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State of Georgia

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for King George II of England in 1732.

NICKNAME: The Empire State of the South; the Peach State.

CAPITAL: Atlanta.

ENTERED UNION: 2 January 1788 (4th).

SONG: "Georgia on My Mind."

MOTTO: Wisdom, Justice and Moderation.

COAT OF ARMS: Three columns support an arch inscribed with the word "Constitution;" intertwined among the columns is a banner bearing the state motto. Right of center stands a soldier with a drawn sword, representing the aid of the military in defending the Constitution. Surrounding the whole are the words "State of Georgia 1776."

FLAG: The Georgia flag has two red stripes and one white stripe. The state coat of arms is on a blue field in the upper left corner. Flag adopted 8 May 2003.

OFFICIAL SEAL: obverse: same as the coat of arms. reverse: a sailing vessel and a smaller boat are offshore; on land, a man and horse plow a field, and sheep graze in the background. The scene is surrounded by the words "Agriculture and Commerce 1776."

BIRD: Brown thrasher.

FISH: Largemouth bass.

FLOWER: Cherokee rose; azalea (wildflower).

TREE: Live oak.

GEM: Quartz.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Confederate Memorial Day, 26 April; National Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Robert E. Lee's Birthday, 19 January (observed the day after Thanksgiving); Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.


Located in the southeastern United States, Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River, and ranks 21st in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Georgia is 58,910 sq mi (152,576 sq km), of which land comprises 58,056 sq mi (150,365 sq km) and inland water 854 sq mi (2,211 sq km). Georgia extends 254 mi (409 km) e-w; the maximum n-s extension is 320 mi (515 km) e-w.

Georgia is bordered on the n by Tennessee and North Carolina; on the e by South Carolina (with the line formed by the Chattooga, Tugaloo, and Savannah rivers) and by the Atlantic Ocean; on the s by Florida (with the line in the se defined by the St. Mary's River); and on the w by Alabama (separated in the sw by the Chattahoochee River). The state's geographic center is located in Twiggs County, 18 mi (29 km) sw of Macon.

The Sea Islands extend the length of the Georgia coast. The state's total boundary length is 1,039 mi (1,672 km).


Northern Georgia is mountainous, the central region is characterized by the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau, and southern Georgia is a nearly flat coastal plain.

The Blue Ridge Mountains tumble to an end in northern Georgia, where Brasstown Bald, at 4,784 ft (1,459 m), is the highest point in the state. The piedmont slopes slowly to the fall line, descending from about 2,000 ft (610 m) to 300 ft (90 m) above sea level. Stone Mountain, where a Confederate memorial is carved into a mass of solid granite 1,686 ft (514 m) high, is the region's most famous landmark. The mean elevation in the state is approximately 600 ft (183 m).

The piedmont region ends in a ridge of sand hills running across the state from Augusta to Columbus. The residue of an ancient ocean was caught in the vast shallow basin on the Florida border, known as the Okefenokee Swamp, which filled with fresh water over the centuries. The coastal plain, thinly populated except for towns at the mouths of inland rivers, ends in marshlands along the Atlantic Ocean. Sea level at the Atlantic Ocean is the lowest point of the state. Lying offshore are the Sea Islands, called the Golden Isles of Georgia, the most important of which are, from north to south, Tybee, Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, St. Simons, Sea Island, Jekyll, and Cumberland.

Two great rivers rise in the northeast: the Savannah, which forms part of the border with South Carolina, and the Chattahoochee, which flows across the state to become the western boundary. The Flint joins the Chattahoochee at the southwestern corner of Georgia to form the Apalachicola, which flows through Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. The two largest rivers of central Georgia, the Ocmulgee and Oconee, flow together to form the Altamaha, which then flows eastward to the Atlantic. Perhaps the best-known Georgia river, though smaller than any of the above, is the Suwannee, flowing southwest through the Okefenokee Swamp, across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico, and famous for its evocation in the song "Old Folks at Home" by Stephen Foster. Huge lakes created by dams on the Savannah River are Clark Hill Reservoir and Hart-well Lake; artificial lakes on the Chattahoochee River include Lake Seminole, Walter F. George Reservoir, Lake Harding, West Point Reservoir, and Lake Sidney Lanier.


The Chattahoochee River divides Georgia into separate climatic regions. The mountain region to the northwest is colder than the rest of Georgia, averaging 39°f (4°c) in January and 78°f (26°c) in July. The state experiences mild winters, ranging from a January average of 44°f (7°c) in the piedmont to 54°f (12°c) on the coast. Summers are hot in the piedmont and on the coast, with July temperatures averaging 80°f (27°c) or above. The record high is 113°f (45°c) at Greenville on 27 May 1978; the record low is 17°f (27°c), registered in Floyd County on 27 January 1940.

Humidity is high, ranging from 82% in the morning to 56% in the afternoon in Atlanta. Rainfall varies considerably from year to year but averages 50 in (127 cm) annually in the lowlands, increasing to 75 in (191 cm) in the mountains; snow falls occasionally in the interior. Tornadoes are an annual threat in mountain areas, and Georgia beaches are exposed to hurricane tides.

The growing season is approximately 185 days in the mountains and a generous 300 days in southern Georgia.


Georgia has some 250 species of trees, 90% of which are of commercial importance. White and scrub pines, chestnut, northern red oak, and buckeye cover the mountain zone, while loblolly and shortleaf (yellow) pines and whiteback maple are found throughout the piedmont. Pecan trees grow densely in southern Georgia, and white oak and cypress are plentiful in the eastern part of the state. Trees found throughout the state include red cedar, scaly-bark and white hickories, red maple, sycamore, yellow poplar, sassafras, sweet and black gums, and various dogwoods and magnolias. Common flowering shrubs include yellow jasmine, flowering quince, and mountain laurel. Spanish moss grows abundantly on the coast and around the streams and swamps of the entire coastal plain. Kudzu vines, originally from Asia, are ubiquitous.

Prominent among Georgia fauna is the white-tailed (Virginia) deer, found in some 50 counties. Other common mammals are the black bear, muskrat, raccoon opossum, mink, common cottontail, and three species of squirrelfox, gray, and flying. No fewer than 160 bird species breed in Georgia, among them the mockingbird, brown thrasher (the state bird), and numerous sparrows; the Okefenokee Swamp is home to the sandhill piper, snowy egret, and white ibis. The bobwhite quail is the most popular game bird. There are 79 species of reptile, including such poisonous snakes as the rattler, copperhead, and cottonmouth moccasin. The state's 63 amphibian species consist mainly of various salamanders, frogs, and toads. The most popular freshwater game fish are trout, bream, bass, and catfish, all but the last of which are produced in state hatcheries for restocking. Dolphins, porpoises, shrimp, oysters, and blue crabs are found of the Georgia coast.

The Okefenokee Swamp (which extends into Georgia) supports 233 bird species, 48 mammal species, 66 reptile species, 37 amphibian species, and 36 fish species. One of the largest US populations of the American alligator can be found there as well.

The state lists 58 protected plants, of which 23including hairy rattleweed, Alabama leather flower, smooth coneflower, two species of quillwort, pondberry, Canby's dropwort, harperella, fringed campion, and two species of trilliumare endangered. In April 2006, a total of 60 species occurring within the state were on the threatened and endangered species list of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These included 38 animal (vertebrates and invertebrates) and 22 plant species, such as the bald eagle, eastern indigo snake, West Indian manatee, four species of moccasinshell, five species of turtle, wood stork, three species of whale, red-cockaded woodpecker, and shortnose sturgeon.


In the early 1970s, environmentalists pointed to the fact that the Savannah River had been polluted by industrial waste and that an estimated 58% of Georgia's citizens lived in districts lacking adequate sewage treatment facilities. In 1972, at the prodding of Governor Jimmy Carter, the General Assembly created the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This agency administers 21 state environmental laws, most of them passed during the 1970s: the Water Quality Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Groundwater Use Act, the Surface Water Allocation Act, the Air Quality Act, the Safe Dams Act, the Asbestos Safety Act, the Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Act, the Hazardous Site Response Act, the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act, the Scrap Tire Amendment, the Underground Storage Tank Act, the Hazardous Waste Management Act, the Sedimentation and Erosion Control Act, the River Basin Management Plans, the Water Well Standards Act, the Oil and Hazardous Materials Spill Act, the Georgia Environmental Policy Act, the Surface Mining Act, and the Oil and Gas and the Deep Drilling Act. The EPD issues all environmental permits, with the exception of those required by the Marshlands Protection and Shore Assistance Acts, which are enforced by the Coastal Resources Division of the DNR.

As of 1997, the state had 7.7 million acres of wetlands. The Okefenokee Swamp (which extends into Florida) was designated in 1986; it is the second largest wetland in the nation. The site is federally owned and managed, in part, under the Okefenokee Wilderness Act of 1974.

Georgia's greatest environmental problems are an increasingly scarce water supply, nonpoint source water pollution, and hazardous waste sites. In 2003, the US US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA) database listed 408 hazardous waste sites in Georgia, 15 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Robins Air Force Base landfill in Houston County and the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. In 2005, the EPA spent over $9.6 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. In 2003, 126.7 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2005, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included over $13 million to be offered as loans for water quality and protection projects.


Georgia ranked ninth in population in the United States with an estimated total of 9,072,576 in 2005, an increase of 10.8% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Georgia's population grew from 6,478,453 to 8,186,453, an increase of 26.4% and the fourth-largest population gain among the 50 states for this period. The popu-

GeorgiaCounties, County Seats, and Country Areas and Populations
Appling Baxley 510 17,954 Hall Gainesville 379 165,771
Atkinson Pearson 344 8,030 Hancock Sparta 469 9,643
Bacon Alma 286 10,379 Haralson Buchanan 283 28,338
Baker Newton 347 4,154 Harris Hamilton 464 27,779
Baldwin Milledgeville 258 45,230 Hart Hartwell 230 24,036
Banks Homer 234 16,055 Heard Franklin 292 11,346
Barrow Winder 163 59,954 Henry McDonough 321 167,848
Bartow Cartersyille 456 89,229 Houston Perry 380 126,163
Ben Hifl Fitzerald 254 17,316 Irwin Ocilla 362 10,093
Berrien Nashville 456 16,708 Jackson Jefferson 342 52,292
Bibb Macon 253 154,918 Jasper Monticello 371 13,147
Bleckley Cochran 219 12,141 Jeff Davis Hazlehurst 335 13,083
Brantley Nahunta 444 15,491 Jefferson Louisville 529 16,926
Brooks Quitman 491 16,327 Jenkins Millen 353 8,729
Bryan Pembroke 441 28,549 Johnson Wrightsville 307 9,538
Bulloch Statesboro 678 61,454 Jones Gray 394 26,836
Burke Waynesboro 833 23,299 Lamar Barnesville 186 16,378
Butts Jackson 187 21,045 Lanier Lakeland 194 7,553
Calhoun Morgan 284 5,972 Laurens Dublin 816 46,896
Camden Woodbine 649 45,759 Lee Leesburg 358 31,099
Candler Metter 248 10,321 Liberty Hinesville 517 57,544
Carroll Carrollton 502 105,453 Lincoln Lincolnton 196 8,207
Catoosa Ringgold 163 60,813 Long Ludowici 402 11,083
Charlton Folkston 780 10,790 Lowndes Valdosta 507 96,705
Chatham Savannah 444 238,410 Lumpkin Dahlonega 287 24,324
Chattahoochee Cusseta 250 14,679 Macon Oglethorpe 404 13,745
Chattooga Summerville 314 26,570 Madison Danielsville 285 27,289
Cherokee Canton 424 184,211 Marion Buena Vista 366 7,244
Clarke Athens 122 104,439 McDuffie Thomson 256 21,743
Clay Ft. Gaines 197 3,242 McIntosh Darien 425 11,068
Clayton Jonesboro 148 267,966 Meriwether Greenville 506 22,919
Clinch Homerville 821 6,996 Miller Colquitt 284 6,228
Cobb Marietta 343 663,818 Mitchell Camilla 512 23,791
Coffee Douglas 602 39,674 Monroe Forsyth 397 23,785
Colquitt Moultrie 556 43,915 Montgomery Mt. Vernon 244 8,909
Columbia Appling 290 103,812 Morgan Madison 349 17,492
Cook Adel 232 16,366 Murray Chatsworth 345 40,812
Coweta Newman 444 109,903 Muscogee Columbus 218 185,271
Crawford Knoxville 328 12.874 Newton Covington 277 86,713
Crisp Cordele 275 22,017 Oconee Watkinsville 186 29,748
Dade Trenton 176 16,040 Oglethorpe Lexington 442 13,609
Dawson Dawsonville 210 19,731 Paulding Dallas 312 112,411
Decatur Bainbridge 586 28,618 Peach Ft. Valley 151 24,794
DeKalb Decatur 270 677,959 Pickens Jasper 232 28,442
Dodge Eastman 504 19,574 Pierce Blackshear 344 17,119
Dooly Vienna 397 11,749 Pike Zebulon 219 16,128
Dougherty Albany 330 94,882 Polk Cedartown 312 40,479
Douglas Douglasville 203 112,760 Pulaski Hawkinsville 249 9,737
Early Blakely 516 12,056 Putnam Eatonton 344 19,829
Echols Statenville 420 4,253 Quitman Georgetown 146 2,467
Effingham Springfield 482 46,924 Rabun Clayton 370 16,087
Elbert Elberton 367 20,799 Randolph Cuthbert 431 7,310
Emanuel Swainsboro 688 22,108 Richmond Augusta 326 195,769
Evans Claxton 186 11,443 Rockdale Conyers 132 78,545
Fannin Blue Ridge 384 21,887 Schley Ellaville 169 4,122
Fayette Fayetteville 199 104,248 Screven Sylvania 655 15,430
Floyd Rome 519 94,198 Seminole Donalsonville 225 9,226
Forsyth Cumming 226 140,393 Spalding Griffin 199 61,289
Franklin Carnesville 264 21,590 Stephens Toccoa 177 25,060
Fulton Atlanta* 534 915,623 Stewart Lumpkin 452 4,882
Gilmer Ellijay 427 27,335 Sumter Americus 448 32,912
Glascock Gibson 144 2,705 Talbot Talbotton 395 6,709
Glynn Brunswick 412 71,874 Taliaferro Crawfordville 196 1,826
Gordon Calhoun 355 50,279 Tattnall Reidsville 484 23,211
Grady Cairo 459 24,466 Taylor Butler 382 8,887
Greene Greensboro 390 15,693 Telfair MacRae 444 13,205
Gwinnett Lawrenceville 435 726,273 Terrell Dawson 337 10,711
Habersham Clarkesville 278 39,603 Thomas Thomasville 551 44,692
GeorgiaCounties, County Seats, and Country Areas and Populations (cont.)
Tift Tifton 268 40,793 Warren Warrenton 286 6,101
Toombs Lyons 371 27,274 Washington Sandersville 683 20,118
Towns Hiawassee 165 10,315 Wayne Jesup 647 28,390
Treutlen Soperton 202 6,753 Webster Perston 210 2,289
Troup La Grange 415 62,015 Wheeler Alamo 299 6,706
Turner Ashburn 289 9,474 White Cleveland 242 24,055
Twiggs Jeffersonville 362 10,299 Whitfield Dalton 291 90,889
Union Blairsville 320 19,782 Wilcox Abbeville 382 8,721
Upson Thomaston 326 27,679 Wilkes Washington 470 10,457
Walker La Fayette 446 63,890 Wilkinson Irwinton 451 10,143
Walton Monroe 330 75,647 Worth Sylvester 575 21,996
Ware Waycross 970 34,492 TOTALS 58,123 9,072,576

lation is projected to reach 10.2 million by 2015 and 11.4 million by 2025. The population density was 153.4 per sq mi in 2004.

During the first half of the 18th century, restrictive government policies discouraged settlement. In 1752, when Georgia became a royal colony, the population numbered only 3,500, of whom 500 were blacks. Growth was rapid thereafter, and by 1773, there were 33,000 people, almost half of them black. The American Revolution brought free land and an influx of settlers, so that by 1800 the population had swelled to 162,686. Georgia passed the 1 million mark by 1860, the 2 million mark by 1900, and by 1960, the population had doubled again. Georgia's population increased 19% between 1980 and 1990.

In 2004, the median age was 34. Over 26.4% of the population was under the age of 18, while 9.6% was age 65 or older.

There has always been a strained relationship between rural and urban Georgians, and the state's political system long favored the rural population. Since before the American Revolution, the city people have called country folk "crackers," a term that implies a lack of good manners and may derive from the fact that these pioneers drove their cattle before them with whips.

The state's three largest cities in 2004 were Atlanta, with an estimated population of 419,122; Columbus, 182,850; and Savannah, 129,808. The Atlanta metropolitan area had an estimated population of 4,708,297.


Georgia has been fundamentally a white/black state, with minimal ethnic diversity. Most Georgians are of English or Scotch-Irish descent. The number of Georgians who were foreign born rose dramatically between 1990 and 2000, from 173,126 (or 2.6% of the population) to 577,273 (7.1%). The 1990 figure was, in turn, a considerable increase over the 1980 total of 91,480 foreign-born Georgians and the 1970 figure of 33,000.

Between 1970 and 2000, the number of Georgians from Asia or the Pacific Islands increased from 8,838 in 1970 to 24,461 in 1980, to 76,000 in 1990, and to an estimated 177,416 in 2000 (173,170 Asians and 4,246 Pacific Islanders). In 2000, Asian Indians were the largest group, with a population of 46,132, followed by Vietnamese (29,016, up from 6,284 in 1990), Koreans (28,745), and Chinese (27,446). In 2004, 2.6% of the population was Asian and 0.1% was Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Georgia's black population declined from a high of 47% of the total population in 1880 to about 26% in 1970, when there were 1,187,149 blacks. Black citizens accounted for 27% of the total population and numbered 1,747,000 in 1990. In 2000, the black population was estimated at 2,349,542, or 28.7% of the state total, the third-largest black population among the 50 states. By 2004, 29.6% of the population was black. Atlanta, which had 255,689 black residents (61.4%) in 2000, has been a significant center for the development of black leadership, especially at Atlanta University. With its long-established black elite, Atlanta has also been a locus for large black-owned business enterprises. There are elected and appointed blacks in the state government, and in 1973, Atlanta elected its first black mayor, Maynard Jackson. By 1984, there were 13 black mayors, including Andrew J. Young of Atlanta.

The American Indian population in Georgia was estimated to be 21,737 in 2000. The great Cherokee Nation and other related tribes had been effectively removed from the state 150 years earlier. In 2004, 0.3% of the population was American Indian. About 5.3% of the population (435,227 people) was of Hispanic or Latino origin as of 2000. That figure had increased to 6.8% by 2004. In 2004, 1% of the population reported origin of two or more races.


The first Europeans entering what is now Georgia found it occupied almost entirely by Creek Indians of the Muskogean branch of Hokan-Siouan stock. Removed by treaty to Indian Territory after their uprising in 1813, the Creek left behind only such places-names as Chattahoochee, Chattooga, and Okefenokee. Except for the South Midland speech of the extreme northern up-country, Georgia English is typically Southern. Loss of the /r/ after a vowel in the same syllable is common. The diphthong /ai/ as in right is so simplified that Northern speakers hear the word as rat. Can't rhymes with paint, and borrow, forest, foreign, and orange all have the /ah/ vowel as in father. However, a highly unusual variety of regional differences, most of them in long vowels and diphthongs, makes a strong contrast between northern up-country and southern low-country speech. In such words as care and stairs, for example, many up-country speakers have a vowel like that in cat, while many low-country speakers have a vowel like that in pane.

In general, northern Georgia snake doctor contrasts with southern Georgia mosquito hawk (dragonfly), goobers with pinders (peanuts), French harp with harmonica, plum peach with press peach (both clingstone peaches), nicker with whicker for a horse's neigh, and sallet with salad. In Atlanta a big sandwich is a poorboy; in Savannah, a peach pit is a kernel.

A distinctive variety of black English, called Gullah, is spoken in the islands off the Georgia and South Carolina coast, to which Creole-speaking slaves escaped from the mainland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Characteristic grammatical features include a lack of inflection in the personal pronoun, the invariant form of the be verb, and the absence of the final s in the third person singular of the present tense. Many of the private personal names stem directly from West African languages.

In 2000, 6,843,038 Georgians90.1% of the population five years old and olderspoke only English at home, down from 95.2% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali. The category "Other Indic languages" includes Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and Romany. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Turkish.

Population 5 years an over 7,594,476 100.0
  Speak only English 6,843,038 90.1
  Speak a language other than English 751,438 9.9
Speak a language other than English 751,438 9.9
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 426,115 5.6
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 43,428 0.6
  German 32,777 0.4
  Vietnamese 27,671 0.4
  Korean 25,814 0.3
  African languages 24,752 0.3
  Chinese 23,812 0.3
  Gujarathi 11,133 0.1
  Other Indic languages 9,473 0.1
  Other Asian languages 8,673 0.1
  Aabric 8,557 0.1
  Japanese 8,257 0.1
  Hindi 7,596 0.1
  Tagalog 7,308 0.1
  Russian 7,175 0.1
  Urdu 7,109 0.1


The Church of England was the established church in colonial Georgia. During this period, European Protestants were encouraged to immigrate and German Lutherans and Moravians took advantage of the opportunity. Roman Catholics were barred and Jews were not welcomed, but persons of both denominations came anyway. In the mid-18th century, George Whitefield, called the Great Itinerant, helped touch off the Great Awakening, the religious revival out of which came the Methodist and Baptist denominations. Daniel Marshall, the first "separate" Baptist in Georgia, established a church near Kiokee Creek in 1772. Some 16 years later, James Asbury formed the first Methodist Conference in Georgia.

The American Revolution resulted in the lessening of the authority of Anglicanism and a great increase in the number of Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. During the 19th century, fundamentalist sects were especially strong among blacks. Roman Catholics from Maryland, Ireland, and Hispaniola formed a numerically small but important element in the cities, and Jewish citizens were active in the leadership of Savannah and Augusta. Catholics and Jews enjoyed general acceptance from the early 1800s until the first two decades of the 20th century, when they became the targets of political demagogues, notably Thomas E. Watson.

In 2000, most of the religious adherents in the state were Evangelical Protestants with the Southern Baptist Convention claiming 1,719,484 adherents in about 3,233 congregations; there were 34,227 newly baptized members in 2002. Mainline Protestants included 476,727 United Methodists (in 2004), 105,774 USA Presbyterians (2000), and 71,950 Episcopalians (2000). Roman Catholic adherents in 2004 numbered about 447,126. Judaism claimed about 93,500 adherents in 2000, and there were about 38,882 Muslims the same year. Only 16 Buddhist and 15 Hindu congregations were reported, without membership numbers. About 55.2% of the population was not counted as part of any religious organization.


Georgia's location between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean makes it the link between the eastern seaboard and the Gulf states. In the 18th century, Carolina fur traders crossed the Savannah River at the site of Augusta and followed trails to the Mississippi River. Pioneer farmers soon followed the same trails and used the many river tributaries to send their produce to Savannah, Georgia's first great depot. Beginning in 1816, steamboats plied the inland rivers, but they never replaced the older shallow-drafted Petersburg boats, propelled by poles.

From the 1830s onward, businessmen in the eastern cities of Savannah, Augusta, and Brunswick built railroads west to maintain their commerce. The two principal lines, the Georgia and the Central of Georgia, were required by law to make connection with a state-owned line, the Western and Atlantic, at the new town of Atlanta, which in 1847 became the link between Georgia and the Ohio Valley. By the Civil War, Georgia, with more miles of railroad than any other Deep South state, was a vital link between the eastern and western sectors of the Confederacy. After the war, the railroads contributed to urban growth as towns sprang up along their routes. Trackage increased from 4,532 mi (7,294 km) in 1890 to 7,591 mi (12,217 km) in 1920. But with competition from motor carriers, total trackage declined to 4,848 rail mi (7,805 km) by 2003. In the same year, CSX and Norfolk Southern were the only Class I railroads operating within the state. As of 2006, Amtrak provided east-west service through Atlanta, and north-south service through Savannah. In 1979, Atlanta inaugurated the first mass-transit system in the state, including the South's first subway.

Georgia's old intracoastal waterway carries about 1 million tons of shipping annually and is also used by pleasure craft and fishing vessels. Savannah's modern port facilities handled 28.176 million tons of cargo in 2004, making it the state's main deepwater port and the 28th busiest port in the Unites States. The coastal cities of Brunswick and St. Mary's also have deepwater docks. In 2004, Georgia had 721 mi (1,160 km) of navigable inland waterways. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 25.356 million tons.

In the 1920s, Georgia became the gateway to Florida for motorists. Today, I-75 is the main route from Atlanta to Florida, and I-20 is the major east-west highway. Both cross at Atlanta with I-85, which proceeds southeast from South Carolina to Alabama. I-95 stretches along the coast from South Carolina through Savannah to Jacksonville, Florida. During the 1980s, Atlanta invested $1.4 billion in a freeway expansion program that permitted capac-ity to double. In 2004, Georgia had 116,917 mi (188,236 km) of public roads, some 7.896 million registered motor vehicles, and 5,793,143 licensed drivers.

In 2005, Georgia had a total of 455 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 341 airports, 109 heliports, 4 STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 1 seaplane base. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the air traffic hub in the Southeast and in 2004 was the busiest airport in the United States with 41,123,857 enplanements.


The history of what is now Georgia was influenced by two great prehistoric events: first, the upheaval that produced the mountains of the north, and second, the overflow of an ancient ocean that covered and flattened much of the rest of the state. Human beings have inhabited Georgia for at least 12,000 years. The first nomadic hunters were replaced by shellfish eaters who lived along the rivers. Farming communities later grew up at these sites, reaching their height in the Master Farmer culture about ad 800. These Native Americans left impressive mounds at Ocmulgee, near Macon, and at Etowah, north of Atlanta.

During the colonial period, the most important Indian tribes were the Creek, who lived along the central and western rivers, and the Cherokee, who lived in the mountains. By clever diplomacy, the Creek were able to maintain their position as the fulcrum of power between the English on the one hand and the French and Spanish on the other. With the ascendancy of the English and the achievement of statehood, however, the Creek lost their leverage and were expelled from Georgia in 1826. The Cherokee sought to adopt the white man's ways in their effort to avoid expulsion or annihilation. Thanks to their remarkable linguist Sequoyah, they learned to write their own language, later running their own newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, and their own schools. Some even owned slaves. Unfortunately for the Cherokee, gold was discovered on their lands; the Georgia state legislature confiscated their territory and outlawed the system of self-government the Cherokee had developed during the 1820s. Despite a ruling by the US Supreme Court, handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall, that Georgia had acted illegally, federal and state authorities expelled the Cherokee between 1832 and 1838. Thousands died on the march to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), known ever since as the Trail of Tears.

Georgia's first European explorer was Hernando de Soto of Spain, who in 1540 crossed the region looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. French Huguenots under Jean Ribault claimed the Georgia coast in 1562 but were driven out by the Spanish captain Pedro Menéndez Avilés in 1564, who by 1586 had established the mission of Santa Catalina de Gaule on St. Catherines Island. (The ruins of this missionthe oldest European settlement in Georgiawere discovered by archaeologists in 1982.) By 1700, Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries had established an entire chain of missions along the Sea Islands and on the lower Chattahoochee.

From Charles Town, in the Carolina Colony, the English challenged Spain for control of the region, and by 1702 they had forced the Spaniards back to St. Augustine, Florida. In 1732, after the English had become convinced of the desirability of locating a buffer between the valuable rice-growing colony of Carolina and Indian-held lands to the south and west, King George II granted a charter to a group called the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America. The best known of the trustees was the soldier-politician and philanthropist James Edward Oglethorpe. His original intention was to send debtors from English prisons to Georgia, but Parliament refused to support the idea. Instead, Georgia was to be a place where the industrious poor would produce those things England needed, such as silk and wine, and would guard the frontier. Rum and slavery were expressly prohibited.

Oglethorpe and the first settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff on 12 February 1733 and were given a friendly reception by a small band of Yamacraw Indians and their chief, Tomochichi. Oglethorpe is best remembered for laying out the town of Savannah in a unique design, featuring numerous plazas that still delight tourists today; however, as a military man, his main interest was defending the colony against the Spanish. After war was declared in 1739, Oglethorpe conducted an unsuccessful siege of St. Augustine. The Spaniards counterattacked at Oglethorpe's fortified town of Frederica on St. Simons Island in July 1742 but were repulsed in a confused encounter known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh, which ended Spanish threats to the British colonies. Soon after-ward, Oglethorpe returned permanently to England.

The trustees' restrictions on rum and slavery were gradually removed, and in 1752, control over Georgia reverted to Parliament. Georgia thus became a royal colony, its society, like that of Carolina, shaped by the planting of rice, indigo, and cotton. After the French and Indian War, settlers began to pour into the Georgia backcountry above Augusta. Because these back-country pioneers depended on the royal government for protection against the Indians, they were reluctant to join the protests by Savannah merchants against new British mercantile regulations. When war came, however, the backcountry seized the opportunity to wrest political control of the new state away from Savannah.

Georgians spent the first three years of the Revolutionary War in annual attempts to invade Florida, each of them unsuccessful. The British turned their attention to Georgia late in 1778, reestablishing control of the state as far as Briar Creek, midway between Savannah and Augusta. After a combined French and American force failed to retake Savannah in October 1779, the city was used by the British as a base from which to recapture Charleston, in present-day South Carolina, and to extend their control further inland. For a year, most of Georgia was under British rule, and there was talk of making the restoration permanent in the peace settlement. However, Augusta was retaken in June 1781, and independent government was restored. A year later, the British were forced out of Savannah.

With Augusta as the new capital of Georgia, a period of rapid expansion began. Georgia ratified the US Constitution on 2 January 1788, the fourth state to do so. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 made cotton cultivation profitable in the lands east of the Oconee River, relinquished by the Creek Indians under the Treaty of New York three years earlier. A mania for land speculation climaxed in the mid-1790s with the Yazoo Fraud, in which the state legislature sold 50 million acres (20 million hectares), later the states of Alabama and Mississippi, to land companies of which many of the legislators were members.

Georgia surrendered its lands west of the Chattahoochee River to the federal government in 1802. As the Indians were removed to the west, the lands they had occupied were disposed of by suc-cessive lotteries. The settlement of the cotton lands brought prosperity to Georgia, a fact that influenced Georgians to prefer the Union rather than secession during the constitutional crises of 1833 and 1850, when South Carolina was prepared to secede.

After South Carolina did secede in 1860, Georgia also withdrew from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. Union troops occupied the Sea Islands during 1862. Confederate forces defeated the Union Army's advance into northern Georgia at Chickamauga in 1863, but in 1864, troops under General William Tecumseh Sherman moved relentlessly upon Atlanta, capturing it in September. In November, Sherman began his famous "march to the sea," in which his 60,000 troops cut a swath of destruction 60 mi (97 km) wide. Sherman presented Savannah as a Christmas present to President Abraham Lincoln.

After ratifying the 14th and 15th amendments, Georgia was readmitted to the Union on 15 July 1870. Commercial interests were strong in antebellum Georgia, but their political power was balanced by that of the great planters. After the Democrats recovered control of the state in 1871, business interests dominated politics. Discontented farmers supported an Independent Party in the 1870s and 1880s, and then the Populist Party in the 1890s. Democratic representative Thomas E. Watson, who declared himself a Populist during the early 1890s, was defeated three times in congressional races by the party he had deserted. Watson subsequently fomented antiblack, anti-Jewish, and anti-Catholic sentiment in order to control a bloc of rural votes with which he dominated state politics for 10 years. In 1920, Watson finally was elected to the US Senate, but he died in 1922. Rebecca L. Felton was appointed to succeed him, thus becoming the first woman to serve in the US Senate, although she was replaced after one day.

Franklin D. Roosevelt learned the problems of Georgia farmers firsthand when he made Warm Springs his second home in 1942. However, his efforts to introduce the New Deal to Georgia after he became president in 1933 were blocked by Governor Eugene Talmadge, who advertised himself as a "real dirt farmer." It was not until the administration of Eurith D. Rivers (193741) that progressive social legislation was enacted. Governor Ellis Arnall gained national attention for his forward-looking administration (194347), which revised the outdated 1877 state constitution and gave the vote to 18-year-olds. Georgia treated the nation to the spectacle of three governors at once when Eugene Talmadge was elected for a fourth time in 1946 but died before assuming office. His son Herman was then elected by the legislature, but the new lieutenant governor, M. E. Thompson, also claimed the office, and Arnall refused to step aside until the issue was resolved. The courts finally decided in favor of Thompson.

The US Supreme Court order to desegregate public schools in 1954 provided Georgia politicians with an emotional issue they exploited to the hilt. A blow was dealt to old-style politics in 1962, however, when the Supreme Court declared the county-unit system unconstitutional. Under this system, state officers and members of Congress had been selected by county units instead of by popular vote since 1911; the new ruling made city voters as important as those in rural areas. During the 1960s, Atlanta was the home base for the civil rights efforts of Martin Luther King Jr., though his campaign to end racial discrimination in Georgia focused most notably on the town of Albany. Federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 changed the state's political climate by guaranteeing the vote to black citizens. An African American man, Julian Bond, was elected to the state legislature in 1965; in 1973, Maynard Jackson was elected major of Atlanta, thus becoming the first black mayor of a large southern city. For decades, the belief that defense of segregation was a prerequisite for state elective office cost white southerners any chance they might have had for national leadership. Governor Jimmy Carter's unequivocal renunciation of racism in his inaugural speech in 1971 thus marked a turning point in Georgia politics and was a key factor in his election to the presidency in 1976.

Another African American, former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, succeeded Jackson as mayor of Atlanta in 1981, when that cityand the statewas experiencing an economic boom. The prosperity of Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s stemmed largely from its service-based economy, which was centered on such industries as the airlines, telecommunications, distribution, and insurance. The decline of service industries in the early 1990s, however, pulled Atlanta and the state of Georgia as a whole into a recession. That decline was epitomized by the 1991 collapse of Eastern Airlines, one of the two airlines that used Atlanta as its hub, which cost Atlanta 10,000 jobs. While Atlanta's economic expansion produced a more mature economy, it also raised the price of labor. Nevertheless, as the decade progressed, the state's economy rebounded, fueled in part by the science and technology sector. Georgia emerged as "a leading light" in the South in building a strong research and technology infrastructure. Both 1996 and 1999 were record years for job growth. The state's unemployment rate was 4% in 1999, slightly lower than the national rate. While the economy boomed, there were changes on the horizon: In 2000, major employers Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, and BellSouth announced combined layoffs of more than 15,000 Georgia workers. Still, some analysts predicted the state economy could weather such fluctuations.

In 1996, Atlanta hosted the 26th Summer Olympics, which marked the 100th anniversary of the modern games. The event was marred by the July 27 explosion of a homemade pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.

