Georgia -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Georgia
Capital City: Tbilisi
Official Currency: lari (GEL)
Religions: Orthodox Christianity of the Georgian Orthodox Church (81.9%). The religious minorities are: Muslim (9.9%); Armenian Apostolic (3.9%); Russian Orthodox Church (2.0%); Roman Catholic (0.8%).
Population: 4 661 473 (July 2006 est.). Georgians - 83.8%, Azeris - 6.5%, Armenians - 5.7%, Russians - 1.5%, Abkhazians, and Ossetians. Numerous smaller groups also live in the country, including Assyrians, Chechens,
Chinese, Georgian Jews, Greeks, Kabardins, Kurds, Tatars, Turks and Ukrainians.
Notably, Georgia's Jewish community is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.
Landforms: Mountains are the dominant geographic feature of Georgia. The Likhi Range divides the country into eastern and western halves. Historically, the western portion of Georgia was known as Colchis while the eastern plateau was called Iberia. Due to a complex geographic setting, mountains also isolate the northern region of Svaneti from the rest of Georgia.
The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range separates Georgia from the North Caucasian Republics of Russia. The main roads through the mountain range into Russian territory lead through the Roki Tunnel between South and North Ossetia and the Darial Gorge (in the Georgian region of Khevi).
The highest mountain in Georgia is Mount Shkhara at 5,201 meters (17,059 ft), and the second highest is Mount Janga (Jangi-Tau) at 5,051 meters (16,572 ft) above sea level. Other prominent peaks include Kazbegi (Kazbek) at 5,047 meters (16,554 ft), Tetnuldi (4,974 m./16,319ft.), Shota Rustaveli (4,960 m./16,273ft.), Mt. Ushba (4,710 m./15,453ft.), and Ailama (4,525 m./14,842ft.). Out of the abovementioned peaks, only Kazbegi is of volcanic origin. The region between Kazbegi and Shkhara (a distance of about 200 km. along the Main Caucasus Range) is dominated by numerous glaciers. Out of the 2,100 glaciers that exist in the Caucasus today, approximately 30% are located within Georgia.
The term, Lesser Caucasus Mountains is often used to describe the mountainous (highland) areas of southern Georgia that are connected to the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range by the Likhi Range. The area can be split into two separate sub-regions; the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, which run parallel to the Greater Caucasus Range, and the Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland, which lies immediately to the south of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The overall region can be characterized as being made up of various, interconnected mountain ranges (largely of volcanic origin) and plateaus that do not exceed 3,400 meters (approximately 11,000 ft) in elevation. Prominent features of the area include the Javakheti Volcanic Plateau, lakes, including Tabatskuri and Paravani, as well as mineral water and hot springs. The Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland is a young and unstable geologic region with high seismic activity and has experienced some of the most significant earthquakes that have been recorded in Georgia.
The Voronya Cave (aka Krubera-Voronia Cave) is the deepest known cave in the world. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range, in Abkhazia. In 2001, a Russian–Ukrainian team had set the world depth record for a cave at 1,710 metres. In 2004, the penetrated depth was increased on each of three expeditions, when a Ukrainian team crossed the 2000-meter mark for the first time in the history of speleology. In October 2005, an unexplored part was found by the CAVEX team, further increasing the known depth of the cave. This expedition confirmed the known depth of the cave at 2,140 (± 9) metres.
Two major rivers in Georgia are the Rioni and the Mtkvari.
The climate of Georgia is extremely diverse, considering the nation's small size. There are two main climatic zones, roughly separating Eastern and Western parts of the country. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range plays an important role in moderating Georgia's climate and protects the nation from the penetration of colder air masses from the north. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains partially protect the region from the influence of dry and hot air masses from the south as well.
Much of western Georgia lies within the northern periphery of the humid subtropical zone with annual precipitation ranging from 1000–4000 mm. (39–157 inches). The precipitation tends to be uniformly distributed throughout the year, although the rainfall can be particularly heavy during the Autumn months. The climate of the region varies significantly with elevation and while much of the lowland areas of western Georgia are relatively warm throughout the year, the foothills and mountainous areas (including both the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains) experience cool, wet summers and snowy winters (snow cover often exceeds 2 meters in many regions). Ajaria is the wettest region of the Caucasus, where the Mt. Mtirala rainforest, east of Kobuleti receives around 4500 mm (177 inches) of precipitation per year.
