Middle East :: Georgia

Introduction ::Georgia

    The region of present day Georgia contained the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Kartli-Iberia. The area came under Roman influence in the first centuries A.D., and Christianity became the state religion in the 330s. Domination by Persians, Arabs, and Turks was followed by a Georgian golden age (11th-13th centuries) that was cut short by the Mongol invasion of 1236. Subsequently, the Ottoman and Persian empires competed for influence in the region. Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1921 and regained its independence when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Mounting public discontent over rampant corruption and ineffective government services, followed by an attempt by the incumbent Georgian Government to manipulate national legislative elections in November 2003 touched off widespread protests that led to the resignation of Eduard SHEVARDNADZE, president since 1995. In the aftermath of that popular movement, which became known as the "Rose Revolution," new elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his United National Movement (UNM) party. Progress on market reforms and democratization has been made in the years since independence, but this progress has been complicated by Russian assistance and support to the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Periodic flare-ups in tension and violence culminated in a five-day conflict in August 2008 between Russia and Georgia, including the invasion of large portions of undisputed Georgian territory. Russian troops pledged to pull back from most occupied Georgian territory, but in late August 2008 Russia unilaterally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Russian military forces remain in those regions. Billionaire philanthropist Bidzina IVANISHVILI's unexpected entry into politics in October 2011 brought the divided opposition together under his Georgian Dream coalition, which won a majority of seats in the October 2012 parliamentary election and removed UNM from power. A new constitution shifting many powers from the president to the prime minister and parliament, including the power to name the prime minister and government ministers, does not go into effect until after a new president is elected in the fall of 2013. Conceding defeat, SAAKASHVILI named IVANISHVILI as prime minister and allowed Georgian Dream to create a new government. Tensions remain high as IVANISHVILI, SAAKASHVILI, and their supporters struggle to co-exist until the end of the president's term.

Geography ::Georgia

    Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia, with a sliver of land north of the Caucasus extending into Europe; note - Georgia views itself as part of Europe
    42 00 N, 43 30 E
    total: 69,700 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 121
    land: 69,700 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    slightly smaller than South Carolina
    total: 1,461 km
    border countries: Armenia 164 km, Azerbaijan 322 km, Russia 723 km, Turkey 252 km
    310 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    warm and pleasant; Mediterranean-like on Black Sea coast
    largely mountainous with Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south; Kolkhet'is Dablobi (Kolkhida Lowland) opens to the Black Sea in the west; Mtkvari River Basin in the east; good soils in river valley flood plains, foothills of Kolkhida Lowland
    lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
    highest point: Mt'a Shkhara 5,201 m
    timber, hydropower, manganese deposits, iron ore, copper, minor coal and oil deposits; coastal climate and soils allow for important tea and citrus growth
    arable land: 5.94%
    permanent crops: 1.65%
    other: 92.41% (2011)
    4,328 sq km (2007)
    63.33 cu km (2011)
    total: 1.81 cu km/yr (20%/22%/58%)
    per capita: 410.6 cu m/yr (2005)
    air pollution, particularly in Rust'avi; heavy pollution of Mtkvari River and the Black Sea; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil pollution from toxic chemicals
    party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    strategically located east of the Black Sea; Georgia controls much of the Caucasus Mountains and the routes through them