In July 1994, record flooding over a 10-day period caused 31 deaths and millions of dollars in damage in central and southwest Georgia. But in the summer of 2000, Georgians had a decidedly different problem. The state was parched by drought. Some areas had received less rain in the previous 25 months than at any time in recorded weather history. Peanut and cotton farmers in the southern part of the state struggled to irrigate fields. The residents of greater Atlanta, where nearly 100,000 people are added each year, felt the effects as well. Increased demand combined with drought conditions to require authorities to restrict outdoor watering in the 15-county Atlanta region. But the situation promised to reach beyond prevailing weather conditions and preservation measures: Officials estimated that by 2020, the region's demand for water would increase by 50%. Meanwhile Georgia's governor worked with the governors of neighboring Alabama and Florida to reach a voluntary agreement on how to share water from rivers the states share.

Governor Sonny Purdue outlined the problems Georgia faced in his 2003 State of the State address, including a weak economy (following the US recession that had begun in 2001), declining tax revenues, and poor SAT scores. To address the last topic, Purdue stressed the need for higher education standards. In 2003, the Georgia Board of Regents approved raising tuition by as much as 15% at the state's public colleges and universities to compensate for state budget cuts. Georgia's $460 million HOPE Scholarship program, funded by the state lottery, covers all tuition, mandatory fees, and book costs for all Georgia residents attending a state school and maintaining a B average. In 2005, the state still dealt with uninspired economic growth (despite a slightly rising employment rate) created by rising interest rates, dwindling federal fiscal stimulus, and overextended consumers.


Georgia's first constitution, adopted in 1777, was considered one of the most democratic in the new nation. Power was concentrated in a unicameral legislature; a Senate was added in 1789. The Civil War period brought a flurry of constitution making in 1861, 1865, and 1868. When the Democrats displaced the Republicans after Reconstruction, they felt obliged to replace the constitution of 1868 with a rigidly restrictive one. This document, adopted in 1877, modified by numerous amendments, and revised in 1945 and 1976, continued to govern the state until July 1983, when a new constitution, ratified in 1982, took effect. There were 63 amendments by January 2005.

The legislature, called the General Assembly, consists of a 56-seat Senate and a 180-seat House of Representatives; all the legislators serve two-year terms. The legislature convenes on the second Monday in January and stays in session for 40 legislative days. Recesses called during a session may considerably extend its length. Special sessions may be called by petition of three-fifths of the members of each house. During the 1960s and 1970s, the legislature engaged in a series of attempts to redistrict itself to provide equal representation based on population; it was finally redistrict-ed in 1981 on the basis of 1980 Census results. House members must be at least 21 years old and senators, at least 25. All legislators must be US citizens, have lived in the state for two years, and have been a resident in their district for at least one year. Legislators received a salary of $16,200 in 2004.

Georgia Presidential Vote by Political parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 12 *Truman (D) 254,646 76,691 85,136 1,636
1952 12 Stevenson (D) 456,823 198,916
1956 12 Stevenson (D) 444,6867 222,778
1960 12 *Kennedy (D) 458,638 274,472
1964 12 Goldwater (R) 522,163 616,584
1968 12 Wallace (AI) 334,440 380,111 535,550
1972 12 *Nixon (R) 289,529 881,490
1976 12 *Carter (D) 979,409 483,743 1,1681 1,071
1980 12 Carter (D) 890,955 654,168 15,627
1984 12 *Reagan (R) 706,628 1,068,722 1512
1988 12 *Bush (R) 714,792 1,081,331 8,435 5,009
IND. (Perot)
1992 13 *Clinton (D) 1,008,996 995,252 7,110 309,657
1996 13 Dole (R) 1,053,849 1,080,843 17,870 146,337
IND. (Buchanan) (Nader)
2000 13 *Bush, G. W. (R) 1,116,230 1,419,720 36,332 10,926 13,432
WRITE-IN (Peroutka)
2004 15 *Bush, G. W. (R) 1,336,149 1,914,254 18,387 580 2,231

Elected executives include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller, state school superintendent, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor, and five public service commissioners. Each serves a four-year term. The governor is limited to a maximum of two consecutive terms. To be eligible for office, the governor and lieutenant governor, who are elected separately, must be at least 30 years old and have been US citizens for 15 years and Georgia citizens for six years preceding the election. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $127,303.

To become law, a bill must be passed by both houses of the legislature and approved by the governor or passed over the executive veto by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of both houses. All revenue measures originate in the House, but the Senate can propose, or concur in, amendments to these bills. Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of each chamber and must then be ratified by a majority of the popular vote. If the governor does not sign or veto a bill, it becomes law after six days when the legislature is in session or after 40 days after the legislature has adjourned.

To be eligible to vote in state elections, a person must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen, and a resident in the county of registration. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.


The first political group to emerge in the state was the Federalist Party, but it was tainted by association with the Yazoo Fraud of the 1790s. The reform party at this time was the Democratic-Republican Party, headed in Georgia by James Jackson (whose followers included many former Federalists), William Crawford, and George Troup. During the presidency of Andrew Jackson (182937), one wing, headed by John Clark, supported the president and called itself the Union Party. The other faction, led by Troup, defended South Carolina's right to nullify laws and called itself the States' Rights Party. Subsequently, the Union Party affiliated with the Democrats, and the States' Rights Party merged with the Whigs. When the national Whig Party collapsed, many Georgia Whigs joined the Native American (Know-Nothing) Party. During Reconstruction, the Republican Party captured the governor's office, but Republican hopes died when federal troops were with-drawn from the state in 1870.

Georgia voted solidly Democratic between 1870 and 1960, despite challenges from the Independent Party in the 1880s and the Populists in the 1890s. Georgia cast its electoral votes for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election until 1964, when Republican Barry Goldwater won the state. Four years later, George C. Wallace of the American Independent Party received Georgia's 12 electoral votes. Republican Richard Nixon carried the state in 1972, as the Republicans also became a viable party at the local level. In 1976, Georgia's native son Jimmy Carter returned the state to the Democratic camp in presidential balloting. Another native Georgian and former Georgia governor, Lester Maddox, was the American Independent candidate in 1976.

Republican George W. Bush won 55% of the vote and Democrat Al Gore won 43% in the 2000 presidential election; in 2004, Bush won 58% to Democrat John Kerry's 41%.

After the 1994 elections, Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich became the first Republican to hold the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in 40 years. He resigned from Congress in 1999. In 1996, four-term US Democratic senator also Sam Nunn vacated his seat, which was won by Democrat Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran and triple amputee who had formerly headed the Veterans Administration. Cleland was defeated for reelection by Republican Saxby Chambliss in 2002.

Georgia's other senator, Republican Paul Coverdell, was elected in a special runoff election in 1992 and reelected in 1998. Coverdell died of a stroke in July 2000; former governor Zell Miller (Democrat) was appointed to succeed him. Miller was elected in November 2000 to serve the remaining four years of the term, but in 2003, he announced he would not run for reelection to the Senate in 2004. His seat was won by Republican Johnny Isakson.

In 1998, Georgians elected Democrat Roy Barnes governor, replacing outgoing (two-term) Democratic governor Zell Miller. Long-time Democrat Sonny Purdue changed party affiliations in 1998 to the Republican Party and won election as governor in 2002. He became the first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction in Georgia. Following the 2004 elections, Georgia's delegation to the House comprised seven Republicans and six Democrats. At the state level, there were 34 Republicans and 22 Democrats in the state Senate and 80 Democrats, 99 Republicans, and 1 independent in the state House in mid-2005. In 2004, there were 4,968,000 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state, which had 15 electoral votes in the presidential election that year.


The history of county government in Georgia is a long one. In 1758, colonial Georgia was divided into eight parishes, the earliest political districts represented in the Royal Assembly. By the constitution of 1777, the parishes were transformed into counties, and as settlement gradually expanded, the number of counties grew. The Georgia constitution of 1877 granted counties from one to three seats in the House of Representatives, depending on population. This county-unit system was used in counting votes for elected state and congressional offices until 1962, when it was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Originally administered by judges of county courts, today Georgia counties are administered by the commission system. In 1965, the legislature passed a home-rule law permitting local governments to amend their own charters.

The traditional and most common form of municipal government is the mayor-council form. But city managers are employed by some communities, and a few make use of the commission system. During the 1970s, there were efforts to merge some of the larger cities with their counties. However, most county voters showed an unwillingness to be burdened with city problems.

In 2005, Georgia had 159 counties, 531 municipal governments, 581 special districts, and 180 school districts.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 377,938 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Georgia operates under the authority of executive order; the state homeland security director is appointed.

The State Ethics Commission is charged with providing procedures for public disclosure of all state and local campaign contributions and expenditures.

Educational services are provided by the Board of Education, which exercises jurisdiction over all public schools, including teacher certification and curriculum approval. The superintendent of schools is the board's executive officer. The public colleges are operated by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, whose chief administrator is the chancellor. Air, water, road, and rail services are administered by the Department of Transportation.

The Reorganization Act of 1972 made the Department of Human Resources a catch-all agency for health, rehabilitation, and social-welfare programs. The department offers special services to the mentally ill, drug abusers and alcoholics, neglected and abused children and adults, juvenile offenders, the handicapped, the aged, and the poor.

Public protection services are rendered through the Department of Public Safety. Responsibility for natural-resource protection is lodged with the Department of Natural Resources, into which 33 separate agencies were consolidated in 1972. The Environmental Protection Division is charged with maintaining air, land, and water quality standards; the Wildlife Resources Division manages wildlife resources; and the Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Division administers state parks, recreational areas, and historic sites. Labor services are provided by the Department of Labor, which oversees workers' compensation programs.


Georgia's highest court is the supreme court, created in 1845 and consisting of a chief justice, presiding justice (who exercises the duties of chief justice in his absence), and five associate justices. They are elected by the people to staggered six-year terms in non-partisan elections.

Georgia's general trial courts are the superior courts, which have exclusive jurisdiction in cases of divorce and land title and in felony cases. As of 1999, there were 175 superior court judges, all of them elected for four-year terms in nonpartisan elections. Cases from local courts can be carried to the court of appeals, consisting of 10 judges elected for staggered six-year terms in nonpartisan elections. Each county has a probate court; there are also separate juvenile courts. Most judges of the county and city courts are appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 51,104 prisoners were held in Georgia's state and federal prisons, an increase from 47,208 or 8.3% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 3,436 inmates were female, up from 3,145 or 9.3% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Georgia had an incarceration rate of 574 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2004 Georgia had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 455.5 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 40,217 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 376,656 reported incidents or 4,265.9 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Georgia has a death penalty, of which lethal injection is the sole method of execution. On 5 October 2001, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that use of the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment. From 1976 through 5 May 2006 the state executed 39 persons; three were executed in 2005. As of 1 January 2006, there were 109 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Georgia spent $285,944,298 on homeland security, an average of $34 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 88,933 active-duty military personnel stationed in Georgia, 5,076 National Guard and Reserve personnel, and 26,307 civilian employees. Major facilities include Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ft. Gillem, and Ft. McPherson, all located in the Atlanta area; Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah; Ft. Gordon at Augusta; Moody Air Force Base at Macon; Ft. Benning, a major Army training installation at Columbus; Robins Air Force Base, between Columbus and Macon; and a Navy Supply School in Athens. In 2004, Georgia firms received defense contracts worth $3.9 billion, down from $6.0 billion in 2001. Defense payroll, including retired military pay, amounted to $6.6 billion in 2004.

There were 760,323 veterans of US military service in Georgia as of 2003, of whom 67,200 served in World War II; 63,192 in the Korean conflict; 228,543 during the Vietnam era; and 162,895 in the Persian Gulf War. In all, 77,000 Georgians fought and 1,503 died in World War I, and 320,000 served and 6,754 were killed in World War II. In 2004, federal government expenditures for Georgia veterans amounted to $1.9 billion.

As of 31 October 2004, the Georgia State Police employed 795 full-time sworn officers. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, part of the Department of Public Safety, operates the Georgia Crime Laboratory, one of the oldest and largest in the United States.


During the colonial period, the chief source of immigrants to Georgia was England; other important national groups were Germans, Scots, and Scotch-Irish. The number of African slaves increased from 1,000 in 1752 to nearly 20,000 in 1776. After the Revolution, a large number of Virginians came to Georgia, as well as lesser numbers of French refugees from Hispaniola and immigrants from Ireland and Germany. Following the Civil War, there was some immigration from Italy, Russia, and Greece. The greatest population shifts during the 20th century have been from country to town and, after World War I, of black Georgians to northern cities. Georgia suffered a net loss through migration of 502,000 from 1940 to 1960 but enjoyed a net gain of 329,000 during 197080 and about 500,000 during 198090. From 1985 to 1990, Georgia's net gain through migration was greater than that of any other state except California and Florida. There were net gains of 598,000 in domestic migration and 90,000 in international migration between 1990 and 1998. From 1980 to 1990, the share of native-born residents in Georgia fell from 71% to 64.5%. In 1998, Georgia admitted 10,445 immigrants from foreign countries. Between 1990 and 1998, the state's overall population increased 18%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 192,844 and net internal migration was 232,666, for a net gain of 425,510 people.


Multistate agreements in which Georgia participates include the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin Compact, Appalachian Regional Commission, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Historic Chattahoochee Compact, Interstate Rail Passenger Network Compact, Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin Compact, Southern Regional Education Board, Southeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, Southern Growth Policies Board, and Southern States Energy Board. In fiscal year 2005, federal aid to Georgia totaled $9.014 billion. For fiscal year 2006, federal grants amounted to an estimated $9.008 billion, and an estimated $9.355 billion in fiscal year 2007.


According to the original plans of Georgia's founders, its people were to be sober spinners of silk. The reality was far different, however. During the period of royally appointed governors, Georgia became a replica of Carolina, a plantation province producing rice, indigo, and cotton. After the Revolution, the invention of the cotton gin established the plantation system even more firmly by making cotton planting profitable in the piedmont. Meanwhile, deerskins and other furs and lumber were produced in the backcountry, while rice remained an important staple along the coast. Turnpikes, canals, and railroads were built, and textile manufac-turing became increasingly important, especially in Athens and Augusta.

At the end of the Civil War, the state's economy was in ruins, and tenancy and sharecropping were common. Manufacturing, especially of textiles, was promoted by "New South" spokesmen such as Henry Grady of Atlanta and Patrick Walsh of Augusta. Atlanta, whose nascent industries included production of a thick sweet syrup called Coca-Cola, symbolized the New South ideathen as now. Farmers did not experience the benefits of progress, however. Many of them flocked to the mills, while others joined the Populist Party in an effort to air their grievances. To the planters' relief, cotton prices rose from the turn of the century through World War I. Meanwhile, Georgians lost control of their railroads and industries to northern corporations. During the 1920s, the boll weevil wrecked the cotton crops, and farmers resumed their flight to the cities. Not until the late 1930s did Georgia accept Social Security, unemployment compensation, and other relief measures.

Georgia's economy underwent drastic changes as a result of World War II. Many northern industries moved to Georgia to take advantage of low wages and low taxes, conditions that meant low benefits for Georgians. The raising of poultry and livestock became more important than crop cultivation, and manufacturing replaced agriculture as the chief source of income. In 1997, less than 1% of the employed labor force was working in agriculture; 32% were service workers; 22% retail salespeople; and 19% manufacturers. Georgia is a leader in the making of paper products, tufted textile products, processed chickens, naval stores, lumber, and transportation equipment.

Textile manufacturing, Georgia's oldest industry, remained its single most important industrial source of income until 1999, when output from food processing exceeded it. From 1997 to 2001, annual textile output declined 8.4%, whereas output from food processing increased 12.1%. Other manufacturing sectors were also increasing, so that from 1997 to 2000, there was an overall 16% increase in Georgia's manufacturing output. More than half of the gain was lost, however, in the national recession in 2001, as manufacturing output fell 8.3% in one year, reducing the net gain since 1997 to 6.4%. By contrast, output from general services increased nearly 40% from 1997 to 2001, and from financial services (including insurance and real estate) increased almost 32%. Output from other service areaswholesale and retail trade, transportation and public utilities, and governmentall increased more than 25% from 1997 to 2001. The national recession of 2001, however, affected Georgia's economy worse than most, as its strong annual growth rates at the end of the 20th century (8.2% in 1998, 8.5% in 1999 and 6.7% in 2000) dropped abruptly to 1.5% in 2001. The state lost more than 133,000 jobs from January 2001 to October 2002. Layoffs in the fourth quarter of 2002 amounted to a 2.2% increase over the fourth quarter of 2001, the worst performance in the country.

Georgia's gross state product (GSP) in 2005 was $364 billion, up from $343.125 billion in 2004. Manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) in 2004 accounted for the biggest portion at $47.677 billion or nearly 13.9% of GSP, followed by real estate at $38.293 billion (11.1% of GSP), and wholesale trade at $25.847 billion (7.5% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 722,089 small businesses in Georgia. Of the 202,979 businesses having employees, a total of 198,271 or 97.7% were small companies. An estimated 29,547 new businesses were established in Georgia in 2004, up 22% from the previous year. Business terminations that same year came to 27,835, up 7.5% from the previous year. Business bankruptcies totaled 2,090 in 2004, up 31.9% from 2003. In 2005, the personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 930 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Georgia as the fifth-highest in the nation.


In 2005 Georgia had a gross state product (GSP) of $364 billion which accounted for 2.9% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 10 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004, Georgia had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $29,782. This ranked 36th in the United States and was 90% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 3.7%. Georgia had a total personal income (TPI) of $265,599,116,000, which ranked 12th in the United States and reflected an increase of 5.9% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 6.0%. Earnings of persons employed in Georgia increased from $203,459,898,000 in 2003 to $216,399,592,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.4%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 2002 to 2004 in 2004 dollars was $43,217 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 12.0% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Georgia numbered 4,693,900, with approximately 214,800 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 4.6%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 4,078,100. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Georgia was 8.3% in January 1983. The historical low was 3.4% in December 2000. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 5.2% of the labor force was employed in construction; 21.4% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 5.6% in financial activities; 13.4% in professional and business services; 10.6% in education and health services; 9.3% in leisure and hospitality services; and 16.1% in government. Data were unavailable for manufacturing.

The trend during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s was toward increased employment in trade and service industries and toward multiple job holding. Employment in agriculture, the leading industry prior to World War II, continued its long-term decline. One indication of declining employment was the decrease in farm population, which went from 515,000 in 1960 to 228,000 in 1970, to 121,000 in 1980, and to 73,647 in 1990. Georgia's farm employment in 1996 totaled about 42,000. The mining, construction, and manufacturing industries registered employment increases but declined in importance relative to such sectors as trade and services.

Georgia is not considered to be a unionized state. Among state laws strictly regulating union activity is a right-to-work law enacted in 1947. In that year, union members in Georgia numbered 256,800.

In 1962, the Georgia legislature denied state employees the right to strike. Strikes in Georgia tend to occur less frequently than in most heavily industrialized states. One of the earliest state labor laws was an 1889 act requiring employers to provide seats for females to use when resting. A child-labor law adopted in 1906 prohibited the employment of children under 10 years of age in manufacturing. A general workers' compensation law was enacted in 1920.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 190,000 of Georgia's 3,765,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 5% of those so employed, down from 6.4% in 2004 and below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 226,000 workers (6%) in Georgia were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation.

As of 1 March 2006, Georgia had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 45.6% of the employed civilian labor force.


In 2005, Georgia's farm marketings totaled $5.9 billion (12th in the United States). Georgia ranked first in the production of peanuts and pecans, harvesting 25% of all the pecans grown in the United States in 2004 and 43% of the peanuts.

Cotton, first planted near Savannah in 1734, was the mainstay of Georgia's economy through the early 20th century, and the state's plantations also grew corn, rice, tobacco, wheat, and sweet potatoes. World War I stimulated the cultivation of peanuts along with other crops. By the 1930s, tobacco and peanuts were challenging cotton for agricultural supremacy, and Georgia had also become an important producer of peaches, a product for which the "Peach State" was still widely known in the early 2000s. In 2004, Georgia produced 52,500 tons of peaches.

After 1940, farm mechanization and consolidation were rapid. The number of tractors increased from 10,000 in 1940 to 85,000 by 1955. In 1940, 6 out of 10 farms were tenant operated; by the mid-1960s, this proportion had decreased to fewer than 1 in 6. The number of farms declined from 226,000 in 1945 to 49,000 in 2004, when the average farm size was 218 acres (88 hectares). Georgia's farmland area of 10.7 million acres (4.3 million hectares) represents roughly 30% of its land area.


In 2005, Georgia had an estimated 1.21 million cattle and calves valued at around $931.7 million, and in 2004 an estimated 275,000 hogs and pigs valued at around $25.3 million. Cows kept for milk production numbered an estimated 85,000 in 2003, when Georgia dairies produced around 1.4 billion lb (0.64 billion kg) of milk. In the same year, poultry farmers sold an estimated 6.3 billion lb (2.8 billion kg) of broilers, more than any other state, with a value of $2.14 billion, or about 47% of total farm receipts. The total egg production was 5.05 billion in 2003, valued at $395.8 million.


In 2004, the total commercial fishing catch in Georgia brought about 6.3 million lb (2.7 million kg) with a value of $11.3 million. Commercial fishing in Georgia involves more shellfish than finfish, the most important of which are caught in the nets of shrimp trawlers. Leading finfish are snappers, groupers, tilefish, and porgy. In 2003, the state had 6 processing and 30 wholesale plants. In 2002, the commercial fleet had about 226 vessels.

In brisk mountain streams and sluggish swamps, anglers catch bass, catfish, jackfish, bluegill, crappie, perch, and trout. In 2005, Georgia had 55 catfish farms covering 1,090 acres (441 hectares), with an inventory of 1.4 million stocker-sized and 6.3 million fingerlings in early 2006. Georgia issued 667,198 sport fishing licenses in 2004.


Georgia, which occupies 1.6% of the total US land area, has nearly 3.3% of the nation's forestland and nearly 5% of the nation's commercial forests. In 2004, Georgia's forest area totaled 24,405,000 acres (9,877,000 hectares), of which 23,802,000 acres (9,633,000 hectares) are commercial forest.

Forests cover about two-thirds of the state's land area. The most densely wooded counties are in the piedmont hills and northern mountains. Ware and Charlton counties in southeastern Georgia, containing the Okefenokee Swamp, are almost entirely forested. About 90% of Georgia's forestland is privately owned.

The chief products of Georgia's timber industry are pine lumber and pine panels for the building industry, hardwood lumber for the furniture industry, and pulp for the paper and box industry. In 2002, Georgia produced nearly 3 billion board feet of lumber (fourth in the United States), of which 87% was softwood (pine). Georgia is the leading softwood producer in the United States.

The chief recreational forest areas are in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, consisting of two main tracts in the northern and central part of the state. Georgia has 1,856,000 acres (751,123 hectares) of National Forest System lands, 99% of which are within the boundaries of the two major tracts.


According to data from the US Geological Survey, Georgia's output of nonfuel minerals was valued at $1.8 billion, up 3.4% from 2003, making it eighth among the 50 states in the production of nonfuel minerals and accounting for over 4% of the US total.

In 2004, Georgia produced about 24% of all clays in the United States and 2.7 times as much as the next highest state. Kaolin clay was the leading commodity, accounting for over 49% of all nonfuel mineral production, by value, that year and around 86% of all clay output. Crushed stone ranked second and represented over 30%, by value, of all nonfuel mineral output in 2004, followed by fuller's earth (1,4 million metric tons; $142 million), portland masonry cement, and construction sand and gravel.

Production of kaolin clay in 2004 totaled 6.78 million metric tons or $898 million, while output of crushed stone totaled 79.5 million metric tons or $544 million. Fuller's earth production came to 1.4 million metric tons or $142 million.

Georgia was one of two states that produced barite (used by the chemical and industrial filler and pigments industries). Georgia ranked third in the production of mica (out of five states) and in dimension stone; fourth in the output of common clays and crushed stone; fifth in feldspar dimension stone; and eighth in masonry cement. The state is also a producer of blue-gray granite, known as "Elberton granite," which is commonly used for road curbing in the northeastern United States. Overall, Georgia's production of dimension stone totaled 146 million metric tons and was valued at $22.1 million in 2004.


Georgia is an energy-dependent state that produces only a small proportion of its energy needs, most of it through hydroelectric power. There are no commercially recoverable petroleum or natural gas reserves, and the state's coal deposits are of no more than marginal importance. Georgia does have large amounts of timberland, however, and it has been estimated that 20%-40% of the state's energy demands could be met by using wood that is currently wasted. The state's southern location and favorable weather conditions also make solar power an increasingly attractive energy alternative. Georgia's extensive river system also offers the potential for further hydroelectric development.

As of 2003, Georgia had 98 electrical power service providers, of which 53 were publicly owned and 43 were cooperatives. Of the remaining two, both were investor owned. As of that same year there were 4,156,052 retail customers. Of that total, 2,158,412 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 1,668,488 customers, while publicly owned providers had 329,152 customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 34.815 million kW, with total production that same year at 124.076 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 93.3% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 78.638 billion kWh (63.3%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear fueled plants in second place with 33.256 billion kWh (26.8%). Other renewable power sources, natural gas plants, hydroelectric and petroleum fired plants accounted for the remainder.

As of 2006, Georgia had two operating nuclear power plants: the Edwin I. Hatch power station near Baxley and the Vogtle plant in Burke County, near Augusta.

All utilities are regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission, which must approve their rates.

Although exploration for oil has taken place off the coast, the state's offshore oil resources are expected to be slight. As of 2004, Georgia had no known proven reserves or production of crude oil or natural gas. The state's only refinery is used to produce asphalt.


Georgia was primarily an agrarian state before the Civil War, but afterward its cities developed a strong industrial base by taking advantage of abundant waterpower to operate factories. Textiles have long been dominant, but new industries have also been developed. Charles H. Herty, a chemist at the University of Georgia, discovered a new method of extracting turpentine that worked so well that Georgia led the nation in producing turpentine, tar, rosin, and pitch by 1982. Herty also perfected an economical way of making newsprint from southern pines, which was adopted by Georgia's paper mills. With the onset of World War II, meat-processing plants were built at rail centers, and fertilizer plants and cottonseed mills were expanded.

The state'sand Atlanta'smost famous product was created in 1886 when druggist John S. Pemberton developed a formula that he sold to Asa Griggs Candler, who in 1892 formed the Coca-Cola Co. In 1919, the Candlers sold the company to a syndicate headed by Ernest Woodruff, whose son Robert made "Coke" into the world's most widely known commercial product. The transport equipment, chemical, food-processing, apparel, and forest-products industries today rival textiles in economic importance.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Georgia's manufacturing sector covered some 20 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $131.454 billion. Of that total, food manufacturing accounted for the largest portion at $18.936 billion, followed by transportation equipment manufacturing at $17.266 billion; chemical manufacturing at $12.403 billion; textile product mills at $12.291 billion; paper manufacturing at $9.584 billion; and machinery manufacturing at $7.599 billion.

In 2004, a total of 419,562 people in Georgia were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 318,415 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the food manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 57,116, of which 45,793 were actual production workers, followed by the transportation equipment manufacturing industry at 39,757 (19,562 actual production workers); textile product mills at 34,776 employees (28,756 actual production workers); textile mills at 33,331 employees (29,844 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing at 28,796 employees (21,670 actual production workers); and plastics and rubber products manufacturing at 28,050 employees (22,499 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Georgia's manufacturing sector paid $15.518 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $1.921 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $1.661 billion; paper manufacturing at $1.058 billion; textile product mills at $1.034 billion; and chemical manufacturing at $1.021 billion.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Georgia's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $201.09 billion from 13,794 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 8,509 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 4,077 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers, accounting for 1,208 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $112.1 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $73.4 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $15.4 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Georgia was listed as having 34,050 retail establishments with sales of $90.09 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were gasoline stations (4,695); clothing and clothing accessories stores (4,640); food and beverage stores (3,998); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (3,949); and miscellaneous store retailers (3,471). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts stores accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $24.6 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $13.5 billion; food and beverage stores at $13.1 billion; gasoline stations at $8.7 billion; and clothing and clothing accessories stores at $5.09 billion. A total of 447,618 people were employed by the retail sector in Georgia that year.

Georgia exported goods worth $20.5 billion in 2005. Savannah is Georgia's most important export center.


Georgia's basic consumer protection law is the Fair Business Practices Act of 1975, which forbids representing products as having official approval when they do not, outlaws advertising without the intention of supplying a reasonable number of the items advertised, and empowers the administrator of the law to investigate and resolve complaints and seek penalties for unfair practices. The administrator heads the Office of Consumer Affairs, which now also administers laws that regulate charitable solicitation, offers to sell or buy business opportunities, buying services or clubs, and telemarketing.

A comprehensive "Lemon Law" was passed in 1990. In 1997, a number of changes were made in Georgia's basic consumer protection laws. The Consumers' Utility Counsel became a division of the Office of Consumer Affairs. The counsel represents the interests of consumers and small businesses before the Georgia Public Service Commission. Telemarketing, Internet, and home remodeling/home repair fraud became criminal offenses under the jurisdiction of the Office of Consumer Affairs, with maximum sentences of up to 10 years. Multilevel marketing is now covered along with business opportunities. A Consumer Insurance Advocate represents citizens before the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance, the courts, and federal administrative agencies that speak on behalf of consumers with regard to insurance, such as insurance rate increases or the denial of health care services. The Office of Consumer Education attempts to create a more informed marketplace so consumers can protect themselves against fraud.

The state's Attorney General's Office can also become involved in consumer protection. However, these activities are limited to the initiation of civil and criminal proceedings; and the representation of the state before state and federal regulatory agencies. The office has only limited subpoena powers and it has no authority to act in antitrust actions.

The state's Office of Consumer Affairs is located in Atlanta.


The state's first bank was a branch of the Bank of the United States, established at Savannah in 1802. Eight years later, the Georgia legislature chartered the Bank of Augusta and the Planters' Bank of Savannah, with the state holding one-sixth of the stock of each bank. The state also subscribed two-thirds of the stock of the Bank of the State of Georgia, which opened branches throughout the region. To furnish small, long-term agricultural loans, in 1828 the state established the Central Bank of Georgia, but this institution collapsed in 1856 because the state kept dipping into its reserves. After the Civil War, the lack of capital and the high cost of credit forced farmers to borrow from merchants under the lien system. By 1900, there were 200 banks in Georgia; with an improvement in cotton prices, their number increased to nearly 800 by World War I. During the agricultural depression of the 1920s, about half these banks failed, and the number has remained relatively stable since 1940. Georgia banking practices came under national scrutiny in 1979, when Bert Lance, President Jimmy Carter's former budget director and the former president of the National Bank of Georgia, was indicted on 33 counts of bank fraud. The federal government dropped its case after Lance was acquitted on nine of the charges, and most of the rest were dismissed.

As of June 2005, Georgia had 346 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 69 state-chartered and 126 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta market area had 138 financial institutions in 2004, with $94.461 billion in deposits, followed by the Chattanooga area (which includes a portion of Georgia) at 26, with $6.612 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 4.6% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $12.544 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 95.4% or $260.170 billion in assets held.

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance regulates state-chartered banks, CUs, and trust companies. Federally chartered financial institutions are regulated by the US government.

In 2005, Georgia's community banks saw improvements in profitability. Return on assets that year rose to 1.34%, and strong loan growth signifigantly boosted net interest income. Led by a double-digit growth in construction and development, overall loans increased by 14% in 2005. In 2004, the median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) stood at 4.28%, up from 4.23% in 2003. In addition, commercial real estate (CRE) loans grew from 39.7% of assets ($7.5 billion) in 1996 to 61% of assets ($34.5 billion) in 2005.


In 2004 there were over 5.6 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $422.9 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was about $684.7 billion. The average coverage amount is $74,600 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $1.8 billion.

In 2003 there were 20 life and health insurance companies and 37 property and casualty insurance companies domiciled in Georgia. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $12.6 billion. That year, there were 70,475 flood insurance policies in force in the state, at a total value of $13 billion. About $2.6 billion of coverage was offered through FAIR plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

In 2004, 56% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 4% held individual policies, and 23% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 17% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 19% for single coverage and 27% for family coverage. The state offers a three-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 6 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $25,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $758.69.


There are no stock or commodity exchanges in Georgia. In 2005, there were 2,770 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 3,950 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 231 publicly traded companies within the state, with 91 NASDAQ companies, 58 NYSE listings, and 13 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had 17 Fortune 500 companies; Home Depot ranked first in the state and 14th in the nation with revenues of over $81.5 billion, followed by United Parcel Service, Coca-Cola, BellSouth, and Coca-Cola Enterprises. All five companies are based in Atlanta and listed on the NYSE.


Because the Georgia constitution forbids the state to spend more than it takes in from all sources, the governor attempts to reconcile the budget requests of the state department heads with the revenue predicted by economists for the coming fiscal year. The governor's Office of Planning and Budget prepares the budget, which is then presented to the General Assembly at the beginning of each year's session. The assembly may decide to change the revenue estimate, but it usually goes along with the governor's forecast. The fiscal year begins on 1 July, and the first question for the assembly when it convenes the following January is whether to raise or lower the current year's budget estimate. If the revenues are better than expected, the legislators enact a supplemental budget. If the income is below expectations, cuts can be made.

In fiscal year 2006, general funds were estimated at $19.1 billion for resources and $17.8 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Georgia were nearly $11.7 billion.


In 2005, Georgia collected $15,676 million in tax revenues or $1,728 per capita, which placed it 42nd among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 0.4% of the total, sales taxes 33.9%, selective sales taxes 10.6%, individual income taxes 46.7%, corporate income taxes 4.5%, and other taxes 3.8%.

As of 1 January 2006, Georgia had six individual income tax brackets ranging from 1.0% to 6.0%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 6.0%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $7,844,826,000 or $880 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 34th highest nationally. Local governments collected $7,779,708,000 of the total and the state government $65,118,000.