Eastern Georgia has a transitional climate from humid subtropical to continental. The region's weather patterns are influenced both by dry, Central Asian/Caspian air masses from the east and humid, Black Sea air masses from the west. The penetration of humid air masses from the Black Sea is often blocked by several mountain ranges (Likhi and Meskheti) that separate the eastern and western parts of the nation. Annual precipitation is considerably less than that of western Georgia and ranges from 400–1600 mm (16–63 inches). The wettest periods generally occur during Spring and Autumn while Winter and the Summer months tend to be the driest. Much of eastern Georgia experiences hot summers (especially in the low-lying areas) and relatively cold winters. As in the western parts of the nation, elevation plays an important role in eastern Georgia where climatic conditions above 1500 metres are considerably colder than in the low-lying areas. The regions that lie above 2000 meters frequently experience frost even during the summer months.
Land Divisions: Georgia is divided into 9 regions.
Kazakhsan -- History --
The territory of modern-day Georgia has been continuously inhabited since the early Stone Age.
The classic period saw the rise of the early Georgian states of Colchis and Iberia.
The proto-Georgian tribes first appear in written history in the 12th century BC.
Archaeological finds and references in ancient sources reveal elements of early political and
state formations characterized by advanced metallurgy and goldsmith techniques that date back to
the 7th century BC and beyond.In the 4th century BC a unified kingdom of Georgia - an early example of advanced state organization under one king and the hierarchy of aristocracy, was established.
Christianity was declared the state religion as early as AD 337 proving a great stimulus to literature,
arts and the unification of the country. As a crossroad between Christian and Islamic traditions, Georgia
experienced the dynamic exchange between these two worlds which culminated in a true renaissance around 12-13th centuries.
The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity, known to ancient Greeks and Romans as Iberia and Colchis, were among the first nations in the region to adopt Christianity (in AD 337, or in AD 319 as recent research suggests).
In Greek Mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius' epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of
using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. In the last centuries of the pre-Christian era, the area, in the form of the kingdom of Kartli-Iberia, was strongly influenced by Greece to the west and Persia to the east.
After the Roman Empire completed its conquest of the Caucasus region in 66 BC, the kingdom was a Roman client state and ally for nearly 400 years.In AD 330, King Mirian III's acceptance of Christianity ultimately tied the kingdom to the neighboring Byzantine Empire, which exerted a strong cultural influence for several centuries.
Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis was often the battlefield and buffer-zone between the rival powers of Persia and Byzantine Empire, with the control of the region shifting hands back and forth several times. The early kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for Arabs to conquer Georgia in
the 7th century. The rebellious regions were liberated and united into a unified Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the 11th century. Starting in the 12th century, the rule of Georgia extended over a significant part of the Southern Caucasus, including the northeastern parts and almost the entire northern coast of what is now Turkey.
Although Arabs captured the capital city of Tbilisi in AD 645, Kartli-Iberia retained considerable independence under local Arab rulers.In AD 813, the prince Ashot I also known as Ashot Kurapalat became the first of the Bagrationi family to rule the kingdom: Ashot's reign began a period of nearly 1,000 years during which the Bagrationi, as the house was known, ruled at least part of what is now the republic.
Western and eastern Georgia were united under Bagrat V (r. 1027-72). In the next century, David IV (called the Builder, r. 1099-1125) initiated the Georgian golden age by driving the Seljuk Turks from the country and expanding Georgian cultural and political influence southward into Armenia and eastward to the Caspian Sea.
The Georgian Kingdom reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period has been widely termed
as Georgia's Golden Age or Georgian Renaissance during the reign of David the Builder and Queen Tamar. This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its European analogue, was characterized by the flourishing of romantic- chivalric tradition, breakthroughs in philosophy, and an array of political innovations in society and state organization, including religious and ethnic tolerance. The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin". The struggle against the Seljuk invaders was led by David the Builder, who employed tens of thousands Kipchak soldiers and settled them, in 1118, in his kingdom.
