Location: Western Asia
Population: 4.7 MIllion
Total Area: 69,875 km2
Part of the Russian Empire until 1918, Georgia had a brief period of independence until they became a member of the Soviet Union. They didn’t achieve independent status again until 1991, but even when they did, the problems didn’t stop. Up until 1995, civil war tore the country apart . While Shevardraze's presidency in 1995 calmed down the situation, people were later unhappy enough to revolt and replace him with the current president Scakasshvili. He has not had an easy time either. In 2008, for example the Russians attacked the country. They have since left Georgia, but uncomfortable feeling that they could attack again will always remain.
Fervent religion is one aspect of Georgian culture that distinguishes it from other eastern European countries. And for good reason. Georgia was one of the first European countries to adopt Christianity as their religion. Today 83% of the population is orthodox Christians, and 10 % is Muslim. There are also significant followers of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church and Judaism. Even their famous son Josef Stalin started his professional life as a priest. Of course, it didn’t last long before he joined the Communist party and became one of the sternest atheists the world has ever known.
The Supra is a traditional Georgian feast that has a number of cheese, meat and vegetable dishes spread across a table. At the top end of the table sits the Tamada. Usually a man with humor and quick wit, his job is to spend the evening making a series of toasts to friends and country. Like the ringmaster, his job is to provide the atmosphere where the heavy drinking provides, not bawdry behavior, but fun and high times.
The ancient town of Mtskheta holds one of the oldest monastery’s in the world. Built in 605 Ad , it stands on a hill overlooking the village. It is known as an outstanding example of medieval Georgian architecture, with a stonewall and gate added to the building's perimeter in the Middle Ages. Of course, it was largely ignored during the Soviet times, but now as a World Heritage site, it is well worth a visit.
According to Wikipedia, Georgia is the oldest wine growing country in the world. So old that the word wine is said to originate from the Georgian word gvino. Their wine is the most sought after in Eastern Europe. In the west, few people have heard of the Georgian grape varieties. They include; rkatsilei, saperavi and mtsvari and another 400 varieties. The famous wine-growing region in Georgia is Khateti and here you can go on one of the many wine tasting they have available. The wine is one major reason why tourists in their millions flock into the nation on an annual basis. For those who are lovers and connoisseurs of the finest wines in the world, a visit to Georgia is a must. But even better than the fine wines, is the hospitality and warmth of the people. You honestly have to be in Georgia before you can understand and appreciate this.
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