Georgia taxes retail sales at a rate of 4%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 3%, making

GeorgiaState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 34,814,306 3,903.82
  General revenue 28,204,763 3,162.68
    Intergovernmental revenue 9,095,862 1,019.94
    Taxes 14,570,573 1,633.84
      General sales 4,921,337 551.84
      Selective sales 1,547,448 173.52
      License taxes 617,663 69.26
      Individual income tax 6,830,486 765.92
      Corporate income tax 494,701 55.47
  #x00A0;   Other taxes 158,938 17.82
    Current charges 2,388,566 267.84
    Miscellaneous general revenue 2,149,762 241.06
  Utility revenue 2,353 .26
  Liquor store revenue - -
  Insurance trust revenue 6,607,190 740.88
Total expenditure 34,196,775 3,834.58
  Intergovernmental expenditure 9,335,405 1,046.80
  Direct expenditure 24,861,370 2,787.77
    Current operation 17,587,719 1,972.16
    Capital outlay 2,434,332 272.97
    Insurance benefits and repayments 3,325,304 372.88
    Assistance and subsidies 1,052,824 118.06
    Interest on debt 461,191 51.71
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 3,990,821 447.50
Total expenditure 34,196,775 3,834.58
  General expenditure 30,869,198 3,461.45
    Intergovernmental expenditure 9,335,405 1,046.80
    Direct expenditure 21,533,793 2,414.64
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 13,305,305 1,491.96
    Public welfare 9,215,633 1,033.37
    Hospitals 687,846 77.13
    Health 1,003,217 112.49
    Highways 1,393,760 156.29
    Police protection 241,000 27.02
    Correction 1,304,039 146.23
    Natural resources 518,165 58.10
    Parks and recreation 139,116 15.60
    Government administration 758,981 85.11
    Interest on general debt 461,191 51.71
    Other and unallocable 1,840,945 206.43
  Utility expenditure 2,273 .25
  Liquor store expenditure - -
  Insurance trust expenditure 3,325,304 372.88
Debt at end of fiscal year 8,664,363 971.56
Cash and security holdings 64,062,476 7,183.50

for a potential total tax on retail sales of 7%. Food purchased for consumption offpremises is tax exempt. The tax on cigarettes is 37 cents per pack, which ranks 41st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Georgia taxes gasoline at 15.3 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

For every dollar of federal tax collected in 2004, Georgia citizens received $0.96 in federal spending.


Since the time of journalist Henry Grady (185189), spokesman for the "New South," Georgia has courted industry. Corporate taxes have traditionally been low, wages also low, and unions weak. Georgia's main attractions for new businesses are a favorable location for air, highway, and rail transport, a mild climate, a rapidly expanding economy, tax incentives and competitive wage scales, and an abundance of recreational facilities. During the 1990s, Georgia governors aggressively sought out domestic and foreign investors, and German, Japanese, and South American corporations were lured to the state. The state offers loans to businesses that are unable to obtain conventional financing, provides venture capital to start-up companies, and extends loans to small businesses and to companies in rural areas.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the lead agency for promoting economic development in the state, tasked with recruiting businesses, trade partners, and tourists. The GDEcD was established by law in 1949 as the Department of Commerce (replacing the Agricultural and Industrial Development Board), and later renamed. The GDEcD is overseen by a board of 20 members appointed by the governor. The main operational units are Small Business, International, Innovation and Technology, Existing Industry Support, Tourism, and Film, Video and Music. The state funds city and county development plans, aids recreational projects, promotes research and development, and supports industrial training programs.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 7.8 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 15.7 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 16.9 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 84% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 85% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 7.7 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were as follows heart disease, 204.8; cancer, 163.3; cerebrovascular diseases, 49.8; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 36.9; and diabetes, 18.4. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 8.3 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 18.6 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 56.1% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 20.1% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Georgia had 146 community hospitals with about 24,600 beds. There were about 926,000 patient admissions that year and 12.8 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 16,500 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,044. Also in 2003, there were about 360 certified nursing facilities in the state with 39,998 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 90.9%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 68.2% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Georgia had 219 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 658 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 4,024 dentists in the state.

About 23% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 17% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $10.7 million.

The Medical College of Georgia, established at Augusta in 1828, is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States and the center of medical research in the state. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were established in Atlanta in 1973; in 1992, the CDC retain its acronym but changed its name to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.


As a responsibility of state government, social welfare came late to Georgia. The state waited two years before agreeing to participate in the federal Social Security system in 1937. Eighteen years later, Georgia was distributing only $62 million to the aged, blind, and disabled and to families with dependent children. By 1970, the amount had risen to $150 million, but the state still lagged far behind the national average.

In 2004, about 208,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $242. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 921,427 persons (375,739 households); the average monthly benefit was about $94.77 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $1 billion.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. In 2004, the state program had 124,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $203 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 1,192,050 Georgians. This number included 708,670 retired workers, 118,250 widows and widowers, 187,620 disabled workers, 54,720 spouses, and 122,790 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 13.5% of the total state population and 91.5% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $929; widows and widowers, $836; disabled workers, $878; and spouses, $466. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $471 per month; children of deceased workers, $605; and children of disabled workers, $268. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments went to 199,898 Georgia residents in December 2004, averaging $372 a month.


Post-World War II housing developments provided Georgia families with modern, affordable dwellings. The home-loan guarantee programs of the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration made modest down payments, low interest rates, and long-term financing the norm in Georgia. The result was a vast increase in both the number of houses constructed and the percentage of families owning their own homes.

In 2004, there were an estimated 3,672,677 housing units in Georgia, of which 3,210,006 were occupied; 67.7% were owner occupied. About 65.9% of all units were single-family, detached homes; about 10.9% were mobile homes. It was estimated that about 190,323 units were without telephone service, 7,692 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 9,071 lacked complete kitchen facilities. Most households relied on gas and electricity for heating. The average household had 2.67 members.

In 2004, 108,400 privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. The median value of a one-family home was about $136,910. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,126, while renters paid a median of $677 per month. In September 2005, the state received grants of $999,875 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated over $40.2 million in community development block grants to the state.


During the colonial period, education was in the hands of private schoolmasters. Georgia's first constitution called for the establishment of a school in each county. The oldest school in the state is Richmond Academy (Augusta), founded in 1788. The nation's oldest chartered public university, the University of Georgia, dates from 1784. Public education was inadequately funded, however, until the inauguration of the sales tax in 1951, then at a 3% rate. By 1960, rural one-teacher schools had disappeared, and children were riding buses to consolidated schools.

Georgia has a comprehensive prekindergarten program, Bright from the Start, for children ages birth to four years old, the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship program, and special programs administered by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. In 2004, 85.2% of the population age 25 or older had a high school diploma; 27.6% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher. The Board of Regents of the state university system increased its requirements for students starting college After 1988.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Georgia's public schools stood at 1,496,000. Of these, 1,089,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 407,000 attended high school. Approximately 52.1% of the students were white, 38.3% were black, 6.9% were Hispanic, 2.5% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.2% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 1,508,000 in fall 2003 and expected to reach 1,627,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 8.7% during the period 200214. In fall 2003, there were 120,697 students enrolled in 665 private schools. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $13.7 billion. Additionally, instructional services are provided for hearing- and sight-impaired students at three state schools: Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, Georgia Academy for the Blind, and Georgia School for the Deaf. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Georgia scored 272 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 397,604 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 35.6% of total postsecondary enrollment. As of 2005, Georgia had 126 degree-granting institutions. Thirty-five public colleges are components of the University System of Georgia; the largest of these is the University of Georgia (Athens). The largest private university is Emory (Atlanta). A scholarship program was established in 1978 for minority students seeking graduate and professional degrees.


The Georgia Council for the Arts was founded in 1965. Major ongoing programs of the council include the Georgia Folklife Program (est. 1987), the Grassroots Arts Program (est. 1993), and the State Capitol Gallery (est. 1991), which features exhibits from the State Art Collection of over 600 works of art from Georgian artists. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts contributed 37 grants totaling $2,788,300 to Georgia's arts programs. Arts organizations in the state receiving federal funding include the Summer Atlanta Jazz Series, the Chamber Music Rural Residencies, the Center for Puppetry Arts, Inc., and the Augusta Opera. The Augusta Opera marked its 40th anniversary in 2006. The Georgia Humanities Council was founded in 1971. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $1,501,272 to 19 state programs.

During the 20th century, Atlanta replaced Savannah as the major arts center of Georgia, while Athens, the seat of the University of Georgia, continued to share in the cultural life of the university. The state has eight major art museums, as well as numerous private galleries; especially notable is the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, dedicated in 1983known not just for its expansive collection of artworks but also for its impressive architectural design. The High Museum of Art opened expanded facilities to the public in November 2005 to house its growing needs. The Atlanta Memorial Arts Center was dedicated in 1968 to the 100 members of the association who lost their lives in a plane crash. The Atlanta Art Association was chartered in 1905 and exhibits the work of contemporary Georgia artists.

The theater has enjoyed popular support since the first professional resident theater troupe began performing in Augusta in 1790. Atlanta has a resident theater, and there are community theaters in some 30 cities and counties. Georgia has actively cultivated the filmmaking industry, and in 2004, some 252 productions (including movies) were produced in the state.

Georgia has at least 11 symphony orchestras, ranging from the Atlanta Symphony (est. 1945) to community and college ensembles throughout the state. Atlanta and Augusta have professional ballet touring companies, Augusta has a professional opera company, and choral groups and opera societies perform in all major cities. Macon is home to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. As of 2006, inductees included Ray Charles (inducted 1979), Otis Redding (inducted 1981), James Brown (inducted 1983), the B-52's (induct-ed 2000), and Patty Loveless (inducted 2005). The north Georgia mountain communities retain their traditional folk music.


For the fiscal year ending in June 2001, Georgia had 57 public library systems, with a total of 366 libraries, of which 309 were branches. The holdings of all public libraries that same year totaled 15,143,000 volumes of books and serial publications and had a total combined circulation of 36,229,000. The system also had 401,000 audio and 396,000 video items, 24,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and 28 bookmobiles. The University of Georgia had by far the largest academic collection, including over 3 million books in addition to government documents, microfilms, and periodicals. Emory University, in Atlanta, has the largest private academic library, with about 1,520,921 bound volumes. In 2001, total operating income for the public library system was $155,868,000, including $2,988,000 in federal grants and $34,696,000 in state grants.

Georgia has at least 179 museums, including the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences in Savannah, the Georgia State Museum of Science and Industry in Atlanta, the Columbus Museum of Arts and Sciences, and Augusta-Richmond County Museum in Augusta. Atlanta's Cyclorama depicts the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. The Crawford W. Long Medical Museum in Jefferson is a memorial to Dr. Long, a pioneer in the use of anesthetics. A museum devoted to gold mining is located at Dahlonega.

Georgia abounds in historical sites, 100 of which were selected for acquisition in 1972 by the Georgia Heritage Trust Commission. Sites administered by the National Park Service include the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Kennesaw National Battlefield Park, Ft. Pulaski National Monument, and Andersonville National Monument near Americus, all associated with the Civil War, as well as the Ft. Frederica National Monument, an 18th-century English barracks on St. Simons Island. Also of historic interest are Factors Wharf in Savannah, the Hay House in Macon, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Little White House" at Warm Springs. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site was established in Atlanta in 1980. Also in Atlanta are President Jimmy Carter's library, museum, and conference center complex. The state's most important archaeological sites are the Etowah Mounds at Carterville, the Kolomoki Mounds at Blakely, and the Ocmulgee Indian village near Macon.


Airmail service was introduced to Georgia about 1930, and since then the quantity of mail has increased enormously.

As of 2004, 91.2% of Georgian residences had telephones. Additionally, by June of that same year there were 5,332,517 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 60.6% of Georgia households had a computer and 53.5% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 1,351,237 high-speed lines in Georgia, 1,142,806 residential and 208,431 for business. In 2005, Georgia had 112 major radio stations, 24 AM and 88 FM. There were 37 major television stations in the same year. Atlanta had 1,774,720 television-owning households in 1999, 70% of which received cable.

On 1 June 1980, Atlanta businessman Ted Turner inaugurated the independent Cable News Network (CNN), which made round-the-clock news coverage available to 4,100 cable television systems throughout the United States. By 1985, CNN was available to 32.3 million households in the United States through 7,731 cable television systems and broadcast to 22 other countries. By the late 1980s, CNN had become well known worldwide. In addition, Turner broadcasts CNN Headline News. A total of 183,093 Internet domain names were registered in Georgia as of 2000.


Georgia's first newspaper was the Georgia Gazette, published by James Johnston from 1763 until 1776. When royal rule was temporarily restored in Savannah, Johnston published the Royal Georgia Gazette ; when peace came, he changed the name again, this time to the Gazette of the State of Georgia. After the state capital was moved to Augusta in 1785, Greensburg Hughes, a Charleston printer, began publishing the Augusta Gazette. Today's Augusta Chronicle traces its origin to this paper and claims the honor of being the oldest newspaper in the state. In 1817, the Savannah Gazette became the state's first daily. After the Indian linguist Sequoyah gave the Cherokee a written language, Elias Boudinot gave them a newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, in 1828. Georgia authorities suppressed the paper in 1835 and Boudinot joined his tribe's tragic migration westward.

After the Civil War, Henry Grady made the Atlanta Constitution the most famous newspaper in the state with his "New South" campaign. Joel Chandler Harris's stories of Uncle Remus appeared in the Constitution, as did the weekly letters of humorist Charles Henry Smith, writing under the pseudonym of Bill Arp. In 1958, Ralph E. McGill, editor and later publisher of the Constitution, won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial opposition to racial intolerance. In 2001, the Constitution and the Atlanta Journal merged to form the Journal-Constitution, owned by Cox Newspapers.

As of 2005, Georgia had 30 morning dailies, 4 evening dailies, and 29 Sunday newspapers.

The following table shows the leading daily newspapers with their 2005 estimated circulations:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (m,S) 441,427 606,246
Augusta Chronicle (m,S) 78,069 94,040
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (m,S) 49,605 57,130
Macon Telegraph (m,S) 69,132 86,004
Savannah Morning News (m,S) 53,825 66,526

Periodicals published in Georgia in 2002 included Golf World, Atlanta Weekly, Savannah, Industrial Engineering, Robotics World, and Southern Accents. Among the nation's better-known scholarly presses is the University of Georgia Press, which publishes the Georgia Review.


In 2006, there were over 6,580 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 4,707 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. National organizations headquartered in Georgia include the National Association of College Deans, Registrars, and Admissions Officers, located in Albany; and the Association of Information and Dissemination Centers, the American Risk and Insurance Association, and the American Business Law Association, located in Athens.

Many organizations are headquartered in Atlanta, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Southern Education Foundation, the Southern Regional Council, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, the American Academy of Psychotherapists, and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

The Georgia Peanut Commission, Georgia Peanut Producers Association, and the Peanut Advisory Board promote the interests of growers of this popular crop. The Georgia Wildlife Federation addresses issues concerning the environment and conservation.

State and regional organizations that promote the arts, culture, and education include the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, the Georgia Writers Association, Young Georgia Writers, the Institute for the Study of American Cultures, and the National Indian Festival Association. A national Circus Historical Society is located in Alpharetta.

The Carter Center of Emory University in Atlanta was established in 1982 by former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn as a peace and human rights advocacy organization. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the headquarters for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the US office of CARE International are all in Atlanta.


In 2005, travelers spent $28.2 billion on visits to Georgia. The Atlanta Metro Region received the most visitor expenditures, about 60%. More than 217,000 jobs are supported by the tourism industry in Georgia. The travel/tourism payroll generated over $1.28 billion in tax revenue.

Major tourist attractions include national forests, national parks, state parks, and historical areas. Other places of interest include the impressive hotels and convention facilities of downtown Atlanta; the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia; Stone Mountain near Atlanta; former President Jimmy Carter's home in Plains; the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, in Atlanta; the birthplace, church, and gravesite of Martin Luther King Jr., in Atlanta; and the historic squares and riverfront of Savannah. Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest, opened on 23 November 2005.

The varied attractions of the Golden Isles include fashionable Sea Island; primitive Cumberland Island, now a national seashore; and Jekyll Island, owned by the state and leased to motel operators and to private citizens for beach homes. Since 1978, the state, under its Heritage Trust Program, has acquired Ossabaw and Sapelo islands and strictly regulates public access to these wildlife sanctuaries.

Georgia has long been a hunters' paradise. Waynesboro calls itself the "bird-dog capital of the world," and Thomasville in south Georgia is popular with quail hunters.


There are four major professional sports teams in Georgia, all in Atlanta. Turner Field and the Georgia Dome, main venues for the 1996 Summer Olympics hosted by the city, serve as the home field for two professional teams: baseball's Atlanta Braves, for whom Henry Aaron hit many of his record 755 home runs, and the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. The Philips Arena houses the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League. The Atlanta Braves won the National League pennant in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 1999. The Braves went on to win their only World Series championship since moving to Atlanta, defeating the Cleveland Indians in 1995. The Braves lost the series to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 and 1992, and to the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1999.

The Golden Corral 500 and the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 are two of the NASCAR Nextel Cup auto races held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Masters, the most publicized golf tournament in the world, has been played at the Augusta National Golf Club since 1934. The Atlanta Golf Classic is also listed on the professional golfers' tour.

Football and basketball dominate college sports. The University of Georgia Bulldogs, who play in the Southeastern Conference, were named National Champions in football in 1980 and advanced to the Final Four in basketball in 1983. Georgia Tech's Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Coast Conference are a perennial basketball powerhouse. The Peach Bowl has been an annual postseason football game in Atlanta since 1968.

Professional fishing, sponsored by the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the state. Another popular summer pastime is rafting. Massive raft races on the Chattahoochee at Atlanta and Columbus, and on the Savannah River at Augusta, draw many spectators and participants.

Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, and Ty Cobb, nicknamed the "Georgia Peach," were both born in Georgia.


James Earl "Jimmy" Carter (b.1924), born in Plains, was the first Georgian to serve as president of the United States. He was governor of the state (197175) before being elected to the White House in 1976. Georgia has not contributed any US vice presidents; Alexander H. Stephens (181283) was vice president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Georgians who served on the US Supreme Court include James M. Wayne (17901867), John A. Campbell (181189), and Joseph R. Lamar (18571916). Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed to the court during the George H. W. Bush administration, was born in Savannah on 23 June 1948. Several Georgians have served with distinction at the cabinet level: William H. Crawford (b.Virginia, 17721834), Howell Cobb (181568), and William G. McAdoo (18631941) as secretaries of the treasury; John M. Berrien (b.New Jersey, 17811856) as attorney general; John Forsyth (17811841) and Dean Rusk (190994) as secretaries of state; George Crawford (17981872) as secretary of war; and Hoke Smith (b.North Carolina, 18551931) as secretary of the interior.

A leader in the US Senate before the Civil War was Robert Toombs (181085). Notable US senators in recent years were Walter F. George (18781957), Richard B. Russell (18971971), Herman Talmadge (19132002), and Sam Nunn (b.1938). Carl Vinson (18831981) was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Many Georgians found fame in the ranks of the military. Confederate General Joseph Wheeler (18361906) became a major general in the US Army during the Spanish-American War. Other Civil War generals included W. H. T. Walker (181664); Thomas R. R. Cobb (182362), who also codified Georgia's laws; and John B. Gordon (18321904), later a US senator and governor of the state. Gordon, Alfred Colquitt (182494), and wartime governor Joseph E. Brown (b.South Carolina, 182194) were known as the "Bourbon triumvirate" for their domination of the state's Democratic Party from 1870 to 1890. Generals Courtney H. Hodge (18871966) and Lucius D. Clay (18971978) played important roles in Europe during and After World War II.

Sir James Wright (b.South Carolina 171485) was Georgia's most important colonial governor. Signers of the Declaration of Independence for Georgia were George Walton (b.Virginia, 17411804), Button Gwinnett (b.England, 173577), and Lyman Hall (b.Connecticut, 172490). Signers of the US Constitution were William Few (b.Maryland, 17481828) and Abraham Baldwin (b.Connecticut, 17541807). Revolutionary War hero James Jackson (b.England, 17571806) organized the Democratic-Republican Party (today's Democratic Party) in Georgia.

The first Georgians, the Indians, produced many heroes. Tomochichi (c.16641739) was the Yamacraw chief who welcomed James Edward Oglethorpe and the first Georgians. Alexander McGillivray (c.175993), a Creek chief who was the son of a Scottish fur trader, signed a treaty with George Washington in a further attempt to protect the Creek lands. Osceola (18001838) led his Seminole into the Florida swamps rather than move west. Sequoyah (b.Tennessee, 17731843) framed an alphabet for the Cherokee, and John Ross (Coowescoowe, b.Tennessee, 17901866) was the first president of the Cherokee Republic.

Among influential Georgian educators were Josiah Meigs (b.Connecticut, 17571822), the first president of the University of Georgia, and Milton Antony (17841839), who established the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta in 1828. Crawford W. Long (181578) was one of the first doctors to use ether successfully in surgical operations. Paul F. Eve (180677) was a leading teacher of surgery in the South, and Joseph Jones (183396) pioneered in the study of the causes of malaria.

Distinguished black Georgians include churchmen Henry M. Turner (b.South Carolina, 18341915) and Charles T. Walker (18581921), educators Lucy Laney (18541933) and John Hope (18681936), and civil rights activists William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois (b.Massachusetts, 19681963) and Walter F. White (18931955). One of the best-known Georgians was Martin Luther King Jr. (192968), born in Atlanta, leader of the March on Washington in 1963 and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his leadership in the campaign for civil rights; he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while organizing support for striking sanitation workers. Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad (Elijah Poole, 18971975) was also a Georgian. Other prominent black leaders include Atlanta mayor and former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young (b.Louisiana, 1932), former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson (b.Texas, 19382003), and Georgia senator Julian Bond (b.Tennessee, 1940).

Famous Georgia authors include Sidney Lanier (184281), Joel Chandler Harris (18481908), Lillian Smith (18571966), Conrad Aiken (18891973), Erskine Caldwell (190287), Caroline Miller (190392), Frank Yerby (191691), Carson McCullers (191767), James Dickey (192397), and Flannery O'Connor (192564). Also notable is Margaret Mitchell (190049), whose Pulitzer Prize-winning Gone with the Wind (1936) typifies Georgia to many readers.

Entertainment celebrities include songwriter Johnny Mercer (190976); actors Charles Coburn (18771961) and Oliver Hardy (18771961); singers and musicians Harry James (191683), Ray Charles (Ray Charles Robinson, 19302004), James Brown (b.1933), Little Richard (Richard Penniman, b.1935), Jerry Reed (b.1937), Gladys Knight (b.1944), and Brenda Lee (b.1944); and actors Melvyn Douglas (190181), Sterling Holloway (190592), Ossie Davis (19172005), Barbara Cook (b.1927), Jane Withers (b.1927), Joanne Woodward (b.1930), and Burt Reynolds (b.1936).

Major sports figures include baseball's "Georgia Peach," Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb (18861961); Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (191972), the first black to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; and Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones (190271), winner of the "grand slam" of four major golf tournaments in 1930.

Robert E. "Ted" Turner (b.Ohio, 1939), an Atlanta businessman-broadcaster, owns the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Braves and skippered the Courageous to victory in the America's Cup yacht races in 1977. Architect John C. Portman Jr. (b.South Carolina, 1924), was the developer of Atlanta's Peachtree Center.


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Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

DeGrove, John Melvin. Planning Policy and Politics: Smart Growth and the States. Cambridge, Mass.: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2005.

Doak, Robin S. Voices from Colonial America. Georgia, 15211776. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2006.

Grant, L. Donald. The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.

Inscoe, John C. (ed.). Georgia in Black and White: Explorations in the Race Relations of a Southern State, 18651950. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.

Jordan, Jeffrey L. Interstate Water Allocation in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006.

King, Coretta Scott. My Life with Martin Luther King. Rev. ed. New York: H. Holt, 1993.

Lane, Mills. The People of Georgia: An Illustrated History. 2nd ed. Savannah: Library of Georgia, 1992.

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McAuliffe, Emily. Georgia Facts and Symbols. Mankato, Minn.: Hilltop Books, 1999.

Norman, Corrie E., and Don S. Armentrout. (eds.) Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.

Olmstead, Marty. Hidden Georgia. Berkeley, Calif.: Ulysses Press, 2000.

Reidy, Joseph P. From Slavery to Agrarian Capitalism in the Cotton Plantation South: Central Georgia, 18001880. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Georgia, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

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GEORGIA has played a pivotal role in shaping the South and the nation. Its history is one of stark contrasts, both painful and inspirational, filled with hatred and high idealism, poverty and prosperity. The landscape itself ranges from swampland in the south to mountains in the north, with the "fall line"a topographical divide that transverses Georgia's midsectionseparating the flat "low-country" from the hilly "upcountry." Georgia's cities have been influential: coastal Savannah; lowcountry Albany; the fall-line cities of Columbus, Macon, and Augusta; and, after the Civil War, Atlanta, which today is virtually its own state. But until recent decades, agriculture and rural life dominated the state. Tensions between rural and urban, black and white, rich and poor have characterized Georgia's economic and political developments, from the colonial era to the present.

A Contested Colony

Georgia became England's thirteenth colony in 1732, when the Crown granted a charter to reform-minded trustees, who outlawed slavery in their colony, hoping to create a yeoman's paradise for the poor. Less idealistic, the Crown wanted a defensive buffer for South Carolina's rice plantations, which suffered raids from Spanish Florida. James Edward Oglethorpe, England's well-bred champion of penal reform and religious freedom (Protestants only), arrived with the first ship and established Savannah. Although Oglethorpe wanted debtors prisons to furnish Georgia's manpower, so many middling types signed up that the prisoners never got out.

The prohibition on slavery failed, too; Carolina's wealthy plantations enticed Georgia's settlers, who illegally bought slaves. The popular Methodist revivalist George Whitefield encouraged this, preaching that God made Georgia for slavery. In 1752, the Crown reclaimed its charter and lifted Oglethorpe's ban. By 1776, Georgia's tidewater planters owned fifteen thousand slaves and controlled the colony. The Revolution gave planters a good shake. Some fled, others lost slaves to Florida's wilderness. In the war's final years, Georgia's patriots fought guerrilla campaigns in the backcountry. There, rough commonerssuch as the illiterate but savvy fighter Elijah Clarke and the redcoat-killing Nancy Hartwon a place in Georgia's politics and folklore.

Early Statehood and Land

Major events between 1790 and 1810 involved land. Colonial boundaries gave Georgia vast western holdings. Greed overwhelmed Georgia's legislators, resulting in the ugly Yazoo Fraud of 1795. To save face, Georgia ceded its western lands to the federal government and set its present-day boundaries. In return, federal officials promised future support in removing Georgia's Indians, who occupied two-thirds of the state.

John Milledge, elected governor in 1802, transformed Georgia's land policies. All public lands, including Indian lands, would be surveyed into yeoman-sized lots and distributed by lottery. The system was democratic for white men; Indians and free blacks were excluded, and women

had no right to own property. With the lottery, white Georgians surged upcountry, and the statehouse moved with them. In 1804, the government abandoned Savannah for the fall-line town of Milledgeville, named for the land-reform governor. The stage was set for Georgia's internal development.

The Antebellum Era

Between 1810 and 1860, three powerful trends shaped Georgia: the removal of the Creeks and Cherokees; the expansion of cotton plantations and slavery; and the rise of sectional tensions between North and South. In 1810, Indian territory still encompassed two-thirds of Georgian lands; plantation slavery was limited largely to the coast; and the southern states had no collective identity as "Dixie." By 1814, a completely new Georgia moved toward civil war.

Georgia took Creek land piecemeal over many decades. Weakened by defeat during the War of 1812, the tribe made final its cessions to Georgia in 1814, 1821, and 1825/26. The Cherokees of northwest Georgia defended themselves by adopting European ways. They enslaved blacks, developed an alphabet, and established legislative government at their capital, New Echota. But gold discovered in Dahonega, an Appalachian town, sparked the gold rush of 1829, flooding Cherokee Georgia with whites. The Indian Removal Act of 1830; Georgia's lottery for Cherokee land in 1832; and a dubious treaty in 1835 ended the Cherokee defense. In the winter of 18371838, federal soldiers forced them west.

White farmers plowed old Indian lands, but north and south Georgia developed differently. The upper Piedmont and Appalachian areas emerged as a yeoman strong-hold. "Plain folk" settled on family farms, distant from commodity markets. They practiced subsistence farming (corn and hogs) and grew wheat or cotton for cash. Both slaves and plantations were scarce.

The lower Piedmont became a stronghold of cotton plantations. Plantations had long been fixed along the coast, where slaves could produce rice, indigo, and long-staple cotton. But improved mechanical cotton gins, produced in Savannah around 1800, facilitated cultivation of short-staple cotton in Georgia's interior. With Creek removal, aspiring whites carved sprawling plantations across the lower Piedmont. In 1800, about 60,000 slaves lived in Georgia; by 1830, some 220,000. Federal law banned slave importation in 1808, but Georgia's planters continued to smuggle slaves until the 1860s. Georgia led America in cotton production and illegal slaving.

Georgia's yeomen and planters had little need for cities in Georgia's interior, but some leaders called for modernization. Augusta, Macon, and Columbus had fall-line waterpower for industry, and, by the late antebellum period, they had textile mills, foundries, and food-processing plants. Columbus became the Deep South's manufacturing leader. Legislators sponsored railroad development, most notably the Western and Atlantic Railroad, whose construction in the mid-1840s resulted in a new railroad townTerminus, later renamed Atlanta.

Dixie's cotton revolution made southern states different from their industrializing, free-labor neighbors up north. Sectional political conflicts and northern abolitionism made white southerners conscious of themselves as "southerners," and planters staunchly defended their "peculiar institution." When the Mexican-American War (18461848) opened vast western lands for Americans, sectional conflict boiled. Would the West follow the southern or the northern model? The question of slavery in the West ultimately led the North and South to war.

Civil War and Reconstruction

The Confederacy needed Georgiaeconomically powerful and strategically locatedbut opposition to secession rang across Georgia, not just among yeomen and poor whites, but also among wealthy planters; proslavery champion Benjamin Hill argued that war would bring only defeat and emancipation. When electing representatives for a state convention to rule on secession in early 1861, Georgians gave a thin majority to antisecession candidates. But at the convention, disunion sentiment reigned, and on 19 January 1861, Georgia became the fifth state to join the Confederacy.

Georgia's planters and industrialists profited from the wartime cotton prices and manufacturing needs, but they worried about rank-and-file patriotism. The Confederate legislature thus enacted a draft to fill its armies. When drafted, poor whites had no options, but large planters were exempted from military service, and small planters had buyout options. Class divisions among whites therefore flared hot, desertion rates soared, and poor women rioted for food in Columbus and Colquit. North Georgia and the Lower Chattahoochee Valley suffered recurrent guerrilla warfare.

An internally divided Georgia faced a Union onslaught in 1864 as General William T. Sherman's forces pushed into northwest Georgia. A bloodbath at Chickamauga and strong Confederate entrenchments at Kennesaw Mountain temporarily checked the Union advance. But in September 1864, Sherman took Atlanta, the Confederacy's transportation hub, ensuring Lincoln's reelection. Sherman's March to the Sea wasted Georgia and speeded Confederate surrender in 1865.

War liberated black Georgians. They fled plantations for Union camps and reveled in the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery. "Freedmen" sought family farms or jobs in Georgia's cities, especially Atlanta, which rapidly rebuilt. Blacks supported the Republican Party, which trumpeted Lincoln and emancipation. Former Confederates championed the Democratic Party, which fought for white supremacy. Fierce political battles marked the postwar decades.

Race and Politics, 18651915

Reconstruction in Georgia was brief, bloody, and disastrous for African Americans. The Freedmen's Bureau met black demands for education, but proved more concerned for planter's needs. When southern Democrats passed Black Codes, virtually enslaving the freedmen, Republicans in Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867, placing Dixie under military rule and enfranchising blacks. Georgia's new Republican Partya biracial coalition of blacks and hill-country whitesformed a majority at Georgia's constitutional convention of 1867. African Americans made up 30 percent of the convention delegates. Milledgeville refused to accommodate these men and thereby lost the statehouse; the delegates met in Atlanta and made it Georgia's capital. The constitution mandated universal manhood suffrage, women's property rights, and free public schools. Georgia's legislature of 1868 included thirty-two African Americans, including civil rights activist Henry McNeal Turner. The legislature ratified the Fourteenth Amendment (black citizenship rights) in July 1868, thereby gaining Georgia's readmission to the Union.

When federal troops soon departed, the Democrat counterattack began. In Georgia's legislature, Democrats convinced white Republicans to help them purge blacks from the statehouse. This cross-party alliance expelled the black representatives, claiming that Georgia's constitution gave blacks the right to vote, not hold office. Georgia's supreme court ruled the purge unconstitutional, and Congress investigated, but Democrats resisted intervention with the help of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Confederate General John B. Gordon (governor, 18861890) led Georgia's Klan, which terrorized and assassinated Republicans in 18681869. In response, Congress expelled Georgia from the Union in 1869, crushing the Klan, reimposing military rule, and reinstalling black officials. Georgia's biracial legislature ratified the Fifteenth Amendment (voting rights), and Georgia again rejoined the Union. But in the elections of 1870, with federal troops gone, the Democrats launched a campaign of violence that effectively destroyed Georgia's Republican Party. This time Congress refused to investigate, signaling victory for Georgia's Democrats, who called themselves "Redeemers."

For the next century, Georgia's conservative Democrats would decry the long nightmare of "bayonet rule" and "Negro domination." Generations of white Georgians (and American historians) would accept this interpretation, facts notwithstanding, and use it in defense of state's rights and segregation.

Democrats faced new challengers through the 1890s. In the 1870s, Independent Party coalitions championed reform, sometimes courting black voters. In the 1880s, the biracial Farmer's Alliance lobbied hard, but unsuccessfully, against conservative policies. In 1892, Georgia's Tom Watson led angry farmers (black and white) into the national Populist Party, seeking to empower "producers" over the planter-industrialist establishment. The presidential election of 1896 crushed the Populists and firmly established the one-party South, making Watson an out-spoken racist and killing hopes for biracial insurgency.

Lowcountry planters controlled state politics through Georgia's unusual "county-unit system," which vastly inflated the value of rural votes over urban votes in Democrat primaries, the only meaningful elections in a one-party state. Sparsely settled rural counties dominated the legislature and selected rustic governors such as Eugene Talmadge, who never campaigned in any city. Only the U. S. Supreme Court's Gray v. Sanders (1963) decision would eliminate the county-unit system and equalize Georgia politics.

In the 1890s, Jim Crow segregation and mob violence devastated black Georgians. Without opposition, Democrat lawmakers made blacks second-class citizens. To resist was to risk lynching. Georgia led the nation in lynchings; elected officials accepted and facilitated mob rule, while northern Republicans refused to intervene. In this hostile environment, the black leader Booker T. Washington delivered his conciliatory "Atlanta Compromise" speech at Atlanta's 1895 Exposition, and Atlanta University professor W. E. B. Du Bois published Souls of Black Folk (1903), which launched his career as the nation's leading civil rights activist. Disenfranchisement notwithstanding, Democrats remained obsessed with race. Georgia's gubernatorial primary of 1906 featured two Democrats blasting "Negro domination" and sparking a bloody white-on-black race riot in Atlanta. As a capstone to the era, Atlanta resident William Simmons organized the second KKK at nearby Stone Mountain in 1915.

