze (acting), assisted by Ministers of State Avtandil Djorbenadze and, from November 27, Zurab Zhvania

      Following disagreements among the Georgian leadership in January 2003 over the optimum approach to resolving the Abkhaz conflict, the opposition National Movement and New Rights Party claimed in early February that senior government officials were planning to oust Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze, who rejected those allegations as implausible.

      In early April the pro-Shevardnadze Citizens' Union of Georgia and the Socialist Party formed the For a New Georgia (AS) bloc to contest the parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2. In August Chairman of the Parliament Nino Burdjanadze and her predecessor Zurab Zhvania aligned to form the Burdjanadze-Democrats election bloc.

      Nine blocs and 12 political parties registered to contest the election, which international observers condemned as marred by falsification and the exclusion of tens of thousands of names from voter lists. Preliminary official returns showed AS in the lead with 27.8% of the vote, followed by the Saakashvili–National Movement bloc, headed by former justice minister Mikhail Saakashvili, with 23.1%, while informal exit polls showed Saakashvili the winner with 20–27%. Beginning on November 4, Burdjanadze, Zhvania, and Saakashvili convened repeated demonstrations in Tbilisi to demand that the election results be annulled; Saakashvili also demanded Shevardnadze's resignation. On November 20 the U.S. condemned as falsified the final election returns that gave AS 21.39% of the vote, followed by Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze's Democratic Revival Union's 18.84% and the Saakashvili bloc's 18.8%.

      On November 22 Saakashvili and thousands of unarmed supporters occupied the Parliament building, where Shevardnadze was addressing the first session of the new legislature. Shevardnadze fled and declared a state of emergency but then announced his resignation late on November 23 following talks with the three opposition leaders mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

      The outgoing Parliament confirmed Burdjanadze as acting president and on November 25 scheduled a preterm presidential ballot for Jan. 4, 2004, in which Saakashvili and five other candidates registered.

      The International Monetary Fund suspended cooperation with Georgia in August, citing tax-collection shortfalls and lagging systemic reform. The new leadership appealed in late November for emergency international aid.

      President Shevardnadze and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, signed an agreement on March 7 on confidence-building measures to promote a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict, including the resumption of rail transport through Abkhazia and the return of Georgian displaced persons. The planned deployment of a UN police force to Abkhazia was delayed.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2003

Area:
69,700 sq km (26,911 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 4,961,000
Capital:
T'bilisi
Head of state and government:
President Eduard Shevardnadze, assisted by Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze

      Three new opposition parties—the New Rights, former justice minister Mikhail Saakashvili's National Movement, and former Parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania's United Democrats—made a strong showing in the June 2, 2002, local elections, thrashing the former ruling Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) in T'bilisi. Disputes over alleged fraud, however, necessitated a recount in T'bilisi , which dragged on until November 4, when Saakashvilis' supporters elected him chairman of the T'bilisi City Council. Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze sought to revive the SMK at a mid-June congress at which most government ministers joined its ruling board and Shevardnadze endorsed Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze as a candidate for the 2005 presidential elections. Shevardnadze was not eligible to run again.

      On October 11, 80 deputies from five opposition factions, including the New Rights, National Movement, and United Democrats, walked out of Parliament to protest the fact that the new development plan, including sweeping government reforms, unveiled by Shevardnadze in his annual address to the legislature contained no new solutions to social and economic problems.

      Gross domestic product increased by 4% during the first nine months of the year, but revenue shortfalls and a European Union decision to withhold two grants totaling $23.5 million to protest the abduction in June of British adviser Peter Shaw necessitated the slashing of budget spending. Shaw was released under mysterious circumstances on November 6

      Accusing Georgia of reneging on a promise to withdraw its troops from the Kodori Gorge, the leadership of the secessionist Abkhaz region refused to attend any talks on resolving its long-standing conflict with T'bilisi. On October 10 the Georgian Parliament voted to amend the constitution to designate Abkhazia an autonomous republic.

      The February revelation by the U.S. chargé d'affaires, Philip Remler, that Afghan militants had joined forces with Chechen fighters ensconced in the Pankisi Gorge in northeastern Georgia prompted the United States to launch a $64 million program named Train and Equip to improve the Georgian army's ability to combat terrorism. Georgia repeatedly rejected Russian officials' proposals to launch a joint military operation against Chechen fighters and international mercenaries in Pankisi, however. In late August one man was killed when unidentified aircraft bombed Pankisi, and on September 11 Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin threatened a military strike in Pankisi if Georgia failed to capture and extradite all militants still on its territory. Meeting on October 6, Shevardnadze and Putin succeeded in defusing tensions and reached agreement on joint border patrols and closer cooperation between the two countries' security services. At the November NATO summit in Prague, Georgia formally announced its intention to seek membership of that alliance.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2002

Area:
69,700 sq km (26,911 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 4,989,000
Capital:
T'bilisi
Head of state and government:
President Eduard Shevardnadze, assisted by Secretary of State Giorgi Arsenishvili

      Reformist members of the majority Citizens' Union of Georgia (SMK) criticized Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze repeatedly during the first half of the year for failing to crack down on corruption within the government. In late August, after Shevardnadze rejected a bill drafted by Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili that would have required ministers to prove that their wealth was acquired legally, Parliament Chairman Zurab Zhvania warned Shevardnadze that the country was on the verge of a major crisis and demanded the dismissal of allegedly corrupt police and security officials. The SMK Parliament faction failed to support Zhvania's demand, however, and the faction collapsed, leaving Parliament without a majority.

      On October 30 thousands of T'bilisi residents took to the streets to protest a raid by security officials on the TV station Rustavi-2. At an emergency Parliament session on November 1, Shevardnadze offered to step down if deputies demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze and Prosecutor General Gia Meparishvili, but after both they and Zhvania quit, Shevardnadze announced that he would not resign. Shevardnadze then fired the entire government, but he included most outgoing ministers in the new government. On November 10 Parliament elected as its new speaker the Foreign Relations Committee chair, Nino Burdzhanadze, and on December 21it finally approved former Health, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Avtandil Djorbenadze as minister of state.

      Gross domestic product growth during the first half of the year amounted to 5.2%, but during the first seven months industrial production fell by 2.6% compared with 2000. In late October a large tax-revenue shortfall necessitated slashing projected budget spending by 15%.

      In early October several hundred armed men advanced into the Kodori gorge on the territory of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, but they retreated after two weeks of sporadic fighting with Abkhaz forces. During the incident more than 100 of the interlopers were killed, a helicopter belonging to the UN Observer Mission was shot down with the loss of nine lives, and unidentified aircraft bombed remote Georgian villages but inflicted no injuries. The alleged participation of Chechen fighters in that raid further soured the strained relations between Russia and Georgia, as did Moscow's failure to comply with its commitment to withdraw all personnel from its military base in Gudauta, Abkhazia, by July 1 and Russian air raids in October and November on uninhabited border areas.

      On November 18 Lyudvig Chibirov failed to win reelection as president of the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia. Moscow-based businessman Eduard Kokoyev was elected in a runoff ballot on December 6.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2001

Area:
69,700 sq km (26,911 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 5,020,000
Capital:
T'bilisi
Head of state and government:
President Eduard Shevardnadze, assisted by Secretaries of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and, from May 11, Giorgi Arsenishvili

      Political stability and solutions to Georgia's conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained elusive throughout 2000. Of 17 would-be candidates, only 7 succeeded in registering to contest the April 9 presidential election, which the incumbent president, Eduard Shevardnadze, won with 79.8% of the vote. Former Georgian Communist Party first secretary Dzhumber Patiashvili came in second with 16.7%. Another candidate from the opposition All-Georgian Union of Revival, Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze, withdrew his candidacy on the eve of the poll.

      Shevardnadze named former regional administrator Giorgi Arsenishvili minister of state and reappointed most outgoing ministers to his new government. In late summer a dozen Parliament deputies, including several Parliament committee chairs, quit the majority Citizens' Union of Georgia faction.

      Civil violence continued to be a problem. Two UN officials were abducted in Abkhazia's Kodori gorge in early June, but they were released several days later. Three Red Cross personnel were similarly kidnapped near the Chechen border in August, but they too were later freed. In July, Col. Akaki Eliava, who had led an abortive insurrection in western Georgia in October 1998, was detained and then shot dead by police. Former finance minister Guram Absandze, charged with involvement in the failed February 1998 attempt to kill Shevardnadze, escaped with 11 fellow inmates from a T'bilisi prison in October but was recaptured 11 days later.

      In late November thousands of T'bilisi residents took to the streets to protest the reduction of already limited electricity supplies to their homes. Shevardnadze blamed those shortages on corrupt officials, having earlier called for resolute measures to eradicate corruption.

      In July, Abkhaz and Georgian representatives signed a protocol on measures to stabilize the situation in southern Abkhazia, a move that angered those hard-liners who had fled Abkhazia in 1992–93. Later that month Russia's representative to the UN Security Council declined to endorse the new UN draft peace proposal for Abkhazia.

      Relations with Russia remained tense owing to Moscow's repeated accusations that Georgia was allowing Chechen fighters to maintain bases on and supply routes across Georgia's territory and owing to Russia's related decision to introduce a visa requirement from persons entering Russia from Georgia as of December 5. As agreed in November 1999, however, Moscow began withdrawing surplus military equipment from one base near T'bilisi in early August and sent more hardware from a second base in southern Georgia to Armenia in October.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2000

Area:
69,492 sq km (26,831 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 5,449,000
Capital:
T'bilisi
Head of state and government:
President Eduard Shevardnadze, assisted by Secretary of State Vazha Lortkipanidze

      Georgia's pro-Western orientation and zeal for reform were rewarded in 1999 by acceptance in April into full membership of the Council of Europe and by a visit in November by Pope John Paul II.

      Domestic politics were dominated by preparations for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze sought to discredit his main challenger, Aslan Abashidze, leader of Georgia's autonomous republic of Ajaria, accusing him of withholding taxes from the national budget and of financial irregularities that resulted in the bankruptcy of Georgia's merchant fleet. Only 5 of the 33 parties and blocs that contended in the poll gained representation in the new Parliament. The ruling Citizens' Union of Georgia won an absolute majority of the 235 seats. Abashidze's All-Georgian Union of Revival alliance polled 58 seats, “Industry Will Save Georgia” 15, and the Labour and People's parties one apiece. Several opposition parties protested that the poll outcome was falsified. In November Shevardnadze called for an all-out crackdown on corruption.

      In January Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba announced that ethnic Georgians who had fled Abkhazia during the 1992–93 war could return beginning in March. T'bilisi condemned that initiative, pointing to inadequate measures to protect those Georgians who returned. Bilateral talks failed to yield progress toward a political settlement of the conflict either before or after Ardzinba's reelection as president in October in a poll that the international community did not recognize as valid. The Georgian leadership failed to persuade the UN Security Council to condemn alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing by the Abkhaz of the region's Georgian population. On October 13 seven members of a UN observation team were abducted when their helicopter landed in the sole region of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia; four were released unharmed the next day, the other three the day after that.

      Russia withdrew its border guards from Georgia during the year, and in November the two countries reached agreement that Russia would close two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 2001. Beginning in September, however, Russian officials repeatedly accused Georgia of aiding and abetting Chechen militants. In November and December Russian aircraft dropped mines on villages in northern Georgia close to the frontier with Chechnya.

      Growth in gross domestic product during the first nine months of the year was 2.4%, while industrial production rose 2.7% between January and October. The government's failure to meet tax-collection targets or effectively target corruption, however, in December prompted visiting International Monetary Fund officials to reject its request for a new loan.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 1999

      Area: 69,492 sq km (26,831 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 5,431,000

      Capital: Tbilisi

      Head of state and government: President Eduard A. Shevardnadze, assisted by Ministers of State Nikoloz Lekishvili until July 26 and, from August 7, Vazha Lortkipanidze

      Georgia in 1998 was racked by renewed hostilities in Abkhazia and a series of political upheavals that the country's leadership blamed on supporters of the late president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. On February 9 Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze narrowly escaped assassination. Some of the perpetrators were arrested within days, which impelled their associates to take hostage four UN observers in western Georgia to demand their comrades' release. Georgian officials negotiated the UN observers' release. The kidnappers' leader escaped but was shot dead in late March trying to evade capture by Georgian security officials. In mid-October a Georgian army colonel led a mutiny in western Georgia that was quashed within 24 hours by army troops.

      Shevardnadze fired Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze in late April, appointing Davit Tevzadze in his place. In late July the entire Cabinet resigned after Nikoloz Lekishvili stepped down as minister of state, but most ministers retained their posts in the new government headed by former ambassador to Moscow Vazha Lortkipanidze. Finance Minister Mikhail Chkuaseli resigned on November 14, complaining that the failure to implement measures to eliminate tax evasion had augmented a huge budget deficit; his successor, Davit Onoprishvili, pledged to reduce the deficit without endangering monetary stability.

