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Georgians
ქართველები
Georgian dance
Total population
Georgia Georgia: 3,956,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Russia Russia 160,803-900,000 [2][3]
Turkey Turkey 100,000-1,500,000 [4][5]
Iran Iran 100,000 [6]
Israel Israel 72,000 [7]
United States United States 30,000-100,000 [8]
Ukraine Ukraine 34,199 [9]
Greece Greece 23,159-300,000 [10][11]
Languages

Georgian and other Kartvelian languages. also Russian, Arabic and Persian

Religion

Predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christianity since 324 AD (Georgian Orthodox Church)
Also Islam and Catholicism

Georgians (Georgian: ქართველები kartvelebi) are an indigenous Caucasian nation and ethnic group. They constitute a majority of the population in Georgia. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, the Post-Soviet states, Iran, United States and Europe.

The majority of Georgians are Eastern Orthodox Christian and most follow the national autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church, which originated in the 4th century. There are also Georgian Catholic and Muslim communities in Tbilisi and Adjara.

A complex process of nation formation has resulted in a diverse set of geographic subgroups, each with its characteristic traditions, manners, dialects and languages.

Located in Caucasia at the border of the southeastern edge of Europe, the Georgian people have fought to protect their Christian identity in the face of immense pressure from the neighboring Muslim empires. By the early 11th century they formed a unified kingdom which emerged as a dominant regional power until it was weakened by the invasions of the Mongol conqueror Timur and by internal divisions following the death of George V the Brilliant, the last of the great kings of Georgia.

To ensure its survival as a Christian kingdom being threatened for centuries by their Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar Persian suzerains, the eastern-Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, being the most dominant Georgian power at that time, led by Heraclius II found itself able to abjure any dependence on Persia or any other power by signing the Treaty of Georgievsk in 1783, and by this forged an alliance with the Russian Empire, which was viewed as a replacement for the fallen Byzantine Empire, Georgia's traditional ally. Eventually being annexed by Russia in 1801, the Georgians briefly regained national independence from 1918 to 1921, and finally, in 1991 from the Soviet Union.

HistoryEdit

Early History and OriginsEdit

  • The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus mentions Georgians as Iberes who were also called Thobel (Tubal).[12]
  • Diauehi in Assyrian sources and Taochi in Greek. Lived in the northeastern part of Anatolia, a region that was part of Georgia. This ancient tribe is considered by many scholars as ancestors of the Georgians. The Georgians of today still refer to this region, which now belongs to present-day Turkey, as Tao-Klarjeti, an ancient Georgian kingdom. Some people there still speak the Georgian language.[13]
  • Colchians in the ancient western Georgian Kingdom of Colchis. First mentioned in the Assyrian annals of Tiglath-Pileser I and in the annals of Urartian king Sarduri II. Also included western Georgian tribe of the Meskhetians.[14][15]
  • Iberians also known as Tiberians or Tiberanians, in the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia.[14]

Both Colchians and Iberians played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the modern Georgian nation.[16][17] According to the scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff:

Early KingdomsEdit

The kingdom of Colchis (Georgian: კოლხეთი, Greek: Κολχίς), which existed from the 6th to the 1st centuries BCE is regarded as the first early Georgian state formation and the term Colchians was used as the collective term for early Georgian-Kartvelian tribes such as Mingrelians, Lazs and Chans who populated the eastern coast of the Black Sea.[18][19][19][20][21][22][23][24]

The ancient Greeks knew of Colchis, and it featured in the Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts, who travelled there in search of the Golden Fleece.

Between 653 and 333 BC, both Colchis and Iberia survived successive invasions by the Median Empire, and later the Persian Empire. At the end of the 4th century BC southern Iberia witnessed the invading armies of Alexander the Great, who established a vast Greco-Macedonian empire to the south of the Caucasus. Neither Iberia nor Colchis was incorporated into the empire of Alexander or any of the successor Hellenistic states of the Middle East. However, the culture of ancient Greece still had a considerable influence on the region, and Greek was widely spoken in the cities of Colchis. In Iberia Greek influence was less noticeable and Aramaic was widely spoken.

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

Roman Rule Edit

The close association with Armenia brought upon the country an invasion (65 BC) by the Roman general Pompey, who was then at war with Mithradates VI of Pontus, and Armenia; but Rome did not establish her power permanently over Iberia. Nineteen years later, the Romans again marched (36 BC) on Iberia forcing King Pharnavaz II to join their campaign against Caucasian Albania.[25]

During this time Armenia and Pontus were actively expanding at the expense of Rome, taking over its Eastern Mediterranean possessions. However, the success of the anti-Roman alliance did not last long. As a result of the brilliant Roman campaigns of Pompey and Lucullus from the west, and the Parthian invasion from the south, Armenia lost a significant part of its conquests by 65 BC, devolving into a Roman-Parthian dependency. At the same time, the Kingdom of Pontus was completely destroyed by the Romans and all its territory including Colchis were incorporated into the Roman Empire as her provinces.