The New South Economy, 18801940

If planters controlled state politics and lowcountry plantations, a new urban middle class conquered the upcountry. Led by Atlanta journalist Henry Grady, boosters trumpeted a "New South Creed" of urban-industrial development. Rural transformation, as well as the creed, spurred upcountry industrialization. The plain folk's postwar poverty coupled with new railroads and fertilizers brought them into the cotton market, which destroyed them. Declining cotton prices, soaring interest rates, and a cruel crop-lien law brought perpetual debt and foreclosure; tenancy replaced small farm ownership. These events enriched small-town merchants, who invested surplus capital into the local cotton mills that arose across the southern upcountry, from Virginia to Alabama. Mills hired poor farm families, who worked for low pay and lived in "mill villages" controlled and enhanced by management. Critics and defenders of the mills clashed; industrialization proved controversial. Meanwhile, black Atlanta developed separate businesses, creating a rising black middle class to accompany its poor working class.

South of Atlanta, change moved slowly. Planters had lost their slaves but not their land. With lien laws and credit control, they controlled black sharecroppers, who experienced, instead of freedom, grinding poverty. Cotton remained king until boll-weevil damage in the 1920s forced shifts to peanuts, pecans, and dairy farms. Low-country pine forests fell for lumber and turpentine. With an old-money sniff at Atlanta, Savannah stagnated. World War I inaugurated a major changethe great migration of blacks from South to North. Labor shortages up North and Jim Crow down South sparked the movement; after the war, the black exodus continued.

The Great Depression and the New Deal altered Georgia's economy. President Franklin Roosevelt, a liberal Democrat who owned a "Little White House" in Warm Springs, Georgia, used unprecedented federal intervention to alleviate suffering and revive the economy. Ordinary Georgians loved Roosevelt. Georgia's conservative Democrats needed federal aid but feared for state's rights, a growing southern dilemma. Federal agricultural programs paid planters not to plant cotton; sharecroppers went uncompensated, and many were forced off land. Federal industrial policies created a code for textile production, giving approval for labor unions. Hoping to improve their working lives, thousands of mill hands joined the United Textile Workers. Labor-management conflicts sparked the General Textile Strike of 1934, which saw 400,000 southern mill hands stop work. Company guards and state troops crushed the strike and left unionism badly weakened. New Deal legislation nonetheless aided workers by mandating eight-hour days, overtime pay, minimum wages, and social security.

World War and Cold War, 19401960

World War II was a major turning point in Georgia's history. It brought massive federal investment in defense plants and military camps. Black outmigration soared as defense plants outside Dixie recruited workers, while rural whites moved to booming shipyards. The Progressive governor Ellis Arnall eliminated the poll tax and boosted higher education. Organized labor gained. Blacks in Atlanta spoke out for civil rightssome even began voting.

When war ended in 1945, Georgia's direction was uncertain and remained so through the 1950s, as the forces for progress and tradition clashed. The economy improved, but not without pain. Textile mills boomed until foreign imports began to undermine them. Georgia's industrial base diversified, offering higher-wage jobs. Organized labor got crushed, except in isolated upcountry mill towns. The poultry industry helped small farmers. Lowcountry plantations adopted the mechanical cotton picker, forcing hundreds of thousands of blacks off the land and speeding the black exodus.

Postwar politics exploded. Three men claimed the governor's chair after the 1946 election, prompting scandal and national embarrassment. More significant, blacks registered to vote in growing numbers. White resistance to civil rights intensified after the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision ruled against segregation. Atlanta native Martin Luther King Jr., a young Baptist preacher, led the Montgomery bus boycott (19551956) in Alabama, which ended segregated seating on city buses in 1957, King helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights organization with its headquarters in Atlanta, while whites organized a "massive resistance" campaign against federal intervention in racial matters. Between 1955 and 1960, state legislators passed numerous laws intended to scuttle school integration and added the Confederate stars and bars to the state flag.

Tensions between federal economic trends and sectional politics intensified. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and massive defense spending helped Cold War Georgia boom. But greater federal investment in Georgia meant increased pressure for civil rights, especially after the Soviets publicized Jim Crow policies to humiliate American diplomats. Georgia's black activists brought matters to a head in the early 1960s.

The Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King Jr. moved back to Atlanta in 1960. Independently, black college students began lunch-counter sitins in southern cities, leading to the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), also headquartered in Atlanta. In 1962, the SCLC unsuccessfully battled segregation in Albany; the campaign taught activists the importance of national media attention. They got plenty in the Birmingham campaign, which helped win President John Kennedy's support for the movement. King's "I Have a Dream" speech electrified the March on Washington on 28 August 1963. Often at odds, SCLC and SNCC both participated in the climactic 1965 voting-rights campaign in Selma, Alabama, with many Georgians, including Atlanta's Hosea Williams, in the lead.

Atlanta's white leaders, eager to look progressive, tried to stave off racial conflict and bad publicity, whether they believed in the movement or not. Mayors William B. Hartsfield and Ivan Allen Jr. worked with black leaders to make the transition to desegregation. Atlanta's Georgia Institute of Technology quietly integrated in fall 1961, the first public university in the South to do so without court order. Local tensions ran high, though. When King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Atlanta's stunned elite reluctantly hosted a biracial banquet in his honor.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (ensuring voting rights) revolutionized Georgia society and politics, but change outside Atlanta proved slow. Black voters soon liberalized Georgia's Democratic Party. Civil rights stalwarts Julian Bond and Andrew Young of Atlanta won election to state and national offices. Maynard Jackson became Atlanta's first black mayor in 1974.

Angry white Democrats, mostly rural and working-class, sent archsegregationist Lester Maddox to the governor's mansion in 1966; Atlanta's leaders cringed. Maddox was Georgia's last openly racist governor. Many white-supremacy Democrats defected to Georgia's Republican Party, which included suburban conservatives who viewed race as a secondary issue. Other Democrats, notably Jimmy Carter, forged biracial coalitions with populist undertones. These coalitions made him governor of Georgia in 1970 and president in 1976.

Prosperity and Uncertainty

After 1960, Georgia prospered as never before. Dalton became the world's "carpet capital." Civil rights victories opened doors for professional sports in Atlanta. Vietnam War production spurred industry. Gains in higher education, population, and high-tech industry boosted Georgia's reputation. Ted Turner's television network made baseball's Atlanta Braves "America's Team." Coca-Cola, invented and headquartered in Atlanta, became the world's most recognized beverage. Atlanta's selection as the location for the 1996 Olympics also marked a breakthrough.

But growth was uneven. Hard times persisted in south Georgia. Predominantly black south Atlanta suffered poverty; predominantly white north Atlanta and its suburbs boomed. Public schools declined; private schools soared. Cotton-mill closings depleted small towns. Extending prosperity to underdeveloped areas remained a key issue in the early 2000s.

Still, Georgia's relative social and economic health can be seen in the black migration back to the state. After 1970, northern and western blacks (many professionals) moved to Georgia in huge numbers, reversing the great migration and creating upper-class enclaves in Metro-Atlanta.

Georgia is no longer just black and white, however; Latino and Asian immigrants altered the ethnic mix. Traditional questions remained, but new trends intervened. Slow-growth movements, gay Atlanta, and environmental conflicts all suggested an uncertain future for a state with a deeply contested past.


Bartley, Numan V. The Creation of Modern Georgia. 2d ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990.

Bayor, Ronald H. Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta. Chapel Hill, N. C. : University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Cobb, James C. Georgia Odyssey. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997.

Coleman, Kenneth, et al. A History of Georgia. 2d ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

DeCredico, Mary A. Patriotism for Profit: Georgia's Urban Entrepreneurs and the Confederate War Effort. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Dittmer, John. Black Georgia in the Progressive Era, 19001920. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977.

Flamming, Douglas. Creating the Modern South: Millhands and Managers in Dalton, Georgia, 18841984. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Grant, Donald L. The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia. Secaucus, N. J. : Carol, 1993.

Shaw, Barton C. The Wool Hat Boys: Georgia's Populist Party, 18921910. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984.

Stewart, Mart A. "What Nature Suffers to Groe": Life, Labor, and Landscape on the Georgia Coast, 16801920. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.

Williams, David. Rich Man's War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Wood, Betty. Gender, Race, and Rank in a Revolutionary Age: The Georgia Lowcountry, 17501820. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.

Douglas Flamming

See also Atlanta ; Birmingham ; Civil Rights Movement ; Civil War ; Great Migration ; Jim Crow Laws ; Reconstruction ; Slavery .

Notable Georgia Women of the Twentieth Century

Rebecca L. Felton (18351930), feminist, first female U. S. Senator (appointed 1922).

Juliette Gordon Low (18601927), founder (1912) of the Girl Scouts of America.

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (18861939), pioneering blues singer.

Margaret Mitchell (19001949), author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Gone with the Wind (1936).

Flannery O'Connor (19251964), critically acclaimed writer of southern fiction.

Rosalynn Carter (b. 1927), First Lady of the United States (19771981), human rights activist.

Coretta Scott King (b. 1927), civil rights leader, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gladys Knight (b. 1944), legendary rhythm and blues singer.

Anne Firor Scott (b. 1921), pioneering women's historian.

Alice Walker (b. 1944), author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple (1983).

SOURCE: Georgia Politics in Transition

School desegregation is part of the Communist plot to overthrow this country.

SOURCE: Lester Maddox, governor of Georgia, 1969

I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.

SOURCE: Jimmy Carter, governor of Georgia, 1971

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Georgia (state, United States)

Georgia (jôr´jə), state in the SE United States, the last of the Thirteen Colonies to be founded. It is bordered by Florida (S), Alabama (W), Tennessee and North Carolina (N), and South Carolina (across the Savannah River) and the Atlantic Ocean (E).

Facts and Figures

Area, 58,876 sq mi (152,489 sq km). Pop. (2010) 9,687,653, an 18.3% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Atlanta. Statehood, Jan. 2, 1788 (4th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution). Highest pt., Brasstown Bald, 4,784 ft (1,459 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Empire State of the South. Motto, Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation. State bird, brown thrasher. State flower, Cherokee rose. State tree, live oak. Abbr., Ga.; GA


Georgia is the largest state E of the Mississippi River and has three main topographical areas. Extending inland from the coast is a low coastal plain that covers the southern half of the state. In mountainous N Georgia are the Appalachian Plateau, the valley and ridge province, and the Blue Ridge province. Bridging these two sections and embracing about one third of the state is the Piedmont foothill region in central Georgia. A number of islands, part of the Sea Islands chain, lie off Georgia's coastline.

The state is well drained by many rivers, including the Savannah, which forms the boundary with South Carolina; the Ocmulgee and the Oconee, which merge in the southeast to form the Altamaha; the Chattahoochee, which forms part of the Alabama boundary and joins with the Flint in the extreme southwest corner of the state to form the Apalachicola; and the Saint Marys, which rises in the large Okefenokee Swamp and forms part of the Georgia-Florida line. The most important cities are Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah, Macon, and Albany.


Although the trade and service sectors supply the majority of jobs in Georgia, manufacturing and agriculture remain important to the state's economy. In addition, federal facilities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, near Atlanta; Fort Benning, near Columbus; and the Kings Bay naval base, contribute to the economy.

Cotton, once Georgia's most valuable crop, has declined in importance; in the 1990s it was rivaled by peanuts, tobacco, and corn. Georgia is easily the nation's largest producer of peanuts. Tobacco is the principal crop in the central and southern sections of the state, peanuts in the southwest. Livestock and poultry raising account for the largest share of farm income; broilers, eggs, and cattle are major products.

The manufacture of textiles and textile products has long been Georgia's leading industry, centering mainly around Columbus, Augusta, Macon, and Rome. Other major manufactures include transportation equipment, foods, paper products, and chemicals. Automobile manufacturing is important around Atlanta. Much of Georgia is heavily forested with pine, and the state is a leading producer of lumber and pulpwood. Although the state is rich in minerals, mining is not as important as manufacturing and agriculture. The most valuable minerals produced are clays, stone, kaolin, iron ore, sand, and gravel. Georgia is famous for its fine marble.

With its moderate winter climate and its Southern charm and beauty, the state is a popular vacation area. The Sea Islands are especially noted for their scenery and resorts. Warm Springs, established with the help of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the treatment of poliomyelitis, is now a historical landmark. Georgia's other attractions include Okefenokee Swamp, a large wilderness area; Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests, with facilities for hunting and fishing; Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park; Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table); and Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, on which is carved a Confederate memorial.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Georgia's constitution provides for an elected governor who serves for a term of four years. The legislature, called the general assembly, is made up of a senate with 56 members and a house of representatives with 180 members. Members of both houses are elected to terms of two years. Georgia sends 14 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 16 electoral votes. Zell Miller, elected governor in 1990 and reelected in 1994, was succeeded by another Democrat, Roy E. Barnes, elected in 1998, but Barnes lost his 2002 reelection bid to Republican Sonny Perdue. Perdue was reelected in 2006, and Republican J. Nathan Deal was elected in 2010 and 2014.

Leading educational institutions include the Univ. of Georgia, at Athens; Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State Univ., Emory Univ., Clark College, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Morris Brown College, all at Atlanta; Agnes Scott College, at Decatur; and Mercer Univ. and Wesleyan College, at Macon.


Early Exploration and Conflicting Claims

The Creek and Cherokee inhabited the Georgia area when Hernando De Soto and his expedition passed through the region c.1540. The Spanish later established missions and garrisons on the Sea Islands. In 1663, Charles II of England made a grant of land that included Georgia to the eight proprietors of Carolina. However, Spain claimed the whole eastern half of the present United States and protested the grant. The English ignored the protest, and the English-Spanish contest for the territory between Charleston (S.C.) and St. Augustine (Fla.) continued intermittently for almost a century. England became interested in settling Georgia as a buffer colony to protect South Carolina from Spanish invasion from the south.

Oglethorpe's Colony

In June, 1732, the English philanthropist James E. Oglethorpe received a charter from George II (for whom the colony was named) to settle the colony of Georgia and form a board of trustees to manage it. Oglethorpe planned to settle Georgia as a refuge for debtors in England. The first colonists, led by Oglethorpe, reached the mouth of the Savannah River in Feb., 1733. On a bluff c.18 mi (29 km) upstream, the colonists laid out the first town, Savannah. In 1739 war broke out between Spain and England. Fighting occurred in Georgia, and in 1742, near Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish in the battle of Bloody Marsh, thereby effectively ending Spain's claim to the land N of the St. Marys River.

Georgia's early settlers included English, Welsh, Scots Highlanders, Germans, Italians, Piedmontese, and Swiss. Jews, Catholics, and settlers from other American colonies were at first barred. Immigrants fell generally into two groups: charity settlers, who were financed by the trustees, and adventurers, who paid their own way and came to receive the best land grants. The trustees had hoped that the colony would produce silk to send back to England, and early colonists were required to plant a specific number of mulberry trees for the cultivation of silkworms. The scheme, however, came to nothing. At first slavery was prohibited, but this and other restrictions impeded the colony's growth, and by the time Georgia became a royal colony in 1754, most of the restrictions had been abolished.

Georgia flourished as a royal colony. It fitted well into the British mercantile system, exporting rice, indigo, deerskins, lumber, naval stores, beef, and pork to England and buying there the manufactured articles it needed. Georgia's citizens were slower to resent those acts of the crown that exasperated the other colonies, but by June, 1775, Georgian patriots had begun to organize, and the following month delegates were elected to the Second Continental Congress. Georgia's colonists were about equally divided into Loyalists and patriots during the American Revolution, but the patriots, exposed to Loyalist Florida on the south and Native American tribes on the west, fared badly. In Dec., 1778, the British captured Savannah, and by the end of 1779 they held every important town in Georgia.


After American independence had been won, Georgia was the first Southern state to ratify (1788) the Constitution. Georgia came into conflict with the federal government over states' rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), that an individual could sue a state, a decision equally distasteful to other states as well as to Georgia. (This decision was later nullified by the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)

Further difficulties with the federal government stemmed from the related issues of the removal of Native Americans and land speculation centering around the Yazoo land fraud. In the midst of the Yazoo controversy, Georgia ceded (1802) its western lands to the United States in return for $1,250,000 and a pledge that the Native Americans would be removed from Georgia lands. By 1826 the Creek had yielded their lands, but in 1827, the Cherokee set themselves up as an independent nation. The U.S. Supreme Court held (1832) that the state had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee, but President Jackson declined to support the chief justice, and in 1838 the Cherokee were forced to migrate west to government land in present day Oklahoma. The path of their journey is known as the Trail of Tears.

Cotton and the Confederacy

With the invention of the cotton gin (1793) by Eli Whitney, Georgia began to prosper as a cotton-growing state. Cotton was grown under the plantation system with labor supplied by slaves. By the 1840s a textile industry was established in the state. Although Georgia was committed to slavery before the Civil War, state leaders opposed secession. However, successive defeats on the national scene, culminating in the election of Lincoln as president, fostered separatist sentiment in the state.

On Jan. 19, 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union and shortly afterward joined the Confederacy. The coast was soon blockaded by the Union navy, and in Apr., 1862, Fort Pulaski (which had been seized by the state in Jan., 1861) was recaptured by Union forces. Georgia became a major Civil War battlefield when, in 1864, Union Gen. W. T. Sherman launched his successful Atlanta campaign. On Nov. 15, 1864, Sherman set fire to Atlanta, and his subsequent march through Georgia to the sea, culminating in the fall (Dec.) of Savannah, left in its path a scene of great destruction.

The Long Aftermath of the Civil War

During Reconstruction, Georgia at first refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and was consequently placed under military rule. During the period of military rule Rufus B. Bullock, a radical Republican, was elected governor. Corruption prevailed during Bullock's administration (1868–71), but after the legislature approved the Fifteenth Amendment (the Thirteenth and Fourteenth having been ratified earlier), Georgia was readmitted (1870) to the Union, and Bullock resigned. Georgia's Democratic party has dominated the state's politics since the end of Reconstruction.

The textile industry recovered from the effects of the war and was expanding by the 1880s. Atlanta, which had succeeded Milledgeville as the capital in 1868, grew into a thriving industrial city, largely due to its importance as the center of an expanding regional railroad network.

The effect of the war on agriculture—which had formerly been dependent on slave labor—was more serious. The breakup of large plantations resulted in the rise of tenant farming and sharecropping, systems often accompanied by poverty and abuse. After World War I agriculture suffered further setbacks as the boll weevil caused great destruction to cotton crops and the soil became exhausted through erosion and overuse. A farm depression began in Georgia long before the general depression of the 1930s. The state weathered the depression, but its subsequent history was marked by political and racial conflict.

The Struggle for Racial Equality

In 1941, Gov. Eugene Talmadge caused nationwide commotion by discharging three educators in the state university system alleged to have advocated racial equality in the schools. The state university system lost its accreditation for a time as a result of Talmadge's action. Talmadge was defeated in the 1942 Democratic primary by Ellis G. Arnall.

Under Arnall's administration, Georgia became the first state to grant the vote to 18-year-olds, and in 1946 (on the strength of a U.S. Supreme Court decision) blacks voted for the first time in the Georgia Democratic primary. Among Arnall's other administrative acts was the adoption of a new constitution in Aug., 1945. The 1945 constitution, which, in amended form, is still in effect in the state, contained a provision for Georgia's notorious county-unit system. This system for nominating state officials in Democratic primaries led to the political control of urban areas by sparsely populated rural areas.

The integration of public schools, following the 1954 Supreme Court decision, was strenuously opposed by many Georgians. However, in 1961 the legislature abandoned a "massive resistance" policy, and Georgia became the first state in the deep South to proceed with integration without a major curtailment of its public school system. Racial tensions persisted, however, and in May, 1970, racial disorders broke out in Augusta.

Georgia's county-unit system (held constitutional by the Supreme Court in Apr., 1950) was abolished by federal court order in 1962. In 1972, the Georgian Andrew Young became the first African American elected to the U.S. Congress; he later became mayor of Atlanta. Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and the 39th president of the United States (1977–81), had been governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975; his administration brought attention to the state, whose urban centers, especially Atlanta, were beginning to experience rapid growth. Today, roughly one half of the jobs in Georgia are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is sprawling into formerly rural districts, highlighting the cultural and economic gaps between Georgia's rural and urban areas.


See H. E. Bolton, The Debatable Land (1968); R. H. Shyrock, Georgia and the Union in 1850 (1926, repr. 1968); R. M. Myers, ed., The Children of Pride (1972); J. Crutchfield, ed., Georgia Almanac, 1989–90 (1990); N. V. Bartley, The Creation of Modern Georgia (2d ed. 1990).

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Georgia is located in the southeastern United States, where it is bordered in the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, in the south by Florida, in the west by Alabama, and in the east by South Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean. The country's twenty-first largest state, Georgia has a total area of 58,910 square miles. In the 1990s Georgia's estimated population of 7.64 million ranked it tenth among the fifty states. During the nineteenth century the state boasted a thriving agricultural economy, but by the end of the twentieth century Georgia's manufacturing and service industries were its most successful and buoyant. The state's economic center is located in Atlanta, which is both Georgia's largest city and its capital.

The colony of Georgia was founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe, a soldier, politician, and philanthropist who had been granted a charter to settle the territory by Great Britain. Named after the English King George II, Georgia was the last of the 13 British colonies established in the United States. Georgians were among the first colonists to sign the Declaration of Independence. Following the American Revolution (17751783) Georgia was the fourth state overall and the first southern state to ratify the federal Constitution in January of 1788.

Georgia's support for the federal government began to wane during the early 1800s, when Congress proposed legislation to outlaw slavery in the Western territories. Georgia's rich cotton and rice plantations depended on slavery, and Georgians feared that the abolition movement would eventually reach their state. The Missouri Compromise (1820), which designated the states and territories in question as slave or free states, was passed by Congress largely through the efforts of Georgia Representatives Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Toombs, and Howell Cobb. This legislation helped calm tempers in the South, but it was only a temporary fix. On January 19, 1861 Georgia became one of the eleven Confederate states to secede from the Union. Less than three months later the nation was at war.

The American Civil War (18611865) left much of Georgia in ruins. Union General William T. Sherman (18201891) captured Atlanta in September of 1864, and began his famous "march to the sea" in November. Before his troops overtook Savannah in December, houses were looted, bridges were burned, and railroads, factories, mills, and warehouses were destroyed. Georgia residents were not the only ones in their state to suffer during the war, almost 50,000 Union soldiers were held prisoner at a camp in Andersonville, Georgia. Approximately one-fourth of those prisoners died from exposure, malnutrition, starvation, and filth. The prison superintendent was later convicted of war crimes before a U.S. military court and hung.

Georgia was readmitted to the Union on July 15, 1870 after it ratified the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution. Those amendments abolished slavery and guaranteed the former slaves equal protection under the law and the right to vote. The amendments did not, however, protect thousands of black Georgia residents from being persecuted by white terrorists. Nor did they prevent the state government from enacting so-called Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation in Georgia. Such laws remained on the books until Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation in all public places. Georgia native Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (19291968) played an essential role in bringing about the passage of that civil rights law.

Other famous Americans have also hailed from Georgia. Jimmy Carter (1924) is the only U.S. president who claims Georgia as his birthplace. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (1948) is one of four Georgians to have sat on the nation's high court. Baseball players Raymond "Ty" Cobb (18861961) and Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (19191972) are among the legendary Georgia athletes. Eli Whitney (17651825) may be the most famous Georgian from before the twentieth century. Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 made cotton so efficient to clean that the crop became the foundation for Georgia's economy in the nineteenth century.

Cotton would not have the same importance to the Georgia economy of the twentieth century. In the 1920s the boll weevil decimated the state's cotton industry. The Great Depression (19291939) further weakened the cotton farmer and by 1940 the old plantation system was gone. At the same time, World War I (19141918) and World War II (19391945) hastened the growth of manufacturing in Georgia. Federal dollars poured into state businesses that built and sold airplanes, ships, and munitions for the war effort.

By the end of the twentieth century manufacturing was the state's leading revenue-generating activity, with the textile industry being its oldest and largest such business. Of the almost four million persons employed in Georgia during the early 1990s, however, about 25 percent worked in the services sector, 23 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade, and only 15 percent worked in manufacturing. Three percent of Georgia residents worked on farms where cotton was only one of several crops grown for a profit. Tobacco, peanuts, peaches, and watermelons have also proven lucrative to grow in the state.

Tourism was another revenue-generating activity for the state in the twentieth century, with visitors to the state spending nearly $9.2 billion annually. The state's several national parks and forests, 100-mile oceanic coastline, balmy winter temperatures, and verdant plant life make it a nationwide attraction. In 1996 Atlanta attracted millions of people from around the world for the summer Olympics, which were generally considered a success despite a bombing that killed two people.

Both residents and visitors have contributed to the host of nicknames by which the state of Georgia is known. Unofficially called the Peach State, Georgia has also been affectionately referred to as the Peanut State, the Buzzard State, and the Empire State of the South. Over the past quarter-century Georgia has become known in some parts as the Bulldog State acquiring that moniker in conjunction with the successful academic and athletic programs at the University of Georgia, where the school mascot is a bulldog.

See also: Boll Weevil Infestation, King Cotton, Sherman's March on Georgia


Hepburn, Lawrence R. The Georgia History Book. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Institute of Government, 1982.

Lane, Mills. The People of Georgia: An Illustrated History, 2nd ed. Savannah, GA: Library of Georgia, 1992.

"Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 1999," [cited May, 12 1999] available from the World Wide Web @

Sams, Cindy. "Georgia Farmers Find Peanuts Still the Crop to Grow." Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News, October 8, 1998.

"State of Georgia Homepage," [cited April 20, 1999] available from the World Wide Web @

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Trustees. Georgia was the last colony founded by the British in what would be the United States. By the 1730s authorities in England had a fairly good idea of what it meant to create settlements even though in many ways Georgia would be an experiment. Unlike the earliest colonies, which were either underwritten by joint stock companies (Virginia, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, New Netherland, and New Sweden) or were held as the semiprivate property of proprietors (Pennsylvania, Maryland, the Jerseys, New York, and the Carolinas), Georgia was entrusted to twenty-one trustees. Its 1733 charter, to run for twenty-one years, prohibited the trustees from making any profit or taking any salary. Money for the colony was raised in England, initially through the churches and schoolchildren since the idea being promoted was that Georgia would be a place where the deserving poor could find a second chance. (Most of these people were not the debtors jailed in England that popular myth has assigned to early Georgia.) Contributions fell off, however, and less than 10 percent of the £260,000 that the trustees ultimately spent came through donations. Other expectations by the trustees also failed to materialize, and Georgia proved hard to govern, especially through trustee meetings held three thousand miles away. In 1752, one year sooner than their charter called for, the trustees turned the colony over to the Crown, and royal officials arrived two years later.

Oglethorpe. The man most responsible for the creation and administration of Georgia was James Edward Oglethorpe. Born to a wealthy family in 1696, he began his career in the army of Prince Eugene of Savoy fighting against the Ottoman Turks. By 1719 he was back in England, and in 1722 he was elected to the House of Commons. A turning point for Oglethorpe came in 1728 when a close friend, Robert Castell, was committed to Londons Fleet Street prison for debt, where he contracted smallpox and died. Oglethorpe had visited Castell in prison and was appalled by what he saw, so he began to agitate for prison reform. His efforts attracted the attention of Thomas Bray, the Anglican clergyman in charge of the churchs missionary effort in America. Bray had conceived of a philanthropic colony for Englands poor and released debtors. After his death his friends began

working with Oglethorpe and helped push the charter through. Oglethorpe was a man of action, and he accompanied the first boatload of 114 settlers to Georgia in 1732. While not officially governor, his leadership abilities in fact made him so. He would also be a military leader against the Spanish in Florida and take part in all the important events of the young colony. By 1738 Oglethorpes authority was diminishing. Political dissent and economic problems in the colony led the trustees to look to others for guidance. Oglethorpe left the colony in 1743 to answer charges of military mismanagement against him. The ensuing court-martial cleared him, and Parliament granted the colonial leader the £66,109 that he had spent of his own funds for the public good of Georgia. He continued to attend meetings of the trustees in England until 1749, but he never returned to Georgia.

Buffer Zone. While Oglethorpe and many of the trustees hoped that Georgia would be a place for the poor to acquire a necessary sufficiency, they and others also realized that the Spaniards and neighboring Indians were a threat to the increasingly prosperous colony of South Carolina. By the early 1700s Spaniards were concentrated south of the Saint Johns River (modern Jacksonville, Florida) and Frenchmen were settling the Gulf of Mexico. A series of European wars in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries also contributed to English fears of enemies at their backs. Indian problems that culminated in the Yamasee War (17151716) convinced South Carolinians that they needed white frontier settlements that not only would prevent the French from monopolizing the Mississippi but also would supply militias to forestall or repel Spanish or Indian forays into Carolina. Georgia was therefore settled on South Carolinas southern and southwestern flank abutting the Spanish in La Florida.

Failure of Idealism. While colonies such as Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, and Pennsylvania all were founded to some extent as idealistic ventures, their underpinnings were religious. Georgias founders, while godly, were looking not to establish a protected religious enclave but a moral one. Chief among these moralists was Oglethorpe. He and the trustees envisioned a colony of sober, industrious, small landholders. To this end they prohibited strong liquors, large landholdings of more than five hundred acres, and slavery; the colonists disagreed. Not only did these constraints rankle many settlers, but also the restrictions on land acquisition and slave labor made Georgia unappealing to those with capital who wanted to take advantage of the areas potential for rice plantations. South Carolinians especially eyed the rivers and marshes, and a few even went so far as establishing illegal slave-based plantations. A colony without colonists was a colony that failed. In 1750 the trustees allowed slavery, and two years later the five-hundred-acre restriction on grants ended. The rum trade was never completely suppressed because Robert Musgrove and his wife Mary sold liquor less than a mile from Savannah. Georgias trustees had learned what other Utopians would learn throughout American history,

which was that ideals in competition with economic realities rarely survived.

Savannah. By the time Oglethorpe and his settlers arrived in America they knew what locations would be good sites for towns. Probably aided by the South Carolinians he had met, Oglethorpe settled on Yamacraw Bluff, high above the Savannah River some seventeen miles from the ocean. As Oglethorpe told the trustees, The Lannskip is very agreeable, the Stream being wide, and bordered with high Woods on both sides. The local Indians were few in number and peaceful. Oglethorpe then proceeded to lay out a town with public squares, blocks often lots each, and streets. Savannah also boasted an experimental garden where exotic crops such as olive trees, grape vines, coffee berries, tea, oranges, and Egyptian kale were planted. The planned city of Savannah was unlike almost any other town in British America and looked then, and still looks now, European. By 1754 it seemed to have some 150 houses and 600 inhabitants, black and white.


Kenneth Coleman, Colonial Georgia: A History (Millwood, N.Y.: KTO Press, 1989);

Evarts B. Greene and Virginia D. Harrington, American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790 (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1966).

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Atlanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193

Marietta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207

Savannah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219

The State in Brief

Nickname: Empire State of the South; Peach State

Motto: Wisdom, justice, and moderation

Flower: Cherokee rose

Bird: Brown thrasher

Area: 59,424 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 24th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 4,784 feet above sea level

Climate: Long, hot summers and short, mild winters

Admitted to Union: January 2, 1788

Capital: Atlanta

Head Official: Sonny Perdue (R) (until 2007)


1980: 5,463,000

1990: 6,478,000

2000: 8,186,453

2004 estimate: 8,829,383

Percent change, 19902000: 26.4%

U.S. rank in 2004: 9th

Percent of residents born in state: 57.8% (2000)

Density: 141.4 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 385,830

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 5,327,281

Black or African American: 2,349,542

American Indian and Alaska Native: 21,737

Asian: 173,170

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 4,246

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 435,227

Other: 196,289

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 595,150

Population 5 to 19 years old: 2,414,770

Percent of population 65 years and over: 9.6%

Median age: 33.4 years

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 135,831

Total number of deaths (2003): 66,337 (infant deaths, 1,153)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 14,023


Major industries: Paper and board, textiles, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, chemicals

Unemployment rate: 4.1% (December 2004)

Per capita income: $29,259 (2003; U.S. rank: 28th)

Median household income: $43,535 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 12.0% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 6.0%

Sales tax rate: 4.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

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Republic of Georgia

Sakartveld Respublika



Georgia is located between Europe and Asia. East of the Black Sea, Georgia is separated from Russia by the Caucasus Mountains. It borders Turkey and Armenia to the south and Azerbaijan to the east. Georgia has a land area of 69,700 square kilometers (26,911 square miles) making it slightly smaller in size than the state of South Carolina. Approximately 75 percent of Georgia's territory is 500 or more meters above sea level. The country has a coastline of 315 kilometers (196 miles).


Georgia's most recent official census counted 5,400,481 in 1989. Recent state statistics, which underestimate the volume of emigration , keep the figure around 5.4 million. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, however, estimates the population in July of 2001 at 4,989,285. With estimated rates of 10.87 births and 14.52 deaths per 1,000 population and a net out-migration rate of 2.57 per 1,000 population, Georgia had an estimated growth rate of-0.62 percent in 2000.

Georgia is an ethnically diverse state. Georgians comprise only 70 percent of the population, while there are minorities of Armenians (8 percent), Azeris (6 percent), Russians (6 percent), Ossetians (3 percent), and Abkhazians (1.8 percent). These groups, while small in number, have posed problems for the T'bilisi government as they are concentrated in specific areas and some have aspirations towards independence. Georgia contains 3 autonomous republics: Abkhazia, Adjara, and South Ossetia.


It is difficult to understand the contemporary economic situation of Georgia without first understanding its tumultuous history since achieving independence from the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991. Independence exposed the extreme reliance of the Georgian economy on the Soviet Union. At the time of independence, the vast majority of Georgia's trade was conducted within the USSR. Trade with the Newly Independent States (NIS), the name given to the states that emerged from the collapse of the USSR, was disrupted by the wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and by civil war. When Georgia was a part of the USSR, heavy-industrial enterprises were established throughout Georgia but fell into disuse when the country became independent. Net material product experienced an unprecedented decline in the immediate years after independence. It declined by 11.1 percent in 1990, by 20.6 percent in 1991, by 43.4 percent in 1992, and 40 percent in 1993.

Most of Georgia's recent economic problems can be attributed to the weakness of centralized authority and to an insufficiently developed civil society. The legacy of the Soviet state is a primary cause of these problems. Georgian society was ill-prepared for independence politically, economically, culturally, and psychologically. In particular, no social groups existed independent of the state and a democratic culture had not been established. Moreover, the de facto (existing whether lawful or not) federal administrative-political system imposed during the Soviet period weakened the power of Georgia's own government. Soviet control also fostered separatist tendencies in the region. Administratively, Georgia was a "little empire" that began to disintegrate in much the same way as the larger model of the USSR. The effective secession of Abkhazia, Adjara, and South Ossetia coincided with ineffective control over the Armenian and Azeri dominated regions. The war in Abkhazia was especially detrimental to national and civic integration as it occurred at a critical stage in the state-building process.