      Unhappy with endemic corruption and failure to implement reforms of local government and the judiciary, only some 35-40% of voters participated in local elections on November 15. Despite waning support, the ruling Citizens' Union of Georgia retained an overall majority in most districts. The All-Georgian Union of Revival, headed by Aslan Abashidze, a possible challenger to Shevardnadze in the presidential election in 2000, fared poorly outside Ajaria.

      Sporadic clashes in southern Abkhazia in the spring between Georgian guerrillas and Abkhaz police erupted in May into full-scale fighting, which the Russian peacekeeping force stationed in the region did nothing to prevent. Up to 36,000 ethnic Georgians were compelled to flee their homes. Talks in Moscow in June between senior Georgian and Abkhaz representatives and UN-mediated negotiations in Geneva in July and in Greece in October resulted in the drafting of bilateral agreements abjuring the future use of force and stipulating conditions for the repatriation of Georgian displaced persons and Georgian economic aid for Abkhazia.

      Shevardnadze's June meeting with South Ossetian leader Lyudvig Chibirov failed to expedite a political agreement between that breakaway region and the central Georgian government. A visit to Georgia in November by Pres. Robert Kocharyan of Armenia reflected the desire of both countries to expand economic cooperation and to neutralize growing nationalist sentiment among the 200,000-strong Armenian community in southern Georgia.

ELIZABETH FULLER

▪ 1998

      Area: 69,492 sq km (26,831 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 5,377,000

      Capital: Tbilisi

      Head of state and government: President Eduard A. Shevardnadze, assisted by Minister of State Nikoloz Lekishvili

      Georgia's strained relationship with Russia was the major factor determining the country's domestic as well as foreign policy in 1997. Both the leadership and the opposition accused Moscow of seeking to use the conflict over the breakaway Black Sea province of Abkhazia to undermine Georgia's sovereignty; in December a leading Georgian parliamentarian charged that Russia was plotting to assassinate Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze and return the Communist Party to power.

      Early in the year Shevardnadze proclaimed a new campaign against corruption, and in July Security Minister Shota Kviraya was forced to resign following accusations by opposition National Democratic Party leader Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia that he was engaged in black-market trading in cigarettes and gasoline. Two former influential political figures who had helped engineer Shevardnadze's return to power in Georgia in 1992 were brought to trial. In September former prime minister Tengiz Sigua was ordered to repay $5.8 million compensation for losses allegedly incurred by his decision in early 1992 to continue using former Soviet foreign exchange rates. Sigua accused Shevardnadze of fabricating the charges against him. The trial of Djaba Ioseliani, former leader of the Mkhedrioni paramilitary formation, and 14 of his associates opened in early December. They were charged with terrorism and involvement in the failed assassination attempt against Shevardnadze in August 1995, but proceedings were immediately suspended because of the illness of one of the defense lawyers.

      The Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Moscow in late March agreed to Shevardnadze's demand that the CIS peacekeeping force deployed since July 1994 along the internal border between Georgia and Abkhazia be given broader powers to protect ethnic Georgians who had fled their homes in Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war and wished to return. The Abkhaz leadership, however, protested this decision, which Moscow then failed to implement. Instead, the Russian foreign ministry mediated several rounds of talks between Abkhaz and Georgian leaders in Moscow in June and July, but he failed to persuade both sides to sign a draft protocol intended to serve as a basis for a political settlement of the conflict. Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba flew to Tbilisi in August for a face-to-face meeting with Shevardnadze; at that meeting the two men renounced the use of force in bilateral relations. Meeting in Geneva in late November under UN auspices, Georgian and Abkhaz delegations agreed to create working groups to expedite the resumption of economic ties and the repatriation of Georgian displaced persons.

      From early summer onward, Russian border guards systematically refused to permit vehicles transporting alcohol to enter Russian territory from Georgia. Georgians perceived this ban as intended to undermine the country's potential role as a transport artery and thus to deprive it of lucrative customs tariffs. Also in early summer, Russian border guards arbitrarily moved a frontier post 1,300 m (1,420 yd) into Georgian territory, which elicited protests from the Georgian government. Anti-Russian feeling was further fueled by the disclosure in October that several Georgian soldiers had contracted radiation sickness from radioactive substances abandoned at a former Soviet military base.

      Shevardnadze alternated in his official statements between reproaching Moscow for its alleged anti-Georgian bias and declaring Russia a strategic ally. During a visit to the U.S. in August, he sought American support for his country's potential role as one of the export routes for Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil. In November Shevardnadze announced a moratorium on implementing death sentences handed down by Georgian courts—one of the preconditions set for full membership in the Council of Europe, in which Georgia in 1997 had "special guest" status. In October, however, the presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova announced an alternative alignment reflecting their shared security concerns and the desire to profit jointly from the transport of Caspian oil through their territories.

ELIZABETH FULLER
      This article updates Georgia, history of (Georgia).

▪ 1997

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Georgia borders Russia on the north and northeast, Azerbaijan on the southeast, Armenia and Turkey on the south, and the Black Sea on the west. Area: 69,492 sq km (26,831 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 5,361,000. Cap.: T'bilisi. Monetary unit: lari, with (Oct. 14, 1996) an official rate of 1.27 lari = U.S. $1 (2.01 lari = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Eduard A. Shevardnadze; secretary of state, Niko Lekishvili.

      The parliamentary and presidential elections in November 1995, which consolidated the position of Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze, and the ensuing arrest of Dzhaba Ioseliani and members of his Mkhedrioni criminal/paramilitary force ushered in a new phase of political and economic stability in Georgia. The new Parliament functioned cohesively and productively to enact crucial legislation to underpin the foundations of economic reform. During the year there were no violent terrorist incidents or political assassinations such as were regular occurrences in 1993 to mid-1995, and crime abated. In October former defense minister Tengiz Kitovani was sentenced to eight years in prison for having attempted in January 1995 to organize a march on the rebellious region of Abkhazia. In November Loti Kobalia, commander of the military units that were loyal to former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was sentenced to death and three of his subordinates to terms of up to 15 years on charges of treason and murder.

      The economic upswing that began in 1995 continued in 1996. During the first half of the year, gross domestic product grew by 8% and industrial output by 10%; inflation fell to an annual rate of about 30%, and the lari maintained its value against the dollar. Up to 20% of the workforce remained unemployed, however.

      In early spring Parliament amended the annual budget and enacted laws on land ownership and taxation to meet conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for a $246 million loan to support economic reform in 1996-98. The World Bank allocated $34 million to reform the transport sector and health service. In March Shevardnadze and Azerbaijan's Pres. Heydar Aliyev signed an agreement on construction of a major pipeline to export Azerbaijani oil via Georgia.

      Relations with Russia, in particular Moscow's perceived failure to comply with the 1995 bilateral agreement permitting Russia to maintain four military bases in Georgia in return for assistance in reestablishing Georgia's control over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, continued to dominate foreign policy. The Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Moscow in January imposed an economic blockade on Abkhazia. The mandate of the CIS peacekeepers deployed in Abkhazia was extended several times, but Shevardnadze's request that they be given police powers to protect ethnic Georgians wishing to return to their homes in Abkhazia—while agreed to by Abkhazia—was rejected by the commander of the forces. Relations with Russia cooled markedly in October after the Georgian Parliament voted to reassess Georgia's policy toward Russia, including the issue of Russian military bases.

      Shevardnadze and South Ossetia's parliament chairman Lyudvig Chibirov signed an agreement in May rejecting the use of force and in August reaffirmed their commitment to resolving peacefully the issue of South Ossetia's future status within Georgia. In November Chibirov was elected president of South Ossetia in elections not recognized as valid by either Georgia or the international community. (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This article updates Georgia, history of (Georgia).

▪ 1996

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Georgia borders Russia on the north and northeast, Azerbaijan on the southeast, Armenia and Turkey on the south, and the Black Sea on the west. Area: 69,492 sq km (26,831 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 5,514,000. Cap.: T'bilisi. Monetary unit: lari, with (Oct. 4, 1995) a free rate of 1.30 lari = U.S. $1 (2.07 lari = £1 sterling); the lari replaced the Georgian coupon (a transitional currency) from September 25 at a rate of 1 lari = 1 million coupons. Head of state in 1995 (chairman of Parliament, and from November 26, president), Eduard A. Shevardnadze; prime minister to October 5, Otar Patsatsia, and secretary of state from December 8, Niko Lekishvili.

      After three years of civil war, rampant crime, and economic collapse, in 1995 the situation in Georgia began to stabilize. Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze escaped an assassination attempt and finally succeeded in neutralizing those political figures who helped his return to Georgia in 1992 but had since become rivals. Two of these, former prime minister Tengiz Sigua and former defense minister Tengiz Kitovani, were arrested in January after making a symbolic march on the breakaway western region of Abkhazia with the aim of forcing the region back under central government control.

      The series of political assassinations that began in 1993 continued during the first half of the year. Shevardnadze himself suffered only minor injuries in late August when a car bomb exploded as his motorcade was leaving the Parliament building in T'bilisi. The Georgian security service chief, Igor Giorgadze, was held responsible for this and several previous terrorist incidents and fled to Russia.

      In August Parliament finally endorsed a new constitution that defined Georgia as a presidential republic. Presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled for November 5. Shevardnadze was elected president with about 73% of the vote, defeating five rival candidates, including his successor as Georgian Communist Party first secretary, Dzhumber Patiashvili, and hard-line communist Panteleimon Giorgadze (Igor's father). Similarly, Shevardnadze's Union of Citizens of Georgia gained a 124-seat majority in the new 235-seat Parliament. Paramilitary leader Dzhaba Ioseliani, who failed in his bid for reelection, was arrested in mid-November on charges of involvement in the August car bomb attack on Shevardnadze.

      In late November Shevardnadze implemented changes in the structure of executive power, replacing the post of prime minister with that of secretary of state. He then formed a new government, retaining the former ministers for economics and defense but appointing as foreign minister former deputy prime minister Irakli Menagharishvili.

      The stringent fiscal and monetary policy adopted in December 1994 brought hyperinflation under control, and by late February the interim currency, the coupon, had gained in value against the dollar. A new currency, the lari, was introduced in September and maintained its value, thanks in part to a second International Monetary Fund loan. Greater political stability stimulated an increase in industrial output of 20% during the first 11 months of the year. The decision in October to export some oil from Azerbaijan via Georgia engendered hopes of an economic upswing.

      The standoff between the central government in T'bilisi and the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia continued. The apparent inability of the Russian peacekeeping force stationed in Abkhazia to prevent reprisals against the Georgian population there in the early part of the year induced Georgian politicians to demand their withdrawal. Angered by the Abkhazian leadership's expressions of support for Chechnya and their repeated refusal to discuss a Russian draft settlement giving Abkhazia federal status within Georgia, Moscow imposed a naval blockade on the Abkhazian port of Sukhumi in October. Peacekeepers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe prevented violence in South Ossetia, but only minimal progress was made toward a political settlement there.

      In March an agreement was signed giving Russia the right to maintain three military bases in Georgia; a further bilateral agreement on economic cooperation was signed in September. At the same time, Georgia sought to expand economic ties with neighbouring Turkey and Iran. (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This updates the article Georgia, history of (Georgia).

▪ 1995

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Georgia borders Russia on the north and northeast, Azerbaijan on the southeast, Armenia and Turkey on the south, and the Black Sea on the west. Area: 69,700 sq km (26,900 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 5,503,000. Cap.: Tbilisi. Monetary unit: Georgian coupon (transitional currency), with (Sept. 27, 1994) a free rate of 2,478,000 coupons = U.S. $1 (3,864,000 coupons = £1 sterling). De facto head of state and chairman of Parliament in 1994, Eduard A. Shevardnadze; prime minister, Otar Patsatsia.

      Georgia remained chronically unstable in 1994, as evidenced by the assassinations of a deputy defense minister, Col. Nikolas Kekelidze, in early February and of opposition leader Giorgi Chanturia in November. Politics was dominated by the repercussions of the loss of jurisdiction in October 1993 over the breakaway region of Abkhazia, for which the radical opposition held Parliament Chairman Eduard A. Shevardnadze responsible, calling repeatedly for a no-confidence vote and convening public demonstrations to demand his resignation, but without success. Warning of the danger of an imminent coup, Shevardnadze initiated a Cabinet reshuffle in March that prompted Tbilisi police briefly to occupy the Parliament building to protest the appointment of a new interior minister. A former Soviet army general, Vardiko Nadibaidze, was named defense minister.

      Economic collapse intensified. Over the first 10 months of 1994, Georgia registered a 42% drop in industrial output, the worst of any Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member; the October monthly inflation rate of 36% was similarly the highest in the CIS. The Georgian government's inability to pay its $500 million debt to Turkmenistan led to a drastic reduction in supplies of natural gas, Georgia's primary source of energy; by late November much of Tbilisi was without heating, electricity, or running water. Up to one million Georgians were estimated to have emigrated to escape impoverishment. Parliament failed to pass urgently needed legislation that would provide the foundation for radical economic reform. In November the International Monetary Fund criticized the Georgian government's failure to implement its minimum recommendations on price liberalization and reducing the state apparatus, on which credits were contingent.