The former Kingdom of Colchis became the Roman province of Lazicum ruled by Roman legati. The following 600 years of Georgian history were marked by struggle between Rome and Persia (Iran) including Parthians and Sassanids who were fighting long wars against each other for the domination in the Middle East including Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Albania, and Iberia.

While the Georgian kingdom of Colchis was administered as a Roman province, Caucasian Iberia freely accepted the Roman Imperial protection. A stone inscription discovered at Mtskheta speaks of the 1st-century ruler Mihdrat I (AD 58–106) as "the friend of the Caesars" and the king "of the Roman-loving Iberians." Emperor Vespasian fortified the ancient Mtskheta site of Arzami for the Iberian kings in 75 AD.

In the 2nd century AD, Iberia strengthened her position in the area, especially during the reign of King Pharsman II who achieved full independence from Rome and reconquered some of the previously lost territories from declining Armenia. In the early 3rd century, Rome had to give up Albania and most of Armenia to Sassanid Persia. The province of Lazicum was given a degree of autonomy that by the end of the century developed into full independence with the formation of a new Kingdom of Lazica-Egrisi on the territories of smaller principalities of the Zans, Svans, Apsyls, and Sanyghs. This new Western Georgian state survived more than 250 years until 562 when it was absorbed by the Byzantine Empire.

In the 3rd century AD, the Lazi tribe came to dominate most of Colchis, establishing the kingdom of Lazica, locally known as Egrisi. Colchis was a scene of the protracted rivalry between the Eastern Roman/Byzantine and Sassanid empires, culminating in the Lazic War from 542 to 562.[26]

ChristianizationEdit

Before Christianization, the cult of Mithras and Zoroastrianism were commonly practiced in Iberia from the 1st century. The cult of Mithras, distinguished by its syncretic character and thus complementary to local cults, especially the cult of the Sun, gradually came to merge with ancient Georgian beliefs.[27] The eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia became one of the first states in the world to convert to Christianity in 327,[28][29][30] when the King of Iberia Mirian III established it as the official state religion. However, the date varies based on numerous accounts and historical documents, which indicate Iberia adopting Christianity as a state religion in 317,[31] 319,[32][33][34][35] 324,[36] 330[37][38] etc. According to The Georgian Chronicles, St. Nino of Cappadocia converted Georgia to Christianity in 330 during the time of Constantine the Great. By the middle of the 4th century though, both Lazica (formerly the Kingdom of Colchis) and Iberia adopted Christianity as their official religion. This adoption of Christianity tied the kingdom to the Byzantine Empire, which exerted strong cultural influence over it.[39] During the 4th and most of the 5th centuries, Iberia (known also as the Kingdom of Kartli) was under Persian control. The Kingdom was abolished and the country was ruled by the governors appointed by the Shahs. At the end of the 5th century though, Prince Vakhtang I Gorgasali orchestrated an anti-Persian uprising and restored Iberian statehood, proclaiming himself the King. After this, the armies of Vakhtang launched several campaigns against both Persia and the Byzantine Empire. However, his struggle for the independence and unity of the Georgian state did not have lasting success. After Vakhtang's death in 502, and the short reign of his son Dachi (502–514), Iberia was reincorporated into Persia as a province once again. However this time the Iberian nobility were granted the privilege of electing the governors, who in Georgian were called erismtavari. By the late 7th century, the Byzantine-Persian rivalry for the Middle East had given way to Arab conquest of the region and subsequent invasions to ensure Arab hegemony in the Caucasus.

Medieval EraEdit

UnificationEdit

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

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

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

Struggle Against Islamic RuleEdit

The struggle against the Seljuq invaders in Georgia was led by the young King David IV or David the Builder (Georgian: დავით აღმაშენებელი Davit Aghmashenebeli) of the Bagrationi royal family, who inherited the throne in 1089 at the age of 16 after the abdication of his father George II Bagrationi. Soon after coming to power, David created the regular army and peasant militia in order to be able to resist Seljuq colonization of his country. Under his rule, the Georgians mounted a valiant resistance against the Seljuks, thanks to David uniting Georgian tribes. In 1120 the ruler of Alania recognized himself as King David's vassal and afterwards sent thousands of Alans to cross the main Caucasus range into Georgia, where they settled in Kartli. The Georgian Royal army also welcomed mercenaries from Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia (all those westerners were defined in Georgia as "the Franks") as well as from Kievan Rus.