The economic path followed by the breakaway republics of Abkhazia, Adjara, and South Ossetia diverged considerably from that of the rest of the country. The Abkhazian victory in September 1993 led to an economic blockade by Georgia followed by a similar Russian blockade in 1996 as Moscow tried to improve relations with T'bilisi. The Russian ruble is the only currency in widespread use in Abkhazia and the region operates under Moscow time, 1 hour behind T'bilisi. Despite a flourishing unofficial trade with Russia, the Abkhazian people had to rely heavily on humanitarian handouts as a means of subsistence. The once dynamic tourism industry is in tatters. Despite maintaining the trappings of an independent state, lack of economic potential has forced South Ossetia to consider closer ties with the rest of Georgia. Adjara maintains the closest links with T'bilisi and has benefited accordingly.

Corruption has been a persistent feature of Georgian society for several decades and has been entrenched since the establishment of an independent state in 1991. The weakness of the central government is clear in its lack of control over its employees. Small and medium size businesses, which could provide a vital base for economic growth and employment are hindered by lack of resources to withstand persistent demands for bribes. Few citizens see the point in engaging in political protests as they perceive the members of the government as hopelessly corrupt and their situation as unavoidable.

For most of the 1990s, Georgia was torn between dependency on Russia and the West. Georgia relies heavily on Russia for fuel, and an estimated 800,000 Georgians who work in Russia repatriate a substantial sum to their families in Georgia every year. This economic lifeline was suddenly put at risk when the Russian government imposed a visa regime on Georgia. Before 5 December 2000, Georgians could travel freely to Russia but now are required to obtain permission from the Russian embassy in Georgia. An apparent punishment for alleged tolerance of Chechen guerrillas who take refuge in Georgia, the visa regime is symptomatic of a cooling of relations between Moscow and T'bilisi. Georgia has increasingly turned to the West for assistance. It has deepened relations with the European Union (EU) and declared its intention of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at some point in the future.


Georgia's political system is modeled on that of the United States with a directly elected president, parliament, and judiciary. Politics in the Caucasian republic has been dominated by Eduard Shevardnadze since 1972, the year he became First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party. Before becoming Soviet Foreign Minister under Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, Shevardnadze gained a reputation for his anti-corruption policies and his economic initiatives. Shevardnadze entered into alliances with paramilitary forces when he felt it necessary and arrested them when he felt that he was strong enough to maintain power. He adopted an anti-Russian policy at the beginning of his administration, then sought and received Russian aid in putting down an internal rebellion. He even joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)a heretical act for Georgian nationalists considering the dominant role Russia plays in that organization. When it became clear that Russian economic aid would not be forthcoming, he explained that he attained concessions for his country by such devotion. As Russia adopts a hostile position towards the small republic, some suspect that the Georgian president is now saying what the West wants to hear in order to get the loans and legitimacy necessary to retain control. Shevardnadze was elected for anotherand, according to himself, final 5-year term of office in April 2000.

To consolidate his influence and further his policies, Shevardnadze founded the Citizens Union of Georgia (CUG) party in 1993. Officially dedicated to free market economics, the CUG advocates increasing the collection of taxes, fiscal rectitude, and improving social welfare provisions. The CUG emerged as the largest party after parliamentary elections in 1995 and 1999. As with society generally, politics is clannish in Georgia and many important administrative functions are handed out to family relatives and friends. Despite the more than 100 small parties in Georgia, there is little effective opposition to the Shevardnadze-led government. With the exception of the electorally insignificant communist faction, all political groups are committed to the free market, so alternative leaders provide a functional but not an ideological opposition to the status quo.

The "black hole" of tax collection is so great that tax revenues constituted only 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1997, a year in which the Georgian economy enjoyed one of the world's fastest growth rates. Insubstantial tax revenues are partially due to the narrow tax base; most of those who do pay taxes are state employees for whom tax is automatically subtracted from salaries. While those living below the poverty line might have some ethical grounds for evading tax, many of those that have the means to pay have shown no willingness to contribute their share. The situation is aggravated by the actions of underpaid tax officials who ignore hidden income in return for pocketing a portion of the total amount due. The government has done little to develop more effective means of enforcing the law and appears resigned to the situation.


There are 20,298 kilometers (12,613 miles) of roads in Georgia which consist of international motor roads (1,474 kilometers/916 miles), internal state motor roads (3,330 kilometers/2,069 miles), and local roads (15,494 kilometers/9,628 miles). The vast majority of roads are in poor condition. A Georgian railway network was established in 1872, which grew to 1,583 kilometers (984 miles) of track in 2000. T'bilisi is connected by rail to the capitals of Azerbaijan and Armenia, but due to unrest in Abkhazia, the route to Russia and Europe has not been in operation since the early 1990s. In 1988, during the last years of the Soviet regime, Georgian railways transported 36.2 million metric tons of cargo. The volume declined to 4.7 million metric tons in 1995, or only 13 percent of total railway production. Since that date, the volume of cargo has steadily increased, reaching 9.4 million metric tons in 1999.

The Georgian electricity power sector is in urgent need of modernization, refurbishment, and investment. The provision of electricity to Georgian citizens has declined every year since 1995 and the lack of power is an obstacle to economic growth. In 1998, a U.S.-based energy company (AES Corporation) bought Telasi, Georgia's bankrupt electricity distribution company. Government corruption, non-payment of bills, and a reliance on aging hydroelectric and thermal

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Georgia N/A 555 473 2.8 11 N/A N/A 1.59 20
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Ukraine 54 884 490 15.7 2 0.0 13.8 4.56 200
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

power stations have all contributed to the electricity shortage. During the winter of 2000-01, electricity supply to households was an average of 4 hours per day. These shortages have inflicted misery on an already dis-enchanted population. Widespread protests and street demonstrations during November 2000 provided a safety valve for popular frustration but aroused fears of another civil war.

The communications sector is the most stable sector of the economy and has attracted the interest of foreign investors. The modernization of ground lines is a process that will continue for some years while the mobile phone operator networks have enjoyed rapid expansion. In 1998, there were 115 telephone lines, 11 cellular phones, and 0.1 public phones per 1,000 citizens. Most of the public phones, however, were in serious disrepair. Internet service providers have also recorded increased business but access to computers remains the luxury of a privileged few (0.15 per 1,000 citizens).


In terms of volume of goods and numbers employed, agriculture plays a key role in the Georgian economy and is crucial in reducing poverty in rural areas. The liberalization of prices and the privatization of the land were important steps taken during the 1990s to improve the agricultural sector, though lack of capital has prevented the development of modern systems of management and the attraction of new markets.

The industrial sector has enjoyed modest advances in recent years. In 2000, industrial output grew by 10.8 percent, amounting to GEL1.051 million. Industry accounted for 21.5 percent of GDP in 2000. One positive trend was the increase in the number of small businesses, which totaled 2,296 in October 2000, though they only accounted for 14.5 percent of total industrial production. There is an unequal share of production among the industries43.8 percent of industrial production is produced by 52 of the 2,713 industrial companiesindicating a low level of diversification. In addition, the shadow industry, a legacy from Soviet times, continues to hinder growth. The volume of informal or shadow industrial production was estimated to be 177 percent of officially produced goods in 2000. Industry employed 20 percent of the workforce in 1999.

The service industry constituted 51 percent of Georgia's GDP in 2000. Trade and transport both play a major role in the service industry and each accounted for more than 10 percent of the sector, respectively, by 2000. Tourism remains one of Georgia's great unfulfilled potentials, but the loss of Abkhazia and poor infrastructure continue to hamper development in this area. The banking sector has consolidated greatly since 1994 but there are still too many banking groups relative to both the population and the resources of the Georgian people. Approximately 40 percent of the workforce was employed in the service industry in 1999. The remaining 5.9 percent of the GDP was accounted for by net taxes.


During the Soviet period, agriculture and food processing were major activities in Georgia and the country continues to be a significant producer of wine, tea, fruit, and vegetables. Land use in Georgia varies with local climatic and soil patterns. The cultivation of citrus is concentrated along the Black Sea, particularly in Abkhazia and Ajara. Georgian wine has a reputation for excellence, though the industry has suffered in recent years from the manufacture of fake Georgian wine. The cultivation of nuts and tea are also of fundamental importance. Overall, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries accounted for 21.5 percent of GDP in 2000 and employed 40 percent of the workforce in 1999.

Adverse weather conditions contributed to a substantial fall in agricultural production during the year 2000. The volume of agricultural produce fell by 18.5 percent compared with 1999 and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food estimated losses at US$225 million. A prolonged drought throughout the country was particularly devastating for the agricultural heartland of eastern Georgia; almost 400,000 hectares of agricultural lands were damaged. The damage included 155,000 hectares of grain fields causing the annual grain yields to average 900-1,000 kilos per hectare, half of normal production. The effect on sunflower plantations was even greater with 58,600 hectares of the crop suffering damage and the harvest being almost entirely destroyed in some regions.

Forty-three percent of the country's territory is forested. About 97 percent are located on the slopes of the main and small Caucasus Mountain systems, the remainder are to be found in the valleys of East Georgia and the Colkheti lowlands. As a result of the energy shortage, large forest areas have been cut down, leading to soil erosion, the reduction of underground and surface water, and the formation of land and snow slides. Collectively, these processes have caused soil salination and a decrease in soil fertility in many areas. Reliance on manual labor, out-dated techniques, and poorly maintained irrigation systems also lead to decreased productivity.



Georgia used to possess one of the world's richest manganese deposits in the Tchiatura and Sachkhere regions: present-day resources are estimated at about 200 million metric tons. Significant deposits of high quality mineral and drinking water exist in Georgia. Two-thirds of estimated resources (amounting to 17-18 cubic kilometers/4-4.3 cubic miles) are located in western Georgia at 10 to 15 meters depth while the remaining third in eastern Georgia is also accessible at a depth of 250 to 300 meters. A thriving industry during the Soviet period, bottled water production declined sharply after independence and by 1993 was down to 5 percent of pre-independence levels. In recent years, however, the mineral water industry has revived with the "Borjormi" label leading the way.


Georgia's manufacturing base is so weak that many of its most important enterprises can only operate without paying for electricity. The government, afraid of the potential redundancies, has refused to take decisive action. The metallurgy and chemical sectors are commodities of most importance to the Georgian economy, specifically manganese ore, ferromanganese, mineral fertilizers, and synthetic ammonia.

Other industrial activities include domestic processing of agricultural products, which accounted for 4.7 percent of overall GDP in 2000, and construction, which accounted for 3.5 percent. While construction has been increasing relatively rapidly (4 percent in 2000), much of this activity is part of the shadow economy .



Georgia was once the tourism center of the Soviet Union with 3 million visitors annually, 250,000 of whom came from outside of the USSR. As Georgia descended into civil war in the early 1990s, its tourism industry ground to a halt. According to Georgia's State Department of Tourism and Resorts, about 383,000 people visited Georgia in 1999, of which 219,000 came from the CIS and 164,000 from other countries. Many of the hotels and health resorts that had catered to tourists were used to house the thousands of internally displaced people who fled to the capital after the defeat of Georgian forces in Abkhazia. Tourism is also hindered by a cumbersome visa regime that requires letters of invitation and submission of passports to embassies prior to departure. Visas can be obtained upon arrival at the airport but only at very high prices.

The attractions for travelers in Georgia include the beautiful coastal regions along the Black Sea, though the 2 autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Adjara dominate most of the coastline. With its large mountain ranges (the highest peak is 5,150 meters/16,897 feet), Georgia is ideal for skiing, and the Bakuriani and Gudauri ski resorts were very popular among Russian tourists in the Soviet era. Revival of this tourist attraction will, however, require heavy investment and continued political stability. Though tourism could become one of the country's leading industries, hotels and restaurants contributed only 2.2 percent of GDP in 2000.


The textile industry is also one that should witness significant development in the coming years. A legislative framework for investment and close proximity to EU markets complements the availability of raw materials and a cheap skilled workforce. Eighty-five percent of textile companies have been privatized, either as joint stock companies or companies with limited liability.


The legacy of communism and the reality of corruption ensured that the creation of a strong banking system in Georgia would be troubled. The absence of an effective banking sector made it difficult for entrepreneurs to get the capital needed to invest in private enterprises, while government interference forced banks to give loans to dubious projects and individuals, further debilitating the development of financial services. Hundreds of banks were established in the early 1990s with capital of US$500 or less. Between 1998 and 2000 the number of banks fell from 294 to 33 and more closures are expected as a result of bankruptcy, closure, or merger.


As an integral part of the Soviet Union, Georgian trade was conducted almost exclusively within the USSR. On the eve of the country's independence, 95.7 percent of Georgia's exports and 72.3 percent of its imports were from trade with other Soviet Republics. In the decade following independence, Georgia had to seek out new trading partners because most of the former Soviet republics were poor and the new government did not wish to rely on Russia. In 1997, Russia accounted for 27.4 percent of exports and 15.2 percent of imports; 2 years later these figures had been further reduced to 12.4 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively.

Trade with the EU and Turkey has replaced much of the trade with Russia. In 2000, Georgia exported US$68.3 million to the EU and imported goods to the value of US$167.1 million. Though this meant that Georgia had a trade deficit of US$95.8 million, the figure represented a dramatic improvement on the 1998 figure when the trade imbalance was US$273.8 million. Germany has emerged as Georgia's largest trading partner among the EU member states. In 1999, Georgian exports to Germany amounted to US$24.5 million while it imported US$44.2 million of German produce. Despite improving the trade balance in 1999, Georgia still had a trade deficit with all EU member states except Spain.

At the beginning of 2000, Georgia had a trade deficit with 70 trading partners and enjoyed a trade surplus with 18 countries, the most significant of which were Turkey and Syria. Reducing the trade deficit is one of the key priorities of the Georgian government but its efforts are hampered by the conflict in Abkhazia and the de facto independence of South Ossetia and Adjara. The defeat of Georgian forces in Abkhazia resulted in the loss of the rail route to Russia and Europe. The independent regions are popular smuggling routes, depriving the government of revenues and hindering its regulation of trade.


Like many former Soviet republics, Georgia used the Russian ruble as a unit of currency after achieving independence. In April 1993, however, the Georgian National Bank introduced a coupon currency to alleviate the shortage of Russian rubles, which was hampering payment of government salaries. Priced on a par with the Russian ruble, the currency was supposed to circulate with the ruble but by August 1993 it had become the sole legal tender. The value of the currency was expected to be maintained by the proceeds from privatization, but when these failed to materialize, a large quantity of unsecured credits were issued with the predictable consequence of rampant inflation . By 1994 US$1 was worth 2 million Georgian coupons and inflation was at 100 percent per month. Not surprisingly, most transactions were carried out in U.S. dollars or Russian rubles.

Exchange rates: Georgia
lari per US$1
Dec 2000 1.9798
2000 1.9762
1999 2.0245
1998 1.3898
1997 1.2975
1996 1.2628
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

The government introduced a new currencythe larion 25 September 1995, which became the only legal tender a week later. Coupons were exchanged at the rate of 1 million per Georgian lari (GEL). Due to the economic reforms that had already begun to take effect and the absence of war, the lari proved to be far more successful than its predecessor. Introduced at the rate of 1.23 Lari per U.S. dollar, the currency has remained relatively stable, declining to 1.35 lari by August 1998 and to 1.97 lari by September 2000. The rate of exchange dipped in the early months of 2001, reaching 2.11 by the middle of February, a decline that was attributed to economic crises in Turkey.

Only the Russian ruble is used in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Though the lari is accepted as legal tender in the Armenian-populated region of Javaketi, the Armenian dram and the Russian ruble are the dominant currencies, the latter due to the presence of Russian troops. The relative stability of the lari since 1995 contributed to the reduction of inflation. With the ruble in circulation in 1992, inflation had stood at 913.1 percent for the year but war, the failure of economic reforms, and the introduction of the coupon saw this figure rocket to 7,380 percent in 1994. The rate of inflation dropped to 57.4 percent in 1995, 13.8 percent in 1996, 7.2 percent in 1997 and 4.6 percent in 2000.


Before the collapse of the USSR, poverty was relatively unknown in Georgia. Since then, the standard of living has declined. In June 2000, 53 percent of the population was below the national poverty line, which meant that average spending was less than US$2 per day per person. Georgia's tradition of an extended-family support system has acted as a buffer against the worst privations of severe poverty, however.

Access to land has alleviated some of the hardships for the rural population. In 1997, the poverty gap and squared poverty gap index were 40 and 60 percent higher

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Georgia 1,788 2,366 2,813 2,115 703
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Ukraine N/A N/A N/A 1,979 837
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

in urban areas, respectively, than those in rural areas. There are also significant differences in poverty rates and poverty gaps among the geographic regions, with poverty rates in the richest areas (Samegrelo/Poti, Adjara/Batumi) being half those of the poorest ones (Imereti, Guria). The people of the most impoverished region, Imereti, live in remote, mountainous areas that are almost inaccessible during winter partly due to lack of infrastructure maintenance. The former centers of Soviet heavy industry were most adversely affected while those that possessed diversified agricultural and agro-industrial sectors proved less vulnerable to the dramatic upheavals of the 1990s.

The minimum subsistence levels established by the U.S. State Department for Statistics (SDS) were GEL113.2 a month for a working man, GEL99.3 for an average consumer, and GEL197 (US$100) for a family of 4. In 2001, the country's 800,000 pensioners received payments of GEL14 (US$7) with GEL2 deducted for electricity. This represents only 12 percent of the SDS's suggested minimum subsistence income level. Pensioners, therefore, invariably rely on family, neighbors, street trading, or begging. The dependency ratio is 1:1.2, which is dangerously high compared to the suggested 1 dependent per 3 people. The large proportion of workers not paying taxes worsens the government's ability to introduce an adequate pension scheme. The pension system also suffers from a large number of "ghost" recipients: the 1999 registration revealed payments to 37,743

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Georgia 33 4 13 2 4 8 36
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Ukraine 34 5 16 6 4 14 22
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

deceased pensioners. This unusual situation is partially explained by the high cost of funerals, which force many people to bury their relatives without registering their deaths. Postal workers, however, earn bonuses for withholding the delivery of pensions to unreported, deceased pensioners.

While the Soviet health-care system had imperfections, it was far superior to that of independent Georgia. In 1999, government spending on health care constituted 0.59 percent of GDP, a figure that compares unfavorably with Latin America (2.6 percent), eastern Europe (3.9 percent), and high-income nations of the western world (6 percent). Georgians are expected to pay for their own health care, but surveys indicate that almost 80 percent of Georgians spend less than US$5 a month on it. Because of the strong sense of family obligation that is a fundamental part of the Georgian culture, financial support for ailing and aging citizens often becomes the responsibility of family. This family contribution is one of the factors that allows Georgians to enjoy an average life expectancy of 73 years.

The Georgian educational system was one of the few institutions that did not collapse during the wars of the early 1990s, but the standard of education has diminished since the Soviet period. The university system is notoriously corrupt. Teachers are rarely paid. There is an acute lack of resources at all levels. Once renowned for their educational achievements, Georgians face an education crisis that may ultimately undermine one of the main attractions for potential investorsan educated workforce.


As the year 2000 came to an end, government statistics indicated that Georgia had a labor force of 2.06 million people, 8.4 percent of whom were unemployed. Official unemployment figures are deceptively low and do not accurately reflect economic realities. Most Georgians consider their chances of securing a job by registering themselves with the authorities as low, and they are not attracted by unemployment compensation. To qualify for standard monthly unemployment benefits, an applicant must have worked in the official sector and, even then, would only be entitled to receive benefits for the first 6 months of unemployment. The payments are fixed at GEL14 for the first 2 months, GEL12 for the third and fourth months, and GEL11 for the final period. On average, 2 percent of registered unemployed workers qualify for benefits.

Government labor force survey results for the last quarter of 2000 suggested that urban unemployment stood at 24.7 percent compared to a rural unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. The capital, T'bilisi, accounted for 41 percent of the country's unemployed. While the rural rate might seem encouraging, 65 percent of those in the countryside were self-employed. Indeed, agricultural self-employment comprised 86.5 percent of those described as self-employed and most lived below the poverty line.

The role of trade unions in Georgia is exceptionally weak, largely due to the poor state of key economic sectors. Strikes and other forms of industrial protest are meaningless against a backdrop of idle and bankrupt firms that are often unable to pay employees. Many employees continue to work in the hope that one day their salary arrears will be paid, a hope that evaporates if they cease working.

While there is no official discrimination against women, Georgia is a patriarchal society and in many menial jobs women are paid as little as half of what their male counterparts earn. Mass unemployment, however, has affected males disproportionately and upset traditional gender relations. Women have proved more successful at securing high-paid jobs with international organizations, which usually require proficiency in foreign languages.


1099-1125. David IV (the Builder) establishes the Georgian empire. Beginning of Georgian Golden Age.

1184-1213. Georgia's favorite monarch, Queen Tamara, defeats Turks and extends Georgian rule from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.

1220. Georgian Golden Age ends with the invasion of the Mongols under Genghis Khan.

1553. Ottoman Turks and Persians divide Georgia between themselves.

1801. Russian annexation of Georgia.

1811. Georgian Orthodox Church is stripped of its self-governing status as part of the Russification process.

1918. Georgia gains independence.

1921. Red Army invades Georgia and drives out the democratically elected government. Georgia is annexed and becomes part of the new USSR.

1972. Eduard Shevardnadze becomes First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party and begins anti-corruption campaign.

1989. On 9 April, Soviet troops kill 20 civilians mainly womenwho were involved in a nationalist protest outside the parliament in T'bilisi. From this point on, Soviet rule is totally discredited in Georgia.

1990. In the country's first multi-party elections, a nationalist coalition is victorious and appoints Zviad Gamsakhurdia as president.

1991. On the anniversary of the T'bilisi massacre (9 April), Georgian parliament declares Georgia independent of the Soviet Union.

1991-1992. Gamsakhurdia is elected president by popular vote in May 1991 but is deposed in a coup in January 1992. Shevardnadze is invited by coup leaders to head the transitional government.

1992-1993. Georgian armed forces are defeated in Abkhazia. Abkhazia becomes a de facto independent republic, although it remains part of Georgia's national territory under international law.

1995. Shevardnadze is elected president. His Citizens Union of Georgia party emerges as the largest parliamentary grouping.

2000. Shevardnadze is re-elected president amid many voting irregularities. On 14 June, Georgia becomes the 137th member of the World Trade Organization.


Georgia is a country of great economic potential but until it regularizes the supply of power to industry and to its citizenry, economic progress will be limited. The aging Shevardnadze, despite many imperfections, has played a pivotal role in securing stability. The question of who or what will follow his departure from the political scene remains unresolved. Political institutions and civic values are not yet rooted enough in Georgian society to permit total confidence in a smooth transition to a younger generation of politicians. The country will endure great difficulties in meeting external financial obligations. The shortfall in public spendingprimarily on health, education, and welfarewill continue to bear hardest on the nation's poor. Georgia's greatest potential in the short-to medium-term lies in its geographical location. The government is committed to providing a trans-Georgian transportation infrastructure connecting Europe with central Asia to cater to an anticipated oil bonanza in the coming decades. The implementation of this so-called "Silk Route" project should enhance Georgia's international credentials, but this opportunity will be squandered if the endemic corruption that has plagued Georgia for decades is not seriously addressed.


Georgia has no territories or colonies.


Gachechildze, Revaz. The New Georgia: Space, Society, Politics. London: UCL Press, 1995.

Georgia Development Gateway. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Georgian-European Policy and Legal Advice Centre (GEPLAC). Georgian Economic Trends. T'bilisi: GEPLAC, 2000.

Herzig, Edmund. The New Caucasus. London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1999.

Rosen, Roger. Georgia: A Sovereign Country of the Caucasus. Hong Kong: Odyssey, 1999.

Suny, Ronald. The Making of the Georgian Nation. 2nd Edition. London: Indiana University Press, 1994.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. "World Factbook 2000." <>. Accessed July 2001.

Wright, John. The Georgians: A Handbook. London: Curzon Press, 1998.

Donnacha Ó Beacháin




Georgian lari (GEL). One GEL equals 100 tetri. Introduced in September 1995, the Georgian lari comes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 tetri.


Scrap metal, ferro-alloys, nuts, tea, and wine.


Oil, natural gas, cigarettes, electricity, and pharmaceuticals.


US$11.7 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$329.9 million (2000 est.). Imports: US$700.2 million (2000 est.). The CIA World Factbook lists exports as US$372 million (2000 est.) and imports as US$898 million (2000 est.).

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Georgia
Region: East & South Asia
Population: 5,019,538
Language(s): Georgian, Russian, Armenian, Azeri, Abkhaz
Literacy Rate: 99%
Number of Primary Schools: 3,201
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.2%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 69
Libraries: 3,929
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 293,325
  Secondary: 444,058
  Higher: 163,345
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 88%
  Secondary: 77%
  Higher: 42%
Teachers: Primary: 16,542
  Secondary: 57,963
  Higher: 25,549
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 18:1
  Secondary: 8:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 88%
  Secondary: 76%
  Higher: 44%

History & Background

The Republic of Georgia has a long and difficult history that began in the Middle Ages. Georgia was an independent nation before and after its incorporation into the Russian sphere of influence, which has occurred twice in its history. It is once again a sovereign nation, a highly independent country that did not choose to join the Council of Independent States after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Like many nations that were incorporated into the Soviet Union in the twentieth century, for much of its recent history, Georgia was considered simply a region of the USSR. Before it became associated with the Soviet Union, it was taken into the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. In 1918, at the time of the Russian Revolution, Georgia became an independent nation, and remained so until 1921. In that year, the Republic of Georgia was forced to become a part of the USSR. In the 1990s, the era of perestroika in Russia and the nations that were once called its satellites, the Republic of Georgia was one of the first countries to break away from the Soviet Union and declare its independence. It became a sovereign nation once again in 1991.

Despite its tense and complex relations with Russia, several of Russia's most important twentieth-century leaders were Georgians. Joseph Stalin, the Russian premier before, during, and after World War II, was from Georgia. So was Eduard Shevardnadze, the foreign minister of the USSR during its breakup, who later became President of Georgia shortly after it gained its independence. Lavrenty Beria, who lived from 1899 to 1953, was Stalin's head of the secret police (or KGB), and was also a Georgian. Despite his origins, he was especially brutal against Georgian dissidents. Beria was assassinated by the Russian administration that succeeded Stalin after his death.

Geography & Population: Although not well known to foreigners, Georgia has a distinctive character and significant national unity. It has its own primary language as well as several other languages that are used in special regions and by minority groups. Its culture, including its dance, music, and art, is significantly different from other formerly Soviet nations.

Georgia is a truly Caucasian nationa nation that is located in the Caucasus region of the European and Asian continents. The Caucasus mountain range is located between the Caspian and Black seas; its northern parts are in Europe and its southern regions, which border Turkey and Iran, are in Asia. The Republic of Georgia's location is in southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea. Geographically, it falls between Turkey and Russia and is therefore influenced by both Europe and Asia. Georgia covers 69,700 square kilometers (26,911 square miles), which is about the size of South Carolina. The climate is warm and pleasant, similar to the Mediterranean region.

There are many natural resources, including forests, iron and copper, some coal and oil, and soil that can be used to grow tea and citrus. A good portion of the nation is woodlands and permanent pastures. Air and water pollution, lack of sufficient amounts of potable water, and some soil pollution from toxic chemicals are among the environmental problems the country faces.

The people of Georgia are many and are diverse: the total population is 5.4 million. About 70 percent of the people are Georgian, but 80 other nationalities and groups make up the balance. Some 6.3 percent are Russian, 5.7 percent are Azeris, 3 percent are Ossetes, 1.9 percent are Greek, 1.8 percent are Abkhazians, and 0.5 percent are Jewish. Two of these minority groups, Azeris and Abkhazians, have their own republics within the Georgian Republic. The urban population stands at 56 percent, while 44 percent live in rural areas. Life expectancy for men is 69.43 years and 76.95 for women, with an average for the whole population of 73.1 years. About half the population, or 2.76 million people, are in the labor force. Industry and construction employ 31 percent of workers, while 25 percent are in agriculture and forestry. The unemployment rate is about 14.5 percent.

Although there are other religions, the great majority of the people of Georgia, over 80 percent, are Christians. Most of them (65 percent) are Georgian Orthodox, 10 percent are Russian Orthodox, and 8 percent Armenian Orthodox. Eleven percent are Muslim, and the nations that surround the Republic of Georgia are generally majority Muslim. This predominant Christianity is one of the bases for the close relations between the Republic of Georgia and Western nations, including the United States.

Language: Language is a central issue in any educational system and the languages of Georgia are different from those of the rest of the world. The Caucasus region is also the source of the Caucasian languages, of which there are some 40. Only Georgian, however, is considered a modern language. There is some dispute about the nature of the language. Some sources call it part of the Indo-European language group. Others, however, say that Georgian is not a part of that group or of the Finno-Ugric or Semitic language families, arguing that it is part of the Ibero-Caucasian or Kartvelian language group.

The Georgian language probably evolved around the fifth century B.C. It has 33 characters, distinctive word formations, and complex rules governing its use of verbs. Many of the Georgian words place several consonants together with few intervening vowels. The name of the capital city, Tbilisi, is an example. Although the official language of the nation is Georgian, in some regions people also use Megruli and Chanuri. All three languages derived from Old Kartvelian. Several other regional languages are also in modern use.

Georgia's multiplicity of languages dates to ancient times, when there were so many languages used in the nation that Romans needed 130 interpreters to do business there. Because of its long association with Russia, a modern visitor can typically navigate in the nation by using Russian. But those who speak neither Russian nor Georgian need to engage interpreters: few in the population speak other languages, except for specific ethnic languages.

Political, Social, & Cultural Context: Georgia is a member of the United Nations and many international compacts. It has close ties to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, both of which help the nation more fully develop its economy and, in the case of the World Bank, its educational system, as explained more fully in the summary.

Although Georgia is no longer subservient to Russia and has its own democratic government, there are Russian troops at military bases in Georgia. They serve as peacekeepers in two regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are separatist and sometimes threaten to break with the Republic of Georgia.

The United States and the Republic of Georgia have strong diplomatic relations and work closely together. Georgia receives the second largest amount of per capita assistance, among all the world's nations, from the United States. According to former Secretary of State James Baker, Georgia became important to the United States because it provided an opportunity to influence the institutions formed in the wake of the fall of the Communist Soviet Union. Moreover, Georgia was important because of Eduard Shevardnadze, Georgia's president, who was thought to be heavily involved in ending the Cold War. According to Baker, that era in world history would not have ended in a peaceful way without Shevardnadze, whom Baker considered a hero.

Post-Soviet Georgia is attempting to move the economy and the people toward a market economy that could be connected with Western institutions. Recent developments include an efficient telephone system, including cell phones, and delivery from Federal Express. Georgian food remains popular, but French, Chinese, and other national cuisines are also available in the Republic.

The Georgian economy has demonstrated annual growth rates of about 3.5 percent in recent years, although 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. A key problem is the inflation rate for consumer prices, which stands at 19 percent. Another problem has been the inability to collect all the taxes that they levy, and there are continuing problems with tax evasion and corruption. Moreover, the nation lacks sufficient energy, despite extensive hydroelectric power and the exportation of some electricity. Because they lack adequate oil and coal, they must import energy sources. Nonetheless, some hopeful projections anticipate that economic growth could nearly double in the twenty-first century.

Historical Development: With free and compulsory schooling a part of Georgia's educational tradition, the nation's population is generally well educated. The nation of Georgia has a long history of attention to higher education; according to one authority, the Georgian population was the most highly educated of all the peoples under the USSR. One indication of the careful attention and expenditure of resources on education in Georgia is the number of physicians: there are 53.7 physicians for every 10,000 people in the nation. Moreover, a third of the working population of Georgia has some form of higher education or specialized middle education. This compares favorably to the United Kingdom, in which 11.2 percent of the population have some form of specialized education, and also to Japan, where 14.2 percent of the population have higher or other specialized education.

The history of education in Georgia dates from as early as the Middle Ages. Monasteries and academies functioned as vital centers of learning, which was important to the people of the nation because they assisted in preserving their national heritage when they were occupied by other cultures. By 1915, just prior to the Russian Revolution, there were 1,648 schools of all types in Georgia. In spite of that, most Georgians were illiterate. However, the era of Soviet connection increased the quantity of mass education and illiteracy was basically eliminated. The definition of literacy used by Georgia is the proportion of the population age 15 and over who can read and write. The total population is, therefore, 99 percent literate. One hundred percent of the men, according to Georgian government estimates, are literate, and 98 percent of females are literate.

Because of changes in the government in the 1990s, the education system of Georgia also changed dramatically. For example, in the era of the Soviet Union, the government provided for free education at all stages for all people. In post-Soviet Georgia, only nine years of primary education are compulsory and free for all; higher levels of secondary schools and the universities are free only for 30 percent of students, while others pay tuition. Perhaps the most significant change has been the granting of autonomous status to higher education institutions, which occurred in 1992.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The first president of the Republic after the Soviet era was Zviad Gamsakhurdia. After a period of disorder in which Gamsakhurdia was forced to flee and ultimately died, President Shevardnadze was elected by popular vote for a five-year term and was re-elected in 2000.

The country has a legislature, referred to as Parliament, which is unicameralthat is, it has only one houseand the members serve four-year terms. There are 235 members. The judicial branch is a supreme court, which is elected by Parliament on the recommendation of the president.

With regard to education, Article 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Georgia states:

  • Each citizen has the right to education and freedom of choice in education is recognized.
  • The state guarantees that educational programs conform to international standards and rights.
  • The state guarantees preschool education. Primary education is mandatory for all, and the state provides free primary education. Citizens also have the right to free secondary, professional, and tertiary education at state institute, within the framework and by the rules established in law.
  • The state supports educational institutions by the right established in law.

Educational SystemOverview

Public education in Georgia is comprised of the following categories: kindergarten, ages 2-5; elementary school, grades 1-4; secondary school, grades 5-9; and upper secondary school, grades 10-11. The system of kindergarten has largely collapsed, however, and has become increasingly privatized. Attendance is now a sign of prestige and, according to a World Bank report (Perkins 1998), only 20 percent of eligible children attend. There are plans to introduce a grade 12, but financial constraints have prevented any progress thus far.

Education is not limited to general day schools; there are also boarding schools for children with disabilities and "Youth Palaces" for an intensive study of such subjects as art, music, drama, and dance. In 1993 the first school for internally displaced persons (IDP schools) opened for elementary, secondary, and high school education. Both the teachers and students are IDPs; 90 percent of students must be IDPs, and the remaining 10 percent are local children.

The school year officially begins in September and ends in June, but the number of official school days is close to 150 due to numerous holidays and breaks throughout the year. Principals may decide to close school altogether during part of the winter due to lack of heat and electricity, or during harvesting season in the agricultural regions. A typical school day generally lasts from seven hours in upper school to as little as three hours in primary school. Schools use a two-semester schedule.