      The rapprochement with Russia that followed Georgia's entry into CIS membership in autumn 1993 continued with the signing during a visit to Tbilisi by Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin in February of a major bilateral Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation (not yet ratified by the Russian parliament) plus two dozen related agreements, including one on the establishment in Georgia of three Russian military bases. In March Georgia joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

      In early April Abkhazian, Georgian, UN, and Russian representatives signed an agreement stipulating conditions for the repatriation of Abkhazia's Georgian population, but UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali ruled out the dispatch of UN peacekeepers to oversee this operation. Five weeks later a formal cease-fire agreement was signed in Moscow, to the displeasure of the Georgian opposition. In mid-June the Russian parliament approved the dispatch to Abkhazia of a Russian peacekeeping force that was subsequently formally approved by the UN Security Council. A Russian attempt in September to expedite the return of the Georgian refugees, which had been repeatedly delayed by the Abkhazian authorities, failed after the latter warned of violent reprisals. Visiting Georgia in November, Boutros-Ghali pledged support for Georgia's territorial integrity but again refrained from pledging a UN peacekeeping presence.

      The adoption by the Abkhazian Parliament in November of a new constitution designating Abkhazia an independent sovereign republic was denounced by both the Russian and Georgian governments. In November, former prime minister Tengiz Sigua and former defense minister Tengiz Kitovani announced they were recruiting volunteers for the military reconquest of Abkhazia. In South Ossetia the former Communist Party, restored to power in parliamentary elections in March, ceded to pressure from the radical parliamentary minority not to abandon the campaign begun by the latter for secession from Georgia. They sought unification with North Ossetia within the Russian Federation.

      (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This updates the article Georgia, history of (Georgia).

▪ 1994

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Georgia borders Russia on the north and northeast, Azerbaijan on the southeast, Armenia and Turkey on the south, and the Black Sea on the west. Area: 69,700 sq km (26,900 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 5,493,000. Cap.: Tbilisi. Monetary unit: coupon (transitional currency introduced April 5, 1993, at par with the Russian ruble, became sole legal tender as of August 20), with (October 1993) a free rate of 31,500 coupons = U.S. $1 (47,800 coupons = £ 1 sterling). De facto head of state and chairman of Parliament in 1993, Eduard Shevardnadze; prime ministers, Tengiz Sigua, Eduard Shevardnadze (acting) from August 6, and, from August 20, Otar Patsatsia.

      Developments in Georgia in 1993 were dominated by the war in Abkhazia and its repercussions on domestic politics. A large-scale offensive by Abkhazian and Russian forces in March failed to capture Sukhumi. In May, Georgian head of state Eduard Shevardnadze and Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin concluded an agreement, to which Abkhazian Parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba later acceded, on a cease-fire, which, however, never took hold. A second Abkhazian attack on Sukhumi in July was paralleled by strong Russian diplomatic pressure on Georgia to agree to a settlement. Under the terms of a cease-fire agreement signed on July 27, Georgian government forces and heavy artillery withdrew from Sukhumi, leaving the town defenseless when the Abkhazians launched an offensive. After 11 days of fierce fighting, Georgian government troops abandoned Sukhumi in late September. Abkhazian forces then consolidated control over the entire region, precipitating the exodus of up to 200,000 ethnic Georgian refugees. In November, Ardzinba called for the deployment of UN observers along the frontier to preclude any attempt by Georgian forces to regain military control of Abkhazia. UN-sponsored talks on a political settlement that would guarantee Abkhazia's autonomy within Georgia resulted in a peace accord, signed on December 1, to include deployment of UN peacekeeping forces. On December 19 the two sides effected the first prisoner exchange.

      In early May, Shevardnadze forced the resignation of maverick Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani, who had reportedly twice planned to oust him. Preoccupied by the fighting in Abkhazia, the Georgian Parliament failed either to draft and debate the legislative foundations of a sovereign law-based state or to form a working majority. Shevardnadze took advantage of these failings to demand ever greater executive powers, alienating radical deputies, who demanded his resignation. In August the government had to resign after Parliament rejected three consecutive draft budgets. One month later Shevardnadze himself resigned after deputies rejected as "dictatorial" his proposal to restructure the Cabinet of Ministers and impose a state of emergency. He retracted this decision only on condition that Parliament declare a two-month state of emergency and recess for three months.

      The domestic instability encouraged former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who since his ouster in January 1992 had lived in exile in Chechnia, to attempt a comeback. His private army occupied and then retreated from towns in western Georgia throughout August and September. In October they launched a major offensive and came close to taking Kutaisi, Georgia's second city, before being beaten back by Georgian government troops with Russian support. It was later reported that Gamsakhurdia had shot himself on December 31.

      The debacle in Abkhazia had a major impact on Russian-Georgian relations. Negotiations on a series of bilateral treaties collapsed in February after Russia pegged them to a peaceful solution of the Abkhazian conflict. Unofficial Russian military participation in the attack on Sukhumi in September elicited from Shevardnadze accusations that Russia had betrayed Georgia, but it did not deter him from subsequently committing Georgia to membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States. This concession won him logistic support and the deployment of Russian troops to guard roads and railroads against attack by Gamsakhurdia's forces, but it also outraged radicals in Parliament, who vowed to vote against ratification.

      The war in Abkhazia exacerbated economic and social collapse. In October industry was functioning at less than 25% of capacity, and unemployment stood at 50%. The introduction in April of coupons intended as a parallel currency with the ruble failed to curb inflation. Originally traded at parity with the ruble, the coupon fell in value to 7:1 in August, 27:1 in October, and 66:1 in mid-December. (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This updates the article Georgia, history of (Georgia).

* * *

Introduction
Georgian  Sakartvelo , also called  Republic of Georgia , Georgian  Sakartvelos Respublika 
Georgia, flag of country of Transcaucasia located at the eastern end of the Black Sea on the southern flanks of the main crest of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Russia, on the east and southeast by Azerbaijan, on the south by Armenia and Turkey, and on the west by the Black Sea. Georgia includes three ethnic enclaves: Abkhazia, in the northwest (principal city Sokhumi); Ajaria, in the southwest (principal city Batʿumi); and South Ossetia, in the north (principal city Tsʿkhinvali). The capital of Georgia is Tʿbilisi (Tbilisi) (Tiflis).

      The roots of the Georgian people extend deep in history; their cultural heritage is equally ancient and rich. During the medieval period a powerful Georgian kingdom existed, reaching its height between the 10th and 13th centuries. After a long period of Turkish and Persian domination, Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. An independent Georgian state existed from 1918 to 1921, when it was incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1936 Georgia became a constituent (union) republic and continued as such until the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Soviet period the Georgian economy was modernized and diversified. One of the most independence-minded republics, Georgia declared sovereignty on Nov. 19, 1989, and independence on April 9, 1991.

      The 1990s were a period of instability and civil unrest in Georgia, as the first postindependence government was overthrown and separatist movements emerged in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The land

Relief, drainage, and soils
 

      With the notable exception of the fertile plain of the Kolkhida Lowland—ancient Colchis, where the legendary Argonauts sought the Golden Fleece—the Georgian terrain is largely mountainous, and more than a third is covered by forest or brushwood. There is a remarkable variety of landscape, ranging from the subtropical Black Sea shores to the ice and snow of the crest line of the Caucasus. Such contrasts are made more noteworthy by the country's relatively small area.

      The rugged Georgia terrain may be divided into three bands, all running from east to west.

      To the north lies the wall of the Greater Caucasus range, consisting of a series of parallel and transverse mountain belts rising eastward and often separated by deep, wild gorges. Spectacular crest-line peaks include those of Mount Shkhara, which at 16,627 feet (5,068 metres) is the highest point in Georgia, and Mounts Rustaveli, Tetnuld, and Ushba, all of which are above 15,000 feet. The cone of the extinct Mkinvari (Kazbek) volcano dominates the northernmost Bokovoy range from a height of 16,512 feet. A number of important spurs extend in a southward direction from the central range, including those of the Lomis and Kartli (Kartalinian) ranges at right angles to the general Caucasian trend. From the ice-clad flanks of these desolately beautiful high regions flow many streams and rivers.

      The southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus merge into a second band, consisting of central lowlands formed on a great structural depression. The Kolkhida Lowland, near the shores of the Black Sea, is covered by a thick layer of river-borne deposits accumulated over thousands of years. Rushing down from the Greater Caucasus, the major rivers of western Georgia, the Inguri, Rioni, and Kodori, flow over a broad area to the sea. The Kolkhida Lowland was formerly an almost continually stagnant swamp. In a great development program, drainage canals and embankments along the rivers were constructed and afforestation plans introduced; the region has become of prime importance through the cultivation of subtropical and other commercial crops.

      To the east the structural trough is crossed by the Meskhet and Likh ranges, linking the Greater and Lesser Caucasus and marking the watershed between the basins of the Black and Caspian seas. In central Georgia, between the cities of Khashuri and Mtsʿkhetʿa (the ancient capital), lies the inner high plateau known as the Kartli (Kartalinian) Plain. Surrounded by mountains to the north, south, east, and west and covered for the most part by deposits of the loess type, this plateau extends along the Kura (Mtkvari) River and its tributaries.

      The southern band of Georgian territory is marked by the ranges and plateaus of the Lesser Caucasus, which rise beyond a narrow, swampy coastal plain to reach 10,830 feet in the peak of Didi-Abuli.

      A variety of soils are found in Georgia, ranging from gray-brown and saline semidesert types to richer red earths and podzols. Artificial improvements add to the diversity.

Climate
      The Caucasian barrier protects Georgia from cold air intrusions from the north, while the country is open to the constant influence of warm, moist air from the Black Sea. Western Georgia has a humid subtropical, maritime climate, while eastern Georgia has a range of climate varying from moderately humid to a dry subtropical type.

      There also are marked elevation zones. The Kolkhida Lowland, for example, has a subtropical character up to about 1,600 to 2,000 feet, with a zone of moist, moderately warm climate lying just above; still higher is a belt of cold, wet winters and cool summers. Above about 6,600 to 7,200 feet there is an alpine climatic zone, lacking any true summer; above 11,200 to 11,500 feet snow and ice are present year-round. In eastern Georgia, farther inland, temperatures are lower than in the western portions at the same altitude.

      Western Georgia has heavy rainfall throughout the year, totaling 40 to 100 inches (1,000 to 2,500 millimetres) and reaching a maximum in autumn and winter. Southern Kolkhida receives the most rain, and humidity decreases to the north and east. Winter in this region is mild and warm; in regions below about 2,000 to 2,300 feet, the mean January temperature never falls below 32° F (0° C), and relatively warm, sunny winter weather persists in the coastal regions, where temperatures average about 41° F (5° C). Summer temperatures average about 71° F (22° C).

      In eastern Georgia, precipitation decreases with distance from the sea, reaching 16 to 28 inches in the plains and foothills but increasing to double this amount in the mountains. The southeastern regions are the driest areas, and winter is the driest season; the rainfall maximum occurs at the end of spring. The highest lowland temperatures occur in July (about 77° F [25° C]), while average January temperatures over most of the region range from 32° to 37° F (0° to 3° C).

Plant and animal life
      Georgia's location and its diverse terrain have given rise to a remarkable variety of landscapes. The luxuriant vegetation of the moist, subtropical Black Sea shores is relatively close to the eternal snows of the mountain peaks. Deep gorges and swift rivers give way to dry steppes, and the green of alpine meadows alternates with the darker hues of forested valleys.

      More than a third of the country is covered by forests and brush. In the west a relatively constant climate over a long time span has preserved many relict and rare items, including the Pitsunda pines (Pinus pithyusa). The forests include oak, chestnut, beech, and alder, as well as Caucasian fir, ash, linden, and apple and pear trees. The western underbrush is dominated by evergreens (including rhododendrons and holly) and such deciduous shrubs as Caucasian bilberry and nut trees. Liana strands entwine some of the western forests. Citrus groves are found throughout the republic, and long rows of eucalyptus trees line the country roads.

      Eastern Georgia has fewer forests, and the steppes are dotted with thickets of prickly underbrush, as well as a blanket of feather and beard grass. Herbaceous subalpine and alpine vegetation occurs extensively in the highest regions. Animal life is very diverse. Goats and Caucasian antelope inhabit the high mountains; rodents live in the high meadows; and a rich birdlife includes the mountain turkey, the Caucasian black grouse, and the mountain and bearded eagles. The clear rivers and mountain lakes are full of trout.

      Forest regions are characterized by wild boars, roe and Caucasian deer, brown bears, lynx, wolves, foxes, jackals, hares, and squirrels. Birds range from the thrush to the black vulture and hawk. Some of these animals and birds also frequent the lowland regions, which are the home of the introduced raccoon, mink, and nutria. The lowland rivers and the Black Sea itself are rich in fish.

Settlement patterns
      Population densities are relatively high but are less than those for Armenia and Azerbaijan. The vast majority of the population lives below 2,600 feet; population density decreases with increasing altitude.

