Despite its time during the drap and monotonous Soviet regime, the Republic of Georgia stood out as a most colorful and lively culture which still shines even more today in its location south of the Great Caucasus mountain range.
This is a nation endowed with a pleasant climate, vivacious and hospitable people and beautiful scenery, most of which is mountainous.
It is worth noting that the road connecting the capital Tbilisi with Vladikavkaz, Russia passes through what many consider to be the most spectacular region of the former Soviet Union. This 130 mile long Georgian Military Highway is the shortest route to cross the Caucasus and the novel A Hero of Our Times by Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov begins at Krestovy Pass – a landmark on this famous route built in 1799.
Visitors to Georgia will find a third of the country covered with forests, many snow capped mountains, plenty of fruit and nut trees and vineyards.
Georgians are a proud people who today use two different forms of alphabet – Khutsuri for liturgical purposes and mkhedruli for all other communications. Most are members of their national Orthodox Church similar to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Along with Georgians visitors may also seen minorities including Armenians, Russians, Azerbaijani, Ossetians and Abkhazians.
Georgians are quick-witted, very hospitable and enjoy food and drink. They love social gatherings and celebrations and bring spicy foods with lots of herbs and garlic to their tables. Favorite meals include chicken and mutton and specialties are shashlik and chicken tabaka. A major feast is tamada which is a reconciliation time with enemies.
Russian dictator Joseph Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili) was born in Georgia as was Eduard Shevardnadze who served as Russian foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev. Shevardnadze is credited with helping end the Cold War.
Touring Georgia one can see that the country has a very ancient culture dating back to medieval times as the old monasteries at Ikalto and Gelati testify. The poem The Man In The Tiger’ Skin by medieval writer Shota Rustaveli is a national treasure for the Georgians.
Since World War II tourism has provided the nation with steady income and a steady stream of visitors and tourists visited the resorts such as those at Batumi and Sukhumi on the Black Sea along with mountain resorts and mineral springs locations.
Among some of the interesting sites are the cliff dwellings in Vardzia that were used in the 12th century as hideaways from invaders.
In April 1991 the country was the fifth republic to break away from the Soviet Union and declare independence.