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

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

Golden Age 1184–1213Edit

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

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

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

Mongol Invasions 1200-1400sEdit

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

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

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

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

Ottoman and Persian RuleEdit

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

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

As a result of these changes, the Georgian Kingdom suffered economic and political decline and in the

For the next few centuries, Georgia would become a battleground between the Ottoman and Safavid empires and the Georgian states would struggle to maintain their independence. In 1555, the Ottomans and the Safavids signed the Peace of Amasya, defining spheres of influence in Georgia, assigning Imereti in the west to the Turks and Kartli-Kakheti in the east to the Persians. The treaty however, was not in force for long as the Ottomans gained the upper hand and launched campaigns threatening to end the Persian domination in the region. As the Georgian rulers were against both Ottoman and Safavid control of their Kingdoms, they were forced to maneuver their way through and attempting to bring these two powers into conflict. In the end, Georgian rulers were forced to submit to the one conqueror or the other, considering Geographic proximity, but never fully surrendering to either. After the Ottoman failure to gain permanent foothold in the eastern Caucasus, the Persians immediately sought to strengthen their position and finally subject the rebellious Kingdoms of the Eastern Georgia.[40][41][42] The campaigns of the most powerful Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas, to bring eastern Georgia under his sway were particularly devastating. Tens of thousands of Georgians were killed or deported to Persia and the shah had the queen mother, Ketevan, tortured to death.[43] By the 17th century, both eastern and western Georgia had sunk into poverty as the result of the constant warfare. The economy was so bad that barter replaced the use of money and the populations of the cities declined markedly. The French traveller Jean Chardin, who visited the region of Mingrelia in 1671, noted the wretchedness of the peasants, the arrogance of the nobles and the ignorance of the clergy.[44] The rulers were split between acknowledging Ottoman or Persian overlordship (which often entailed nominal conversion to Islam) or making a bid for independence. The emergence of a third imperial power to the north, Christian Russia, made the latter an increasingly tempting choice.

Modern days 1800s-presentEdit

Russian Rule 18th centuryEdit

In the early 18th century, Kartli saw a partial recovery under Vakhtang VI (Georgian: ვახტანგ VI), who instituted a new law code and tried to improve the economy. His reign saw the establishment of the first Georgian-language printing press in 1709.[45]

Erekle II, king of Kartli-Kakheti from 1762 to 1798, turned towards Russia for protection against Ottoman and Persian attacks. The Russian empress Catherine the Great was keen to have the Georgians as allies in her wars against the Turks, but sent only meagre forces to help them.[46] In 1769–1772, a handful of Russian troops under General Totleben "battled" against Turkish invaders in Imereti and Kartli-Kakheti. The Russian troops retreated before a clash against the Turks. In 1783 Erekle signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with Russia, according to which Kartli-Kakheti was to receive Russian protection and to have no diplomatic communications with other nations without Russia's prior concent. But when another Russo-Turkish War broke out in 1787, Erekle maintained diplomatic contacts with Ottoman liege Suleiman pasha from Akhaltsikhe and signed a separate treaty with him. This treaty was ratified by the sultan in the summer of 1787. Therefore the Russians withdrew their troops from the region for use elsewhere, leaving Erekle's kingdom unprotected. In 1795, the Persian shah, Agha Mohammed Khan, invaded the country and burnt the capital, Tbilisi, to the ground.[47]

In spite of failure to honour the terms of the Treaty of Georgievsk, Georgian rulers felt they had nobody else to turn to. After Erekle's death, a civil war broke out over the succession to the throne of Kartli-Kakheti and one of the rival candidates called on Russia to intervene and decide matters. On January 8, 1801, Tsar Paul I of Russia signed a decree on the incorporation of Georgia (Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire,[48][49] which was confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801.[50][51] The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg, Garsevan Chavchavadze, reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Alexander Kurakin.[52] In May 1801 Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring dethroned the Georgian heir to the throne David Batonishvili and deployed a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev.[53]

A part of the Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring compassed the nobility in Tbilisi's Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the imperial crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were arrested temporarily.[54]

In the summer of 1805 Russian troops on the river Askerani and near Zagam defeated the Persian army, saving Tbilisi from its attack. In 1810, the kingdom of Imereti (Western Georgia) was annexed by the Russian Empire after the suppression of King Solomon II's resistance.[55] From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against Turkey and Persia, several formerly Georgian territories were annexed to the Russian Empire. These areas (Batumi, Artvin, Akhaltsikhe, Poti, and Abkhazia) now represent the majority of the territory of the present state of Georgia. Georgia was reunified for the first time in centuries but had lost its independence.