      During the Soviet period the Georgian population increased, with a marked trend toward urbanization. More than half the population now lives in cities. Further, a considerable portion of the population that is defined as rural is, in fact, engaged in the urban economy of nearby cities. Enterprises for primary processing of agricultural products have been constructed in the villages, while ore-processing plants and light industry also are increasing in number. As a result, many of the slow-paced traditional villages have developed into distinctly modern communities. The number of rural inhabitants remains high because of the wide distribution of such labour-intensive branches of the economy as the tea and subtropical crop plantations.

 Tʿbilisi, the capital, an ancient city with many architectural monuments mingling with modern buildings, lies in eastern Georgia, partly in a scenic gorge of the Kura River. Other major centres are Kʿutʿaisi, Rustʿavi, Sokhumi, and Batʿḱĩĭ

The people (Georgia)
 The likelihood is great that the Georgians (whose name for themselves is Kartveli; “Georgian” derived from the Persian name for them, Gorj) have always lived in this region, known to them as Sakartvelo. Ethnically, contemporary Georgia is not homogeneous but reflects the intermixtures and successions of the Caucasus region. About seven-tenths of the people are Georgians; the rest consists of Armenians, Russians, Azerbaijanis, and smaller numbers of Ossetes, Greeks, Abkhazians, and other minor groups.

      The Georgian language is a member of the Kartvelian (South Caucasian) family of languages. It has its own alphabet, which is thought to have evolved about the 5th century AD, and there are many dialects. A number of other Caucasian languages are spoken by minority groups; many are unwritten.

      Many Georgians are members of the Georgian Orthodox church, an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. In addition, there are Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Jewish communities.

      The Georgians are a proud people with an ancient culture. They have through the ages been noted as warriors as well as for their hospitality, love of life, lively intelligence, sense of humour, and reputed longevity (although statistical data do not support this latter assertion).

The economy
      The Georgian economy includes diversified and mechanized agriculture alongside a well-developed industrial base. Agriculture accounts for about half of the gross domestic product and employs about one-fourth of the labour force; the industry and service sectors each employ about one-fifth of the labour force.

      After independence the Georgian economy contracted sharply, owing to political instability (which discouraged foreign investment), the loss of favourable trading relationships with the states of the former Soviet Union, and the civil unrest in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where key pipelines and transport links were sabotaged or blockaded. Georgia sought to transform its command economy into one organized on market principles: prices were liberalized, the banking system reformed, and some state enterprises and retail establishments privatized.

Resources
      The interior of Georgia has coal deposits (notably at Tqvarchʿeli and Tqibuli), petroleum (at Kazeti), and a variety of other resources ranging from peat to marble. The manganese deposits of Chiatʿura rival those of India, Brazil, and Ghana in quantity and quality. Its waterpower resources are also considerable. The deepest and most powerful rivers for hydroelectric purposes are the Rioni and its tributaries, the Inguri, Kodori, and Bzyb. Such western rivers account for three-fourths of the total capacity, with the eastern Kura, Aragvi, Alazani, and Khrami accounting for the rest. Oil deposits have been located near Batʿumi and Potʿi under the Black Sea.

Agriculture
      A distinctive feature of the Georgian economy is that agricultural land is both in short supply and difficult to work; each patch of workable land, even on steep mountain slopes, is valued highly. The relative proportion of arable land is low. The importance of production of labour-intensive (and highly profitable) crops, such as tea and citrus fruits, is, however, a compensatory factor.

      The introduction of a system of collective farms (kolkhozy (kolkhoz)) and state farms (sovkhozy (sovkhoz)) by the Soviet government in 1929–30 radically altered the traditional structure of landowning and working, though a considerable portion of Georgia's agricultural output continued to come from private garden plots. Contemporary agriculture uses modern equipment supplied under a capital investment program, which also finances the production of mineral fertilizers and herbicides, as well as afforestation measures. A program of land privatization was undertaken in 1992.

      Tea plantations occupy more than 150,000 acres (60,000 hectares) and are equipped with modern picking machinery.

      The vineyards of the republic constitute one of the oldest and most important branches of Georgian agriculture, and perhaps the best loved. Georgian winemaking dates to 300 BC; centuries of trial and error have produced more than 500 varieties of grape.

      Orchards occupy some 320,000 acres throughout the country. Georgian fruits are varied; even slight differences in climate and soil affect the yield, quality, and taste of the fruit.

      Sugar beets and tobacco are especially significant among other commercial crops. Essential oils (geranium, rose, and jasmine) also are produced to supply the perfume industry. Grains, including wheat, are important, but quantities are insufficient for the country's needs, and wheat must be imported. Growing of vegetables and melons has developed in the suburbs.

      Livestock raising is marked by the use of different summer and winter pastures. Sheep and goats, cattle, and pigs are raised. Poultry, bees, and silkworms are also significant. Black Sea fisheries concentrate on flounder and whitefish.

Industry
      The fuel and power foundation developed in Georgia has served as the base for industrialization. Dozens of hydroelectric stations, including the Rioni and Sokhumi plants, as well as many stations powered by coal and natural gas, have been constructed. All are now combined into a single power system, an organic part of the Transcaucasian system.

      The coal industry is one of the oldest mineral extraction industries, centred on the restructured Tqibuli mines. Deposits found in Tqvarchʿeli and Akhaltsʿikhe have increased production.

      Manganese and nonmetallic minerals ranging from talc to marble supply various industries throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union. The Rustʿavi (Rustavi) metallurgical plant, located near the capital, produced its first steel in 1956. There are markets for its laminated sheet iron and seamless pipe products in Russia, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Zestapʿoni is the second major metallurgical centre.

      The machine-building industry produces a diverse range of products, from electric railway locomotives, heavy vehicles, and earth-moving equipment to lathes and precision instruments. Specialized products include tea-gathering machines and antihail devices for the country's plantations. Production is centred in the major cities.

      The chemical industry of Georgia produces mineral fertilizers, synthetic materials and fibres, and pharmaceutical products. The building industry, using local raw materials, supplies the country with cement, slate, and many prefabricated reinforced-concrete structures and parts.

      Commonly used manufactured goods were previously imported in large part from the republics of the former Soviet Union, but a ramified system of light industries set up in major consumption areas in Georgia now produces cotton, wool, and silk fabrics, as well as items of clothing.

      Products of the food industry include tea and table and dessert wines. Brandy and champagne production is also well developed. Other food-industry activities include dairying and canning.

Transportation
      Georgia has a dense transportation system. Most freight is carried by truck, but railways are important. Tʿbilisi is connected by rail with both Sokhumi and Batʿumi on the Black Sea and Baku on the Caspian.

      An oil pipeline connects Batʿumi with Baku, Azerbaijan; two natural gas pipelines run from Baku to Tʿbilisi and then turn north to Russia. The seaports of Batʿumi, Potʿi, and Sokhumi are of major economic importance for the whole of Transcaucasia. The country's international airport is at Tʿbilisi.

Administration and social conditions

Government
      In 1992 Georgia—which had been operating under a Soviet-era constitution from 1978—reinstated its 1921 pre-Soviet constitution. A constitutional commission was formed in 1992 to draft a new constitution, and after a protracted dispute over the extent of the authority to be accorded the executive a new document was adopted in 1995.

      The head of state is the president, who is given extensive authority. A prime minister and cabinet are appointed by the president. The legislature is a 235-member Supreme Council. The judicial system includes district and city courts and a Supreme Court.

      The Communist Party of Georgia, controlled by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was until the 1980s the only political party. With the increase in nationalist sentiment and the reforms of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, many diverse political groups emerged. Major political organizations now include the Citizens' Union, an alliance formed by the Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze; the reformist National Democratic Party; the Georgian Popular Front, formed in 1989 to promote Georgian independence; and the Georgian Social Democratic Party, which was established in 1893 but dissolved after the Soviet takeover.

      Georgia became a member of the United Nations in 1992 and joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1993.

Armed forces and security
      In the early years of independence Georgia's armed forces were divided, but they were gradually becoming unified by the mid-1990s. The primary state military organization is the National Guard; paramilitary groups also are present. A two-year period of military service is compulsory for adult men, though draft evasion is widespread. Substantial numbers of Russian troops remain on Georgian territory.

      The Ministry of Internal Affairs oversees the regular police force. Crime rates in Georgia increased after independence because of the social dislocations resulting from the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a lack of civil authority in parts of the country, and regional instability caused by the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Education
      The level of education is relatively high. Tʿbilisi University was founded in 1918; the Academy of Sciences (founded 1941) is made up of several scientific institutions, which conduct research throughout the republic. Georgia has an extensive library system.

Health and welfare
      Payments from public funds provide free education, medical services, pension grants, and stipend payments and free or reduced-cost accommodation in rest homes and sanatoriums, as well as holiday pay and the maintenance of kindergartens and day nurseries. Georgia ranks high in the level of medical services, and relative to other former Soviet republics its population has low incidences of tuberculosis and cancer. The republic is famed as a health centre, a reputation stemming from the numerous therapeutic mineral springs, the sunny climate of the Black Sea coast, the pure air of the mountain regions, and a wide range of resorts. The Tsqaltubo baths, with warm radon water treatment for arthritis sufferers, are especially noted.

Cultural life
      Georgia is a land of ancient culture, with a literary tradition that dates to the 5th century AD. Kolkhida (Colchis) early housed a school of higher rhetoric in which Greeks as well as Georgians studied. By the 12th century, academies in Ikalto and Gelati, the first medieval higher-education centres, disseminated a wide range of knowledge. The national genius was demonstrated most clearly in Vepkhis-tqarsani (The Knight in the Panther's Skin), the epic masterpiece of the 12th-century poet Shota Rustaveli (Rustaveli, Shota). Major figures in later Georgian literary history include a famed 18th-century writer, Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, and the novelist, poet, and dramatist Ilia Chavchavadze. The 19th-century playwright Giorgi Eristavi is regarded as the founder of the modern Georgian theatre. Among other prominent prerevolutionary authors were the lyric poet Akaki Tsereteli; Alexander Qazbegi, novelist of the Caucasus; and the nature poet Vazha Pshavela. The novelist Mikhail Javakhishvili and the poet Titsian Tabidze were executed during the Stalin era, and the poet Paolo Iashvili was censured by the government and committed suicide. Giorgi Leonidze and Galaktion Tabidze were well-known poets, and Konstantin Gamsakhurdia was celebrated for his historical novels.

      The Abkhazian literary tradition dates back only to the late 19th century. Notable writers include the poet, novelist, and scholar Dmitri Gulia, the novelist and playwright Samson Chanba, the poet Bagrat Shinkuba, and Fazil Iskander, a popular satirist who writes in Russian.

      Important individuals in other arts include the painters Niko Pirosmani (Pirosmanashvili), Irakli Toidze, Lado Gudiashvili, Elena Akhvlediani, and Sergo Kobuladze; the composers Zakaria Paliashvili and Meliton Balanchivadze (father of the choreographer George Balanchine); and the founder of Georgian ballet, Vakhtang Chabukiani. Georgian theatre, in which outstanding directors of the Soviet period were Kote Mardzhanishvili, Sandro Akhmeteli, and Robert Sturm, has had a marked influence in Europe and elsewhere. The Georgian film Repentance, an allegory about the repressions of the Stalin era, was directed by Tenghiz Abuladze. It won the Special Jury Prize at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival and was widely praised for its political courage.

      The ancient culture of the republic is reflected in the large number of architectural monuments, including many monasteries and churches; indeed, Georgian architecture (with Armenian) played a considerable role in the development of the Byzantine style.

      Georgia has a long tradition of fine metalwork. Bronze, gold, and silver objects of a high technical and aesthetic standard have been recovered from tombs of the 1st and 2nd millennia BC. Between the 10th and 13th centuries AD, Georgian goldsmiths produced masterpieces of cloisonné enamel and repoussé work, notably icons, crosses, and jewelry.

      A number of newspapers and periodicals are published, most of them in Georgian. Radio programs are broadcast in Georgian and in several minority languages, and television programs are broadcast in Georgian and Russian.

Mikhail Leonidovich Djibladze G. Melvyn Howe

History
      Archaeological findings make it possible to trace the origins of human society on the territory of modern Georgia back to the early Paleolithic and Neolithic periods (Neolithic Period). A number of Neolithic sites have been excavated in the Kolkhida Lowland (Kolkhida), in the Khrami River valley in central Georgia, and in South Ossetia; they were occupied by settled tribes engaged in cattle raising and agriculture. The cultivation of grain in Georgia during the Neolithic Period is attested by finds of saddle querns (quern) and flint sickles; the earth was tilled with stone mattocks. The Caucasus was regarded in ancient times as the primeval home of metallurgy. The start of the 3rd millennium BC witnessed the beginning of Georgia's Bronze Age. Remarkable finds in Trialeti show that central Georgia was inhabited during the 2nd millennium BC by cattle-raising tribes whose chieftains were men of wealth and power. Their burial mounds have yielded finely wrought vessels in gold and silver; a few are engraved with ritual scenes suggesting Asiatic cult influence.