The revival of the Georgian Kingdom was short-lived however, in 1226 Tblisi was captured by Mingburnu and the Kingdom was eventually subjugated by the Mongols in 1236 (see Mongol invasions of Georgia). Thereafter, different local rulers fought for their independence from central Georgian rule, until the total disintegration of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Georgia was subjected, between 1386 and 1404, to several disastrous invasions by Timur. Neighbouring kingdoms exploited the situation and from the 16th century, the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.
The rulers of regions which remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. Subsequent Persian and Ottoman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of wars the population of Georgia was reduced to 250,000 inhabitants at one point. Eastern Georgia, composed of the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti, had been under the Persian suzerainty since 1555. However, with the death of Nader Shah "The Persian Napoleon" in 1747, both kingdoms broke free of the Persian control and were reunified through a personal union under the energetic king Heraclius II in 1762.
In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, according to which Kartli-Kakheti received protection by Russia. Despite Russia's commitment to defend Georgia, it rendered no assistance when the Turks invaded in 1785 and again in 1795. This period culminated in the 1801 Russian annexation of remaining Georgian lands and the deposing of the Bagrationi dynasty.
On December 22, 1800, Tsar Paul I of Russia, at the alleged request of the Georgian King George XII, signed the proclamation on the incorporation of Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire, which was finalized by a decree on January 8, 1801, and confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801.The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin. In May 1801, Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring dethroned the Georgian heir to the throne David Batonishvili and instituted a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev.
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.
In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near Zagam defeated the Persian army and saved Tbilisi from conquest.
Western Georgian principalities of Mingrelia and Guria assumed the Russian protection in 1800s. Finally in 1810, after a brief war, the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler Solomon II died in exile in 1815. From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against Turkey and Iran, several territories were annexed to Georgia. These areas (Batumi, Akhaltsikhe, Poti, and Abkhazia) now represent a large part of the territory of Georgia. The principality of Guria was abolished in 1828, and that of Samegrelo (Mingrelia) in 1857. The region of Svaneti was gradually annexed in 1857–59.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918 in the midst of the Russian Civil War. The parliamentary election was won by the Georgian Social-Democratic Party, considered to be pro-Mensheviks, and its leader, Noe Zhordania, became prime minister. In 1918 a Georgian–Armenian war erupted over parts of Georgian provinces populated mostly by Armenians which ended due to British intervention. In 1918–19 Georgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led a Georgian attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for independent Georgia. The country's independence did not last long, however. Georgia was under British protection from 1918-1920.
In February 1921 Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. The Georgian army was defeated and the Social-Democrat government fled the country. On February 25, 1921 the Red Army entered capital Tbilisi and installed a Moscow directed communist government, led by Georgian Bolshevik Filipp Makharadze. Nevertheless the Soviet rule was firmly established only after a 1924 revolt was brutally suppressed. Georgia was incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR uniting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The TSFSR was disaggregated into its component elements in 1936 and Georgia became the Georgian SSR.
Ioseb Jughashvili (ethnic Georgian), better known by his nom de guerre Stalin (from the Russian word for steel: ńňŕëü) was prominent among the Bolsheviks, who came to power in the Russian Empire after the October Revolution in 1917. Stalin was to rise to the highest position of the Soviet state.
From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, almost 700,000 Georgians fought in the Red Army against Nazi Germany. (A number also fought on the German side.) About 350,000 Georgians died in the battlefields of the Eastern Front.
The Dissidential movement for restoration of Georgian statehood started to gain popularity in the 1960s. Among the Georgian dissidents, two of the most prominent activists were Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Dissidents were heavily persecuted by Soviet government, and their activities were harshly suppressed.
On April 9, 1989, a peaceful demonstration in the Georgian capital Tbilisi ended in a massacre in which several people were killed by Soviet troops. Before the October 1990 elections to the national assembly, the Umaghlesi Sabcho (Supreme Council) — the first polls in the USSR held on a formal multi-party basis — the political landscape was reshaped again. While the more radical groups boycotted the elections and convened an alternative forum with alleged support of Moscow (National Congress), another part of the anticommunist opposition united into the Round Table—Free Georgia (RT-FG) around the former dissidents like Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The latter won the elections by a clear margin, with 155 out of 250 parliamentary seats, whereas the ruling Communist Party (CP) received only 64 seats. All other parties failed to get over the 5%-threshold and were thus allotted only some single-member constituency seats.