Nationalist movements in GeorgiaEdit

The emancipation of the serfs pleased neither the serfs nor the nobles. The poverty of the serfs had not been alleviated while the nobles had lost some of their privileges. The nobles in particular also felt threatened by the growing power of the urban, Armenian middle class in Georgia, who prospered as capitalism came to the region. Georgian dissatisfaction with Tsarist autocracy and Armenian economic domination [56] led to the development of a national liberation movement in the second half of the 19th century.

A large-scale peasant revolt occurred in 1905, which led to political reforms that eased the tensions for a period. During this time, the Marxist Social Democratic Party became the dominant political movement in Georgia, being elected to all the Georgian seats in the Russian State Duma established after 1905. Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili (more famously known as Joseph Stalin), a Georgian Bolshevik, became a leader of the revolutionary (and anti-Menshevik) movement in Georgia. He went on to control the Soviet Union.


Many Georgians were upset by the loss of independence of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Russian clergy took control of Georgian churches and monasteries, prohibiting use of the Georgian liturgy and desecrating medieval Georgian frescos on various churches all across Georgia.[57]

Between the years of 1855 to 1907, the Georgian patriotic movement was launched under the leadership of Prince Ilia Chavchavadze, world-renowned poet, novelist and orator. Chavchavadze financed new Georgian schools and supported the Georgian national theatre. In 1877 he launched the newspaper Iveria, which played an important part in reviving Georgian national consciousness.


The last decades of the 19th century witnessed a Georgian literary revival in which writers emerged of a stature unequalled since the Golden Age of Rustaveli seven hundred years before. Ilia Chavchavadze himself excelled alike in lyric and ballad poetry, in the novel, the short story and the essay. Apart from Chavchavadze, the most universal literary genius of the age was Akaki Tsereteli (Georgian: აკაკი წერეთლის), known as "the immortal nightingale of the Georgian people." Along with Niko Nikoladze and Iakob Gogebashvili, these literary figures contributed significantly to the national cultural revival and were therefore known as the founding fathers of modern Georgia.

Democratic Republic of Georgia 1918-1921Edit

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 plunged Russia into a bloody civil war during which several outlying Russian territories declared independence. Georgia was one of them, proclaiming the establishment of the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს დემოკრატიული რესპუბლიკა) on May 26, 1918. The new country was ruled by the Menshevik faction of the Social Democratic Party, which established a multi-party system in sharp contrast with the "dictatorship of the proletariat" established by the Bolsheviks in Russia. It was recognised by Soviet Russia (Treaty of Moscow (1920)) and the major Western powers in 1921.

During the final stages of World War I, the Armenians and Georgians had been defending against the advance of the Ottoman Empire. In June 1918, in order to forestall an Ottoman advance on Tiflis, the Georgian troops had occupied the Lori Province, which at the time had a 75% Armenian majority. After the Armistice of Mudros and the withdrawal of the Ottomans, the Georgian forces remained. Georgian Menshevik parlementarian Irakli Tsereteli offered that the Armenians would be safer from the Turks as Georgian citizens. The Georgians offered a quadripartite conference including Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus in order to resolve the issue, which the Armenians rejected. In December 1918, the Georgians were confronting a rebellion chiefly in the village of Uzunlar in the Lori region. Within days, hostilities commenced between the two republics.[58]

The Georgian-Armenian War was a border war fought in 1918 between the Democratic Republic of Georgia and the Democratic Republic of Armenia over the parts of then disputed provinces of Lori, Javakheti, which had been historically bicultural Armenian-Georgian territories, but were largely populated by Armenians in the 19th century.

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

Georgian SSR 1921-1990Edit

During the Georgian Affair of 1922, Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia (including Abkhazia and South Ossetia). The Soviet Government forced Georgia to cede several areas to Turkey . Soviet rule was harsh: about 50,000 people were executed and killed in 1921–1924, more than 150,000 were purged under Stalin and his secret police chief, the Georgian Lavrenty Beria in 1935–1938, 1942 and 1945–1951. In 1936, the TFSSR was dissolved and Georgia became the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (Georgian: საქართველოს საბჭოთა სოციალისტური რესპუბლიკა, Russian: Грузинская Советская Социалистическая Республика).

