Table of Contents
- Georgia Interesting Facts
- 1. Amazing Hospitality
- 2. You are never alone in Georgia!
- 3. Mama is a Father?!
- 4. The Art of Toasting
- 5. Cradle of Winemaking
- 6. Stalin was Georgian
- 7. Religion is big in Georgia
- 8. Toilet Paper Issue
- 9. No smoking restrictions?
- 10. Crazy driving
- Check out Interesting Travel Facts about other countries!
The time has come for a long-awaited Georgia interesting facts. I mean Georgia the country in Europe, not a state in the United States.
I have travelled in the Caucasus region for a bit more than 4 months, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Abkhazia, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and I loved it there!
Georgia stole my heart with an extreme hospitality, stunningly beautiful mountain regions, quirky cities and amazing food.
I spent one and half month in Georgia exploring every single corner of the country and there are things that amused or surprised me.
There are many unusual facts about Georgia, such as Georgians do not call their country Georgia but Sakartvelo or that Georgia has 12 different climate zones, ranging from subtropical through alpine to semi-desert.
But I’m going to tell you about interesting facts about Georgia that you can’t Google and read about so easily.
Georgia Info/ Georgia Interesting Facts
Georgia Capital: Tbilisi
Georgia Currency: Georgian Lari GEL
Georgia Languages: Georgian
Georgia Population: 3,718 millions
Georgia Religion: Georgian Orthodox Church
Georgia Flag: also known as the Five Cross Flag. A white flag depicting five red crosses (the Cross of St. George and four smaller ones).
The flag of Georgia was adopted in January 2004 after the “Rose Revolution” but the origin of the flag dates back to the 14th century.
Georgia Map/ Where is Georgia located?
Located on the continent of Asia in the Caucasus region. Georgia shares land borders with four countries: Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan.
Georgia Interesting Facts
1. Amazing Hospitality
Georgian people are extremely hospitable. No! Wait! To say that they are hospitable is an understatement! They take hospitality to another level!
They will make anything to make their guest happy and content and I think only Iranian have any chance at beating them in that matter.
But even complete strangers, on the streets, are super, super nice! I had people paying marshrutkas for me, helping with my luggage, giving me lifts, driving extra 40km to give me a lift.
Giving me fruits on the market for free. Letting me to museums for free. Inviting home for tea, coffee, food and conversation. Organizing me transport, asking me to join them on expeditions etc This list is never ending…
For example, super amazing people from the Institute of Forest Protection who I have met on my way to Tusheti and instantly became friends with.
Spend 5 days checking the state of trees, studying butterflies species, celebrating, partying, learning about Georgian toast tradition and culture! Exploring Tusheti and making friends for life.
In the words of many Georgians, “guests are a gift from God,” and Georgia’s hospitality really shows they believe it!
2. You are never alone in Georgia!
I travel on my own and I do not mind sitting alone in the restaurant or spending a day wandering around some lost streets of Zugdidi, but Georgian people do not understand the idea of ‘on your own’.
Shock and surprise are always on Georgian faces when they see someone alone in the restaurant.
Every single time I went to the restaurant without a company of fellow travellers, the invitation to one of the tables was instant. And straight away everything was about me. The conversation and the toasts, of course.
For Georgians I’m a guest and to be honest I get an idea that they never miss a good occasion to celebrate at any point of the day :)
3. Mama is a Father?!
You know how in most languages mama and dada/papa have cross-linguistic similarities and in most mama and numerous versions of this word means ‘mother’ and dada/papa means ‘father’.
The Georgian language has its similar words “backwards” compared to other languages. ‘Mama’ means father and ‘Deda’ mother!
You would have to see the confusion on my face when I was staying in a guesthouse in Tusheti and the daughter of the owner was all the time calling him ‘Mama’!
I thought I heard something wrong therefore I asked around to make sure I’m not crazy. Papa stands for grandfather and here we touching some common base.
4. The Art of Toasting
This is a country where you will hear the longest toasts on the ’supra’ – a traditional Georgian dinner party with an institution of ‘tamada’ – a toast maker, chosen especially for that actual situation. It is a big honour and a sign of great respect to be a tamada.
I love the whole culture behind this tradition, but as a Polish person, I had some little problems with it, in the beginning.
In Poland; we, as well, always toast before drinking but those toast are rather short and fast so we can get to drinking ha ha
In Georgia, the toast can be even 20 mins long, and often ‘tamada’ decide who will be speaking after him/her so it can take a rather long moment, while in Poland we would be on the 4th shot by then.
With time I got used to and grown to love this beautiful custom. As wine is an inseparable part of the traditional Georgian table and here we have some common ground to cover.
5. Cradle of Winemaking
The moment I learned that Georgians invented winemaking I understood my unconditional love for this country, haha That is my favourite among all Georgia interesting facts!
But seriously, Georgia has been producing wine for at least 8,000 years, therefore, UNESCO has listed the country’s wine-making method as a notable piece of cultural heritage.
UNESCO has also designated Georgia’s polyphonic singing as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (you can meet the heartwarming Folk Music Artist, Beso Tshitanava, in the video by GLP Films below).
In the wine region of Kakheti, I have learned about a very specific way Georgians produce this divine liquid.
The wine fermentates in a clay jar called a ‘qvevri’. The jars are filled with grape juice and often with stone and ski and sealed with a wooden lid.
The sealed jar is then buried underground, but most often it is already placed there, to ferment and follow a natural process of wine-making.
As I have mentioned in number 1 Georgians are incredibly hospitable and wine plays an essential part in that hospitality (number 4). As the monumental “Mother of Georgia” symbolize: friends will be welcomed with wine, enemies with a sword!