Examinations, Promotions, & Certifications: Students progress to the next grade based on their teachers' recommendations. The decision is made according to written work and participation throughout the year. Instead of being assigned a letter grade, students are rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. Students rarely fail or repeat a grade.

Every student in Georgia completing secondary school takes the exit exam, comprised of both oral and written assessment on the same day at the same time. The Minister or Deputy Minister of Education announces the essay questions via radio and television to eliminate the possibility of obtaining questions or answers beforehand. Whatever precautions are used before the test to ensure equity are lost in the grading. The exams are graded by members of a panel that includes the student's teacher. Because it is the individual student's teacher who ultimately records the grades and turns them in, the process is ripe for corruption and bribery. Additionally, no school wants to fail students or provide an excuse for further faculty or staff cuts. Annual examinations can also be held after the fourth grade, and many schools use that opportunity to test and evaluate students.

Because Georgia currently lacks national assessment standards for the exit exams, college entrance exams have been instituted. Although passage of exit exams is nearly universal, the rate of students passing the college entrance exams is markedly reduced. Students who want to continue their education thus often hire tutors to prepare for the exam. A World Bank reform project, discussed in detail in the Summary, would ensure national grading standards for exit exams by impartial judges, allowing for the elimination of the unpopular entrance exams. Universal testing at the secondary level and elimination of college entrance exams would improve the quality of students, especially those with financial constraints.

Only about 70 percent of pupils are accepted to higher education institutions. Students who do not successfully move to the next stage after completing secondary or high school can attend vocational and technical schools.

Educational Style & Textbooks: As Georgia tries to distance itself from a Russian curriculum, it still holds on to Soviet educational methodology. Education is content-based and focuses on memorizing facts, lectures, and texts, rather than analyzing subjects and teaching students critical thinking, which is more common in Western educational systems. A typical class begins with the review of homework and the material covered in the previous class, after which students recite the passages read or concepts learned word-for-word from the text. The teacher then explains a new concept and goes over exercises that students will take for homework. Then the teacher may review previous material covered or use the time to talk about what was learned during class. Reading, repeating, and recalling is the standard drill.

Each class lasts about 45 minutes, though in the rural regions classes may be shorter during the winter due to the cold and the lack of fuel to heat school facilities. There is a growing argument that such a curriculum doesn't adequately prepare students for university study and should be modified. Students who go on to study at universities usually have had extensive private tutoring throughout school.

Study of even the most basic topics has become difficult, however, as many students and teachers do not have textbooks. Government policy dictates that students supply their own school texts and supplies. Textbooks are quite expensive and often out of reach for many parents, especially in rural regions. Often the costs of purchasing texts for one child exceed the family's monthly income. The textbooks that are available are often in very poor condition, as the Ministry of Education encourages printers to keep costs low by using inexpensive, poor quality material and smaller type. Students who can afford to may buy several copies of each book because they have such a short life span. Relying on secondhand books is not always an option, as they are often in Russian and do not reflect the new Georgian curriculum and ideas. The Ministry of Education estimates textbook availability to be anywhere from 40 to 75 percent for elementary schools, 40 to 60 percent for secondary, and 25 to 30 percent for upper secondary grades. Plans for textbook reform are also part of the World Bank project.

Enrollment: Accurately estimating the number and percentage of children enrolled in schools is difficult, as no recent official data has been published, and the organizations collecting information use different methods for doing so. Moreover, some poorer families don't register the births of their children until they are old enough to attend school in order to delay the cost of registration.

Estimates for the 1997-1998 school year indicate 926,000 students enrolled in all levels of the Georgia educational system. In 1997, about 87 percent of children eligible for first grade were enrolled. This marks a decline in enrollment since Georgia gained its independence in 1991. Some suggest that the decline might be as large as 20 percent for primary school. The starting age for school was lowered from seven to six years and grade nine is now compulsory, which should raise the level slightly. The dropout rate is about 4.3 to 5 percent in elementary school, 5.4 percent in incomplete secondary, and 9.9 percent at the upper secondary level.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary Education: The Georgian government works to develop the personality of children through pre-school programs. There are two types of preschool programs: nursery schools for babies age one and two, and kindergarten for children age three to six. In 1989, during the Soviet period, preschool was free, and 42 percent of eligible children attended kindergarten. In that year, there were 2,431 preschool programs with 213,396 pupils, or an average of 87 children per institution.

By 1993, there were 1,921 preschool institutions with 105,975 students, or 55 pupils per institution. By 1995 there was a further decrease to 1,272 institutions serving 79,200 pupils, or 62 pupils per institutions. Prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, preschool institutions were established at factories and other organizations, and children of employees were cared for during working hours in those institutions. The economic depression following Georgia's independence made that impossible, and the number of preschools in factories and other work sites decreased from 805 to 47. In addition, during the Soviet period, food was given to preschool institutions, while after independence schools were required to pay for their own food.

Private kindergartens have developed to replace the official or governmental schools that existed prior to the change in government and the economic crises. There are also many nonregistered preschool institutions operating in private apartments. The government does not have specific data about these schools, though some estimates of the total enrollment in kindergartens of all kinds suggest that in 1997-1998, approximately 926,000 students were enrolled in public and private kindergartens. By contrast, the government reports its kindergarten enrollment for that year at 75,000. Other sources suggest that kindergarten is much less than universally available, and that it is a sign of prestige and privilege to send one's children to kindergarten.

The preschools are open from September through August. Many charitable organizations are also establishing preschools for younger children. The state-operated preschools receive some subsidy from the government, but parents are expected to pay part of the cost.

Primary Education: The Georgian government attempts to keep records on the percentage of children who enroll in school, compared to the data on births. In 1997, nearly 89 percent of children born in 1991 (and thus of school age) had enrolled in first grade. For the period from 1990 through 1998, there were 512,256 children in grades one through six. That number dropped for the 1995-1996 school year to 429,864. In 1996-1997, primary school enrollments were 435,797. In 1997-1998, the figure was 442,265.

Students in the primary grades study about 7 subjects, compared to 15 in the upper grades. Primary school subjects include native language study, math, fine arts, music, physical education, natural studies, Russian, and literature. All grades also have a free period for extracurricular activities, but the Ministry of Education plans to introduce new courses in religion and culture, which may take up this time. The school day is approximately three hours in the primary grades.

The methodological approach in all disciplines is highly teacher and textbook centered, rather than attempting to engage children through more active learning or research-oriented activities. In the fourth grade, for example, educational strategy focuses on copying, solving exercises with the teacher or individually, applying rules, and recalling.

As Georgia tries to distance itself from its Soviet legacy, the ministry is placing more emphasis on humanities, specifically Georgian history and culture, and less on math, science, and Russian. They have increased the number of hours spent studying foreign languages, humanities, the history and geography of Georgia, and Georgian language and literature. The constitution requires schools to provide education in the Georgian, Russian, Armenian, Azeri, Ossetian, and Abkhazian languages. Georgian is by far the predominant language of instruction, however, especially since many Russians have migrated back to Russia, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia have declared their separation from Georgia.

Secondary Education

In 1997-1998 there were about 275,000 students in the country's two divisions of secondary education. The lower division is called basic, or secondary. The higher level is called upper secondary, or high school. The basic level consists of grades 7 through 9, and the higher level is grades 10 and 11. There is some hope of adding a twelfth grade in the future. Education is compulsory, as mentioned earlier, through ninth grade.

An assessment of the primary teaching activities for ninth graders found that:

  • They consist of low cognitive complexity level tasks.
  • They are centered on the text and not on transferring potential to other learning activities.
  • They do not foster understanding or promote critical and independent thinking.

The typical school day in the secondary school classroom follows a pattern similar to that of the primary schools, as follows:

  • Lesson starts by calling the roll and taking note of those absent.
  • Teachers check students' homework.
  • Teachers propose more exercises or ask questions.
  • Teachers introduce a new concept or lesson.
  • Teachers make sure students learn the "right" answers.
  • Lesson ends with the indication of more homework.
  • Lesson lasts for 45 minutes.

The school day for basic, or the lower level of secondary education, is five to six hours per day; for the higher level, it is six to seven hours per day. Most students also have two or more hours of homework. History, geography, biology, physics, chemistry, and foreign languages are studied at the secondary level and, at the higher level, students choose an emphasis to study. The choices include humanities, physics and math, chemistry and biology, vocational education, or language. High school is the highest level of education before students reach eligibility for entering higher education.

Higher Education

Post-high school education is diverse in Georgia. The nation's universities used to follow the Soviet five-year program but now have a four-year bachelor's degree program. A master's degree takes two to three years. The next level is called the aspirantura, which takes another three to four years and which ends in a candidate degree, a scientific degree that focuses on independent research. The highest degree given is the doctor of science.

Universities administer their own entrance exams. Each state university offers an entrance exam during the same week in August. Students must decide beforehand which university, program, and faculty they want to apply to. Private institutions hold their exams the following week. Reports of corruption are rampant. According to some estimates, about half the students purchase a copy of the test questions beforehand. Faculties have also been implicated in purchasing tests to help their students.

The nation's total higher education system is made up of 22 institutions, including universities, institutes, technicums, and cultural academies. Before independence, the state sponsored more than 100,000 students at these schools, providing a stipend based on school performance. In 1992, approximately 24 percent of Georgians of higher-education age were enrolled in higher education.

University studies typically provide highly specialized, rigid training focusing on a single area of study. Law and medicine students do not attend regular university, but go directly to law and medical school from high school. Law school takes five years to complete and medical schools seven, plus two to three years of ordinatura, which is comparable to an internship.

Although the Soviet government ran well-equipped vocational and technical schools, the schools were not popular, and the economic depression that followed independence saw the vocational and technical education system disintegrate. Much of the equipment was stolen and school buildings were occupied by other organizations. There had been 170 vocational technical schools enrolling 70,000 students in 300 branches, but by 1996 there were only 115 schools with 20,000 students and 150 branches.

Since 1996, the government has been working to reestablish vocational and technical education for those who could not attend universities. The programs train specialists in an improved technical system and offer courses for farmers, manufacturers, and businesspersons. Centers for education and industry were established in different parts of the country in the 1990s, and unemployed workers and persons changing professions were given opportunities for retraining.

Study in vocational and technical schools is three to four years. Graduates from those schools receive certificates that permit them to work in their fields of study. Those who pass special advanced courses can continue their education. Graduates of technical schools may acquire certificates as midlevel specialists for work as nurses, teachers, computer operators, and other fields of expertise. There are 32 such schools under the Ministry of Education. There are approximately the same number of schools under other ministries, such as health, culture, and agriculture. These schools are called technicums, and their graduates are permitted to enter higher education.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education is the central governing body and oversees most decisions regarding education throughout the country. The ministry has 10 regions and the city of Tbilisi, which has a separate region. Each region has an education department, with 72 districts comprising the region, and there are local school administrators. The ministry is responsible for approving textbooks, courses, and curricula at all levels. It also licenses and certifies teachers, principals, and schools.

The office of the Ministry of Education experienced a fire several years ago and had insufficient funds to repair the building. Therefore, it works out of two separate buildings. Department heads are often separated from their staff and, with the energy crisis facing Tbilisi, telephones and electricity often do not work, making communication even among officials and staff difficult. The ministry has a few computers, but regional and local offices do not, nor do they have copy machines, so most still fill out forms, registrations, and records by hand.

Funding Sources: In responding to its charge of establishing budgets and overseeing financial matters, the ministry has taken zealous measures. In 1997, Parliament imposed a fee of 10 laris per month (about 8 U.S. dollars) for all but the top 30 percent of students attending public schools. The money is collected at the school level or deposited directly into a bank account set up by the ministry. However, the money does not stay at the school level. Schools are, in fact, forbidden to open their own bank accounts. Because the ministry plays such a significant role in the distribution of funds, having friends and connections at such a level can often increase a district's funding. Some schools have chosen to charge more than the required 10 laris and use the money to purchase heating fuel or pass it along in the form of a teacher's bonus.

A major cause of tight education budgets and inadequate funding for schools is the way the national education budget is spent. All money goes through the Ministry of Education and from there is dispersed to the rayons, the substructures of Georgian government. At the rayon level, the funds then go to local districts and finally to the schools. The triangular nature of the system allows for diversion of funds into noneducation functions. The Ministry of Education reportedly uses 40 percent of the national education budget for salaries, social contributions, and the "miscellaneous" category. In Tbilisi, the capital, 60 percent of the budget goes to personnel costs at the administrative level.

Other sources of budget disparity are the methods of revenue generation. While each rayon receives some funding from the national level, the rest must be generated locally through taxes and contributions. Rayons in rural areas are much poorer, and in some areas bartering and trading are more common than using money, causing real problems in generating money for schools. Consequently, schools in Tbilisi and other cities are much better equipped and in better condition. Since the Soviet period, local businesses have assisted and sponsored local schools, and some are still able to do this today, which greatly helps schools operate, especially the poorer schools in the regions. Other schools rent out space in the buildings to businesses to generate revenues.

Expenditures: Most school facilities in Georgia are fairly old and have not received much maintenance since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Ministry of Education estimates that over 80 percent of schools are in need of serious repair or reconstruction. Although schools in Tbilisi and other larger cities are in relatively good condition, many schools pose serious threats to students health, with no staircase railings; cracks in walls, ceilings, and hallways; peeling paint; broken windows; no running water; leaking roofs; and decaying, uncomfortable furniture. In rural areas, some schools do not have bathrooms. Fences have not been repaired, allowing animals to roam the schoolyards and creating unsanitary conditions. Some rural schools also lack basic teaching equipment including blackboards, desks, and books.

Lack of teaching materials has forced teachers to become creative in order to carry on their work. A number of teachers make teaching aids in their own homes or ask others to do so. For beginning grades some make alphabet letters and calendars out of cardboard. Most teachers, however, view creating their own teaching materials as something outside their defined roles and responsibilities, and consider it an extra burden forced on them by the lack of funds.

School buildings were constructed during the Soviet period, when energy was well below world price, and many buildings were not insulated. In the cities, there was an underground heating system provided free of charge to schools. In the post-Soviet era energy became scarce, and underground systems are no longer used. Each school is given funding for energy and water, but usually in name only. What money actually makes it to the individual schools is hardly adequate and not enough to install insulation or introduce new technology to conserve water. Consequently, schools are forced to find additional funds or simply close. In the cities, the school budget covers the purchase of some fuel for stoves or space heaters, and parents must provide additional money. In the rural areas, schools usually have wood-burning stoves, and students bring what wood or fuel they can contribute. During the coldest part of the winter schools often close for weeks or months due to lack of heating.

During Soviet times, a certain percentage of the government's funds was allocated for food in the education system. Three meals a day were provided in kindergarten and boarding schools. Meals in primary and vocational schools and university cafeterias were also subsidized. Even though the kindergartens can no longer afford to buy food and provide meals for their students, many still, under contracts, have to pay the kitchen staff. This redundancy of personnel, an ongoing problem at several levels, interferes with the efficiency of the educational system.

Nonformal Education

Under the Soviet system, Georgia had a strong program of adult education and nonformal education, including evening classes and study through correspondence. These systems were very popular because of the small number of people who were allowed to enter formal institutions. In 1996 these programs encountered a reduction in enrollments, largely because adults enrolled instead in private institutions.

Special Education: In Georgia, government has a public policy of providing special education for persons with disabilities as well as appropriate general education and, when it is required, therapeutic training in schools that are established for this purpose. These schools have special syllabi, lesson plans, and teaching methods. Special vocational and technical courses are aimed at enabling students to develop a profession and to be eligible for employment. There is also an effort to help special education students improve their physical and social status.

In 1996, there were 18 special boarding schools in Tbilisi and two preschools for blind children and those with speech defects. There were about 2,000 pupils in those institutions. Duration of study in special schools is based on the ability of the students to learn the subjects offered by the school. Study in special education schools is free and has a high priority in Georgia based on resolutions passed by the Cabinet of Ministers in the mid-1990s. In most cases, there is one institution to correspond with each of the following disabilities: blindness, limited eyesight, limited hearing, cerebral palsy, curvature of the spine, asthma, problems in speech development, and gastric diseases. There are two schools for deaf children, and eight auxiliary schools for children who are mentally retarded. These figures compare similarly to special education institutions in the United States, if one compares Georgia to a state with three to five million people.

Teaching Profession

Salaries: Teachers' salaries reached their lowest level in 1995, at an amount of US$4 per month. At one time teaching was the lowest paid profession in Tbilisi, a relatively high-paying city: teachers earned 21.8 laris per month, compared to the overall average salary of 61.5 laris per month. Subsequent increases have raised teachers' salaries to about 30 laris (US$24) per month. A lari is worth about 80 U.S. cents. Average teacher salaries are about 55 percent of the average wage for the total economy (54.9 laris) and about 80 percent of that for other public sector employees (37.5 laris). One reason for the low wages is overstaffing: education staffing in Georgia is atypically generous by international standards, and is twice as high per student as in Western nations. Thus already tight budgets must be spread thin over many teachers. Teachers in some rural villages have turned to farming and teach classes in their spare time. Others sell fruit or their remaining household items in Tbilisi market places in order to make ends meet.

The state still controls Georgia's most prominent higher education institutions and is unable to pay professors a living wage. As a result, scholars have been forced to emigrate or "moonlight" at jobs outside their fields. Many now teach at the private colleges and universities that have opened in the country. Although these schools pay decent salaries, the scholars have no time for research and writing, and are sometimes forced to instruct students who do not wish to learn.

An even bigger problem for many teachers, however, has been not being paid at all. Some regions have gone almost a year without paying their teachers, leading to several teacher strikes. In one instance, more than 100 teachers blocked the road in front of the of the regional administration office to demand their wages, which had not been paid for six to eight months.

Parents also complained, noting that teachers were looked at by pupils as poor people who could not even afford to buy proper clothing. This had a negative impact on teacher morale, and some believed that their authority among students was compromised. Teachers who had to work in the market during the weekend considered that shameful and said that they did not want to be seen by their students. The months without pay, combined with ill-equipped classrooms and limited teaching materials, have made many teachers feel inferior about their jobs.

Training & Qualifications: Teachers in Georgia have been hired not out of necessity, but because of the social prestige associated with teaching and a strong pressure to accommodate the growing number of graduates. The actual abilities and credentials of many candidates played a small role in the process. (An exception is the rural mountainous areas, where most schools lacked even a minimum number of teachers.) Large numbers of teachers cannot teach without a textbook; textbooks have become the main source of knowledge, not a supplement. This is in part due to the practices of the Soviet period, when teachers were compelled to rely heavily on texts; teachers have become accustomed to following them step by step.

The number of teachers has significantly declined since 1990-1991. In 1996, there were 102,073 teachers in Georgia: 69,219 (68 percent) in grades 1-11; 9,368 (9 percent) at preschool; and 18 percent in higher education. In the process of reducing the number of teachers, those teachers who received their posts by merit, as opposed to bribery and nepotism, are most likely to lose their jobs. Another factor is that male teachers were leaving teaching at rates beyond the national average, moving to find work in Russia or Armenia.

The proportion of teachers with complete higher education has increased slightly, to 87 percent in urban schools and 75 percent in rural schools. So far, the impact of low pay and poor conditions has been confined mainly to growing teacher shortages in foreign languages and computer science, where demand is strong outside the teaching profession, and in the remote rural areas, where it has become extremely difficult to replace retiring teachers. Recent measures by the government to consolidate and improve the teaching force have succeeded in raising the pupil-teacher ratio to 10.4 (from 8.3 in 1991), reducing the number of part-time teachers, increasing the full-time working load, and increasing salaries on a performance basis through a national testing and certification process.

Unions & Associations: There are two major trade unions in Georgia. The first is the Education Workers Trade Union of the Georgian Trade Unit Amalgamation, and the second is the Free Trade Union of Teachers of Georgia-Solidarity. Both unions are focused on teachers in the regions. The Education Workers Trade Union is the older organization, and is based in the northeastern region of Tianeti. Many call this union an offshoot of the old Soviet-style unions, although the leaders deny this. The Free Trade Union was established in 1998 and is based out of Kutaisi; it has 2,800 members throughout the regions. Although the trade unions do not have a good working relationship with each other and disagree over methods of change, they appear to have similar goals of improving teachers' working conditions and compensation.


Georgia faces many problems, but it is also in the process of working to reform its educational system. In that effort, it has the support and participation of the World Bank. The World Bank is working on a 12-year program that will eventually give US$60 million to the government of Georgia. The program is divided into several phases; the first phase goes until 2005 and involves US$25.9 million. If all the triggers are accomplished, the program will advance to the next phase and involve more money. The goal of this project is to realign the educational system and to make it more equitable, effective, and efficient. There are groups at the Georgian Ministry of Education specifically devoted to each component of reform.

There are seven components to the program: curriculum reform, national student assessment, professional development of teachers, development of new textbooks, strengthening policy and administration, efficient use of human resources, and increasing public awareness.

The curriculum component involves developing a national curriculum by 2005 for both primary (grades one through six) and secondary education (grades seven through nine). Students all over the country will study the exact same materials at the same levels.

A national student assessment exam and a national assessment center will be developed. As of 2001, assessment exams were administered and recorded by each local school. Thus students may score the same but be tested on different material. The old system has also been tainted by corruption: because teachers are paid so little and so rarely, some sell test scores, offer private tutoring, or change grades for a little extra money. With a national assessment, the exams will be reviewed and recorded by the national assessment center. The center will also collect and compile data and statistics nationwide for education.

The component for the professional development of teachers has several parts. One important aspect is the development of school networks for sharing information and creating a community of teachers. A program for individual school grants is also planned. The Ministry of Education will be responsible for setting up the regulations and provisions and will also provide support and instruction in grant proposal writing for those without experience in this field. Every school will receive a grant for the purpose of helping children learn. The grant cannot go to books or computers, but to projects engineered by the teachers themselves, in order to involve teachers in the reform process and allow the schools to see immediate results from the project.

The development of new textbooks includes the training of authors and those who will have to make the final decisions about what texts schools should use. Schools will buy the books and then rent them out to students. The first-year students will pay about 50 percent of the cost of the books, and then 30 percent for the next four years. Thus through book rentals the schools will accumulated enough funds to purchase new textbooks every four years and so on. This would make the project self-sustainable and would not require foreign loans or aid in order to provide books for students.

The project also includes a component to strengthen policy and administration. Regional education departments, which were established in the late 1990s, lack clear and defined roles. The Soros Foundation is helping to define the roles of the various departments. Local authorities are responsible for paying teachers' salaries, funding school maintenance and upkeep, however, the management responsibilities have not been plainly articulated.

The next component is a more efficient allocation of resources. Currently there is one teacher for every 10 students, a carryover from the Soviet system in which there was about a 1:5 teacher-student ratio. One of the program's goals is to increase this ratio to 1:14 by 2005. According to current regulations teachers are allowed to teach only certain grades and subjects. Therefore, a village school could have only 5 students but 10 teachers because secondary teachers are not allowed to teach primary classes. Because of this redundancy of teachers, about half of all teachers will have to be laid off. The Ministry of Education and the World Bank are trying to establish a severance package for pensioners. Although teaching pays very little, pensions are even less. It is against World Bank policies to pay severance for teachers, but they are revisiting the policy to look for an interpretation that would allow this. The system would have to retain the most qualified teachers and insure that those receiving severance pay would not return to the education system as consultants or in other capacities.

The Bank's project does not provide for any changes to school buildings, but it will analyze and map schools to eliminate redundancy. If there are two schools in close proximity they may be merged together. These resources will go into a database and the center will develop software and a computerized system for recording this data. Not all schools will have computersthey may still have to fill out their forms by handbut the data will be computerized. This will allow the government and others access to information about the schools throughout the country.

The final component of the project is increasing public awareness. Sustaining education reform will require the increased dissemination of information and higher levels of parent and teacher involvement in the school system.

This project will help combat corruption through its measures to increase openness, cooperation, community involvement, and organization. Hopefully the example of these reforms will encourage similar changes in higher education, which faces even greater problems of corruption. For example, with nationwide exams throughout secondary schooling, higher institutions of learning might adopt this type of assessment as well, thus minimizing unfair influence and bribery.

Georgia's educational system has a long way to go before it is as effective as its supporters hope it will be. Nonetheless, the country has a plan and the resources to help it achieve major improvements over time.


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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Georgia
Region (Map name): East & South Asia
Population: 4,989,285
Language(s): Georgian (official), Russian, Armenian, Azeri, other
Literacy rate: 99.0%
Area: 69,700 sq km
GDP: 3,029 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 12
Number of Television Sets: 2,570,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 515.1
Number of Cable Subscribers: 13,500
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 2.7
Number of Radio Stations: 23
Number of Radio Receivers: 3,020,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 605.3
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 23,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 4.6

Background & General Characteristics

Georgia is situated at a crossroads between Europe and Asia. The country borders on Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It covers 26,911 square miles (about the size of Ireland) and has a population of nearly 5.5 million. The country includes two autonomous republics Abkhazia and Ajara, as well as the autonomous region of south Ossetia. Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) do not recognize Georgia's jurisdiction, even though no international organization recognizes the territories' independence.

Georgian history dates back more than 2,500 years, and Georgian is one of the oldest living languages in the world with its own internationally recognized alphabet, one of only thirteen recognized alphabets in the world. Although Russian is still universally spoken (except in the case of the very young), street names and most of the local press is in Georgian. Tbilisi, located in a picturesque valley divided by the Mtkvari River, is more than 1,500 years old. Much of Georgia's territory has been besieged by its Persian, Turkish and Russian neighbors along with Arabs and Mongols over the course of the seventh to the eighteenth centuries. After 11 centuries of mixed fortunes of various Georgian kingdoms, including a golden age from the eleventh to twelfth centuries, Georgia turned to Russia for protection. Russia annexed Georgia in 1801, but the first Republic of Georgia was established on May 26, 1918 after the collapse of Tsarist Russia. By March 1921, the Red army had reoccupied the country and Georgia became part of the Soviet Union. On April 9, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the USSR.

Historically Georgia has always been a multinational country, serving as the crossroads of major trade links. Competition for such a strategic geopolitical location has been consistent. There are representatives of about 100 nationalities in Georgia. Armenians with a population of 437,2118 percent of Georgian populationis one of the largest ethnic minorities in Georgia. Turkish-speaking Azerians, 307,5566 percent of Georgian populationinhabit the regions of Rustavi and Azerbaijan are Shiite Moslems. Russians 341,1726 percent of Georgian populationhave no region of concentration. Today many Russians are migrating back to Moscow and the central regions of Russia. Ossetians156,055 (3 percent), have settled in the Ossetian Autonomy Region, Gori, Khashuri, and Borjomi regions. According to the Georgian Constitution, Georgian and Abkhazians consist of North-Caucasian people related to the Adigean tribes and number 95,8532 percent of the Georgian population. They are groups including Greeks100,324, 2 percent; Jews, 24,795; and Kurds. At present, there are large numbers of Georgian refugees from Abkhazia living in Tbilisi with government support. These 230,000 internally displaced persons present an enormous strain on the economy. Peace in the separatist areas of Abkhazia and south Ossetia, overseen by Russian peacekeepers and international organizations, continues to be fragile, and will probably require years of economic development and negotiation.

Although Georgia has a long and close relationship with Russia, it is reaching out to its other neighbors and looking to the West in search of alternatives and opportunities. It signed a partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union (EU), participates in the Partnership for Peace, and encourages foreign investment. France, Germany, and the U.K. all have embassies in Tbilisi, and Germany is a significant donor. There are large numbers of United States citizens and organizations contributing tens of millions of dollars per year.

History of the Press

An excellent history of the press in Georgia was published in 1997 by the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD) with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The first Georgian newspaper, Sakartvelos Gazeti, was published in 1819. By 1897 the average daily circulation of Georgian publications reached 3,000, the same figure as that estimated today although the population and literacy rates have both increased substantially. In soviet days, publications were run by the Communist Party and were produced on typewriters and photocopiers. In 1981, 141 newspapers were published: 12 national, 7 regional, 9 town, 66 district and 47 village, for a total circulation of 4.04 million copies.

It should be noted that during Communist rule the highest circulation was the Comunisti newspaper, at 700,000 copies a day. Soplis Tshkovreba (Rural Life) followed with 240,000, then Tbilisi at 145,000, Zaria Vostoka (The Dawn of the Orient) at 140,000, the Armenian language Sovetakan Vrastan (Soviet Georgia) at 33,000, and the Azerbaijani Sovetan Gurjistani (Soviet Georgia) at 35,000. The Lelo sports newspaper had a circulation of 120,000 while Akhalgazrda Comunisti (Young Communists) published 240,000 copies three days a week.

The first offset newspaper was Tavisupleba (Liberty), published illegally in 1989 by the National Independence Party. The second issue was seized in the printing house by the KGB. When President Gamsakhurdia was replaced by Eduard Schvernadze in 1992, press restrictions eased although active suppression of the Gamsakhurdia press did not cease until 1994. Following soviet and European models, most early post-perestroika newspapers were organs of political parties. The first non-party paper, 7 Dghe (7 Days) was founded in 1990, sponsored by the Journalists' Association. Only now is an independent comprehensive press beginning to emerge. Of the thirty-six registered party publications, only ten still publish.

The Press

As in many changing societies, definite numerical information is difficult to come by in Georgia, in large part because all of society and the press in particular is in a state of flux.

The Georgian press is probably the most free press of all the nations of the former Soviet Union. The Georgian Parliament has enacted the strongest Freedom of Information Law in the former Soviet states which is stronger even than the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Further, Georgian journalists have learned what the law means and how to go into court to use this law. By mid 2002 three court cases under this provision of the Administrative Code have been taken to court and three decisions have been obtained in journalists' favor. Further, the government of Georgia, although exerting pressure from time to time, is relatively tolerant of a free press. For example, Rustavi 2, the independent television station which is trying to build a quality media organization, has regularly run a nightly cartoon lampooning President Schvernadze, apparently with impunity.

Government pressure tends to come through selective enforcement of complex and ever changing administrative and tax code provisions. Otherwise, the complex regulatory provisions are seldom enforced.

Infrastructure of the Media

Although a subscription system does function, it plays only a small role. Distribution of periodicals is only in Tbilisi and Kutaisi. The biggest heirs of the former Soyuzpechat are Matsne andSakpresa, the former serving Tbilisi and the latter supplying the regions. Their service is so ineffective, however, that independent publications do not use either of them. Soyuzpechat was transformed into a joint stock company in 1993, but newspapers were discouraged from buying shared by the Ministry of Communication. This led Alia, Rezonansi, Akhali Tacoba and 7 Dghe to found the Association of Free Press in 1995, which fostered professional solidarity and created a network of newsstands to bypass the distribution bottleneck. The new but already popular Dilis Gazeta (Morning Paper) established its own system of regional distribution using automobiles, which allows it to make speedy deliveries across the country. For instance, a car which heads for Batumi at 5 a.m. reaches the destination by 1 p.m. As a result, Dilis Gazeta is the only Tbilisi paper read in Batumi on the same day.

TV and radio stations use their own reporters to cover local stories and news agencies to cover stories affecting larger areas. There is little information appearing about the provinces.

The size of a newspaper's staff generally ranges from twenty-five to thirty, including technical personnel. The professional level of journalists is not satisfactory.

Many papers have their own computers at their disposal, but usually they do not have enough, and the ones they have are not the most up-to-date models. Machines fit for computer graphics are in especially short supply. Furthermore, most newspaper journalists themselves do not have access to computers, and thus are not experienced in their use.

Economic Framework

Georgia's economic recovery has been hampered by the separatist disputes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a persistently weak economic infrastructure, and resistance to reform on the part of some corrupt and reactionary factions. However, the government has qualified for economic structural adjustment facility credit status, introducing a stable national currency (the lari), preparing for the second stage of accession to the World Trade Organization (the first stage has already been met), signing agreements that allow for development of a pipeline to transport Caspian oil across Georgia to the Black Sea, and passing laws on commercial banking, land, and tax reform. However, Georgia has been unable to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions recently and the new laws have yet to be implemented.

Inflation, however, ran to 300 percent in 1997, a phenomenon that steadily decreased to the 25 percent inflation rate in 1999. Tax revenues have risen somewhat, and recent tax reform encouraged by the IMF, should lead to further increases. However, Georgia needs to implement its tax legislation and take concrete steps to meet IMF programs. Although total revenue increased from 1996 to 1997, these increases were lower than expected. International financial institutions continue to play a critical role in Georgia's budgetary calculations. Multilateral and bilateral grants and loans totaled 116.4 million lari in 1997 and are expected to total 182.8 million lari in 1998 (lari were about two to the dollar).

The government says there has been some progress on structural reform. All prices and most trade have been liberalized, legal-framework reform is on schedule, and massive government downsizing is underway. More than 10,500 small enterprises have been privatized, and privatization of medium and large firms has been slow.

Georgia's transportation and communication infrastructure remains in very poor condition. Parliament has set an agenda to start the privatization of the telecommunications industry, although there is still resistance to the plan. Georgia's electrical energy sector continues to have great difficulties.

Described by the international financial press as the most corrupt country in a corrupt region, Georgia needs a stable and uncorrupt legal and financial system if it is to achieve economic progress. The IMF estimates that 70 percent of the Georgian economy is in the "shadow" or extralegal economy.

Press Economics

A major problem for the Georgian press is that hardly any Georgians understand the business side of the newspaper business and few Georgian businesses can see the need to advertise especially in the countryside where businessmen tend to feel that everyone already knows what they do, and that advertising may just attract the unwelcome attentions of the tax authorities. The lack of financial stability leads sometimes to sloppy sensationalism in reporting in an attempt to expand circulation. It has also lead to hidden financial support by influential members of society such as government officials, members of prominent families and provincial government officials. These sponsorships are fairly obvious to the sophisticated reader as the sponsors' requirements are that the publication being supported defend the sponsor and attack his/her enemies; so, the positions taken by the paper make the sponsorship apparent.

At present, the Georgian press is in flux with news organizations forming and reforming for political, philosophical, financial and policy reasons. Thus, an excellent circulation survey done in 2001 is no longer valid in 2002 because many of the publications surveyed in 2001 no longer exist in 2002.

The quality of news reporting is poor, both because most newspapers pay so poorly that journalists must have additional jobs to survive financially, and because so few journalists have any professional training or experience. The excellent Journalism School sponsored by the International Center for Journalism out of Washington, D.C., is helping to change this situation. An attempt to establish a high quality newspaper called "24 Hours " is being undertaken by the television station Rustavi 2, and this effort includes the payment of higher salaries to the journalists involved.