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

Stalin's successful appeal for patriotic unity eclipsed Georgian nationalism during the war and diffused it in the years following. On March 9, 1956, about a hundred Georgian students were killed when they demonstrated against Nikita Khrushchev's policy of de-Stalinization.[citation needed]

The decentralisation program introduced by Khrushchev in the mid-1950s was soon exploited by Georgian Communist Party officials to build their own regional power base. A thriving pseudo-capitalist shadow economy emerged alongside the official state-owned economy. While the official growth rate of the economy of the Georgia was among the lowest in the USSR, such indicators as savings level, rates of car and house ownership were the highest in the Union,[59] making Georgia one of the most economically successful Soviet republics. Corruption was at a high level. Among all the union republics, Georgia had the highest number of residents with high or special secondary education.[60]

Although corruption was hardly unknown in the Soviet Union, it became so widespread and blatant in Georgia that it came to be an embarrassment to the authorities in Moscow. Soviet power and Georgian nationalism clashed in 1978 when Moscow ordered revision of the constitutional status of the Georgian language as Georgia's official state language. Bowing to pressure from mass street demonstrations on April 14, 1978, Moscow approved Shevardnadze's reinstatement of the constitutional guarantee the same year. April 14 was established as a Day of the Georgian Language.

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

Post-Soviet Georgia 1990-todayEdit

As communism collapsed in eastern Europe, its effects were felt in Georgia. These included typical eventus, such as street protesting and strikes. Independant-Georgia was led by Zviad Gamsakhurdia (Georgian: ზვიად გამსახურდია) who was elected president on May 26, 1991, with 86% of the vote. He was subsequently widely criticised for what was perceived to be an erratic and authoritarian style of government, with nationalists and reformists joining forces in an uneasy anti-Gamsakhurdia coalition. A tense situation was worsened by the large amount of ex-Soviet weaponry available to the quarreling parties and by the growing power of paramilitary groups. The situation came to a head on December 22, 1991, when armed opposition groups launched a violent military coup d'état, besieging Gamsakhurdia and his supporters in government buildings in central Tbilisi.

Eduard Shevardnadze became the succeeding leader. In August 1992, a separatist dispute in the Georgian autonomous republic of Abkhazia escalated when government forces and paramilitaries were sent into the area to quell separatist activities. The Abkhaz fought back with help from paramilitaries from Russia's North Caucasus regions and alleged covert support from Russian military stationed in a base in Gudauta, Abkhazia and in September 1993 the government forces suffered a catastrophic defeat, which led to them being driven out and the entire Georgian population of the region being expelled. Around 14,000 people died and another 300,000 were forced to flee.

Ethnic violence also flared in South Ossetia but was eventually quelled, although at the cost of several hundred casualties and 100,000 refugees fleeing into Russian North Ossetia. In south-western Georgia, the autonomous republic of Ajaria came under the control of Aslan Abashidze, who managed to rule his republic from 1991 to 2004 as a personal fiefdom in which the Tbilisi government had little influence.

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

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

A powerful coalition of reformists headed by Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania united to oppose Shevardnadze's government in the November 2, 2003 parliamentary elections. The elections were widely regarded as blatantly rigged, including by OSCE observers;[61] in response, the opposition organised massive demonstrations in the streets of Tbilisi. After two tense weeks, Shevardnadze resigned on November 23, 2003, and was replaced as president on an interim basis by Burjanadze.

These results were annulled by the Georgia Supreme Court after the Rose Revolution on November 25, 2003, following allegations of widespread electoral fraud and large public protests, which led to the resignation of Shevardnadze.

Russo-Georgian War - 2008Edit

An international diplomatic crisis between Georgia and Russia began in 2008, when Russia announced that it would no longer participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States economic sanctions imposed on Abkhazia in 1996 and established direct relations with the separatist authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The crisis was linked to the push for Georgia to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan and, indirectly, the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. Tensions began escalating in April 2008.[62] Ossetian separatists began shelling Georgian villages on 1 August, drawing sporadic response from Georgian peacekeepers in the region.[62][63][64] Georgia launched a large-scale military operation against South Ossetia during the night of 7-8 August 2008,[65] recapturing most of Tskhinvali in hours.[66][67] The Georgian government said it was responding to attacks on its villages in South Ossetia,[68] and Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country.[69] Russia officially deployed units of the Russian 58th Army and airborne troops into South Ossetia on 8 August, launching air strikes against targets in Georgia proper.[70][71] Russia claimed that its aim was "peace enforcement".[72] Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces throughout South Ossetia for four days, with the heaviest fighting in Tskhinvali.[66]