People and Society ::Georgia

Government ::Georgia

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Georgia
    local long form: none
    local short form: Sak'art'velo
    former: Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic
    name: Tbilisi
    geographic coordinates: 41 41 N, 44 50 E
    time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    9 regions (mkharebi, singular - mkhare), 1 city (k'alak'i), and 2 autonomous republics (avtomnoy respubliki, singular - avtom respublika)
    regions: Guria, Imereti, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli
    city: Tbilisi
    autonomous republics: Abkhazia or Ap'khazet'is Avtonomiuri Respublika (Sokhumi), Ajaria or Acharis Avtonomiuri Respublika (Bat'umi)
    note: the administrative centers of the two autonomous republics are shown in parentheses
    9 April 1991 (from the Soviet Union); notable earlier date: A.D. 1008 (Georgia unified under King BAGRAT III)
    Independence Day, 26 May (1918); note - 26 May 1918 was the date of independence from Soviet Russia, 9 April 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union
    adopted 24 August 1995
    civil law system
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Mikheil SAAKASHVILI (since 25 January 2004); the president is the chief of state and serves as head of government for the power ministries of internal affairs, justice, and defense
    head of government: Prime Minister Bidzina IVANISHVILI (since 25 October 2012); the prime minister is head of government for all the ministries of government except the power ministries of internal affairs, justice, and defense
    cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 5 January 2008 (next to be held in October 2013)
    election results: Mikheil SAAKASHVILI reelected president; percent of vote - Mikheil SAAKASHVILI 53.5%, Levan GACHECHILADZE 25.7%, Badri PATARKATSISHVILI 7.1%, other 13.7%
    unicameral Parliament or Parlamenti (150 seats; 77 members elected by proportional representation, 73 elected in single-member constituencies; members to serve four-year terms)
    elections: last held on 1 October 2012 (next to be held in 2016)
    election results: percent of vote by party - Georgian Dream 55%, United National Movement 40.3%, other 4.7%; seats by party - Georgian Dream 85, United National Movement 65
    highest court(s): Supreme Court (organized into several specialized judicial chambers; number of judges determined by the president of Georgia); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges)
    note - the Abkhazian and Ajarian Autonomous republics each have a supreme court and a hierarchy of lower courts
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by the president and appointed by the Parliament; judges serve not less than 10-year terms; Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president following candidate selection by the Justice Council of Georgia, a 12-member consultative body of high-level judges, and presidential and parliamentary appointees; judges appointed for 10-year terms
    subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; regional (town) and district courts
    Christian Democratic Movement [Giorgi TARGAMADZE]
    Conservative Party [Zviad DZIDZIGURI]
    Democratic Movement United Georgia [Nino BURJANADZE]
    For Fair Georgia [Zurab NOGAIDELI]
    Georgian Dream (a six-party coalition composed of Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, Republican Party, Our Georgia-Free Democrats, National Forum, Conservative Party, and Industry Will Save Georgia)
    Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia [Bidzina IVANISHVILI, honorary chairman]
    Georgian People's Front [Nodar NATADZE]
    Greens [Giorgi GACHECHILADZE]
    Industry Will Save Georgia (Industrialists) or IWSG [Georgi TOPADZE]
    Labor Party [Shalva NATELASHVILI]
    National Democratic Party or NDP [Bachuki KARDAVA]
    National Forum [Kakhaber SHARTAVA]
    New Rights [Pikria CHIKHRADZE]
    Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) [Irakli KADAGIDZE]
    People's Party [Koba DAVITASHVILI
    Republican Party [David USUPASHVILI]
    Traditionalists [Akaki ASATIANI]
    United National Movement or UNM [Vano MERABISHVILI]
    separatists in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
    ADB, BSEC, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, G-11, GCTU, GUAM, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    chief of mission: Ambassador Archil GEGESHIDZE
    chancery: 2209 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 387-2390
    FAX: [1] (202) 387-0864
    consulate(s) general: New York
    chief of mission: Ambassador Richard NORLAND
    embassy: 11 George Balanchine Street, T'bilisi 0131
    mailing address: 7060 T'bilisi Place, Washington, DC 20521-7060
    telephone: [995] (32) 227-70-00
    FAX: [995] (32) 253-23-10
    white rectangle with a central red cross extending to all four sides of the flag; each of the four quadrants displays a small red bolnur-katskhuri cross; although adopted as the official Georgian flag in 2004, the five-cross flag design appears to date back to the 14th century
    Saint George; lion
    name: "Tavisupleba" (Liberty)

    lyrics/music: Dawit MAGRADSE/Zakaria PALIASHVILI (adapted by Joseb KETSCHAKMADSE)
    note: adopted 2004; after the Rose Revolution, a new anthem with music based on the operas "Abesalom da Eteri" and "Daisi" was adopted