Origins of the Georgian nation
      Early in the 1st millennium BC, the ancestors of the Georgian nation emerge in the annals of Assyria and, later, of Urartu. Among these were the Diauhi (Diaeni) nation, ancestors of the Taokhoi, who later domiciled in the southwestern Georgian province of Tao, and the Kulkha, forerunners of the Colchians, who held sway over large territories at the eastern end of the Black Sea. The fabled wealth of Colchis became known quite early to the Greeks and found symbolic expression in the legend of Medea and the Golden Fleece.

      Following the influx of tribes driven from the direction of Anatolia by the Cimmerian invasion of the 7th century BC and their fusion with the aboriginal population of the Kura River valley, the centuries immediately preceding the Christian era witnessed the growth of the important kingdom of Iberia, the region that now comprises modern Kartli and Kakheti, along with Samtskhe and adjoining regions of southwestern Georgia. Colchis was colonized by Greek settlers from Miletus and subsequently fell under the sway of Mithradates VI (Mithradates VI Eupator) Eupator, king of Pontus. The campaigns of the Roman general Pompey the Great led in 66 BC to the establishment of Roman hegemony over Iberia and to direct Roman rule over Colchis and the rest of Georgia's Black Sea littoral. (See Roman Republic and Empire.)

Medieval Georgia
      Georgia embraced Christianity about the year 330; its conversion is attributed to a holy captive woman, St. Nino. During the next three centuries, Georgia was involved in the conflict between Rome—and its successor state, the Byzantine Empire—and the Persian Sāsānian dynasty. Lazica on the Black Sea (incorporating the ancient Colchis) became closely bound to Byzantium. Iberia passed under Persian control, though toward the end of the 5th century a hero arose in the person of King Vakhtang Gorgaslani (Gorgasal), a ruler of legendary valour who for a time reasserted Georgia's national sovereignty. The Sāsānian monarch Khosrow I (reigned 531–579) abolished the Iberian monarchy, however. For the next three centuries, local authority was exercised by the magnates of each province, vassals successively of Persia (Iran), of Byzantium, and, after AD 654, of the Arab caliphs, who established an emirate in Tbilisi. (See Iran, ancient.)

      Toward the end of the 9th century, Ashot I (the Great), of the Bagratid Dynasty, settled at Artanuji in Tao (southwestern Georgia), receiving from the Byzantine emperor the title of kuropalates (“guardian of the palace”). In due course, Ashot profited from the weakness of the Byzantine emperors and the Arab caliphs and set himself up as hereditary prince in Iberia. King Bagrat III (reigned 975–1014) later united all the principalities of eastern and western Georgia into one state. Tbilisi, however, was not recovered from the Muslims until 1122, when it fell to King David II (Aghmashenebeli, “the Builder”; reigned 1089–1125).

      The zenith of Georgia's power and prestige was reached during the reign (1184–1213) of Queen Tamar, whose realm stretched from Azerbaijan to the borders of Cherkessia (now in southern Russia) and from Erzurum (in modern Turkey) to Ganja (modern Gäncä, Azerbaijan), forming a pan-Caucasian empire, with Shirvan and Trabzon as vassals and allies.

      The invasions of Transcaucasia by the Mongols from 1220 onward, however, brought Georgia's golden (Golden Horde) age to an end. Eastern Georgia was reduced to vassalage under the Mongol Il-Khanid Dynasty of the line of Hülegü, while Imereti, as the land to the west of the Suram range was called, remained independent under a separate line of Bagratid rulers. There was a partial resurgence during the reign (1314–46) of King Giorgi V of Georgia, known as “the Brilliant,” but the onslaughts of the Turkic conqueror Timur between 1386 and 1403 dealt blows to Georgia's economic and cultural life from which the kingdom never recovered. The last king of united Georgia was Alexander I (1412–43), under whose sons the realm was divided into squabbling princedoms.

Turkish and Persian domination
      The fall of Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 isolated Georgia from western Christendom. In 1510 the Ottomans invaded Imereti and sacked the capital, Kʿutʿaisi (Kutaisi). Soon afterward, Shah Ismāʿīl I of Iran (Persia) invaded Kartli. Ivan IV (the Terrible) and other Muscovite tsars showed interest in the little Christian kingdoms of Georgia, but the Russians were powerless to stop the Muslim powers—Ṣavafid (Ṣafavid Dynasty) Iran and the Ottoman Empire, both near their zenith—from partitioning the country and oppressing its inhabitants. In 1578 the Ottomans overran the whole of Transcaucasia and seized Tbilisi, but they were subsequently driven out by Iran's Shah ʿAbbās I (reigned 1587–1629), who deported many thousands of the Christian population to distant regions of Iran. There was a period of respite under the viceroys of the house of Mukhran, who governed at Tbilisi under the aegis of the shahs from 1658 until 1723. The most notable Mukhranian ruler was Vakhtang VI, regent of Kartli from 1703 to 1711 and then king, with intervals, until 1723. Vakhtang was an eminent lawgiver and introduced the printing press to Georgia; he had the Georgian annals edited by a commission of scholars. The collapse of the Ṣafavid dynasty in 1722, however, led to a fresh Ottoman invasion of Georgia. The Ottomans were expelled by the Persian conqueror Nādir Shah (Nādir Shāh), who gave Kartli to Tʿeimuraz II (1744–62), one of the Kakhian line of the Bagratids. When Tʿeimuraz died, his son Erekle II reunited the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti and made a brave attempt at erecting a Caucasian multinational state based on Georgia. Imereti under King Solomon I (1752–84) succeeded in finally throwing off the domination of the declining Ottoman Empire.

      Raids by Lezgian mountaineers from Dagestan, economic stringency, and other difficulties impelled Erekle to adopt a pro-Russian orientation. On July 24, 1783, he concluded with Catherine II (the Great) the Treaty of Georgievsk (Georgievsk, Treaty of), whereby Russia guaranteed Georgia's independence and territorial integrity in return for Erekle's acceptance of Russian suzerainty. Yet Georgia alone faced the Persian Āghā Moḥammad Khan (Āghā Moḥammad Khān), first of the Qājār Dynasty. Tbilisi was sacked in 1795, and Erekle died in 1798. His invalid son Giorgi XII sought to hand over the kingdom unconditionally into the care of the Russian emperor Paul, but both rulers died before this could be implemented. In 1801 Alexander I reaffirmed Paul's decision to incorporate Kartli and Kakheti into the Russian Empire. Despite the treaty of 1783, the Bagratid line was deposed and replaced by Russian military governors who deported the surviving members of the royal house and provoked several popular uprisings. Imereti was annexed in 1810, followed by Guria, Mingrelia, Svaneti, and Abkhazia in 1829, 1857, 1858, and 1864, respectively. The Black Sea ports of Potʿi and Batʿumi and areas of southwestern Georgia under Ottoman rule were taken by Russia in successive wars by 1877–78.

National revival
      By waging war on the Lezgian clansmen of Dagestan and on Iran and the Ottomans, the Russians ensured the corporate survival of the Georgian nation. Under Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov, who served with distinction as viceroy (1845–54), commerce and trade flourished. Following the liberation of the Russian serfs in 1861, the Georgian peasants also received freedom from 1864 onward, though on terms regarded as burdensome. The decay of patriarchy was accelerated by the spread of education and European influences. A railway linked Tbilisi with Potʿi from 1872, and mines, factories, and plantations were developed by Russian, Armenian, and Western entrepreneurs. Peasant discontent, the growth of an urban working class, and the deliberate policy of Russification and forced assimilation of minorities practiced by Emperor Alexander III (1881–94) fostered radical agitation among the workers and nationalism among the intelligentsia. The tsarist system permitted no organized political activity, but social issues were debated in journals, works of fiction, and local assemblies.

      The leader of the national revival in Georgia was Prince Ilia Chavchavadze, leader of a literary and social movement dubbed the Pirveli Dasi, or First Group. The Meore Dasi, or Second Group, led by Giorgi Tseretʿeli, was more liberal in its convictions, but it paled before the Mesame Dasi, or Third Group, an illegal Social Democratic party founded in 1893. The Third Group professed Marxist doctrines, and from 1898 it included among its members Joseph Dzhugashvili (Stalin, Joseph), who later took the byname Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph). When the Mensheviks (Menshevik)—a branch of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers Party—gained control of the group, Stalin left Georgia.

      The 1905 Revolution in Russia led to widespread disturbances and guerrilla fighting in Georgia, later suppressed by Russian government Cossack troops with indiscriminate brutality. After the Russian Revolution of February 1917 (Russian Revolution of 1917) the Transcaucasian region—Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—was ruled from Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) and known as the Ozakom. The Bolshevik coup later that year forced the predominantly Menshevik politicians of Transcaucasia to reluctantly secede from Russia and form the Transcaucasian Commissariat. The local nationalisms, combined with the pressure brought on by an Ottoman advance from the west during World War I (1914–18), brought about the breakdown of the Transcaucasian federation. On May 26, 1918, Georgia set up an independent state and placed itself under the protection of Germany, the senior partner of the Central Powers, but the victory of the Allies (Allied Powers) at the end of 1918 led to occupation of Georgia by the British. The Georgians viewed Anton Ivanovich Denikin (Denikin, Anton Ivanovich)'s counterrevolutionary White Russians, who enjoyed British support, as more dangerous than the Bolsheviks. They refused to cooperate in the effort to restore the tsarist imperial order, and British forces evacuated Batʿumi in July 1920.

      Georgia's independence was recognized de facto by the Allies in January 1920, and the Russo-Georgian treaty of May 1920 briefly resulted in Soviet-Georgian cooperation.

Incorporation into the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
      Refused entry into the League of Nations (Nations, League of), Georgia gained de jure recognition from the Allies in January 1921. Within a month the Red Army—without Lenin's approval but under the orders of two Georgian Bolsheviks, Stalin and Grigory Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze (Ordzhonikidze, Grigory Konstantinovich)—entered Georgia and installed a Soviet regime.

      After Georgia was established as a Soviet republic, Stalin and Ordzhonikidze incorporated it into the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. The still-popular Georgian Social Democrats organized a rebellion in 1924, but it was brutally suppressed by Stalin.

      During Stalin's despotic rule (1928–53), Georgia suffered from repression of all expressions of nationalism, the forced collectivization of peasant agriculture, and the purging of those communists who had led the Soviet republic in its first decade. Stalin installed his Georgian comrade Lavrenty Beria (Beria, Lavrenty Pavlovich) as party chief, first in Georgia and later over all of Transcaucasia. Even after Beria was transferred to Moscow to head the secret police, the republic was tightly controlled from the Kremlin. In the Soviet period, Georgia changed from an overwhelmingly agrarian country to a largely industrial, urban society. Meanwhile, Georgian language and literature were promoted, and a national intelligentsia grew in number and influence. After Stalin's death, a freewheeling “second economy” developed, which supplied goods and services not otherwise available.

      Under the reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail) in the 1980s, Georgia moved swiftly toward independence. The former dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia led a coalition called the Round Table to victory in parliamentary elections in October 1990. After Georgia declared independence on April 9, 1991, Gamsakhurdia was elected president. But Gamsakhurdia's policies soon drove many of his supporters into opposition, and in late 1991 civil war broke out. In January 1992 Gamsakhurdia was deposed and replaced by the Military Council, which subsequently gave power to the State Council headed by Eduard Shevardnadze (Shevardnadze, Eduard), former Soviet foreign minister and one-time first secretary of the Communist Party of Georgia. In October, 95 percent of voters elected Shevardnadze to serve as chair of the Supreme Council, Georgia's legislature, a position then tantamount to the country's president.

David Marshall Lang Ronald Grigor Suny Ed.

Independence
 At the same time, secessionist movements—particularly in South Ossetia and Abkhazia—erupted in various parts of the country. In 1992 Abkhazia reinstated its 1925 constitution and declared independence, which the international community refused to recognize. In late 1993 Georgia joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose confederation of former Soviet republics; following a cease-fire reached with Abkhazia in 1994, CIS peacekeepers were deployed to the region, although violence was ongoing. Georgia later signed an association agreement with the European Union, joined the Council of Europe (Europe, Council of) and the World Trade Organization, and became a partner in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

      In 1995 a new constitution, which created a strong president, was enacted, and in November Shevardnadze was elected to that office with 75 percent of the vote, and his party, the Citizens' Union of Georgia (CUG), won 107 of the parliament's 231 seats. In legislative elections four years later, the CUG won an absolute majority, and in 2000 Shevardnadze was reelected president with nearly 80 percent of the vote. Accusations that he condoned widespread corruption and that his party engaged in rampant election fraud haunted Shevardnadze's administration. In 2003 former justice minister Mikhail Saakashvili (Saakashvili, Mikhail), the head of the National Movement party, lead a peaceable uprising—termed the “Rose Revolution”—that drove Shevardnadze from power. Saakashvili was elected president the following year and immediately opened a campaign against corruption, sought to stabilize the economy, and attempted to secure the country against ethnic strife.