On 9 August, Russian naval forces blockaded part of the Georgian coast.[73][64] Russian and Abkhaz forces opened a second front by attacking the Kodori Gorge, held by Georgia. Georgian forces put up a minimal resistance, and Russian forces raided military bases in western Georgia. After the Georgian forces retreated, Russia temporarily occupied the Georgian cities of Zugdidi, Poti, Senaki, and Gori.[66] During the war, South Ossetians razed most ethnic-Georgian villages in South Ossetia.[74] There was an active information war during and after the conflict.[75] This was the first war in history when cyber warfare coincided with military action.[76]

The West condemned Russia for its actions.[77] Through mediation by President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, a ceasefire agreement was reached on 12 August.[78] Russia recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 26 August.[79] In response, the Georgian government cut diplomatic relations with Russia.[80] Russia mostly completed its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper on 8 October.[81] In the aftermath Russia's international relations were largely unharmed.[82] The war displaced 192,000 people,[83] and while many returned to their homes after the war, 20,272 persons remain displaced as of 2014.[84] Russian forces remain in Abkhazia and South Ossetia under agreements with the corresponding governments.[85] Georgia and its Western allies consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia as occupied by Russia, in violation of the ceasefire.[86]

LanguageEdit

Georgian is the primary language for Georgians of all provenance. It belongs to the Kartvelian family. It also includes those who speak other Kartvelian languages: Svans, Mingrelians and the Laz. The language known today as Georgian is a traditional language of the eastern part of the country which has spread to most of the present-day Georgia after the post-Christianization centralization in the first millennium AD, today Georgians regardless of their ancestral region use Georgian as their official language. The regional languages Svan and Mingrelian are languages of the west that were traditionally spoken in the pre-Christian Kingdom of Colchis, but later lost importance as the unified Kingdom of Georgia emerged. Their decline is largely due to the capital of the unified kingdom, Tbilisi, being in the eastern part of the country known as Kingdom of Iberia effectively making the language of the east an official language of the Georgian monarch.

All of these languages comprise the Kartvelian language family along with the related language of the Laz people, which has speakers in both Turkey and Georgia.

Georgian dialects include Imeretian, Racha-Lechkhumian, Gurian, Adjarian, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tush, Khevsur, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan, Mtiuletian, Meskhetian and Javakhetian dialect.

ReligionEdit

Today, 83.9% of the Georgian population, most of whom are ethnic Georgian, follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity.[87] The Christian faith is very important to the history of Georgia. However, many Georgians nominally identify themselves with Orthodox Christianity for traditional, cultural and historical reasons, with an estimated quarter of the population stating that religion does not necessarily play an important role in their day-to-day life.[88] Additionally, as of 2010, only 32% of the country's population attended religious services, suggesting strong secular influences.[89]

A sizable Georgian Muslim population exists in Adjara. This autonomous Republic borders Turkey, and was part of the Ottoman Empire for a longer amount of time than other parts of the country. Those Georgian Muslims practice the Sunni Hanafi form of Islam. Islam has however declined in Adjara during the 20th century, due to Soviet anti-religious policies, cultural integration with the national Orthodox majority, and strong missionary efforts by the Georgian Orthodox Church.[90] Islam remains a dominant identity only in the eastern, rural parts of the Republic. In the early modern period, converted Georgian recruits were often used by the Persian and Ottoman Empires for elite military units such as the Mameluks and Kizilbash. The small Georgian minority in Turkey is also Sunni Muslim.

ArtsEdit

Georgian art has evolved for millennia. With roots in rich archaic and ethnic tradition, Georgian art has grown along with the development of the Georgian statehood, starting from the ancient kingdoms of Kolkhis and Iberians. The location of Georgia on the crossroads of Asia and Europe has brought travelers, merchants, missionaries and conquerors of all kinds and creeds, and defined the country's cultural and artistic environment throughout its history. Georgian art tradition has thus experienced influences from Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Greek, Persian, Roman and Byzantine art throughout antiquity. It has further grown within the framework of Christian ecclesiastical and middle-eastern art of the Middle Ages, and ultimately it has evolved in the context of European and Russian art from the 19th century onwards.

CuisineEdit

Georgian cuisine is the result of the rich interplay of culinary ideas carried along the trade routes by merchants and travelers alike.[91] The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a feast called supra (Georgian: ქეიფი), when a huge assortment of dishes is prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine, and that can last for hours. In a Georgian feast, the role of the tamada (Georgian: თამადა. Russian: Тамада. "toastmaster") is an important and honoured position.