On April 9, 1991, shortly before the collapse of the USSR, Georgia declared independence. On May 26, 1991, Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as a first President of independent Georgia. Gamsakhurdia stoked Georgian nationalism and vowed to assert Tbilisi's authority over regions such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia that had been classified as autonomous oblasts under the Soviet Union. However, he was soon deposed in a bloody coup d'etat, from December 22, 1991 to January 6, 1992. The coup was instigated by part of the National Guards and a paramilitary organization called "Mkhedrioni" or "horsemen". The country became embroiled in a bitter civil war which lasted almost until 1995. Eduard Shevardnadze returned to Georgia in 1992 and joined the leaders of the coup — Kitovani and Ioseliani — to head a triumvirate called the "State Council".
In 1995, Shevardnadze was officially elected as president of Georgia. At the same time, simmering disputes within two regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, between local separatists and the majority Georgian populations, erupted into widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars. Supported by Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with the exception of some "pockets" of territory, achieved de facto independence from Georgia. Roughly 230,000 to 250,000 Georgians were expelled from Abkhazia by Abkhaz separatists and North Caucasians volunteers (including Chechens) in 1992-1993. Around 23,000 Georgians fled South Ossetia as well, and many Ossetian families were forced to abandon their homes in the Borjomi region and move to Russia.
In 2003, Shevardnadze (who won reelection in 2000) was deposed by the Rose Revolution, after Georgian opposition and international monitors asserted that the November 2 parliamentary elections were marred by fraud. The revolution was led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, former members and leaders of Shevardnadze's ruling party. Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as President of Georgia in 2004.
Following the Rose Revolution, a series of reforms was launched to strengthen the country's military and economic capabilities. The new government's efforts to reassert Georgian authority in the southwestern autonomous republic of Ajaria led to a major crisis early in 2004. Success in Ajaria encouraged Saakashvili to intensify his efforts, but without success, in the breakaway South Ossetia. These events along with accusations of Georgian involvement in the Second Chechen War, resulted in a severe deterioration of relations with Russia, fuelled also by Russia's open assistance and support to the two secessionists areas. Despite these increasingly difficult relations, in May 2005 Georgia and Russia reached a bilateral agreement by which Russian military bases (dating back to the Soviet era) in Batumi and Akhalkalaki were withdrawn. Russia fulfilled the terms, withdrawing all personnel and equipment from these sites by December 2007, ahead of schedule.
In July 2008, hostilities escalated between Georgia and its breakaway state of South Ossetia, with increases in missile bombardment of Georgian villages by Ossetian separatists. Russia and Georgia had each amassed larger military forces near their respective borders with South Ossetia. After the Georgian bombing of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali in the late evening of August 7, Georgian armed forces began pushing into South Ossetia, supported by their artillery and multiple rocket launcher fire. Russia reported that several Russian peacekeepers stationed in South Ossetia were killed. At dawn of August 8 forces of the Russian 58th Army entered South Ossetia through the Russian-controlled Roki tunnel, and the Russian air-force launched a series of coordinated air strikes against multiple targets within Georgian territory. As justification for their invasion and air strikes, Russia also claimed the Georgian army was responsible for killing 1,600 South Ossetian civilians. However, these allegations have not been substantiated, and Human Rights Watch investigators in South Ossetia accused Russia of exaggerating the scale of such casualties.
As Russia and Georgia both sent troops into South Ossetia, the conflict between Georgia on the one side and Russia, Ossetian, and later, Abkhazian separatists on the other quickly escalated into the full scale 2008 war. Due to the intensive fighting in South Ossetia there were many disputed reports about the number of casualties on both sides, which targets had fallen under aerial attacks, the status of troop movements, and the most current location of the front line between the Georgian and Russian-Ossetian combat units. After a few days of heavy fighting Georgian troops were driven from South Ossetia. The advance of Russian forces from South Ossetia into undisputed Georgia territory was accompanied by unverified reports of looting, burning, and killing of civilians by Russian military and accompanying irregulars. By August 11, Russian military troops in Abkhazia, the other separatist Georgian province, executed a second invasion and seized additional territory in Western Georgia. On August 12, President Medvedev announced an intent to halt further Russian military operations in Georgia.