      Because of a pattern of human rights abuses and a growing sense of authoritarianism, the administration of President Saakashvili was shortly confronted by growing—if loosely knit—opposition. Journalists and international observers noted that the country's freedom of speech practices, though protected by law, were susceptible to influence by indirect pressure tactics, and Saakashvili's campaign against graft was criticized for its focus on the president's opposition while corrupt practices were allowed to persist among administration associates. Highly critical of the fraud and corruption he had noted among defense officials was Irakli Okruashvili, an opponent of the administration and its onetime defense minister. During his tenure Okruashvili had made public his observation of graft so widespread among armed forces officials that the army itself had fallen into a poor state of order. In 2007 he established an opposition party, Movement for United Georgia, and appeared on Imedi TV, an independent television station, to issue a number of direct accusations against President Saakashvili.

      Though the statements served as a rallying point for a largely disorganized opposition, they resulted in Okruashvili's arrest on extortion charges of his own. His televised appearance a number of days later, in which he pled guilty to the charges against him and retracted his earlier accusations, was largely held by others among Saakashvili's opposition to be the result of duress; the circumstances under which he left the country following his release on bail were unclear.

      These events contributed to the culmination of a number of points of criticism against Saakashvili and his once-popular government, providing opposition activists with the opportunity to arrange for massive demonstrations—thought perhaps to be as large as those that had previously brought Saakashvili to power—in Tbilisi in early November 2007. Though Saakashvili initially met the protests with several days' silence, forcible measures were soon employed in breaking up the demonstrations, and it was announced that a potential coup had been thwarted. Saakashvili's declaration of a 15-day state of emergency— criticized both locally and abroad—was quickly followed by his call for early elections in January. Though emergency rule was formally lifted a week after it had begun, Imedi TV remained off the air; ongoing demonstrations called for its return to broadcast, which finally took place approximately one month later. In late November 2007, Saakashvili resigned as president as required by law in preparation for the early elections.

      In January 2008, Saakashvili was reelected, narrowly attaining the majority needed to forego a second round of voting. Although opposition groups criticized the process as flawed, the election was largely deemed free and fair by international monitors, who noted only isolated procedural violations and instances of fraud.

 Meanwhile, the simmering conflict between Georgia and its breakaway regions had returned to the fore following the 2004 election of Saakashvili, who prioritized Georgian territorial unity and the reduction of ethnic strife. Although in mid-2004 Saakashvili successfully forced the leader of the autonomous republic of Ajaria from power and returned that republic to central government control, hostilities continued in the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Offers by Saakashvili in 2005 to discuss autonomy for South Ossetia within the Georgian state were rejected, and in late 2006 the region reiterated its desire for independence through an unofficial referendum. The ongoing conflict also exacerbated Georgia's tense relationship with neighbouring Russia, which Georgia accused of providing support for the separatists.

 In August 2008 the conflict with South Ossetia swelled sharply as Georgia engaged with local separatist fighters as well as with Russian forces that had crossed the border with the stated intent to defend Russian citizens and peacekeeping troops already in the region. In the days that followed the initial outbreak, Georgia declared a state of war as Russian forces swiftly took control of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital; violence continued to spread elsewhere in the country as Russian forces also moved through the breakaway region of Abkhazia in northwestern Georgia. Georgia and Russia signed a French-brokered cease-fire that called for the withdrawal of Russian forces, but tensions continued. Russia's subsequent recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was condemned by Georgia and met with criticism from other members of the international community. In the midst of its hostilities with Russia, Georgia announced its intention to withdraw from the CIS and called upon other member states to do likewise.

Ed.

Additional Reading
The geography, economy, culture, and history of the region are explored in Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Country Studies (1995). Roger Rosen, The Georgian Republic (1992), is essentially a guidebook, but it provides important information on the country, its traditions, and its people. Another travel book, focusing on immediate encounters with the people of present-day Georgia, is Mary Russell, Please Don't Call It Soviet Georgia: A Journey Through a Troubled Paradise (1991). David Braund, Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC–AD 562 (1994), chronicles the history of ancient Colchis, Iberia, and Lazica, based on current Russian and Georgian scholarship. David Marshall Lang, The Last Years of the Georgian Monarchy, 1658–1832 (1957), is a detailed study of the period in question. W.E.D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People from the Beginning Down to the Russian Conquest in the Nineteenth Century (1932, reprinted 1971), is a major study of the state and national formation, insightfully keeping in perspective the contemporary history of neighbouring states. David Marshall Lang, A Modern History of Soviet Georgia (1962, reprinted 1975), surveys the 19th century and also treats fully the impact of Russian and European ways on the Caucasian peoples. Ronald Grigor Suny, The Making of the Georgian Nation (1988), traces national formation and deals extensively with Georgia in the Soviet period.G. Melvyn Howe Ronald Grigor Suny

Introduction
Georgia, flag of    constituent state of the United States of America (United States). The largest of the U.S. states east of the Mississippi River and by many years the youngest of the 13 former English colonies, Georgia was founded in 1732, at which time its boundaries were even larger—including much of the present-day states of Alabama and Mississippi. Its landscape presents numerous contrasts, with more soil types than any other state as it sweeps from the Appalachian Mountains in the north (on the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina) to the marshes of the Atlantic coast on the southeast and the Okefenokee Swamp (which it shares with Florida) on the south. The Savannah (Savannah River) and Chattahoochee (Chattahoochee River) rivers form much of Georgia's eastern and western boundaries with South Carolina and Alabama, respectively. The capital is Atlanta.

      Georgia's early economy was based on the slave-plantation system. One of the first states to secede from the Union in 1861, Georgia strongly supported the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) during the American Civil War. However, it paid a high price in suffering from the devastation accompanying the Union army's siege of northern Georgia and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman (Sherman, William Tecumseh)'s fiery capture of Atlanta in 1864. Sherman's subsequent March to the Sea laid waste a broad swath of plantation from Atlanta to Savannah—one of the first examples of total war.

      At the same time that post-Civil War Georgians were romanticizing the old plantation, many were also rapidly forsaking agriculture for industry, even embracing the pro-Northern, pro-industry ideology of Atlanta journalist Henry Grady (Grady, Henry Woodfin). Subsequently, the manufacture of cotton and iron grew, but the real spur to Georgia's postwar growth was the expansion of the rail transportation system, which was centred in Atlanta.

      The degree to which some of the wounds of this history have been healed in Georgia is most strikingly exemplified in contemporary Atlanta. This city was home to Martin Luther King, Jr. (King, Martin Luther, Jr.), and, for all practical purposes, it was the headquarters for the civil rights movement. In the 1960s the business community in Atlanta ensured that the kinds of racial conflicts that had damaged the reputation of other Southern cities were not repeated.

      By the early 21st century the state's prosperity was based mainly in the service sector and largely in and around Atlanta, on account of that city's superior rail and air connections. Atlanta is home to the state's major utilities and to banking, food and beverage, and information technology industries and is indeed one of the country's leading locations for corporate headquarters. Propelled especially by Atlanta's progressive image and rapid economic and population growth, Georgia had by the late 20th century already pulled ahead of other states of the Deep South (South, the) in terms of overall prosperity and convergence with national socioeconomic norms. The state continues to be a leader in the southern region. Area 58,922 square miles (152,607 square km). Pop. (2000) 8,186,453; (2006 est.) 9,363,941.

Land (Georgia)

Relief
  The southernmost portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains cover northeastern and north-central Georgia. In the northwest a limestone valley-and-ridge area predominates above Rome and the Coosa River. The higher elevations extend southward about 75 miles (120 km), with peaks such as Kennesaw and Stone mountains rising from the floor of the upper Piedmont. The highest point in the state, Brasstown Bald in the Blue Ridge, reaches to an elevation of 4,784 feet (1,458 metres) above sea level. Below the mountains the Piedmont extends to the fall line of the rivers—the east-to-west line of Augusta, Milledgeville, Macon, and Columbus. Along the fall region, which is nearly 100 miles (160 km) wide, sandy hills form a narrow, irregular belt. Below these hills the rolling terrain of the coastal plain levels out to the flatlands near the coast—the pine barrens of the early days—much of which are now cultivated.

Drainage
 About half the streams of the state flow into the Atlantic Ocean, and most of the others travel through Alabama and Florida into the Gulf of Mexico (Mexico, Gulf of). A few streams in northern Georgia flow into the Tennessee River and then via the Ohio (Ohio River) and Mississippi rivers into the gulf. The river basins have not contributed significantly to the regional divisions, which have been defined more by elevations and soils. The inland waters of Georgia consist of some two dozen artificial lakes, about 70,000 small ponds created largely by the federal Soil Conservation Service, and natural lakes in the southwest near Florida. The larger lakes have fostered widespread water recreation.

      Because of the region's bedrock foundation, Piedmont communities and industries must rely on surface runoff for their primary water supply. The coastal plain, underlain by alternating layers of sand, clay, and limestone, draws much of its needed water from underground aquifers. The increasing domestic and industrial use of underground water supplies in Savannah, St. Marys (Saint Mary's), and Brunswick threatens to allow brackish water to invade the aquifers serving these coastal cities.

Soils
      From the coast to the fall line, sand and sandy loam predominate, gray near the coast and increasingly red with higher elevations. In the Piedmont and Appalachian regions these traits continue, with an increasing amount of clay in the soils. Land in northern Georgia is referred to as “red land” or “gray land.” In the limestone valleys and uplands in the northwest, the soils are of loam, silt, and clay and may be brown as well as gray or red.

Climate
      Maritime tropical air masses dominate the climate in summer, but in other seasons continental polar air masses are not uncommon. The average January temperature in Atlanta is 42 °F (6 °C); in August it is 79 °F (26 °C). Farther south, January temperatures average 10 °F (6 °C) higher, but in August the difference is only about 3 °F (2 °C). In northern Georgia precipitation usually averages from 50 to 60 inches (1,270 to 1,524 mm) annually. The east-central areas are drier, with about 44 inches (1,118 mm). Precipitation is more evenly distributed throughout the seasons in northern Georgia, whereas the southern and coastal areas have more summer rains. Snow seldom occurs outside the mountainous northern counties.

Plant and animal life
 Because of its mountains-to-the-sea topography, Georgia has a wide spectrum of natural vegetation. Trees range from maples, hemlocks, birches, and beech near Blairsville in the north to cypresses, tupelos, and red gums of the stream swamps below the fall line and to the marsh grasses of the coast and islands. Throughout most of the Appalachians, chestnuts, oaks, and yellow poplars are dominant. Much of this area is designated as national forest. The region that extends from the Tennessee border to the fall line has mostly oak and pine, with pines predominating in parts of the west. Below the fall line and outside the swamps, vast stands of pine—longleaf, loblolly, and slash—cover the landscape. Exploitation of these trees for pulpwood is a leading economic activity. Much of the land, which had at one time been cleared of trees for agriculture, has gone back to trees, scrub, and grasses.

 Georgia's wildlife is profuse. There are alligators in the south; bears, with a hunting season in counties near the mountains and the Okefenokee Swamp; deer, with restricted hunting in most counties; grouse; opossums; quail; rabbits; raccoons; squirrels; sea turtles, with no hunting allowed; and turkeys, with quite restricted hunting. In general, wildlife is in a period of transition. There is extensive stocking of game birds and fish. The major fish of southern Georgia, except snooks and bonefish, are in waters off the coast, and most major freshwater game fish of the United States are found in Georgia's streams and lakes. Some 20 species of plants and more than 20 species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles are listed as endangered in the state.

People

Population (Georgia) composition
      By the early 21st century Georgia was among the most populous states in the country. The population was mostly of European ancestry (white), about two-thirds, and African American, nearly one-third. A much smaller fraction of the state's residents were of Asian, Hispanic, or Native American descent. Much of the white population has deep roots in Georgia, but, compared with other states in the Deep South, such as Alabama and South Carolina, a higher percentage of the population was born outside the state. Religious affiliations are predominantly Protestant, with the Baptist and Methodist churches particularly strong within the African American community.

Settlement patterns
      Georgia's settlement patterns are marked by as much variety as its physical geography. The state's indigenous population had already established a rich and complex village-based civilization by the time of European contact in the early 1500s. In the 1700s British settlement precipitated cultural conflict with the Creek (Muskogee), which intensified as white settlers moved steadily westward in the latter part of that century and into the early 1800s. One of the original English colonies and one of the first states in the union, Georgia emerged after the American Revolution as a plantation society that grew rice and cotton and depended heavily on a growing black African slave population.

      During the 20th century Georgia's population gradually lost its rural character as the state's major cities expanded. In the 1980s and '90s much of the old cotton regions of the southwestern and central parts of the state continued to experience population losses; however, these losses were offset to a large extent by substantial gains in suburban Atlanta, which spread outward as far as 50 miles (80 km). The areas around Savannah and Brunswick on the Atlantic coast have also experienced rapid growth. Among the Southern states, Georgia generally has been second only to Florida in population growth since the 1970s, and its growth surpassed even that of Florida in the 1990s.