Press Laws

The Georgian Constitution and the 1991 Press Law guarantee freedom of speech and the press. At present, the Law on Press and Other Media, adopted in August of 1991 and based on the analogous Soviet law, is still in effect. The Law is acknowledged by journalists to be exemplary, but there exists no official independent watch-dog body authorized to monitor its implementation and review, alleged violations and charges of non-compliance. Most journalists consider the duality of some articles of the law its main shortcoming. The Law states "the press and other mass media in the Republic of Georgia are Free". The principal of freedom of the mass media is similarly written into the Georgian Constitution adopted in August, 1995. This states, specifically, that "the mass media are free; censorship is impermissible" (Article 24.2) and that "the state or separate individuals do not have the right to monopolize the mass media or the means of disseminating information" (Article 24.3). Citizens of the Republic of Georgia have the right to express, distribute, and defend their opinions via any media, and to receive information on questions of social and state life. Censorship of the press and other media is not permitted.

Restrictions on the free flow of information via the media are enumerated in Article 4 of the law, which stipulated that "The mass media are forbidden to disclose state secrets; to call for the overthrow or change of the existing state and social system; to propagate war, cruelty, racial, national or religious intolerance; to publish information that could contribute to the committing of crimes; to interfere with the private lives of citizens or to infringe on their honor and dignity." Article 21 of the law established the rights of journalists to gather information. At the same time, the law made clear the subordination to, and responsibilities of, the state controlled media vis-a-vis the government. Article 18 stipulates that government controlled media outlets are obliged to do so only in "exceptional circumstances," such as the outbreak of war or natural disasters.

Despite the introduction of amendments and additions, the Law on Press is almost never applied in law enforcement practice. In Georgia, the Law on State Secrets, which determines the types of information that are not freely accessible due to the necessity of protecting the state security, is in force. The Law on State Secrets, adopted by parliament in September 1996, demands that the Council on National Security develop criteria of secret information to be approved by the president.

The Law on Press and Other Mass Media states that, "activities of a mass media outlet may be banned or suspended if it repeatedly violates the law thus contributing to crime, endangering national security, territorial integrity, or public order."


During the early rule of ultra-nationalist Zvia Gamsakhurdia, political debate flourished in the pages of the Georgian press. However, as of early 1991, media freedom was systematically eroded. In October 1991, a group of TV journalists was dismissed and the majority of the personnel went on strike. Between December 1991 and January 1992, armed supporters of the regime detained several TV journalists and kept them in the basement of the presidential residence. They were freed after Gamsakhurdia's flight.

The situation altered after Eduard Shevardnadze's return to Georgia, although not immediately. While representatives of moderate opposition parties had greater access to the governmental media, certain high-ranking officials were irritated by the pro-Zviadist, as they stated it, orientation of several outlets. Independent journalists were subjected to systematic harassment and opposition newspapers were closed on the flimsiest of pretexts. However, in the case of, for instance, Iberia-Spectri, Eduard Shevardnadze intervened personally and ensured that publication of the paper was allowed. In 1994, a gradual relaxation of political control of the press got underway and in November 1995, several journalists confirmed that the media enjoyed greater freedom than one year earlier.

In 1996, the Independent Federation of Georgian Journalists recorded no obvious violations of the freedom of the speech. In one case, an article contradicted the criminal code. The newspaper Noy was closed down following the publication of anti-Semitic material. The editor (responsible for the piece) was charged with "inducing hostilities between nations" by the Office for Public Prosecution. The rather monopolistic position of the Information and Publishing Corporation Sakinform has also raised some concern, in particular regarding the provision of information. According to one observer, the "tame media always appear to be the first to receive information."

The law and the Constitution cannot always safeguard the protection of media outlets, as is illustrated by the Rustavi 2 case.

The agency Gamma Plus registered with the Ministry of Justice in 1994. The regulations of the agency envisaged the right for broadcasting and on these grounds a license allowing exploitation of the 11m-television channel was given by the Ministry of Communications. The TV channel adopted the name Rustavi 2 and soon became very popular both in Rustavi (located about 21.75 miles from Tbilisi) and in the capital. However, only several months after it went on the air, Rustavi 2 transmission was stopped. The Rustavi municipality applied to the Ministry of Communications, demanding to deprive Rustavi 2 of its right for broadcasting and to transfer its channels to an independent telecompany, Kldekari, that was set up by the municipality itself. The Ministry of Communications annulled its decision and blamed the Ministry of Justice for leading them astray. The latter also altered their position and the broadcasting of Rustavi 2 resumed. However, in July 1996 the Ministry of Communication reconsidered its verdict and once again deprived Rustavi 2 of its license on the same grounds ("invalid"). A rival company was granted permission to broadcast on the available frequency. This time, the management of Rustavi 2 decided to launch a court appeal and ultimately prevailed.

In 1992, the country's new administrative code was approved. A significant portion of the code deals with the regulation of access to information.

Religious Censorship

The Georgian Orthodox Church is especially aggressive in hindering the spread of information regarding religious problems, corruption in its staff, or violations of the constitutional principle of separation of church from the school system. The church also does not want other sects or religions to receive any type of publicity. The media acquiesces in this matter, and covering of other churches is nonexistent or superficial. For example, in 1993 when an article was published on the growth of fundamentalism, the secretary of the Patriarch threatened the authors and editorial board of the paper with excommunication, along with a pair of TV announcers who had mentioned the article in their newscasts.

In 1997, an aggressive campaign against a history of religion textbook authored by Nugzar Papuashvili was carried out. Orthodox fundamentalists staged a public burning of that and other books they considered offensive. Representatives of the church said the reporting on the book burning fanned anticlerical hysteria.

State-Press Relations

The Ministry of Justice registers media outlets, while the Ministry of Communications grants (or revokes) licenses for broadcasters, manages the state printing house, the distribution of newspapers and the "subsidies" to state-owned media. The Ministry for Press and Information is, besides providing official information, responsible for the accreditation of journalists. The ministers are appointed by the president and the parliament or its president do not, de jure, have direct influence. The only exception is the appointment of the chairpersons of the State TV and Radio Corporation and the official Information and Publishing Corporation Sakinform, who should be approved by parliament. In addition, the parliamentary subcommittee on mass media drafts laws that concern mass media and reviews laws drafted by other bodies in view of their correlation with the current legislation on mass media.

The 1991 press law requires that journalists "respect the dignity and honor" of the president and that they do not undermine the state. The law provides penalties for publications that convey "false information" or "malevolently use the freedom of the press." There are state-owned as well as private television and radio stations. Many independent newspapers reflect different political views and suffer from varying degrees of harassment. State-owned newspapers follow the government line. While media became more independent of government control, they are not editorially independent of financial supporters.

Currently, there is a pervasive tendency toward self-censorship by Georgian editors. Journalists in state-run media fear offending government officials, while their independent counterparts worry about insulting other influential structures in society. This tendency is generally more visible among older journalists and is a residue of the Soviet era.

In June 2000, Georgian authorities tried to force "rebel" broadcast journalist Akaki Gogichaisvili out of the country, Gogichaisvili, anchor of the popular Rustavi-2 television show, "60 Minutes," had been under constant attacks from the prosecutor's office. Vasil Silagadze, a reporter for the Eco Digest daily newspaper in Georgia, was attacked in July 2000 by local police officers after publishing an article detailing police corruption. His attackers slashed fingers on his right hand so he "wouldn't be able to write for a while," and threatened further retAliation if he continued his investigations.

More recently, the murder of popular television anchor Giori Sanaia has triggered charges that he was assassinated in retAliation for his pursuit of government corruption on the Rustavi 2-channel talk show. The 26-year-old anchorman of Georgia's "Night Courier" program was shot dead in his apartment with a single bullet to the back on July 26, 2001. The assassination precipitated national mourning. Facing public suspicion about the role of the security ministries, the government swiftly invited the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to give forensic assistance to the investigation. The police quickly arrested a man previously detained on a fraud charge, yet at this writing prosecutors had not presented sufficient evidence to indict him for Sanaia's murder. Some commentators linked Sanaia's shooting, which appeared to be expertly planned and executed, to purported knowledge or video material he had obtained, allegedly demonstrating links between law enforcement officials with criminals in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge who engaged in kidnappings and the narcotics trade.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The U.S. Department describes Georgia's foreign relations as "excellent" and makes no remarks concerning danger to foreign journalists in Georgia while detailing its need to create opportunities for development through international and non-governmental organization (NGO) contacts. No incidents concerning the mistreatment of foreign correspondents have been noted.

Georgian media have few if any foreign correspondents and rely on contacts with news organizations in Azerbaijan, Arania and Russia. Many papers subscribe to news agencies, but basic sources are internet and foreign broadcasts.

Broadcast Media


The first unsuccessful attempt at independent television came when a group of staff left the State Radio-TV Company in 1990 to start their own venture. After several months of pressure from the authorities, the private TV station Mermisi (Future) was closed. The next major event was the establishment of (state-owned) Channel 2 in 1992.

Ibervisia, which joined the scene in 1992, also played an important but short-lived role in the development of independent television. Ibervisia was a joint venture of the former Komsomol leaders and the so-called Borotebi (Evils), a branch of the paramilitary Mkhedrioni organization. The controversial images of the partners paralyzed the work of the channel, which was finally closed after the weakening of the Mkhedrioni's political influence.

According to CIDD altogether 40 TV stations, including municipal channels, broadcast in Georgia today. The professional skill of their staff, together with the quality of programs, is low. Such types of stations were founded mostly by self-taught enthusiasts, who even constructed the transmission devices themselves. A primitive montage set made out of two VHS recorders is regarded as a great achievement, almost a luxury.

The Georgian television network (TNG) started its work in 1996, bringing together 15 stations not owned by the state that covered 15 cities and towns. Eighty percent of the TNG members' broadcast time consists of licensed video productions. The purchase of these programs is the main goal of the network.

In May 1996, the independent television stations started broadcasting a joint weekly program, exchanging materials with the US Internews Network. The "Kvira" (Week) program still presents the sole attempt at reviewing the events of the whole country.

Broadcast media continues to be the main source of information for the vast majority of Georgia's population. Television sets number around 2,570,000, while there are approximately 3 million radio receivers in the country. Over the past two years, however, there has been growing competition from independent TV companies, forcing state TV to make its programming more objective and balanced, yet it remains far from editorially independent.

The government's monopoly on television news was broken when Rustavi-2, a member of the independent television network TNG, emerged in 1998 as an important alternative to state television, after successfully resisting two years of government attempts to shut it down. It is now considered the only station other than the state-run channel with a national audience. In addition to Rustavi-2, there are seven independent television stations in Tbilisi. An international NGO that works with the press estimated that there are more than forty-five regional television stations, seventeen of which offer daily news. While these stations are ostensibly independent, a lack of advertising revenue often forces them to depend on local government officials for support. Some regions, such as Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kutaisi, have relatively independent media. Rustavi-2 has a network of fifteen stations, five of which broadcast Rustavi-2's evening news program daily. Independent newspapers and television stations continue to be harassed by state tax authorities. Stations desiring benefits and better working relations with authorities, practice self-censorship.

Since Rustavi-2, the first powerful independent TV station, survived government attempts to close it down in 1997, viewers in Tbilisi have enjoyed a much greater choice of available programming. Rustavi-2 currently attracts higher ratings than official TV and, according to 2001 data, carries about 55 to 65 percent of the national advertising market. Seven other independent TV stations compete for the TV market in the capital, but unless they receive support from powerful business or political interests, they suffer from severe financial problems. Iberia TV, supported by the Batumi-based Omega, cigarette distribution network, and Skartvelos Khma are seen to represent the views of Asian Abash, an Ajarian regional leader. Stations outside of Tbilisi struggle to maintain their independence as they continue to suffer financially. In January 2000, a 10-member United Television Network (UTN) was created to pool-advertising revenues from small regional stations.

Channel 25 is the only independent television station broadcasting in Ajara, and has been operating since 1998. On February 14, 2000, it broadcast its first uncensored news coverage. On February 19, three of the four owners of the station alleged that they were coerced by Ajaran regional government officials and Mikhail Gagoshidze, chairman of Ajaran Television and Radio, to cede 75 percent of the company's shares to Gagoshidze. The owners stated that in return they were forced to take $50,000 (100,000 laris) in cash. The same day, Batumi mayor Aslan Smirba physically assaulted Avtandil Gvas Alia, the station's commercial director. Smirba claimed that he had a right to own the station, as he had helped the company get permission to broadcast. The owners brought suit against Gagoshidze, but lost their case in Ajara regional court.

Another formidable obstacle for the Georgian media industry is the registration and licensing requirements detailed in Article 7 of the Media Law. Article 10 of that law authorizes the state of deny registration to a media outlet whose goals are considered contradictory to Georgian law.

The lack of legal definition regarding the activity of media and journalists is leading to an increase in the use of force. Georgia has many cases of violence against media professionals. One example is the case of the beating of a correspondent for the newspaper Eco Digest, Vasily Silagadze. On July 25, an unknown group of people approached him on the street, identified themselves as policemen, took the journalist to a park and beat him up, advising that he "write less about the police." The journalist also said that after his critical articles about high-ranking officials in the Ministry of the Interior, he received telephone threats. On July 28, the Tbilisi Prosecutor's Office brought criminal charges in the case of the beating. However, on September 7, Vasily Silagadze was again beaten by unknown individuals. According to Silagadze, the people who beat him were, again, police. Membership in the Council of Europe, which Georgia attained in April 1998, required Georgia to adhere to the principles of the European Convention of Human Rights, including Article 10, which guaranteed freedom of expression and information. In reality, however, certain aspects of the media landscape limit the freedom of Georgian journalism.


Radio listenership varies. The Soviets did not use radio widely and a consistent listenership was not established, but many Georgians had formed the habit of listening to the Voice of America and Radio Liberty and these habits persist despite the technical difficulties in the mountainous regions. Reports differ as to whether Georgians, especially in Tbilisi, rely more on the press or TV for daily news. The Rustavi 2 nightly news program appears to reach many people.

A number of independent radio stations broadcast on AM and FM frequencies, but most of their programming consists of music. State radio continues to dominate the regions outside Tbilisi. Radio Fortuna, a privately owned, 24-hour FM station that covers the entire area of Georgia, has the largest audience with more than 620,000 listeners while the combined audience of the two Georgia state radio stations number at 580,000.

In Tbilisi the FM waves are used by one state-owned radio station and six private ones. Most stations play music and are paying less and less attention to the news. Some stations rebroadcast news in Georgian from Voice of America and Radio Liberty. One of the stations, Audientsia, broadcasts in Russian. Private FM stations operate in Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Samtredia and Batumi (although the latter actually appears to be owned by the local ruling party). Most of the FM broadcasters provide only superficial news coverage, as they find other ways to compete for the attention of teenagers, the basic listeners of private radio stations.

Electronic News Media

Only a small fraction of the Georgian population has access to the Internet. Experts estimate that the country has between 10,000 and 12,000 Internet users in a population of 5.4 million. Although this represents a significantly low percentage of the people, there has been an increase of 3,000 users since 1999.

Competition among Internet service providers is extremely high, with Sanet, ICN, and the new Georgian Online, owned by Rustavi-2, dominating the market. Some Georgian newspapers and news agencies have also launched on-line editions. Among the more popular: The Georgian Times ; Svobodnaya Gruziya (Liberated Georgia), Agency Starke Information; Prime-News; The 1st channel of Georgian TV; and Virtual Georgia.

Education & TRAINING

Academic freedom is respected in Georgia and outside support has contributed to limited improvements in Georgian media. The largest western foundations, such as United States Information Agency (now a part of the State Department), Eurasia Foundation, and TACIS have been working in the country to improve the quality of journalism. They organize various workshops, training course seminars and conferences for local media professionals. An excellent American run master's degree program in journalism, for example, has recently been initiated under the auspices of the International Center for Journalism. The Caucasus Institute of Journalism and Media Management in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State and various NGOs is dedicated to the improvement of international journalism. Other institutions that have journalism programs include the Tbilisi Institute for Asia and Africa.


While the government or local authorities continue to use administrative levers to curb freedom of the press, the trend in the past years has been towards greater freedom for the independent media, and freedom of information. The successful use of the courts by journalists to obtain information is especially heartening. Economic and organizational problems are profound as is the need for better trained professionals. So many factors and issues are in flux that a clear picture has not yet emerged.


Assoc. of Georgian Independent TV and Radio Companies (Open Society-Georgia). "Georgia Media Guide 2000-2001," Tbilisi 2001.

BBC News. "Country Profiles: Georgia"

European Institute for the Media. "Media in the CIS: Georgia" by Yasha Lange.

Freedom House. "Survey of Press Freedom 1999"

. "Georgia." Nations in Transit 2001.

"Internews Guide to Georgian Non-Governmental Broadcasters," Tbilisi 2002 (USAID, Eurasia Foundation).

International Journalists' Network (IJET). "Murder of Popular TV Anchor Exacerbates Political Tensions in Georgia," August 2, 2001.

. ICGF, GIPA Launch New Western-Style Journalism Programs in Tbilisi.

"Media Marketing Study," ICFS/Pro Media II, October, 2001, Tbilisi.

Parliament of Georgia. Committee for Human Rights and Ethnic Minorities of the Parliament of Georgia. [email protected]

Press Freedom Overview.

"Report of the Public Defender of Georgia On the Situation of Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms inGeorgia," Tbilisi, 2001.

Telemedia. "Georgia Media and Market Overview."

United Nations Development Program (UNDP). "Today's Technological TransformationsCreating the Network Age."

. Bokeria G., Targamadze, G. and Ramshivili, L. "Georgian Media in the 90's: A Step to Liberty," Tbilisi, 1997.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 1999. UNESCO Data Base.

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U.S. Department of State. "Background Notes: Georgia."

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World Bank. "Country Profiles,"

Virginia Davis Nordin

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Republic of Georgia

Sakartveld Respublika

CAPITAL: T'bilisi (Tbilisi)

FLAG: White rectangle, in its central portion a red cross connecting all four sides of the flag; in each of the four corners is a small red bolnur-katskhuri cross; the five-cross flag appears to date back to the 14th century.

ANTHEM: National Anthem of the Republic of Georgia.

MONETARY UNIT: The lari (l) was issued in 1995 to replace government coupons that were introduced in 1993. l1 = $0.54945 (or $1 = l1.82) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in force.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 12 January; Christmas, 7 January; Independence Day, 26 May; St. George's Day, 22 November.

TIME: 3 pm = noon GMT.


Georgia is located in southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia. Comparatively, the area occupied by Georgia is slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina, with a total area of 69,700 sq km (26,911 sq mi). Georgia shares boundaries with Russia on the n and e, Azerbaijan on the e and s, Armenia and Turkey on the s, and the Black Sea on the w. Georgia's land boundary totals 1,461 km (906 mi). Its coastline is 310 km (192 mi). Its capital city, T'bilisi, is located in the southeastern part of the country.


The topography of Georgia is mainly mountainous, with the great Caucasus Mountains in the north and lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south. The highest point in the nation is Mount Shkhara at a height of 5,201 m (17,064 ft) in the Greater Caucasus. The Kolkhida Lowland opens to the Black Sea in the west and the Kura River basin lies in the east. The Kura River is the nation's longest river with a length of 1,514 km (941 mi). Good soils occur in the river valley flood plains and in the foothills of the Kolkhida Lowland.


Georgia's climate along the Black Sea coast is similar to that along the Mediterranean, warm, humid, and almost subtropical. Farther inland the climate is continental, with warm summers and cold winters. July's mean temperature is 23°C (73.8°f). The mean temperature in January is -3°c (27.3°f). The annual rainfall in Georgia is 51 cm (20 in). In the mountains it is much cooler, with snow and ice all year in altitudes above 3,600 m (12,000 ft).


The country's land is composed of gently rolling plains. The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia begin a series of high mountains in Central Asia. The subtropical zone of the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus Mountains has a distinctive vegetation: woods of black alder, oak, elm, and beech with a profusion of lianas and an admixture of evergreens. Mountain goats, Caucasian goats, Caucasian antelope, European wild boar, porcupine, and the leopard inhabit the Caucasus, and reptiles and amphibious creatures abound. As of 2002, there were at least 107 species of mammals, 208 species of birds, and over 4,300 species of plants throughout the country.


Georgia suffers from pollution of its air, water, and soil. Air pollution is especially heavy in Rust'avi. In 1996, Georgia's industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 2.9 million metric tons; in 2000, the total was at 6.2 million metric tons. The Mtkvari River and the Black Sea are both heavily polluted. Pesticides from agricultural areas have significantly contaminated the soil.

In 2003, 2.3% of Georgia's total land area was protected. There are two Ramsar wetland sites: one in central Kolkheti and the other at the Ispani II marshes. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 11 types of mammals, 8 species of birds, 7 types of reptiles, 1 species of amphibian, 6 species of fish, and 10 species of invertebrates. Species on the endangered list include Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, Mediterranean monk seals, Darevsky's viper, and the Armenian birch mouse.


The population of Georgia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 4,501,000, which placed it at number 116 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 13% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 19% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 90 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 200510 was stagnant at 0.0%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 4,178,000. The population density was 64 per sq km (167 per sq mi), with the majority of the population living near the Black Sea or in the river valleys.

The UN estimated that 52% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of -0.88%. The capital city, T'bilisi (Tbilisi), had a population of 1,064,000 in that year. Other cities and their estimated populations include Kútáisi, 268,800, and Rustavi, 181,400.


With independence in 1991 came three secessionist movements in three autonomous areas and conflicts in two of them. The conflict in South Ossetia in 1991, followed by the conflict in Abkhazia in 1992 and 1993, resulted in the mass displacement of ethnic Georgians, Ossetians, and Abkhaz, as well as other ethnic minorities. As many as 200,000 Georgians may have fled the fighting in Abkhazia in 1993. By December 1996, Georgia had 280,000 internally displaced persons. In February of 1997, a voluntary repatriation plan was agreed upon for persons to return to South Ossetia. Hostilities resumed in Gali in May 1998, displacing some 40,000 residents. Georgia's first census in 2002 detailed 4,961 stateless and 8,058 foreign citizens.

By year end 2004 there remained 237,069 internally displaced persons, mainly in urban areas, 29.6% in T'bilisi and 46.4% in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. Repatriation of Meskhetian Turks began in 2003 and was planned to continue until 2011. Transit migration, trafficked migrants (primarily women from other former Soviet states), migrants from Asia and Africa, and irregular migrants were of increasing concern in 2004 as Georgia looked to membership in the European Union (EU). In addition, in that same year there were 2,559 refugees, mainly Chechen/Kist from the Pankisi Gorge, and 11 asylum seekers.

Georgian emigration during the 1990s was estimated between 300,000 to more than 1.5 million. In 2004, some 8,934 Georgians sought asylum in over 18 countries, mainly Austria, France, Slovakia, and Sweden. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as -4.62 migrants per 1,000 population, a significant change from -9.2 per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the migration levels as too high.


According to the 2002 census, 83.3% of the population are Georgian. The leading minorities are Azeris with 6.5%, Armenians with 5.7%, Russians with 1.5%, and others (including Ossetians and Abkhaz) with 2.5%.


Georgian is the official language and is spoken by about 71% of the population. Georgian is a South Caucasian language called Kartveli by its speakers. There is no article and a single declension with six cases. The alphabet is a phonetic one with 33 symbols. The literature dates from the 5th century ad.

Russian is spoken by 9% of the population, Armenian by 7%, Azeri by 6%, and various other languages are spoken by the remaining 7%. Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia.


In the 4th century ad Christianity briefly enjoyed the status of official religion, but successive conquests by Mongols, Turks, and Persians left Georgia with a complex and unsettled ethnic and religious heritage. According to the 2002 census, over 70% of the population are nominally Georgian Orthodox. About 13% are members of other Orthodox groups, including Russian, Armenian, and Greek. A small number of ethnic Russians belong to dissident Orthodox groups such as the Molokani, Staroveriy (Old Believers) and the Dukhoboriy. About 9.9% of the population are Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Azeris, Georgian Muslims of Ajara, and ethnic Chechen Kists. Less than 1% of the population are Roman Catholics. Smaller Christian denominations include Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the New Apostolic Church. There are also small numbers of Bahai's and Hare Krishnas. There are about 8,000 Jews in the country.

In 2002, the parliament ratified a concordat with the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) granting them special recognition; however, the constitution has established a separation of church and state and freedom of religion. Some non-Orthodox groups have complained of the privileged status granted to the GOC. For instance, the GOC is allowed to review public school textbooks and to make suggestions on content. Registration of religious organizations is not required, but many do so in order to gain the legal status necessary to rent office or worship space and import written materials.


Railroads in Georgia as of 2004, consisted of 1,612 km (1,003 mi) of broad and narrow gauge lines, all of which were electrified. Nearly all of the country's railways were broad gauge, accounting for 1,575 km (980 mi), with narrow gauge lines making up only 37 km (23 mi). Railways serve primarily as connections to the Black Sea for inland cities like T'bilisi, Chiat'ura, Jvari, and Tkvarcheli. Highways in 2003 totaled an estimated 20,247 km (12,594 mi), of which 7,973 km (4,959 mi) were paved. The maritime fleet of 175 ships (of 1,000 GRT or over) had a capacity of 855,908 GRT in 2005. Batumi and Poti are the principal Black Sea ports. As of 2004, Georgia had an estimated 30 airports, 19 of which had paved runways, and three heliports (as of 2005). Its only international airport is T'bilisi which is capable of handling 1,0001,200 passengers per hour. In 2003 there were about 2,000 aircraft departures, and around 124,000 passengers carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Georgia has existed as a state on a sporadic basis since classical times. The first Georgian state can be traced to the 4th century bc. Throughout its history Georgia has been conquered by the Romans, Iranians, the Arabs, the Turks, the Mongols and the Hordes of Tamerlane. Georgia did enjoy independence for short periods of time from the 6th to the 12th centuries ad. The Mongols invaded and conquered Georgia by 1236. Later the Ottoman and Persian empires competed for control of the region. Western Georgia became a Russian protectorate in 1783. All of Georgia was absorbed directly in the Russian empire during the 19th century.

During the tumult of the Russian revolution, Georgia declared its independence on 26 May 1918. Twenty-two countries recognized this new state, including Soviet Russia. Nonetheless, the Soviet Red Army invaded in February 1921 and Georgia's brief independence came to an end.

Many Georgians fell victim in the late 1920s and 1930s to Soviet collectivization, crash industrialization, and Stalin's purges (despite his Georgian-Ossetian ethnic origins). Nationalist riots were brutally suppressed in 1924 and 1956, and nationalist mass demonstrations occurred in 1978 and 1988. In April 1989, many Georgian demonstrators were murdered, some with shovels, by Soviet military and police forces during a peaceful protest against perceived Russian support for Abkhaz autonomy demands.

Georgia's first multiparty legislative elections, held in October 1990, resulted in a victory for the party coalition Round Table-Free Georgia, headed by academic and dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia. He was subsequently selected by the deputies to serve as chairman of the legislature. Following a March 1991 referendum, a formal declaration of independence was unanimously approved by the legislature on April 9. Gamsakhurdia was popularly elected as president in May, but still faced opposition from, among others, parties belonging to the National Congress, a national liberation body formed in October 1990. The Mkhedrioni paramilitary group, led by Jaba Ioseliani, was allied with the National Congress. During 1991, Gamsakhurdia's erratic attempts to remake Georgian society and politics caused the head of the National Guard, Tengiz Kitovani, to also join the opposition. The National Guard and Mkhedrioni spearheaded a general assault to overthrow Gamsakhurdia in December 1991, forcing him to flee the country in early January 1992.

A military council formed by Ioseliani, Kitovani, and others assumed power, suspending the Soviet-era constitution (and replacing it with one from 1921), dissolving the legislature, and declaring emergency rule. Former Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze (the Communist Party boss of Georgia from 1972 to 1985) was invited in early March 1992 to head a provisional government. He formed a civilian State Council to rule until elections could be held, and was elected head of its four-member presidium. During legislative elections in October 1992, he was elected speaker in an uncontested race. The new legislature granted Shevardnadze wide-ranging powers as head of state pending completion of a new constitution. In May 1993, Shevardnadze moved to consolidate his power by securing the resignations of Kitovani and Ioseliani from government posts. Gamsakhurdia returned from exile in September 1993 to the western Georgian region of Mingrelia and led a revolt to unseat Shevardnadze. Pro-Shevardnadze forces, assisted by the Russian military, were able to put down the revolt by early November 1993. Gamsakhurdia's death was reported in early January 1994. In further moves by Shevardnadze to consolidate power, Kitovani was arrested in January 1995 for planning an illegal paramilitary attack on Abkhazia, and he neutralized Ioseliani's Mkhedrioni.

Several of Georgia's ethnic minorities stepped up their dissident and separatist actions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. South Ossetians in 1989 called for their territory to be joined with North Ossetia in Russia, or for independence. Repressive efforts by former Georgian president Gamsakhurdia triggered conflict in 1990, reportedly leading to about 1,500 deaths and 50,000 displaced persons, mostly ethnic Georgians. In June 1992, Russian president Boris Yeltsin brokered a cease-fire, and a predominantly Russian military "peacekeeping" force numbering about 500 was stationed in South Ossetia. A coordinating commission on settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, composed of OSCE, Russian, Georgian, and North and South Ossetian emissaries, meets regularly, but rapprochement remains elusive. The November 1999 OSCE Summit Declaration urged Georgia and South Ossetia to agree on resettling displaced persons and called for international aid for the region. In his state of the nation speech on 9 February 2000, Shevardnadze praised the Russian peacekeepers and successes in reconciliation between ethnic Ossetians and Georgians.

Georgia's southern Ajaria region is to a large extent self-governing, under conditions resembling a police state. Ajaria's authorities claim that regional laws take precedence over national laws, and Shevardnadze has had to undertake extensive negotiations to establish national law in the region.

The Abkhaz conflict has resulted in about 10,000 deaths and over 200,000 refugees and displaced persons, mostly ethnic Georgians. In July 1992, the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet declared its effective independence from Georgia. This prompted Georgian national guardsmen to attack Abkhazia. In October 1992, the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved the first UN observer mission to a NIS state, termed UNOMIG, to help reach a settlement. In September 1993, Russian and North Caucasian "volunteer" troops that reportedly made up the bulk of Abkhaz separatist forces broke a cease-fire and quickly routed Georgian forces. Abkhaz-Georgian talks leading to a cease-fire were held under UN auspices, with the participation of Russia and the OSCE. In April 1994, the two sides signed framework accords on a political settlement and on the return of refugees and displaced persons. A Quadripartite Commission was set up to discuss repatriation, composed of Abkhaz and Georgian representatives and emissaries from Russia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The next month, a cease-fire was signed by Georgia and Abkhazia, providing for Russian troops (acting as Commonwealth of Independent States or CIS peacekeepers) to be deployed in a security zone along the Enguri River, which divides Abkhazia from the rest of Georgia. The Russian Defense Ministry in 1999 reported the deployment of about 1,700 peacekeepers.

A major point of contention between the two sides is Georgia's demand that displaced persons be allowed to return to Abkhazia, after which an agreement on broad autonomy for Abkhazia may be negotiated. The Abkhazians have insisted upon recognition of their "equal status" with Georgia as a precondition to large-scale repatriation. The CIS in 19971998 endorsed Shevardnadze's call for creating a special Abkhaz-Georgian administration, with UN and OSCE participation, to first seek peace in Abkhazia's Gali area, and to expand the security zone and give Russian peacekeepers police powers. Abkhazia refused to countenance changing the peacekeeping mandate. Although Shevardnadze has criticized the failures of the Russian peacekeepers, in February 2000 he stated that he saw no alternative to their presence, since no other international forces have come forward.

After a hiatus of two years, UN-sponsored peace talks were reconvened in mid-1997. In late 1997, the sides agreed to set up a Coordinating Council to discuss cease-fire maintenance and refugee, economic, and humanitarian issues. Coordinating Council talks and those of the Quadripartite Commission have been supplemented by direct discussions between an envoy from Vladislav Ardzinba, whom Abkhazian separatists have elected as their president, and the Georgian State Secretary. Abkhaz forces in mid-1998 reportedly expelled 30,00040,000 ethnic Georgians who resided in the Gali area. In June 1999 in Istanbul, the two sides agreed to resume contacts they had cut off the year before, and a working group agreed to implement the separation of warring forces.

In November 1995, Eduard Shevardnadze was elected to the recreated post of president, receiving 74.32% of the vote in a six-person race, and a new parliament was selected. International observers termed the elections generally free and fair nationwide except in the region of Ajaria.

Seven candidates were registered to run in Georgia's 9 April 2000 presidential election. The major challengers to Shevardnadze were Jumbar Patiashvili, former first secretary of the Georgian Communist Party (who ran in the 1995 presidential race), and Aslan Abashidze, chairman of the Ajarian Supreme Council. Both challengers were leaders of the Revival Bloc that contested the 1999 legislative races. Abashidze did not actively campaign and withdrew from the race one day before the vote, alleging an unfair contest. Other speculation was that he withdrew in return for concessions from Shevardnadze on local power and finances. Voting did not take place in Abkhazia or South Ossetia. The Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) reported that Shevardnadze received 80% of 1.87 million votes and Patiashvili received 17% (less than he received in 1995). The 150 OSCE monitors reported on April 10 that the election did not meet OSCE standards, though "fundamental freedoms were generally respected during the election campaign and candidates were able to express their views." They stressed that the government aided the incumbent, state media were biased, vote counting and tabulation procedures lacked uniformity and, at times, transparency, ballot box stuffing had taken place, and some voting protocols reportedly had been tampered with.

In March 2001, officials from Georgia and Abkhazia signed an accord stating they would not use force against one another. However, meetings between the two sides were cancelled later in the year due to continuing hostilities and hostage incidents. On 8 October 2001, a UNOMIG helicopter was shot down over Abkhazia, and all nine people on board were killed. As of February 2003, those responsible for the downing had not been identified. In August 2002, Georgia and Abkhazia failed to come to an agreement on the withdrawal of Abkhaz fighters from the Kodori Gorge, the only enclave controlled by Georgia in Abkhazia. Georgia was concerned that Russians were supporting the Abkhaz fighters. In January 2003, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared little progress had been made on talks to determine the future status of Abkhazia, and that the mandate for UNOMIG should be extended another six months, until 31 July 2003.