Georgian restaurants were prevalent in Russia throughout the 20th century, assisted by the fact that Joseph Stalin was himself an ethnic Georgian and particularly fond of his native food and drink. In Russia, all major cities have many Georgian restaurants, and Russian restaurants often feature Georgian food items on their menu.[92]

In countries of the former Soviet Union, Georgian food is also popular due to the immigration of Georgians to other Soviet republics.

Khachapuri (Georgian: ხაჭაპური) is a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread. The bread is leavened and allowed to rise, and is shaped in various ways. The filling contains cheese (fresh or aged, most commonly suluguni), eggs and other ingredients. Badrijani (Georgian: ბადრიჯანი) is a Georgian dish made with fried eggplant stuffed with spiced walnut paste.

A popular family dish is ajapsandali (Georgian: აჯაფსანდალი), a veggie dish consisting of eggplant, potato, tomato, bell pepper and seasoning.

Notable Georgians or People of Georgian descentEdit

Pharnavas
ფარნავაზი
Pharnavaz statue (crop)

The first king of Kartli, an ancient Georgian kingdom known as Iberia to the Classical sources, who is credited by the medieval Georgian written tradition with founding the kingship of Kartli and the Pharnavazid dynasty.

Rhadamistus
რადამისტი
Rhadamistus2

A Georgian royal prince of the Pharnavazid dynasty of the Kingdom of Iberia who reigned over the Kingdom of Armenia from 51 to 53 and 54 to 55. He was considered an usurper and tyrant, who was overthrown in a rebellion supported by the Parthian Empire.

Peter the Iberian
პეტრე იბერი
Peter the Iberian

A Georgian royal prince, theologian and philosopher who was a prominent figure in early Christianity and one of the founders of the Christian neoplatonism. Some have claimed that he is the author of the works written under the pen name Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. His accomplishments include founding the first Georgian monastery in Bethlehem and becoming the bishop of Gaza near Majuma.

Vakhtang I
ვახტანგ I
Vakhtag

A king of Iberia, natively known as Kartli (eastern Georgia) in the second half of the 5th and first quarter of the 6th century. He led his people, in an ill-fated alliance with the Byzantine Empire, into a lengthy struggle against Sassanid Iranian hegemony, which ended in Vakhtang's defeat and weakening of the kingdom of Iberia. Tradition also ascribes him reorganization of the Georgian Orthodox Church and foundation of Tbilisi, Georgia’s modern capital. He has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church[5] as The Holy and Right-Believing King Vakhtang.

David III of Tao
დავით III ტაო
David III

A Georgian prince of the Bagratid family of Tao, a historic region in the Georgian–Armenian marchlands, from 966 until his murder in 1000. Kuropalates was a Byzantine courtier title bestowed upon him in 978 and again in 990. David is best known for his crucial assistance to the Byzantine Macedonian dynasty in the 976–9 civil war and his unique role in the political unification of various Georgian polities as well as his patronage of Christian culture and learning.

Tornike Eristavi
თორნიკე ერისთავი
Tornike

A retired Georgian general and monk who came to be better known as a founder of the formerly Georgian Orthodox Iviron Monastery on Mt. Athos in the modern-day northeastern Greece.

Giorgi Atonelli
გიორგი ათონელის
Georgi

A Georgian monk, calligrapher, religious writer, and translator, who spearheaded the activities of Georgian monastic communities in the Byzantine Empire. His epithets Mt'ats'mindeli and At'oneli, meaning "of the Holy Mountain" (Hagiorite) and "of Athos" (Athonite) respectively, are a reference to his association with the Iviron monastery on Mount Athos, where he served as hegumen. He is one of the most influential Christian churchmen of medieval Georgia and one of the most venerated saints in Georgia.

Maria of Alania
მერი ალანია
Maria alania

An Empress consort of the Byzantine Empire. She was married to Emperors Michael VII Doukas and (later) Nikephoros III Botaneiates. At the time of her marriage, Georgian Maria was one of only two non-Byzantine princesses to marry a Byzantine heir, along with Bertha (Eudoxia) of Italy, and the only one to give birth to an heir.

David IV
დავით IV
David IV

Also known as David the Builder, considered to be the greatest and most successful Georgian ruler in Georgian history, he succeeded in driving the Seljuk Turks out of the country, winning the major Battle of Didgori in 1121. His reforms of the army and administration enabled him to reunite the country and bring most of the lands of the Caucasus under Georgia’s control. A friend of the church and a notable promoter of Christian culture, he was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Tamar the Great
თამარ დიდი
Tamar the Great

Queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213, presiding over the apex of the Georgian Golden Age. A member of the Bagrationi dynasty, her position as the first woman to rule Georgia in her own right was emphasized by the title mep'e ("king"), commonly afforded to Tamar in the medieval Georgian sources. He was also canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Svimon I
სვიმონი I
Simon I

A Georgian king of Kartli from 1556 to 1569 and again from 1578 to 1599. He spent most of his reign in an incessant war against the Persian and Ottoman domination of Georgia.

