About Georgia

There is an old legend that God saved Georgia for last. He had parceled out all of the lands of the world to different peoples; the Georgians were, of course, late to the party, and there was nothing left for them. But God so enjoyed their toasting and revelry that he gave them the section he had reserved for himself, a fertile valley of vineyards and orchards.

Georgia is the second country to convert to Christianity (in 337 AD) and has developed its special brand of Orthodox Christianity from that day. The frescos in our many fine churches are unique to us and represent the flowering of an unusually strong artistic culture with a powerful love of colour, story and myth. But even before Christianity arrived, the myths centred on Georgia stand out as bedrock of human pre-history.

Georgia has long been the crossroads of the world, not only an important stop on the silk trail, but set dead-centre of many of the great currents of history. A truly ancient nation and one of the worlds oldest cultures, its recorded history stretches back over 3,000 years. Sandwiched in the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia has served for millenniums as a way station for travellers and traders, explorers and invaders: Greeks, Russians, Persians, Armenians, Mongols and Turks alike. Filled with ancient ruins, castles, churches, waterfalls, glaciers, mineral water springs, deserts and beaches, forests and steppes, it is truly a land apart.

Georgia is an exotic mixture of influences not seen anywhere else. Few can boast as ancient a history as Georgia. No one knows for sure from where Georgians came, but we are quite convinced we have always been here and always will be.

Georgians are neither Russian nor Slavic, and our language is much older and from a different linguistic family. Particularly in ancient times, we had far more contact with Mediterranean culture via the Black Sea than either Russia or the Middle East.

Georgia is unquestionably the birthplace of wine. Grape seeds have been found in Caucasian tombs 7,000 years old, along with wine implements such as clay vessels; nowhere else in the world is their evidence of viniculture so old. Indeed, the word wine has been traced to our Georgian word gvino, which has been in use for far longer than most modern languages have existed.

Georgia today is emerging from the darkness of Soviet tyranny and claiming its rightful place in the European community. Following the peaceful Rose Revolution of 2003, Georgia has strengthened its democratic institutions and embraced market reform. Georgias economy is thriving, but even though we are developing fast, we face serious problems from out aggressive Russian neighbour.

But nothing will stop Georgia from embracing Europe and European values. We may be moving towards the west, but at heart the culture and traditions of our multiethnic homeland will make sure we all remain firmly Georgian.