Economy ::Georgia

    Georgia's main economic activities include the cultivation of agricultural products such as grapes, citrus fruits, and hazelnuts; mining of manganese, copper, and gold; and output of a small industrial sector producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals. The country imports nearly all its needed supplies of natural gas and oil products. It has sizeable hydropower capacity that now provides most of its energy needs. Georgia has overcome the chronic energy shortages and gas supply interruptions of the past by renovating hydropower plants and by increasingly relying on natural gas imports from Azerbaijan instead of from Russia. Construction of the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-T'bilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline, and the Kars-Akhalkalaki Railroad are part of a strategy to capitalize on Georgia's strategic location between Europe and Asia and develop its role as a transit point for gas, oil, and other goods. Georgia's economy sustained GDP growth of more than 10% in 2006-07, based on strong inflows of foreign investment and robust government spending. However, GDP growth slowed following the August 2008 conflict with Russia, and sunk to negative 4 percent in 2009 as foreign direct investment and workers' remittances declined in the wake of the global financial crisis. The economy rebounded in 2010-12, with growth rates above 6% per year, but FDI inflows, the engine of Georgian economic growth prior to the 2008 conflict, have not recovered fully. Unemployment has also remained high at above 15%. Georgia has historically suffered from a chronic failure to collect tax revenues; however, the government, since coming to power in 2004, has simplified the tax code, improved tax administration, increased tax enforcement, and cracked down on petty corruption, leading to higher revenues. The country is pinning its hopes for renewed growth on a determined effort to continue to liberalize the economy by reducing regulation, taxes, and corruption in order to attract foreign investment, with a focus on hydropower, agriculture, tourism, and textiles production. Since 2004, the government has taken a series of actions against endemic corruption, including reform of the traffic police and implementation of a fair examination system for entering the university system. The government has received high marks from the World Bank for its anti-corruption efforts.
    $27.11 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 116
    $25.44 billion (2011 est.)
    $23.74 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $15.93 billion (2012 est.)
    6.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    7.2% (2011 est.)
    6.3% (2010 est.)
    $6,000 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 150
    $5,700 (2011 est.)
    $5,400 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    11.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    12.4% of GDP (2011 est.)
    10.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 77%
    government consumption: 19%
    investment in fixed capital: 22.8%
    investment in inventories: 1.3%
    exports of goods and services: 36.2%
    imports of goods and services: -56.6%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 7.8%
    industry: 23%
    services: 69.2% (2012 est.)
    citrus, grapes, tea, hazelnuts, vegetables; livestock
    steel, machine tools, electrical appliances, mining (manganese, copper, and gold), chemicals, wood products, wine
    4.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 60
    1.959 million (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    agriculture: 55.6%
    industry: 8.9%
    services: 35.5% (2006 est.)
    15.1% (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    16.3% (2010 est.)
    9.2% (2010)
    lowest 10%: 2%
    highest 10%: 31.3% (2008)
    46 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    37.1 (1996)
    revenues: $4.421 billion
    expenditures: $4.905 billion (2012 est.)
    27.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    -3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    36.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    36.5% of GDP (2011 est.)
    note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities; Georgia does not maintain intra-governmental debt or social funds
    calendar year
    -0.9% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    8.5% (2011 est.)
    5.25% (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    6.5% (31 January 2012)
    note: this is the Refinancing Rate, the key monetary policy rate of the National Bank of Georgia
    20.2% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 11
    25.87% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.965 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    $1.737 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $4.72 billion (31 September 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    $4.249 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $5.518 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 115
    $4.973 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $795.7 million (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    $1.06 billion (31 December 2010)
    $733.3 million (31 December 2009)
    -$1.669 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    -$1.799 billion (2011 est.)
    $3.305 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    $3.223 billion (2011 est.)
    vehicles, ferro-alloys, fertilizers, nuts, scrap metal, gold, copper ores
    Azerbaijan 13.8%, US 8.5%, Germany 8.3%, Bulgaria 7.4%, Kazakhstan 7%, Turkey 6.4%, Ukraine 6.3%, Lebanon 5.7%, Canada 4.2% (2012)
    $6.628 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    $6.644 billion (2011 est.)
    fuels, vehicles, machinery and parts, grain and other foods, pharmaceuticals
    Turkey 13.9%, China 8.2%, Ukraine 8.2%, Russia 7.4%, Azerbaijan 7.1%, US 6%, Germany 5.6%, Bulgaria 4% (2012)
    $2.873 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 112
    $2.818 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $13.36 billion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    $11.12 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $9.305 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    $9.305 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $741.6 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    $660.3 million (31 December 2010 est.)
    laris (GEL) per US dollar -
    1.6513 (2012 est.)
    1.6865 (2011 est.)
    1.7823 (2010 est.)
    1.6705 (2009 est.)
    1.47 (2008 est.)

Energy ::Georgia

Communications ::Georgia

    1.345 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 67
    4.43 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    general assessment: fixed-line telecommunications network has limited coverage outside Tbilisi; multiple mobile-cellular providers provide services to an increasing subscribership throughout the country
    domestic: cellular telephone networks cover the entire country; mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 100 per 100 people; intercity facilities include a fiber-optic line between T'bilisi and K'ut'aisi
    international: country code - 995; the Georgia-Russia fiber-optic submarine cable provides connectivity to Russia; international service is available by microwave, landline, and satellite through the Moscow switch; international electronic mail and telex service are available (2011)
    1 public broadcaster in Tbilisi, 1 state-owned broadcaster in Ajaria Autonomous Republic; 8 privately owned TV stations; state run public broadcaster operates 2 TV stations; dozens of cable TV operators, several major commercial TV stations, and several dozen private radio stations; state run public broadcaster operates 2 radio stations (2012)
    357,864 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    1.3 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 90

Transportation ::Georgia

    22 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    total: 18
    over 3,047 m: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
    914 to 1,523 m: 5
    under 914 m: 2 (2013)
    total: 4
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 2
    under 914 m:
    1 (2013)
    2 (2013)
    gas 1,596 km; oil 1,175 km (2013)
    total: 1,612 km
    country comparison to the world: 78
    broad gauge: 1,575 km 1.520-m gauge (1,575 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 37 km 0.912-m gauge (37 km electrified) (2008)
    total: 19,109 km
    country comparison to the world: 112
    paved: 19,109 km (includes 69 km of expressways) (2010)
    total: 142
    country comparison to the world: 40
    by type: bulk carrier 13, cargo 114, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 2
    foreign-owned: 95 (Bulgaria 1, China 10, Egypt 7, Hong Kong 3, Israel 1, Italy 2, Latvia 1, Lebanon 1, Romania 7, Russia 6, Syria 24, Turkey 14, UAE 2, UK 5, Ukraine 10, US 1)
    registered in other countries: 1 (unknown 1) (2010)
    major seaport(s): Black Sea - Bat'umi, P'ot'i

Military ::Georgia

Transnational Issues ::Georgia

    Russia's military support and subsequent recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence in 2008 continue to sour relations with Georgia
    IDPs: 261,400 - 274,000 (displaced in the 1990s and 2008 from Abkhazia and South Ossetia) (2011)
    stateless persons: 1,156 (2012)
    limited cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for domestic consumption; used as transshipment point for opiates via Central Asia to Western Europe and Russia