Economy
      In the 20th century Georgia continued to follow its Southern neighbours in shifting from an economy that relied heavily on agriculture to one that concentrated on manufacturing and service activities. Some four-fifths of the jobs in the state are in services, including government, finance and real estate, trade, construction, transportation, and public utilities. Manufacturing accounts for many of the remaining jobs, with agriculture-related activities employing only a fraction of the workforce. In the late 20th century Georgia's economic performance surpassed that of most other states in the Deep South, and by the early 21st century Georgia's economy had become one of the strongest in the country.

Agriculture and forestry
      With the continuing consolidation of farms into fewer but larger units and the advent of a pervasive agribusiness, Georgia has followed nationwide trends in agriculture that have ultimately contributed to a decrease in agriculture-related employment. The poultry industry is generally controlled by a few large companies that parcel out their work to small farmers and supply them with modern poultry-raising facilities. Cattle and swine raising are important, especially in the southern part of the state. Cash receipts from livestock and livestock products exceed those from crops. Cotton is still one of the major crops, although its value is far below the peak reached in the early 20th century. Georgia is a leading state in pecan and peanut (groundnut) production and ranks high in the production of peaches and tobacco. Corn (maize), squash, cabbage, and melons are also important crops.

 Although Georgia's virgin timberlands have been cut over, the state remains among those with the most acres of commercial forestland. Lumber, plywood, and paper are major products. Georgia is the only state where pine forests are still tapped to produce naval stores.

Resources and power
      Georgia is one of the country's major producers of building stone and crushed stone, as well as cement, sand, and gravel. Pickens county in the state's northern sector has one of the richest marble deposits in the world. Georgia is also the country's prime producer of kaolin, which is taken from vast pits in the central part of the state.

      The state relies primarily on fossil fuels for generation of electricity; nearly two-thirds of the state's power is derived from coal-fired thermal plants. A small but growing fraction of Georgia's power comes from natural gas. nuclear energy is also important, with two plants supplying nearly one-fourth of the state's electricity.

Manufacturing
      Although manufacturing declined in Georgia in the early 21st century (following a national pattern), the sector remains an important source of employment and a significant contributor to the state's economy. Leading industries include food processing, as well as the production of textiles and apparel, paper and lumber, chemicals, plastics and rubber, automobiles, machinery, transportation equipment, and electrical and electronic supplies. The soft drink Coca-Cola originated in Atlanta in the 1880s, and the Coca-Cola Company (Coca-Cola Company, The) (one of the earliest multinational corporations) remains a major manufacturing establishment in the city. Cotton textile manufacturing has occupied a major sector of Georgia's economy since the late 19th century. The continuation of specialization in textiles (textile) is shown in the great number of rug and carpet mills in northern Georgia. While employment in the textile and apparel industries dropped in the 1980s and '90s, the state added jobs in printing and publishing and in the manufacture of industrial machinery and electronic equipment.

Services and labour
      There has been massive growth in the service sector since the mid-20th century, notably in construction, retail, food and beverages, communications, information technology, and transportation. Tourism is also an important component of service activities. With its growing number of attractions, Atlanta draws the largest number of tourists each year.

      Beginning in the late 1990s, new jobs were created in the state at a rate well above the national average. Most of this growth took place in the service sector and was concentrated in the Atlanta area. Georgia has also been a leader in high-technology employment.

Transportation
      Water transportation determined the location of Georgia's first cities. By the late 1820s, river steamers were carrying large cargoes of cotton downstream from collecting warehouses at the fall line to Savannah and other export centres.

 Railroads replaced water transport in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but more recently navigation on 500 miles (800 km) of inland waterways was revived, and a state port authority created barge service at Augusta, Columbus, Bainbridge, Savannah, and Brunswick for the distribution of chemical, wood, and mineral products. Savannah is one of the leading ports on the southern Atlantic coast, in terms of tonnage of cargo handled, and has one of the country's major container facilities.

      Atlanta, originally called Terminus on the early railroad survey maps, had a near-optimum location for all but water transport, thus making it a hub of railroad transportation for the Southeast after the Civil War. With the advent of highways and then of air traffic, the city maintained its focal position. Three interstate highways intersect in downtown Atlanta. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the world's busiest airports. It is also the hub of the state's aviation network, a system that includes several other airports offering commercial service.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
 In 1983 Georgia ratified its 10th constitution, a document characterized by a reduction in the number of local amendments. The structure of state government limits the appointive powers of the governor, but the executive branch nonetheless exercises considerable control over state agencies by virtue of its major role in shaping the state's annual budget. The governor is elected to a four-year term but is limited to serving two terms.

      The Georgia General Assembly consists of the 56-member Senate and the 180-member House of Representatives and meets annually in 40-day sessions; in 1972, districts of approximately equal population size replaced counties as units of representation. Various courts at several levels make up the state's judiciary. Probate courts, magistrate courts, and municipal courts function at the lowest level, with superior courts, state courts, and juvenile courts forming the next tier. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court form the capstone of the state judicial system. Judges at all levels are elected for either four- or six-year terms.

      At the local level, Georgia has 159 counties, more than 500 municipalities, and hundreds of special districts (or authorities). Counties often perform municipal-type services. Independently and through multicounty cooperative districts, counties operate forestry units, airports, hospitals, and libraries. An elected board of commissioners governs most counties.

Health and welfare
      Georgia has a progressive mental health program, largely the legacy of systematic reforms initiated in the early 1970s by Gov. Jimmy Carter. Regional hospitals for evaluation, emergency, and short-term treatment have been established throughout the state. In addition, there are dozens of community health care centres for outpatient treatment. A number of general hospitals have been built through federal programs. Emory University in Atlanta has nationally recognized medical research programs.

      Georgia offers numerous programs in family and children's services. The Department of Public Health supports many state and regional health and development centres targeting adolescents. The state also aids colleges in training welfare workers, whose activities are supplemented by a widespread volunteer network.

Education
      Public education in Georgia dates from the passage of a public school act in 1870. Since 1945 the ages for compulsory attendance have been from 6 to 15 years. The racial integration of public schools increased private-school enrollments dramatically. In 1985 the General Assembly passed the Quality Basic Education Act, which substantially revised the formula for allocating state funds to local school systems. With increased funding for schools in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, significant improvements were made in the state's education system. The state provided multiple tools and resources for teachers, systemized the instruction for problem learners, and implemented research-based practices and other progressive methodologies to advance student achievement.

      Public institutions of higher learning are unified under a Board of Regents. Among the oldest and most prominent state institutions are the University of Georgia (Georgia, University of) (chartered 1785; opened 1801) in Athens, the Medical College of Georgia (chartered in 1828; became part of the university system in 1950) in Augusta, and the Georgia Institute of Technology (1885) and Georgia State University (1913), both located in Atlanta. Other public two- and four-year colleges are spread across the state so that virtually the entire population is within 35 miles (55 km) of an institution of higher learning. The undergraduate institutions (including Morehouse (Morehouse College) and Spelman (Spelman College) colleges) and the graduate and professional schools of the Atlanta University Center, all historically black institutions and together occupying a single campus, are at the forefront of African American higher education and are among the numerous private colleges in Georgia.

Cultural life
      Atlanta is not only the cultural centre of Georgia but also a major cosmopolitan hub of the South. As such, it is home to numerous museums and attractions. Its Woodruff Arts Center includes the High Museum of Art (1905) and a school of the visual arts, with performing facilities for its symphony orchestra and a professional resident theatre, both of which have premiered new works. The city's Fernbank Museum of Natural History (1992) was in 2001 the first to display a specimen of Argentinosaurus, believed to be the world's largest dinosaur, and the Georgia Aquarium opened in Atlanta in 2005. Atlanta also has cooperative galleries run by painters and sculptors, and there is an active group of filmmakers.

      Elsewhere in the state there are regional ballet companies and numerous community theatres. In addition to instruction in theatre, dance, the visual arts, and music in many colleges, Georgia Institute of Technology has a school of architecture, and the University of Georgia has a school of environmental design. Dozens of public museums and college galleries exhibit art, and Clark Atlanta University has a notable African American collection. In 1988 Atlanta hosted the first National Black Arts Festival, a major annual event that has continued into the 21st century.

      Georgia is rich in traditional arts and crafts, especially in the mountainous north. The craft of tufted fabrics was a major factor in attracting the carpet industry that developed around Dalton. A mountain arts cooperative has a store in Tallulah Falls, and craft shops are attached to several art galleries. Country music conventions are held in northern Georgia—with some tension between purists and users of electronic equipment. In rural churches of northwestern Georgia, unaccompanied singing from the Sacred Harp shape-note hymnal remains strong, and throughout the area many prayers and sermons are delivered melodically.

      The state has produced some of the best-known figures in American popular music. Ray Charles (Charles, Ray) helped forge soul music from rhythm and blues, jazz, and gospel, and his hit rendition of "Georgia on My Mind" helped establish it as the state song. Little Richard was one of the early stars of rock and roll (rock), and the Allman Brothers Band (Allman Brothers Band, the) pioneered the Southern rock genre. Gladys Knight and the Pips (Knight, Gladys, and the Pips) recorded numerous chart-topping songs in the 1960s and '70s that have become soul and rhythm-and-blues standards.

      A number of Georgia natives have achieved international recognition in literature. Two of the most notable authors are Alice Walker (Walker, Alice), whose novel The Color Purple (1982) on African American life in the South won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into award-winning cinema and stage versions, and Margaret Mitchell (Mitchell, Margaret), whose enduringly popular American Civil War epic Gone with the Wind (1936) was adapted into one of the great classics of American cinema. In the late 19th century Joel Chandler Harris (Harris, Joel Chandler) wrote a series of stories based on African American trickster tales (collected as Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings [1880]) that have remained a vital part of American folkloric tradition.

 Numerous buildings, districts, and archaeological sites across the state have been designated national historic landmarks. Among these is the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville, dating from the period (1804–68) when Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia. Similarly, the Savannah Historic District embraces much of the original town layout and architecture of the 18th century. In the state's mountainous northwest region, the Etowah Mounds of 10th-century Mississippian culture have been granted landmark status.

      Georgia has a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities. Stone Mountain Park near Decatur (eastern suburb of Atlanta) is noted not only for its natural environment but for the massive Confederate memorial relief carved into the mountain's open granite face. The mountainous north is dominated by Chattahoochee National Forest, which includes the Cohutta Wilderness Area. On the coast is Cumberland Island National Seashore, which comprises part of that large barrier island. Numerous other national wildlife areas and refuges are found throughout the coastal zone. The unique character of Okefenokee Swamp is nurtured and preserved through the administration of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Area, as well as the Stephen C. Foster and Laura S. Walker state park facilities found there. Georgia maintains a system of state parks that offer a wide range of outdoor recreational experiences, from ocean surf bathing to mountain hiking and climbing.

  Georgia holds a place of prominence in national and international competitive sports. Atlanta is home to various professional sports teams including the Braves (baseball), the Falcons (gridiron football), the Hawks (basketball), and the Thrashers (ice hockey). On the international circuit, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, an undertaking that not only drew thousands of world-class athletes to the city but also attracted millions of visitors to the state. In professional golf, Augusta National Golf Club hosts the prestigious Masters Tournament each April. Collegiate gridiron football is a popular fall pastime, with the University of Georgia typically fielding a strong squad.

      More than 100 newspapers, most of them weeklies, are published in Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the state's most widely read newspaper and has a national reputation. Georgia has hundreds of radio stations and several dozen television stations. Cable News Network (CNN), the first cable television channel to offer continuous broadcasting, was established in Atlanta in 1980 and later became one of the leaders in domestic and international television journalism.

History

Prehistoric period
      The first inhabitants of what is now Georgia found their way into the area about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Equipped with finely worked flint projectile points, these migratory hunters of the Paleo-Indian period appear to have built small, seasonally occupied camps as they followed the movements of their large animal prey. Members of the cultures that arose between 8000 and 1000 BC—during the Archaic (Archaic culture) period—developed a more diversified food supply but continued the seasonal migration of their ancestors. Permanent to semipermanent village settlement in Georgia came with the emergence of the Woodland culture (Woodland cultures) in the period 1000 BC to AD 900. Small, widely dispersed, permanently occupied villages were inhabited by the Woodland agriculturalists, who supplemented their harvests with a variety of wild foods. The area's Woodland peoples left their most lasting mark in the form of large mounds built of thousands of basketfuls of clay and earth. Some mounds contained human burials and elaborately worked jewelry, pottery, and figurines. Others did not contain burials but were built in the shapes of animals. The best-known of these is Rock Eagle in central Georgia, a large complex of quartz rocks laid out in the shape of a bird.

      The Mississippian culture, named for the river valley in which it flourished, succeeded the Woodland culture and continued the tradition of building mounds, which were used for ceremonial purposes and as sites for the homes of chiefs. This culture developed hierarchical social orders, with powerful, centralized governments headed by chiefs. Its reliable and productive system of agriculture, based on corn, beans, squash, pumpkin, and tobacco, often provided surpluses. The Mississippian culture was dominant in the area when the Europeans arrived in the 1500s.