On August 12, Russian President Medvedev met the President-in-Office of the European Union, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and approved a six-point peace plan. Late that night Georgian President Saakashvili agreed to the text. The translation of the six points is by the Times, from a French language document provided by a Georgian negotiator. Sarkozy's plan originally had just the first four points. Russia added the fifth and sixth points. Georgia asked for the additions in parentheses, but Russia rejected them, and Sarkozy convinced Georgia to agree to the unchanged text.
1. No recourse to the use of force.
2. Definitive cessation of hostilities.
3. Free access to humanitarian aid (and to allow the return of refugees - addition rejected).
4. Georgian military forces must withdraw to their normal bases of encampment.
5. Russian military forces must withdraw to the lines prior to the start of hostilities. While awaiting an international mechanism, Russian peacekeeping forces will implement additional security measures (for up to six months - addition rejected).
6. Opening of international discussions on the modalities of lasting security in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (based on the decisions of the U.N. and the O.S.C.E. - addition rejected).
According to RIA Novosti, "Sarkozy told a briefing after talks with his Georgian counterpart that the deal also includes some changes requested by Georgia... 'we have removed the issue of South Ossetia's status from the document'". But the New York Times, citing a Georgian negotiator, reported that Sarkozy convinced Georgia to accept the Russian version unchanged, after Medvedev waited two hours to return his phone call and then rejected the proposed changes. The U.S. newspaper further asserted that the fifth point was crucial, and Russia used it to justify continuing hostilities into Georgia proper even after the agreement.
On August 14, Dmitry Medvedev met with separatist leaders Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia and Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia, where they signed the six principles.
On August 22, 2008 Russian Defence Minister reportely said that "the Russian Army units used in the peace enforcement mission finished the withdrawal from the territory of Georgia by 19:50 Moscow time". Apparently, the minister was misquoted, for the Russian troops were still in Georgia as of October 5.2008.
So far Russia has signaled no intention to end its military presence in the disputed Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In fact, on August 25, 2008, Russia unilaterally recognized these as independent states. Russia now maintains that its troops stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are there according to the agreement between Russian and local governments, and that their status is not regulated by the Medvedev-Sarkozy peace plan.
On May 5, 2009, the Georgian government complained of a coup attempt carried out by the military that the government said was orchestrated and funded by the Russian Federation.
Georgia -- Economy --
Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Georgia embarked on a major structural reform designed to transition to a free market economy. However, as with all other post-Soviet states, Georgia faced a severe economic collapse. The civil war and military conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia aggravated the crisis. The agriculture and industry output diminished. By 1994 the gross domestic product had shrunk to a quarter of that of 1989.
The first financial help from the West came in 1995, when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund granted Georgia a credit of USD 206 million and Germany granted DM 50 million.
As of 2001 54% of the population lived below the national poverty line but by 2006 poverty decreased to 34%. In 2005 average monthly income of a household was GEL 347 (about 200 USD).
Since early 2000s visible positive developments have been observed in the economy of Georgia. In 2007 Georgia's real GDP growth rate reached 12%, making Georgia one of the fastest growing economies in Eastern Europe. The World Bank dubbed Georgia "the number one economic reformer in the world" because it has in one year improved from rank 112th to 18th in terms of ease of doing business. However, the country has high unemployment rate of 12.6% and has fairly low median income compared to European countries.
IMF 2007 estimates place Georgia's nominal GDP at US$10.3 billion. Georgia's economy is becoming more devoted to services (now representing 65% of GDP), moving away from agricultural sector ( 10.9%).
The country has sizable hydropower resources.The local climate is excellent for wine-making and there are 500 different kinds of wine in Georgia.
The 2006 ban on imports of Georgian wine to Russia, one of Georgia's biggest trading partners, and break of financial links was described by the IMF Mission as an "external shock". In addition, Russia increased the price of gas for Georgia. This was followed by the spike in the Georgian lari's rate of inflation. The National Bank of Georgia stated that the inflation was mainly triggered by external reasons, including Russia’s economic embargo. The Georgian authorities expected that the current account deficit the embargo would cause in 2007 would be financed by "higher foreign exchange proceeds generated by the large inflow of foreign direct investment" and an increase in tourist revenues. The country has also maintained a solid credit in international market securities.