Ketevan the Martyr
ქეთევან წამებული
Ketevan

A queen of Kakheti, a kingdom in eastern Georgia. She was killed at Shiraz, Iran, after prolonged tortures by the Safavid suzerains of Georgia for refusing to give up the Christian faith and convert to Islam.

Giorgi Saakadze
გიორგი სააკაძე
Mouravi

A Georgian politician and military commander who played an important but contradictory role in the politics of the early 17th-century Georgia. He was also known as Grand Mouravi in Georgia, Mūrāv-Beg in Persia and Maghraw-Bek in the Ottoman Empire for having served as a mouravi (appointed royal official which can be rendered by seneschal or bailiff) of Tbilisi.

Anthim the Iberian
ანთიმოზ ივერიელი
Anthim

A Georgian theologian, scholar, calligrapher, philosopher and one of the greatest ecclesiastic figures of Wallachia, founder of the first printing press in Romania, and Metropolitan of Bucharest in 1708-1715.

Vakhtang VI
ვახტანგ V
Vakhtang VI of Kartli (Eastern Georgia)

A Georgian monarch of the royal Bagrationi dynasty. He ruled the East Georgian Kingdom of Kartli in the time of kingdom's vassalage at the hands of Persia from 1716 to 1724. One of the most important and extraordinary statesman of the early 18th Georgia, he is known as a notable legislator, scholar, critic, translator and poet.

Pyotr Bagration
პეტრე ბაგრატიონი
Pyotr

Born by his Georgian name Petre Bagrationi, a prominent general of the Imperial Russian Army during the Napoleonic Wars and other conflicts involving the Russian Empire. He was a descendant of the Georgian royal Bagrationi dynasty.

Nino
ნინო
Nino

A daughter of King George XII of Georgia and princess consort of Mingrelia as the wife of Grigol Dadiani, Sovereign Prince of Mingrelia. After the death of her husband in 1804, Nino was a regent for her underage son, Levan, and helped bring Mingrelia and Abkhazia, a neighboring principality of her in-laws, under the hegemony of the Russian Empire.

Ilia Chavchavadze
ილია ჭავჭავაძე
Ilia

A Georgian writer, poet, journalist and lawyer who spearheaded the revival of the Georgian national movement in the second half of the 19th century, during the Russian rule of Georgia. Today he is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern Georgia.

Joseph Stalin
იოსებ სტალინი
Stalin

The leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920s-1953. Born as Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili, he an ardent supporter of the Bolshevik movement and took part in the Russian Revolution alongside with Vladimir Lenin. After Lenin's death, he succeeded and became the leader of the Soviet Union, and became one of its most notorious leaders, especially for the genocidal campaign against Ukrainians. His last name "Stalin" means "man of steel" in the Russian language.

Mary Eristavi
მერი ერისთავი
Eristavi

A prominent Georgian aristocrat, fashion icon, and one of the earliest models of Coco Chanel. She held a respectable position in Georgian high society, as well as the Russian Imperial court for the last few decades of its existence. Mary is sometimes believed to be the hopeless infatuation of a famous Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze.

Gamsakhurdia
გამსახურდია
Konstantine Gamsakhurdia

A Georgian writer and public figure, who, along with Mikheil Javakhishvili, is considered to be one of the most influential Georgian novelists of the 20th century. Educated and first published in Germany, he married Western European influences to purely Georgian thematic to produce his best works, such as The Right Hand of the Grand Master and David the Builder. He survived Stalin's oppressive rule.

G. Balanchine
ჯორჯ ბალანჩინი
Balanchine

A Russian-born American choreographer. Styled as the father of American ballet, he took the standards and technique from his education at the Imperial Ballet School and fused it with other schools of movement that he had adopted during his tenure as a guest choreographer on Broadway and in Hollywood, creating his signature "neoclassical style". He was an ethnic Georgian born in the Russian Empire.

Katie Melua
ქეთი მელუა
Melua

A Georgian-British singer, songwriter and musician. She moved to Northern Ireland at the age of eight and then to England at fourteen. Melua is signed to the small Dramatico record label, under the management of composer Mike Batt, and made her musical debut in 2003. In 2006, she was the United Kingdom's best-selling female artist and Europe's highest selling European female artist.

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