Spanish exploration
      About 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto (Soto, Hernando de), on a quest for silver and gold, led the first European expedition into the area that is now Georgia. There he encountered the highly organized agriculturalists of Mississippian culture. Directly or indirectly, the Spanish expedition was disastrous for the indigenous population. In addition to the hundreds of people they killed or enslaved, the explorers were ultimately responsible—through the diseases they unknowingly introduced, such as measles, smallpox, and whooping cough—for the deaths of thousands and the final decline of the Mississippian culture in Georgia.

      In 1565 the Spanish, responding to a French attempt to settle on the southeastern coast, began their occupation of Florida. From the stronghold at St. Augustine (Saint Augustine), Spain began to exert an increasing influence on the native peoples of Georgia. A line of Roman Catholic missions and associated military posts were established on the barrier islands along the Georgia coast. The lives and settlement patterns of the original inhabitants of the coastal areas were profoundly changed as they were converted to Christianity and persuaded to adopt a sedentary lifestyle in compact villages. Known to the Spanish as Guale, the Georgia coastal zone remained under the mission-presidio system for a century. In the second half of the 17th century, increasing pressures from the British in South Carolina eventually led to the withdrawal of the Spanish missions from Guale. As Spanish power waned and British power grew, the area of present-day Georgia came to be known as the Debatable Land. The South Carolinian colonists began to build a trade monopoly with the indigenous residents of the region but were slow to attempt permanent settlement south of the Savannah River.

English (British Empire) settlement
      A trust for establishing the colony of Georgia was granted a charter by George II (for whom the colony was named) in 1732, long after the large English migrations of the 17th century to North America. The prime mover in obtaining the charter was the English soldier and philanthropist James Edward Oglethorpe (Oglethorpe, James Edward), who sought to found a colony where the poor of England could get a new start. He and other trustees encouraged the settlers to produce wines, silks, and spices, and thus relieve England of a dependency on foreign sources. The colony also would serve as a bulwark against the Spanish and French to the south and west.

      The first English settlement in Georgia was made at Savannah in 1733. Some colonists paid their way; the colony's trustees paid the expenses of others. Oglethorpe directed the affairs of the colony, primarily its military operations. Essential to the trustees' utopian plan was a tightly structured settlement system designed to create a population of yeoman farmers living in compact villages and towns and cultivating outlying garden and small farm tracts. Slavery was prohibited in order to avoid the growth of large plantations. Like most such schemes, the colony failed to live up to the trustees' vision. Their most notable success was the planning and construction of Savannah. Faced with unrest and emigration, the trustees surrendered all power in the colony to the British government in 1752, a year before their charter was to expire. Plantation agriculture, based mainly on the production of sugar, rice, and indigo, took hold. It relied heavily on slavery and became the mainstay of the colony's economy.

Revolution and growth
      In a thrust of inland migration before the American Revolution, substantial settlement of Georgia began as a belt that extended along the Savannah River and reached the lower Piedmont. Georgia's response to the Revolutionary tensions was complex, resulting in veritable civil warfare between loyalists (loyalist) and patriots and a time of chaos for most Georgians. After the Revolution, settlement expanded rapidly, especially westward from Augusta into the future “cotton counties” of central Georgia.

      The westward movement of British and then American settlers beginning in the mid-18th century encroached on the lands of the Cherokee and Muskogee (a subdivision of Creek). As settlers pushed west, conflicts with these peoples broke out on a regular basis. Among the Muskogee, internal conflict also arose as the community struggled over whether to resist white encroachment and over what sorts of resistance, if any, should be employed. A series of treaties, which the Cherokee and Muskogee were forced to sign, resulted in successive cessions of territory to Georgia. Land acquired after the removal of the native peoples paved the way for the development of a largely commercial agriculture, which after the 1790s was overwhelmingly dominated by cotton. The systematic displacement of the Cherokee and Muskogee continued into the 19th century and was consummated in 1838–39 by the forced removal of the Cherokee westward in the infamous Trail of Tears migration to federally owned lands in what is now part of Oklahoma. By that time most Muskogee had already been forced out of Georgia.

 By the mid-19th century a vast majority of white Georgians, like most Southerners, had come to view slavery as economically indispensable to their society. Georgia, with the greatest number of large plantations of any state in the South, had in many respects come to epitomize plantation culture. When the American Civil War began in 1861, most white southerners (slave owners or not) joined in the defense of the Confederate States of America (Confederacy), which Georgia had helped to create.

 The war involved Georgians at every level. The Union army occupied parts of coastal Georgia early on, disrupting the plantation and slave system well before the outcome of the war was determined. In 1864 Union troops under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman (Sherman, William Tecumseh) invaded Georgia from the north. Sherman and his troops laid siege to Atlanta in late summer and burned much of the city before finally capturing it. Sherman then launched his March to the Sea, a 50-mile- (80-km-) wide swath of total destruction across Georgia from Atlanta to Savannah, some 200 miles (320 km) to the southeast; Savannah, captured in late December, was largely spared.

 In the aftermath of the Civil War, Georgia farmers attempted to restore the state's agricultural economy, but the relationship between land and labour changed dramatically. After some experimentation with various contractual arrangements for farm labour following emancipation, the system of sharecropping, or paying the owner for use of the land with some portion of the crop, became a generally accepted institution in Georgia and throughout the South. The system encouraged both the landowner and the sharecropper to strive for large harvests and thus often led to the land being mined of its fertility. Almost invariably, land and capital remained in white hands while labour remained largely, though not entirely, black. This entrenched pattern was not broken until the scourge of the boll weevil in the late 1910s and early '20s ended the long reign of “ King Cotton.”

       Reconstruction in Georgia was violent and brief. In 1868 the Republican Party came to power in Georgia, with the election of northern-born businessman Rufus Bullock as governor. In turn, the Georgia Democrats and their terrorist arm, the Ku Klux Klan, executed a reign of violence against them, killing hundreds of African Americans in the process. Bullock steadfastly promoted African American equality to no avail, as the Democratic Party, which dismissed Georgia's Republicans as “scalawags (scalawag),” regained control in 1871 and set Georgia on a course of white supremacist, low-tax, and low-service government. Former Confederate officers frequently held the state's highest offices. In the 1890s, in the midst of an agricultural depression, a political alliance of farmers, including African Americans, generally known as Populists (Populist Movement) and led by Thomas E. Watson, challenged and defeated the conservatives, who had been in control and worked initially for policies to help the economic concerns of small farmers and against the interests of planters and the railroads.

 In the late 19th century some Georgians began to promote an industrial economy, especially the development of textile manufacturing. Atlanta newspaper editor and journalist Henry Grady (Grady, Henry Woodfin) became a leading voice for turning toward a more industrial, commercial-based economy in Georgia. By the 1880s and '90s the manufacture of textiles and iron began to expand, and Atlanta grew steadily as a commercial centre based heavily on railroad transportation.

Georgia since c. 1900
      Racial conflict marked the state's history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1890s Democrats disenfranchised African American voters and created a system of segregation (segregation, racial) to separate blacks and whites in all public places throughout Georgia. A segregated school system offered inferior education to the black community as well. Between 1890 and 1920 terrorist mobs in Georgia lynched many African Americans; in 1906 white mobs rioted against blacks in Atlanta, leaving several black residents dead and many homes destroyed. During those same years, however, several notable colleges for African Americans were constructed in Atlanta, including Morehouse for men and Spelman for women, making the city one of the centres of African American cultural and intellectual life in the country. Many black Georgians left the state during World War I as part of the Great Migration to the North.

 In the 1920s the state continued to depend on cotton production, but crop destruction by the boll weevil soon caused an agricultural depression. The Great Depression of the 1930s brought even greater suffering to the state and forced hundreds of thousands of sharecroppers out of farming. Georgia became emblematic of Southern poverty, in part because Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (Roosevelt, Franklin D.) made frequent visits to Warm Springs and witnessed for himself the devastating conditions in the state. Although most Georgians liked Roosevelt's policies, Gov. Eugene Talmadge often condemned them, and other Georgia politicians opposed the New Deal's economic reforms that threatened to undermine the traditional dominance of farmers.

       World War II revitalized Georgia's economy as agricultural prices rose and U.S. military bases in the state were expanded—notably Fort Benning in Columbus. Marietta became the site of a giant factory where B-29 bombers were built. The war also altered Georgia's politics toward a more progressive orientation, especially when Ellis Arnall became governor in 1943.

      After World War II, Georgians were forced to address the state's racial conflicts when African Americans began to challenge segregation. Most white Georgians continued to defend the system, and segregationist Herman Talmadge reclaimed the governor's chair his father had held earlier. At the same time, writer Lillian Smith published works and gave speeches that called for an end to segregation. Black Georgians began a massive voter-registration campaign and succeeded in elevating their political influence to a level higher than that of African Americans in other Deep South states. With the rise of direct-action protests, starting with the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955–56, African Americans in Georgia became increasingly involved in the fight against segregation. Most notable was the work of Atlanta native Martin Luther King, Jr. (King, Martin Luther, Jr.), who established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 in that city and from there led a series of protests around the country that became known as the civil rights movement. Two other civil rights organizations, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Regional Council, also conducted activities from Atlanta to challenge the racial status quo. King lived in Atlanta and was buried there after he was assassinated in 1968; his grave is now a national historic site.

      Atlanta's business community pursued a more open, progressive approach to the African American community than did many other Southern cities. In the 1960s Mayor William Hartsfield and Atlanta's major corporations negotiated with the local black community to prevent the massive civil rights protests that had disrupted such Southern cities as Birmingham, Ala., and Nashville and Memphis, Tenn. Racial divisions and discrimination were still harsh, but white Atlantans were generally more open to communication with African American leadership. In the 1970s, as Atlanta's black population became a majority in the city, African Americans were elected to high office, including Andrew Young (Young, Andrew) to the U.S. Congress in 1972 and Maynard Jackson (Jackson, Maynard) to the mayor's office in 1973. Since then, African Americans have been elected to many offices in Atlanta and in southwestern Georgia.

      Statewide politics in Georgia were slower to change. Lester Maddox, largely remembered as a prominent opponent of desegregation, was elected governor in 1967. Jimmy Carter (Carter, Jimmy) succeeded Maddox, governed as a racial moderate, and pushed the state toward a progressive image that was more in line with that of the city of Atlanta. Through the 1976 presidential election of Carter, the first Georgian ever elected to the U.S. presidency, the state gained national recognition. In the 1980s and '90s Democrats and Republicans competed actively for most offices, and the Republicans captured several congressional seats. Democrats held the governor's office continuously until the election in 2003 of Sonny Perdue, the first Republican governor since 1868.

      Since the 1950s Georgia's economy and population have expanded at a pace much faster than the national average. Most of this growth has occurred in and around Atlanta, which by the end of the 20th century had gained international stature, largely through its hosting of the 1996 Olympic Games.

George Hendricks Louis De Vorsey Robert J. Norrell

Additional Reading
Detailed overviews of the state, past and present, are found in Writers' Program, Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside (1940, reprinted as Georgia: The WPA Guide to Its Towns and Countryside, 1990), still a useful source; Lawrence R. Hepburn (ed.), Contemporary Georgia (1987); and Thomas W. Hodler and Howard A. Schretter, The Atlas of Georgia (1986). DeLorme Mapping Company, Georgia Atlas & Gazetteer, 5th ed. (2006), focuses on the state's topography. James C. Bonner, A History of Georgia Agriculture, 1732–1860 (1964); and Willard Range, A Century of Georgia Agriculture, 1850–1950 (1954), cover an important topic. The treatment of Native Americans in Georgia, in both prehistoric and historic times, can be found in Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians (1976), an excellent and nontechnical overview. Georgia Journal (bimonthly) features articles on Georgia's arts and crafts, nature, history, and travel.Introductions to Georgia's history are presented in Harold H. Martin, Georgia: A Bicentennial History (1977); Kenneth Coleman (ed.), A History of Georgia (1977), a collection of essays; and E. Merton Coulter, Georgia: A Short History, rev. and enlarged ed. (1960), dated but still highly readable, with the flavour of the preintegration South. Francis Lee Utley and Marion R. Hemperley (eds.), Placenames of Georgia: Essays of John H. Goff (1975), informally tells Georgia's history through accounts of its colourfully named places. Particular periods are examined in Kenneth Coleman, Colonial Georgia: A History (1976, reissued 1989); Harvey H. Jackson and Phinizy Spalding (eds.), Forty Years of Diversity: Essays on Colonial Georgia (1984), a collection of scholarly essays; Edward J. Cashin (ed.), Colonial Augusta: “Key of the Indian Countrey” (1986), valuable essays examining the often overlooked early history of Georgia's backcountry; Michael P. Johnson, Toward a Patriarchal Republic: The Secession of Georgia (1977); Horace Montgomery, Cracker Parties (1950), a study of the politics of antebellum Georgia; John Dittmer, Black Georgia in the Progressive Era, 1900–1920 (1977, reissued 1980); and Numan V. Bartley, From Thurmond to Wallace: Political Tendencies in Georgia, 1948–1968 (1970), a review of post-World War II politics in the state. Along with scholarly articles on all historical periods, The Georgia Historical Quarterly publishes an annual bibliography of Georgia's history.Robert J. Norrell

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Universalium. 2010.

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