And believe me, Georgians can drink. Being Polish I’m never worried in that department, I can outdrink most people easily but not Georgians! After 1,5 months in the country, I was dreaming about a day without a drink!
6. Stalin was Georgian
Joseph Stalin was Georgian. Stalin ruled the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953, but he was born and grow up in Gori, Georgia.
I went to visit this city only for one reason, to visit the Joseph Stalin Museum. And yes that is most quirky among all Georgia interesting facts.
Being from the country which was occupied by the Soviet Union after WWII and under strict influence of communism for decades after it was something unthinkable to me. That there could be a museum to Stalin!
The museum displays Stalin’s journey from the Gori church school to the leadership of the USSR, the Yalta Conference at the end of WWII, and his death in 1953.
And takes no attempt to present a balanced account of Stalin’s life. Its purpose remains, much as when it opened in 1957. A reverent homage to the Gori boy who became a key figure of 20th-century.
Back in 2008, Georgia’s Minister of Culture Nikoloz Vacheishvili wanted to reorganized into the Museum of Russian Aggression.
Since then not much changed except a big banner saying: “This museum is a falsification of history. It is a typical example of Soviet propaganda and it attempts to legitimise the bloodiest regime in history.”
In 2012 the municipal assembly of Gori voted to put an end to plans to change the museum’s content and the banner is long gone.
And strangely, I somehow understand Gori’s citizens. The museum is a cultural heritage of the city. It is a reminder of a very sad and painful history, but nevertheless part of the history.
For me, the museum represents and gives a bigger understanding of Joseph Stalin’s cult of personality and somehow stands as a warning to all of us.
7. Religion is big in Georgia
Georgian people are extremely religious. The predominant religion in Georgia is Orthodox Christianity but traditionally Georgia is a country of many religions. Having said that many pagan beliefs are still very much alive in Georgia.
And I know what you gonna say, Marysia in many countries people are religious, even in yours. So why is it so special? Maybe because I’m not used to seeing a display of your faith outside the places of worship.
In my country, people might be religious and go to church on Sunday. In many countries of the Middle East, where I like to travel, many people are religious but you can’t see much of that outside of the mosques.
Every Georgian makes a sign of the cross when passing nearby a church. Every driver has pictures of saints and rosemary hanging in the car and often in the house.
There is always a toast to God on the ‘supra’ and many people will openly tell you they are religious. To put it another way, religion is big in Georgia. A bit like in Hinduism and Buddhism, in Georgia, religion is omnipresent in every aspect of life, and I find it beautiful to observe.
8. Toilet Paper Issue
Toilet paper has no hole inside of the roll and it is very difficult to hang it on the toilet paper holder.
More shocking is that every bathroom is equipped with one, but the paper is never hanging on it! Biggest mystery among Georgia interesting facts!
And those are kind of quirky things, which always make me simile and my mind to wonder and investigate things lol
You find this one weird? Sorry, that is crazy me, I had to include this one :)
9. No smoking restrictions?
Georgian people smoke and they smoke like hell. Everywhere, anytime, no matter what!
Drivers in the marshrutkas. People in the table next to you in the restaurants. People in your table while you still eating. People actually smoke while they eat!
It is totally insane, for someone like me, who never smoke and hate the smell, it was really challenging. For example, it seems totally ok to have cigarets mixed with teddy bears for kids in claw crane machine!!!
While Georgians are really amazing people for guests (their hospitality is world famous) this is one thing they don’t notice! Simply they don’t consider it a problem.
Update: As of 1st of May of the 2018 smoking in public spaces in Georgia is banned, but that wasn’t a reality on my trip there!
I’m super happy to hear that this one of the Georgia interesting facts will not be a problem for future travellers anymore!
10. Crazy driving
I know many people in Georgia may be upset with me for saying this but Georgians drive like crazy.
Seriously, overtaking on the continuous line while heading for a frontal collision without a space to escape when something goes wrong, because you are on a mountain serpentine road with one line in each way, is normal in Georgia.
To be honest, I do not know if Georgia is the worst in the world in this matter, as I haven’t been everywhere yet. And I have definitely have been to many countries where driving is insane like Iran or Benin, but Georgia is in my top 3 for sure.
I do always take it as one of the country’s flavours and sometimes, I think, I pay so much attention to it because I’m European (but Romanians drive like crazy for me as well) so don’t be scared by this quirky fact about Georgia.
I don’t have a faint heart but when I saw a man falling off the road because of the car driving too close to him I had to stop the driver. I would be lying if I said I didn’t scream at him like an insane person!
Luckily the man felt in the safety net. After that, the driver was driving like a saint, not sure if he was humbled by the situation or simply was too scared that I would scream again.
As well I was never sure how people pass technical inspection in the country… haha
Georgia is an amazing country, which is becoming one of the world’s top destination for travellers from around the globe. And I’m not surprised by it.
As cliche, as it sounds Georgia, has it all. Food that will make you gain a few pounds, but do not worry, they have fantastic mountains to hike so you can stay in shape.
After exploring some of the best mountains in the world, you can chill a few days on the beach of the Black Sea, go explore some ancient cave cities, or go wine-tasting in Kaheti.
Your options are limitless.
PS. As you know I’m always looking for the Polish connection on my travels, as I’m Polish. Sometimes it is hard to find anything but it wasn’t in Georgia. Georgians seem to have a special love for Polish people or maybe they just say the same good things to all nations :)
Learn more about travel experiences in Georgia at www.georgia.travel
Videos above provided by GLP Films
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