It’s had its fair share of problems, but since emerging out of the ashes of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has become a richly diverse nation underrated for its nature and hospitality.
Situated at the fork of Europe and Asia, this small nation possesses a ton of wild beauty, snowcapped peaks and delicious cuisine.
If you travel the length and breadth of Georgia, it might feel like two different places: for some, trading on the atmosphere of the old Soviet Union and for others, reflecting a more provincial part of 19th century Europe.
Georgia Info/Georgia Facts
Georgian Capital: Tbilisi
Georgian Currency: Georgian Lari
Georgian Language(s): Georgian, Russian also widely spoken
Georgian Population: 10.43 million
Georgian Religion: Eastern Orthodox Christian, Muslim
Georgian Flag: Interestingly enough, the Georgian flag has gone through several iterations over the millennia, about 10. But in its current form, it looks quite similar to the British flag; they have bright red crosses that signify their deep connection with religion. Called the Five Cross Flag because of its five crosses, the flag first gained recognition in 2004.
Georgian Map/ Where is Georgia located?
Georgia is located 1000km east of the Bosporus, nestled right in the pocket of Asia. It straddles the borders of four countries, which include the fascinating Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia and Turkey; its size tucks just under 70,000 square kilometres.
1. Fashion is a big deal!
The fashion industry in Georgia has slowly become one of the most exciting in the world, with iconic streetwear designer Demna Gvasalia the first from the country to take on the most prominent fashion houses in the world like Balenciaga. Others have followed in building the profile of Georgia’s fashion industry, such as George Keburia and Gola Domain.
2. The Georgian language is unique.
As one of the most diverse languages on Earth, Georgian has an ancient linguistic group and sounds like nothing you will hear elsewhere. No one speaks Georgian except for Georgians; it even has a mysterious alphabet that almost looks like some form of hieroglyphics.
3. Georgia isn’t called Georgia.
The next time you’re in Georgia, listen carefully, and you will notice the locals don’t call their country Georgia; they call it Sakartvelo. So, how did it get its westernized name? It all goes back to the time of the Christian Crusades in the 14th century and their connections to a man named Saint George.
4. They are high up.
Did you know the highest mountain range in the world belongs to Georgia? Yes, it’s the Caucasus Mountains that straddle the border of Russia. The tallest peak in the area belongs to Russia, set at 5,642 meters with Mount Elbrus, but Georgia’s Shkara follows closely behind with 5,193 meters.
5. Highest settlement in Europe.
Speaking of high mountain peaks, the area villages of Bochorna and Ushguli are the official highest-known settlements in Europe. Both settlements stand at 2,345 and 2,100 meters above sea level. Bochorna has a population of just one person, so most recognize Ushguli as the real community, which consists of four villages and a population of 228.
6. An architect’s dream.
An enormous amount of investment has gone into making Georgia’s landscape highly visible to the rest of the world, from its new fancy parliamentary building to a host of new police stations made out of the glass to illustrate a new era of transparency.
7. It’s ecologically diverse.
Georgia has 12 different climate zones, ranging from subtropical to semi-desert, making it one of the most dynamic regions on Earth. It also has a diverse array of animals native to the country, which include leopards, lynxes and bears, all based in the forests of Georgia.
8. Georgia goes to space.
It’s a folk song that even aliens might know. Sent out on the famous Golden Record of the U.S. spacecraft Voyager, the Georgian folk song “Chakrulo” is often sung at festivals and celebrations and was on the renowned record that contains 16 images and spoken greetings in 59 languages.
9. They love poker.
Poker is legal in Georgia. In fact, the government has a relaxed view toward the sport. Offline, 75 percent of the players at Georgian casinos are tourists, so the locals have a lot of catching up to do. However, online, it’s a different story, as it’s becoming increasingly widespread with the locals where old-fashioned cash deposits are outdated and using PayPal makes it a lot easier to play.
10. Polyphonic folk music unlike any other.
Apart from its folksy space song, it also has one of the most distinct forms of ancient music. Identified on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2008, Georgian choral music possesses three different kinds of polyphony: a type of harmony local to Svaneti, a bass tone known to East Georgia and three partially improvised parts known to the west.