Georgia -- Culture --
Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years with its foundations in Iberian and Colchian civilizations, continuing into the rise of the unified Georgian Kingdom under the single monarchy of the Bagrationi. Georgian culture enjoyed a golden age and renaissance of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century. The Georgian language, and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli, were revived in the 19th century after a long period of turmoil, laying the foundations of the romantics and novelists of the modern era such as Grigol Orbeliani, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela, and many others. Georgian culture was influenced by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, and later by the Russian Empire which contributed to the European elements of Georgian culture.
Georgia is well known for its rich folklore, unique traditional music, theatre, cinema, and art. Georgians are renowned for their love of music, dance, theatre and cinema. In the 20th century there have been notable Georgian painters such as Niko Pirosmani, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani; ballet choreographers such as George Balanchine, Vakhtang Chabukiani, and Nino Ananiashvili; poets such as Galaktion Tabidze, Lado Asatiani, and Mukhran Machavariani; and theatre and film directors such as Robert Sturua, Tengiz Abuladze, Giorgi Danelia and Otar Ioseliani.
Georgian architecture has been influenced by many civilizations. There are several different architectural styles for castles, towers, fortifications and churches. The Upper Svaneti fortifications, and the castle town of Shatili in Khevsureti, are some of the finest examples of medieval Georgian castle architecture.
Georgian ecclesiastic art is one of the most fascinating aspects of Georgian Christian architecture, which combines classical dome style with original basilica style forming what is known as the Georgian cross-dome style. Cross-dome architecture developed in Georgia during the 9th century; before that, most Georgian churches were basilicas. Other examples of Georgian ecclesiastic architecture can be found outside Georgia: Bachkovo Monastery in Bulgaria (built in 1083 by the Georgian military commander Grigorii Bakuriani), Iviron monastery in Greece (built by Georgians in the 10th century), and the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem (built by Georgians in the 9th century).
Other architectural aspects of Georgia include Rustaveli avenue in Tbilisi in the Hausmann style, and the Old Town District.
The art of Georgia spans the prehistoric, the ancient Greek, Roman, medieval, ecclesiastic, iconic and modern visual arts. One of the most famous late nineteenth/early twentieth century Georgian artists is the primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani. Pirosmani's works can also been seen as early impressionistic, due to the fact that his work inspired Lado Gudiashvili and Elene Akhvlediani, who represent the more mainstream impressionism of the twentieth century. Gigo Gabashvili, a Georgian painter and educator from the same period as Pirosmani, is considered to be the founder of Georgian realism. Contemporary Georgian surrealism is represented by Ramaz Razmadze and Rezo Kaishauri.
Georgia -- Political system, law and government --
Georgia is a democratic semi-presidential republic, with the President as the head of state, and Prime Minister as the head of government.
The executive branch of power is made up of the President and the Cabinet of Georgia. The Cabinet is composed of ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, and appointed by the President. Notably, the ministers of defense and interior are not members of the Cabinet and are subordinated directly to the President of Georgia.
Mikheil Saakashvili is the current President of Georgia after winning 53.47% of the vote in the 2008 election. Lado Gurgenidze has been Prime Minister since November 22, 2007.On November 1,2008, Gurgenidze is replaced by Grigol Mgaloblishvili and since February 6,2009 Nikoloz Gilauri is new prime-minister of Georgia.
Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament of Georgia. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, from which 75 members are proportional representatives and 75 are elected through single-member district plurality system, representing their constituencies. Members of parliament are elected for 5 five-year term.
Five parties and electoral blocs had representatives elected to the parliament in the 2008 elections: the United National Movement (governing party), the Electoral Bloc The Joint Opposition, the Christian-Democrats, the Labour Party and Republican Party.
Despite considerable progress made since the Rose revolution Georgia is still not a full-fledged democracy. Political system remains in the process of transition, with frequent adjustments to the balance of power between the President and Parliament, and proposals ranging from transforming the country into parliamentary republic to re-establishing the monarchy. Observers note the deficit of trust in relations between the Government and the opposition. Different opinions exist regarding the degree of political freedom in Georgia. President Saakashvili believes that the country is essentially free, many opposition leaders claim that Georgia is a dictatorship, and Freedom House puts Georgia in the group of partly free countries, along with countries like Turkey and Bosnia.