Upon coming into his second term in office, Shevardnadze claimed he would fight corruption and low living standards, undertake market reforms, and protect the territorial integrity of Georgia. Georgia desired NATO membership, and on 22 November 2002, Shevardnadze formally requested that Georgia be invited into the alliance. Russia did not immediately react to the announcement. In 1999, the OSCE demanded that Russia remove all of its troops from Georgia. In 2001, Russia vacated the Gudauta and Vaziani bases and the Marneuli military airfield, but did not agree to a time frame for a departure from the Akhalkalaki and Batumi military bases. One sore spot in Georgian-Russian relations remains the situation in Chechnya. Russian officials have accused Georgia of aiding Chechen rebels, especially in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia. Russia regards the armed conflict in Chechnya as a part of the international campaign against terrorism, and has demanded Georgia cooperate in combating Chechens in the region. In September 2002, Russia warned Georgia that it would take military action if Georgia failed to deal with Chechen rebels in the Pankisi Gorge. The United States, since 11 September 2001, has claimed that members of the al-Qaeda organization are operating in the Pankisi Gorge, and has enlisted Georgia's support in undertaking antiterror operations there. In April and May 2002, US Special Forces arrived in Georgia to train and equip troops for counterterrorist operations. On 8 February 2003, Russia claimed that terrorists recently arrested in Great Britain and France had trained in the Pankisi Gorge, and used laboratories built there to produce the poisonous toxin ricin that can be used as an agent in chemical warfare.

The end of 2003 brought with it drastic changes for Georgians. The parliamentary elections that were held on 2 November 2003 were criticized by national and international organizations as being grossly rigged. Mikhail Saakashvili, who received a law degree from Columbia University and worked in the United States for a short while, denounced the election results and urged the population of Georgia to nonviolent civil disobedience against the authorities. People responded to Saakashvili's call and mounted protests in T'bilisi (the so-called "Rose Revolution"), crying for fair elections. (The "Rose Revolution" inspired similar movements in other parts of the world, most notably in Ukraine where the "Orange Revolution" brought about long awaited change.) President Shevardnadze eventually bowed down under the pressure, and on 23 November 2003 resigned from his post, leaving parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze in charge until fresh presidential elections could be staged. This move was followed by a decision of the Supreme Court to annul the parliamentary elections results.

On 4 January 2004, Saakashvili emerged victorious in the presidential electionshe received support from all the opposition parties and garnered a 96.3% of the votes. His party, the National Movement-Democratic Front, subsequently won 67.6% of the votes (and 135 out of 150 party list seats in parliament) in the re-run of the parliamentary elections; the Rightist Opposition got 7.6% (15 seats), while other parties received less than 7%. The new prime minister was Zurab Noghaideli.

This victory, however, came in a context where Georgia was very politically, socially, and economically unstable. Aslan Abashidze, the leader of the Ajarian Autonomous Republic in western Georgia, accused Saakashvili of planning to invade Ajaria and declared a state of emergency and the mobilization of armed forces. He failed to attract support from Russia though, and intense criticism from several foreign governments and international organizations forced him to resign in May 2004 and leave for Moscow. These events were followed by tensions in the other two problematic regionsSouth Ossetia and Abkhazia. Parliamentary elections in South Ossetia in May 2004, and troubled presidential elections in Abkhazia in October 2004, were not recognized by the government in T'bilisi. A proposal on autonomy for South Ossetia presented by Saakashvili was consequently refused by the South Ossetian leaders who asked for full independence.

In May 2005, George W. Bush became the first US president to visit Georgia. That same month, the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was officially opened, with US secretary of energy Samuel Bodman joining the presidents of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey at the opening ceremony. A year later, oil began flowing through the pipeline.


Until 1995, Georgia was governed according to a constitution dating back to 1921. Shevardnadze, though, pushed for the adoption of a new constitution giving the president added powers. A new constitution was approved by the legislature in August 1995. It re-establishes a strong presidency, though affirming a balance of executive and legislative powers more equitable than those in most other new constitutions approved by former Soviet republics. The president is elected for a five-year term. The constitution establishes a unicameral, 235-member legislature elected by single-man-date constituencies (85 seats) and party lists (150 seats). Legislators serve four-year terms. Government ministers are responsible to the president, who is assisted by a state minister. Shevardnadze in December 1999 decreed enhanced powers for the state minister "equal to those of a prime minister." The speaker's only constitutional powers are to sign bills and serve as acting president in case the president is indisposed or dies. The legislature agreed that federal provisions would be added to the constitution after Georgia's territorial integrity has been assured. The breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are currently not under the control of the central government, and Ajaria is at least partly self-governing.

Voting for the new legislature took place on 5 November 1995, simultaneous with the presidential race. Only three of the 54 parties running received at least 5% of the party list vote required to win seats, though other parties won representation through constituency races; they have formed eight legislative factions. The elections were judged "consistent with democratic norms" by international observers.

Legislative elections were held in the spring of 2004. Voting was by party lists (150 seats) and single-member constituencies (73 seats; 12 sitting members representing separatist Abkhaz districts were allowed to retain their seats). Fifteen parties and blocs were registered but only two parties received at least 7% of the vote needed to gain party list seats (the new minimum was approved in July 1999). The National Movement-Democratic Front won 135 seats; the Rightist Opposition won 15.


Major political parties that won representation in the legislature elected in 1999, based on their share of the party list voting, included Shevardnadze's Georgian Citizens' Union (gaining 891,000 of 2.1 million party list votes cast), Ajarian leader Abashidze's pro-government Revival Union (537,000 votes), and Industry Will Save Georgia (151,000 votes). The Georgian Labor Party just failed to gain enough votes to win party list seats (141,000 votes). Other parties that gained more than 1% of the party list vote included the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP; it won the second-largest number of such seats in 1995), the People's Party, and the United Communist Party. Most of the minor political parties and groups characterized themselves as opposed to the government.

In November 2003, former President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned from office in a bloodless "Rose Revolution" following protests against his rule and what were seen to be fraudulent parliamentary elections. The election results were later annulled. Presidential elections were held on 4 January 2004, and Mikhail Saakashvili was elected president. His party, the National Movement-Democratic Front, won 135 seats out of the 150 that are on the party lists; the Rightist Opposition won the other 15.


Georgia's administrative subdivisions include the Abkhazian and Ajarian Autonomous Republics. The Georgian Supreme Soviet stripped South Ossetia of its autonomous status in late 1990, following its demands to secede and become a part of Russia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia consider themselves self-ruling, and Ajaria has substantial effective autonomy. There are 53 districts (rayons ) and 11 cities, whose governors or mayors are appointed by the president. Local assembly (sakrebulo ) elections were held for the first time under the new constitution in November 1998. Thirteen parties participated in the voting for more than 150,000 candidates for 10,000 municipal and district (rayon ) assemblies or councils. In small towns and villages of fewer than 2,000 voters, 654 majoritarian elections were held, while elsewhere 377 proportional elections by party lists took place. The Citizen's Union Party won the largest number of seats, followed by the Revival bloc, the National Democratic Party, and the Labor Party, though 12 of the 13 parties won some seats. Inadequate funding and the absence of legislation limited the functions of the new locally elected governments. Opposition parties accused the government and the ruling Citizens' Union Party of retaining the effective power to appoint the mayors of the largest cities and the regional leaders. There remains considerable contention between the central government and the Autonomous Ajarian Republic over the scope of local powers.

Local elections were held on 2 June 2002, and 4774 sakrebulo seats in regional Georgia were decided, along with 49 seats in T'bilisi. Independents won 2,749 of the regional seats, with the New Right Party taking 544 seats; Industry Will Save Georgia taking 478 seats; and the Revival Party/21st Century Bloc taking 195 seats. The Citizens' Union of Georgia won only 69 seats in a major defeat, faring poorly in both T'bilisi and the regions. This was attributed to a split between the two main factions of the party prior to the elections, both of which strove for the right to campaign as the CUG. The conservative faction won the right to campaign as the CUG in the week prior to the elections, and the reformist faction campaigned as the Christian Conservative Party.


Before 1995, Georgia's legal system retained traces of the pre-Soviet era, the Soviet period, the Gamsakhurdia presidency, and the State Council period. Courts included district courts, a T'bilisi city court, a supreme court in each of the two autonomous republics, and at the highest level the Supreme Court of the Republic.

The 1995 constitution provides for an independent judiciary. However, the judiciary is subject to some executive pressure and pressure from extensive family and clan networks. The Law on Common Courts, passed in 1997, establishes a three-tier court system. District courts hear petty criminal and civil cases. Regional courts of appeal have original and appellate jurisdiction. They try major criminal and civil cases, review cases, and can remand cases to the lower court for retrial. The Supreme Court was envisioned as the highest appellate court, but it also hears some capital cases and appeals from the Central Electoral Commission.

A constitutional court was set up in September 1996. It arbitrates constitutional disputes between the branches of government and rules on individual claims of human rights abuses.

Administration of the court system was transferred from the Justice Ministry to a Council of Justice in 1997, to increase the independence of the courts from budgetary and other influence. The council consists of four members from each of the three branches of government.

The constitution provides for the rights to presumption of innocence, to have a public trial, to legal counsel, and to refuse to make a statement in the absence of counsel. A criminal procedures code was approved in November 1997, and a new criminal code was passed in June 1999. The criminal procedures code aimed at reducing the dominant power of prosecutors over arrests and investigations. Under the new procedures, judges issue warrants for arrest and detention orders, and detentions must follow correct legal procedures, including informing detainees of their rights, allowing visits by family members and lawyers, and treating detainees without brutality. In mid-1999, however, some of the liberal strictures on defendants' rights were reversed at the insistence of the prosecutors, who continue to have a major influence over the courts.

Under the Law on Common Courts, Georgia has launched a system of testing judges on basic legal principles; many of those who have taken the test have failed. Georgia's accession to the Council of Europe in April 1999 led to new legislation taking jurisdiction over the prison system away from the Interior (police) Ministry and giving it to the Ministry of Justice.


Georgia had a total of 11,320 active personnel in its armed forces as of 2005, supported by 1,578 reservists in the National Guard. The Army was the largest force in terms of manpower, with 7,042 active personnel. The Navy and the Air Force each had 1,350 active members. The Army had 86 main battle tanks, 89 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 91 armored personnel carriers, and 109 artillery pieces. Major naval units included 11 patrol/coastal vessels and six amphibious landing craft. The Air Force had seven combat capable aircraft that included six fighter ground attack aircraft, plus another used in a training capacity. The service also operated three attack helicopters. Paramiltary troops numbered 11,700, including 6,300 Ministry of Interior troops and 5,400 border guards. Georgian armed forces were deployed to Iraq in a peacekeeping support role, and under NATO in Serbia and Montenegro. There are also troops from 25 countries in Georgia acting as observers and in a peacekeeping role. The nation's defense budget in 2005 totaled $44 million.


Georgia was admitted to the United Nations on 21 July 1992. The country is a member of several UN specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, ICAO, IFAD, ILO, IMF, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and the World Bank. Georgia joined the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS) in 1993 and became a member of the WTO in 2000. The nation also belongs to the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Georgia has observer status in the OAS and is part of the NATO Partnership for Peace. In 2001, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova formed a social and economic development union known as GUAAM. Uzbekistan withdrew from the partnership in 2005.

In 1993, a UN Observer Mission (UNOMIG) was established in Georgia to monitor cease-fire agreements between the State of Georgia and the region of Abkhazia and to support ongoing CIS peacekeeping forces in that region. About 23 countries offer support for UNOMIG.

In environmental cooperation, Georgia is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Over a decade after its emergence from the Soviet Union as an independent state, Georgia's economy has not fully recovered from the hyperinflation and economic collapse that by 1994 had reduced its GDP to 20% of its 1990 levels. In 2002 its GDP levels were still only at 40% of what they were in the 1980s. Continued civil strife and unresolved separatist struggles with Abkhazia and South Ossetia have combined with pervasive corruption, tax evasion, and a "shadow economy" larger than the legitimate one to stifle the country's economic progress. Shortfalls in revenues have caused the government to turn to external as well as domestic financing to cover chronic budget deficits. Foreign borrowing has in turn led to balance of payments problems and resort to IMF facilities. Georgia has entered into three programs with the IMF since independence. A short standby arrangement, June 1995 to February 1996, was followed on expiration by a multiyear program under the Extended Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF), which was in effect to 13 August 1999 when the IMF withdrew due to the failure of Georgia to meet budgetary targets. In January 2001, a revised program with more realistic targets was approved under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). In March 2001, having an IMF-supervised program underway, Georgia was able to reach an agreement with the Paris Club for rescheduling some of its sovereign debt owed to Paris Club members. From May to October 2001, the IMF again suspended disbursements to Georgia because of its failure to meet the program's conditionals. The 2001 PRGF program was scheduled to expire in January 2004; the government sought and was awarded a new three-year PRGF in June 2004.

Georgia's mild climate makes it an important agricultural producer, raising a growing range of subtropical crops (including tea, tobacco, citrus fruits, and flowers) in the coastal region and exporting them to the northern republics in return for manufactured goods. Georgia supplied almost all of the former Soviet Union's citrus fruits and tea, and much of its grape crop.

In 1996, the government embarked on a program for the privatization of land holdings. The country also has deposits of manganese, coal, iron ore, and lead, plus a skilled, educated work force. There were several oil refineries operating at the Black Sea port of Batumi. Since low points in 1994 and 1995, there has been sustained growth, although not in all sectors, and inflation has been brought substantially under control. Inflation fell from 163% (consumer prices) in 1995 to 39% in 1996 and 7% in 1997. The growth in GDP reached double digits, 11.2% (1996) and 10.6% (1997), stimulated in part by work on the Baku-Supsa pipeline (opened in April 1999). Since 1998, however, GDP growth slowed to about 3% a year due a combination of the effect of economic crises in Russia and Turkey (which together supply 40% of Georgia's imports and buy over 40% of its exports), an influx of refugees since 1999 from neighboring war-torn Chechnya, severe droughts affecting Georgia's agricultural output in 1998 and 2000, and, from 2001, the global economic slowdown. In 1998, overall GDP growth slowed to 3%, as agricultural production dropped 10% and industrial production dropped 2%. Growth remained at only 3% in 1999. GDP growth was even lower (2%) in 2000, despite 11% growth in industrial production, due to a recurrence of drought which caused agricultural production to fall 15% in one year.

In 2001, agriculture recovered somewhat, growing 6%, but industrial production fell back 5%, reflecting in part an 11% decrease in exports to countries outside the CIS. Exports to CIS countries, by contrast, rose 23% in 2000 and 9% in 2001. Georgia official statistics report that the GDP grew overall by 4.5% in 2001, while the US CIA estimated growth at 8.4%. Inflation, which spurted to 19% in 1999, fell to moderate levels of between 4% and 5% in 2000 and 2001.

In 2002, the economy was hampered by the necessity of importing over 90% of the petroleum products consumed due to the shutting down of its only two remaining refineries. The larger 106,000-barrels-per-day refinery at Batumi was closed for modernization and expansion under an agreement with Japan's Mitsui Corp. A small 4,000 barrels-per-day refinery, built in 1998 and idle for much of 2001, was closed permanently in 2002 by its operation company, CanArgo, in favor of a plan to replace it with a larger 30,100-barrels-per-day facility. Georgia's future economic prospects were thought to have improved greatly in December 2002 however, with the announcement of an agreement on the Georgia portion of the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which opened in May 2005. In addition to the BTC project, which is to pipe oil from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean to supply Western European markets, Georgia and Turkey concluded another agreement to build a railway from T'bilisi to Kars, Turkey. The railway would transport oil to Turkish refineries. Plans also exist to develop Georgia into a transit center for natural gas.

The economy experienced an explosive expansion in 2003, with a GDP growth rate of 11.1%. The economy cooled down in 2004, growing by 6.2%, but was expected to pick up again in 2005, with a projected growth rate of around 8.0%. The inflation rate was stable, fluctuating between 4% and 6%. As such, inflation did not pose a problem to the overall economy, although it was expected to rise in 2005 to 8.5%. The "Rose Revolution" in 2003 brought hope that the economy would take a turn for the better by emulating a Western development pattern. The Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipe lines and the Baku-T'bilisi-Erzerum gas pipe lines have brought much needed investment into the country and helped alleviate the chronic unemployment. However, Georgia's energy sector was still dependent on imports from Russia as of 2005, and its market needed heavy restructuring before it could reach functional economy status.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Georgia's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $16.1 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $3,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 10%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 16% of GDP, industry 26.8%, and services 57.2%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $246 million or about $54 per capita and accounted for approximately 6.2% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $220 million or about $43 per capita and accounted for approximately 5.5% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Georgia totaled $3.12 billion or about $684 per capita based on a GDP of $4.0 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 4.5%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 33% of household consumption was spent on food, 13% on fuel, 2% on health care, and 4% on education. It was estimated that in 2001 about 54% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


The labor force was estimated at 2.1 million in 2001 (the latest year for which data was available). Agriculture provided work to 40% of the labor force, with another 40% engaged in services and the remaining 20% in industry. The estimated unemployment rate was 17% in 2001.

Employees have the right to form or join unions freely. A confederation of independent trade unions has emerged with the abandonment of the old centralized Soviet trade unions. Georgia's main trade union is the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Georgia. Workers are permitted to engage in collective bargaining, but this practice is not extensive.

The minimum employment age is 16 except in unusual circumstances, and this minimum employment age is generally respected. The government sets public-sector salaries dependent on the pay grade of the employee. The lowest such wage was $10.80 per month in 2002. There is no state prescribed minimum wage for the private sector. In general, wages and salaries do not provide a decent standard of living for a family. The legal standard work-week is 41 hours with a 24-hour rest period weekly.


About 15% of Georgia's total land area was considered arable in 2003. Since independence in April 1991, Georgian agriculture has become much more associated with the private sector; 99% of agricultural land is now privately held. In 2003, agriculture accounted for an estimated 20% of GDP.

During the Soviet era, Georgia produced almost the entire citrus and tea crop and most of the grape crop for the entire Soviet Union. In 2004, production levels (in thousands of tons) included corn, 410; wheat, 186; barley, 61; tea, 24; vegetables and melons, 490; and grapes, 180.


Meadows and pastures account for about 30% of the Georgian land area. In 2005, the livestock population included cattle, 1,250,000; sheep, 689,000; pigs, 484,000; buffaloes, 35,000; horses, 44,000; and chickens, 9,100,000. Beef production in 2005 totaled some 51,000 tons; pork, 35,000 tons; and chicken, 15,000 tons. About 781,000 tons of milk were produced in 2005, as were 31,500 tons of eggs.

In mid-1993, a ban was placed on the export of dairy products (including milk), cattle and poultry, meat and meat products, and leather. Georgia does not produce enough meat and dairy products to satisfy domestic demand. Meat imports in 2004 exceeded $19.7 million.


The Black Sea and Kura River are the main sources of the domestic catch. The total catch in 2003 was about 3,361 tons, with marine fishing accounting for 97%. Anchovies made up 67% of the total catch in 2003. Commercial fishing is not a significant contributor to the economy.


About 44% of Georgia is covered with forests or woodlands, but the mountainous terrain inhibits forestry production. Timber production is primarily for domestic use; exports of forestry products amounted to only $17.9 million in 2003.


Georgia had significant mineral deposits, but the future of the industry depended on a more secure climate for investment, through greater political and economic stability. Manganese was the country's foremost mineral commodity in the Soviet era, producing 5 million tons in the mid-1980s; production has since fallen precipitously, reaching 59,100 metric tons in 2000, but had increased to an estimated 80,000 metric tons in 2002. Manganese came from the Chiat'ura basin; reserves of high-grade ore were almost depleted.

The Madneuli region was a major site of barite, copper, lead-zinc, gold, and silver mining. Lead and zinc were mined at the Kvaisi deposit, and arsenic was mined from the Lukhumi and Tsansa deposits. In 1995, the Georgian State Geology Committee, Gruzgeologiya, stated that Georgia had gold reserves of 250 tons and silver reserves of 1,500 tons, with another 250 tons of prospective gold reserves.

In 1996, Georgia permitted foreign firms to manage metallurgical enterprises. The Zestafoni ferroalloy plant was signed over to the Russian-Georgian Bank for Reconstruction and Development in conjunction with a US partner, North Atlantic Research, to be managed for a period of 10 years.

Mine output of copper was 8,000 metric tons in 2002. In that same year, gold output was estimated at 2,000 kg, and for silver, an estimated 33,000 kg. Also produced in 2002 were mine lead, barite, bentonite, mine zinc, and cement.


Georgia must rely on imports for most of its energy needs. Its limited oil reserves were placed at about 30 million barrels in 2003. The country produced 2,000 barrels per day in 2004, much less than the 42,200 barrels of oil it consumed each day that same year. However, oil exploration is actively being carried out both on land and along the Black Sea coast. Most of the oil comes primarily from Azerbaijan, and Russia. Natural gas reserves in 2003 were placed at 0.3 trillion cu ft, with production and consumption at 0.6 billion cu ft and at 35.3 billion cu ft, respectively in that year.

Georgia has two oil refineries, a 106,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) facility at Batumi and a smaller refinery at Sartichala. Georgia plans on utilizing its Black Sea ports to become a significant transshipment point for oil produced by Azerbaijan (and the other republics of central Asia). On 8 March 1996, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed a 30-year agreement to pump a portion of the oil produced in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea to the Georgian port of Suspa. From there, the oil will be shipped across the Black Sea to western markets via Turkey. The pipeline along this route became operational in April 1999 following substantial upgrades. Additionally, improved ties with Iran will reduce dependence on energy imports from Russia, from which Georgia is trying to distance itself economically.

Deteriorating plants and equipment prevent Georgia's power sector from operating at full capacity, and power outages are common in many areas of the country. As with its imports of natural gas, Georgia is in arrears in paying for the electricity it has been obliged to import from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. The country has substantial untapped hydroelectric potential, however, and is planning to build two new hydroelectric plants on the Rioni River and a third, the 40-MW Minadze station, on the Kura River. In 2003, electricity production amounted to 6.7 billion kWh. In 2002, hydropower accounted for 83% of the electricity produced and 16.6% was from fossil fuel. Installed capacity in 2003 was 4.4 GW, with consumption at 6.8 billion kWh for that year. The two major power plants are a thermal plant at T'bilisi (with a capacity of 1,280,000 kW) and the Enguri hydroelectric plant (with a 1,325,000 kW capacity). Consumption of electricity in 2000 totaled 7.9 billion kWh.

Georgia is one of the 12 former Soviet republics to found the Intergovernmental Council on Oil and Gas (ICOG), which stresses international cooperation in the oil and natural gas industry and will entitle members to receive Russian energy resources in exchange for investment in Russia's oil and natural gas industries.


Heavy industry, based on the country's mineral resources, predominates, and includes metallurgy, construction materials, and machine building. Light industry includes food processing, beverage production, consumer durables, garments, and oil-processing. Hyperinflation in 1994 together with continuing political unrest severely affected industrial production. By 1995, industrial output of state enterprises was one-fifth of the 1990 level.

In 1996, although industrial production rose 6% for the year, less than 20% of the country's industries were operating, most at less than 15% of capacity. In 1997 another improvement of 7% was recorded, but in 1998, due mainly to the financial crisis in Russia, industrial production fell 2%. By the end of 1998, the privatization of small businesses was largely completed, with over 12,860 becoming privately owned. Among the large state enterprises, about 1,200 had been changed into joint stock companies, 910 of which have since been privatized.

Despite a model legal framework for the privatization of its enterprises, industry in Georgia had only been 15.2% privatized as of 2002, with the construction industry at about 18.5%, mainly because of a lack of buyers. The least privatized sector is energy, where, according to a recent USAID assessment, the infrastructure borders on catastrophic failure.

Growth in industrial production returned in 1999 and 2000, at 7% and 11%, respectively, but in 2001, there was a decline of 5%, due, externally, to declining export demand in non-CIS countries, and, internally, to the shutdown of most of Georgia's refinery production. Before independence, Georgia had several refineries, but by 2001, it had only two: one at the Black Sea port of Batumi with a 106,000 b/d capacity, and the other, a small 4,000 b/d refinery built in 1998 near CanArgo's Ninotsminda oil field called the Georgian-American Oil Refinery (GAOR).

In 2001, the GAOR operated only between July and September, and at less than 50% capacity. In September 2001, CanArgo shut it down, announcing plans to build a $200 million refinery in its place that would have a 30,100 b/d capacity. In 2002, the Batumi refinery was also closed, undergoing a $250 million upgrade and expansion directed by the Mitsui Corporation. As a result, Georgia has been obliged to import over 90% of its petroleum products. Mitsui has undertaken the work without Georgian government guarantees of its investment. The lack of such guarantees caused two other Japanese companies, Marubeni and JGC, to drop out of the project. Georgia's most promising industrial development came in December 2002, when agreement was announced for the construction of Georgia's part of the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline; the pipeline was officially opened on 25 May 2005.

Industry accounted for 26.8% of overall economic output in 2005, and it was the sector with the smallest representation in the working population; agriculture and services were by far the largest employers (both with an approximate equal representation in the labor force40%), although they achieved different productivity levelsagriculture accounted for 16% of the GDP, while services came in first with 57.2%. Current important industries include steel, aircraft, machine tools, electrical appliances, mining (manganese and copper), chemicals, wood products, and wine.


The Georgian Academy of Sciences has departments of mathematics and physics, earth sciences, applied mechanics, machine building, and control processes, chemistry and chemical technology, agricultural science problems, biology, and physiology and experimental medicine. Georgia has 44 research institutes, many attached to the academy, conducting research concerning agriculture, fisheries, and veterinary science; and medicine, natural sciences, and technology. The academy's Sukhumi Botanical Garden is maintained at Chavchavadze. The Scientific and Technical Library of Georgia, with more than 10 million volumes in 1996, is located in T'bilisi. Eight colleges and universities offer degrees in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 39% of university enrollment.

In 2002, research and development spending totaled $33.702 million, or 0.29% of GDP. As of that same year, high technology exports totaled $41 million, or 38% of all manufactured exports. As of 2002, there were 2,317 researchers and 241 technicians per million people actively engaged in R&D.


The war in Abkhazia severely disrupted domestic trade in 1993 and hyperinflation in 1994 led to widespread fighting in the nation and catastrophic economic decline. Economic conditions began to improve by the mid-1990s following the influx of foreign aid. Agriculture continues to be a primary basis for the domestic economy. The fastest growing segment of the economy, however, is in services, which accounted for about 55% of the GDP in 2002. Small privately owned shops are still more prevalent than supermarkets or larger retail establishments. Business hours are generally from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday.


Traditionally Georgia has been heavily dependent on Russia for power, bridges, roads, and other economic essentials. In return, Georgia sends Russia fruit, wine, and other agricultural products. Georgia's current government, however, is pursuing closer links with the EU and Turkey.

In 2005, exports reached $1.4 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $2.5 billion (FOB). The bulk of exports went to Turkey (18.3%), Turkmenistan (17.8%), Russia (16.2%), Armenia

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 475.5 1,135.4 -659.9
Russia 84.0 155.3 -71.3
Turkey 82.4 112.1 -29.7
Turkmenistan 58.4 9.9 48.5
Armenia 41.1 12.0 29.1
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 33.3 14.5 18.8
Ukraine 30.2 80.3 -50.1
United Kingdom 27.9 145.6 -117.7
Azerbaijan 16.6 93.8 -77.2
United States 15.4 90.8 -75.4
Netherlands 9.9 22.3 -12.4
() data not available or not significant.

(8.4%), the United Kingdom (4.9%), and Azerbaijan (3.9%). Principal exports were ferro alloys, copper and gold, ferrous waste and scrap, iron and steel, wine, and mineral water. Imports included oil, gas, electricity, tubes and pipes, and automotives, and mainly came from Russia (14%), Turkey (11%), the United Kingdom (9.3%), Azerbaijan (8.5%), Germany (8.2%), the Ukraine (7.7%), and the United States (6%).


Georgia's high level of imports, until 2000, was largely due to its capital account surplus, stemming from the inflows of investments, loans, and grants, rather than from weak export performance. Georgia's capital account subsequently fell into deficit.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Georgia's exports was $515 million

Current Account -397.1
   Balance on goods -636.0
     Imports -1,466.6
     Exports 830.6
   Balance on services 52.5
   Balance on income 34.3
   Current transfers 152.0
Capital Account 19.9
Financial Account 323.0
   Direct investment abroad -3.8
   Direct investment in Georgia 337.9
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -6.1
   Other investment liabilities -5.0
Net Errors and Omissions 6.6
Reserves and Related Items 47.7
() data not available or not significant.

while imports totaled $750 million resulting in a trade deficit of $235 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2000 Georgia had exports of goods totaling $459 million and imports totaling $971 million. The services credit totaled $206 million and debit $216 million.

Exports of goods and services reached $1.1 billion in 2004, down from $1.3 billion in 2003. Imports decreased from $1.9 billion in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative in both years, reaching -$583 million in 2003 and -$637 million in 2004. The current account balance was also negative, decreasing from -$391 million in 2003, to -$430 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (including gold) decreased to $187 million in 2004, barely covering a month of imports.


The National Bank of Georgia (NBG), the state's central bank, was founded in 1991. The NBG has the functions of a central bank, namely issuing currency, managing the exchange rate, controlling monetary and credit aggregates, and regulating the activities of the banking sector.

In September 1995 Georgia introduced a new currency, the lari (l), to replace its interim currency, the coupon, at the rate of l1 = coupon1,000,000. The coupon had been introduced in May 1993 after the collapse of the ruble zone in response to a severe cash shortage in the republic. The coupon experienced one of the steepest devaluations of any currencies in the former Soviet Union, plummeting from around coupon1,000 = $1 shortly after its introduction to coupon1,550,000=$1 by December 1994. The coupon was scarcely used by the private sector, where the majority of transactions were carried out in dollars and rubles.

The government has since had more success with the lari. The new currency was introduced at l1.3 = $1, and given the dramatic success in reducing inflation, by the end of November 1996 it had appreciated slightly to trade around l1.28 = $1. However, by 2001, it had lost some value, trading at l2.07 = $1.

At the time of independence there were, in addition to the NBG, five specialized commercial banks, about 200 small domestic commercial banks, and the former Georgian branches of the Soviet Savings Bank and Vneshekonombank. During 1993 and 1994, a large number of small banks were set up, peaking at 227 by mid-1994. Several of these have since collapsed, leaving creditors bankrupt. In December 1994, the central bank stripped 28 commercial banks of their licenses on the ground that they had insufficient funds. In June 1995, the head of the central bank, Nodar Javakhishvili, moved to further stiffen capital requirements and stripped 22 more banks of the licenses. This was followed in July and August with similar measures that resulted in 58 additional banks losing their licenses. Also during 1995 was the merger of three state banks (Eximbank, Industrial Bank, and the Savings Bank) into the United Georgian Bank. State-owned banks accounted for some 75% of banking sector assets.

The first foreign bank, the Georgian-US bank, was opened in T'bilisi in early 1994. In September 1996 a joint investment bank began its operations with its founding capital contributed by the United Georgian Bank, the Commercial Bank of Greece, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Emlak Bankasi, a Turkish bank, and the Caucasus Development Bank, based in Azerbaijan, currently maintain offices in T'bilisi. In 1997, the EBRD announced that it is to lend $5 million to Absolute Bank, a US-Georgian joint venture, with 60% US ownership. The bank has $3 million in assets, making it one of the largest Georgian banks in terms of capital.

Other commercial banks include the Agricultural Bank (1991), the Bank of Industry and Construction (1991), Housing Bank of Georgia (1991), and the State Savings Bank (1989).

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $190.2 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $356.0 million. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 17.5%.

The Caucasian Exchange, a stock exchange, opened recently in Georgia.


Georgia's insurance system is largely inherited from government-controlled Soviet institutions. The civil war impairs growth of the insurance sector.


Georgia has been notorious for mismanaging its budget. In 1999, the IMF put one of its programs in the country on hold because Georgia could not meet the conditional budgetary targets the IMF set forth. A more realistic budget in the second half of 2000 paved the way for a new IMF program beginning in January 2001. Georgia's progress towards those new budgetary goals has been uneven, but it has remained on track.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Georgia's central government took in revenues of approximately $872.5 billion and had expenditures of $1 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $871.4 billion. Total external debt was $1.9 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were l933.3 million and expenditures were l1,009.8 million. The value of revenues was us$435 million and expenditures us$471 million, based on an exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = l2.1457 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 34.1%; defense, 6.0%; public order and safety, 10.7%; economic affairs, 8.8%; housing and community amenities, 0.6%; health, 1.0%; recreation, culture, and religion, 2.5%; education, 4.1%; and social protection, 32.4%.


As of 2004, Georgia has a standard corporate profits tax of 20%. Capital gains are considered part of taxable profits and are taxed at the corporate rate. Taxes on dividends, interest, and management fees are withheld at the source at a rate of 10%. Foreign entities not permanently established pay a withholding tax of 10% on dividends, interest, and royalty payments. There is also a withholding tax of 4% on insurance premiums and payments for international telecommunications and transportation services. A 1% tax on property of enterprises (TPE) is charged foreign companies that have permanent establishments in Georgia. There is also a personal

Revenue and Grants 933.3 100.0%
   Tax revenue 602.3 64.5%
   Social contributions 222.7 23.9%
   Grants 48.4 5.2%
   Other revenue 59.9 6.4%
Expenditures 1,009.8 100.0%
   General public services 344.1 34.1%
   Defense 60.4 6.0%
   Public order and safety 107.6 10.7%
   Economic affairs 88.5 8.8%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 5.6 0.6%
   Health 10.3 1.0%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 25 2.5%
   Education 41 4.1%
   Social protection 327.3 32.4%
() data not available or not significant.

income tax, paid by resident and nonresident individuals, which has four brackets, the first one being a negative income tax of 12% up to an income of l200 (about $93). For l201350 (about $165), the tax is l24 ($11) plus 15%. For l351600 ($286), the tax is l46.5 ($22) plus 17%. Above l600, the tax is l98 ($42) plus 20%. Social charges are deducted from employees' salaries: 15% for the health protection fund and 1% for the social security fund. Employers' contributions are 3% for the health protection fund, 27% for social security, and 1% for unemployment. There is also a value-added tax (VAT) of 20% (reduced from 28%), in addition to various excise taxes, ranging from 1090%

Georgia has one of the worst rates of tax compliance in the world. Chronic shortfalls in revenue collection means that the state must turn to external financing and loans from the National Bank of Georgia to make up for budget deficits. External borrowing to cover budget shortfalls have been the primary reason Georgia has had to turn to the IMF and the Paris Club for stand-by credit agreements and rescheduling of sovereign debt. The high rate of tax evasion puts legitimate business at a competitive disadvantage with a large "shadow economy," estimated officially to constitute 4060% of the economy, but generally believed, according to the US State Department, to be much higher. Estimates of underpaying of taxes by enterprises have been close to 80%.


Georgia has an open trade regime, with most commodities carrying tariffs of either 5% or 12%, although automobiles have considerably higher rates. Some goods, such as grains, humanitarian goods, and aviation fuel, are exempt from carrying customs tariffs. Imported goods are also subject to a value-added tax (VAT) of 20% and an excise tax of 5100% is levied on luxury goods.


Georgia was one of the first former Soviet republics to adopt market reforms on foreign investment. However, political instability has hampered efforts to attract capital from abroad. Oil and gas pipeline projects and expanded privatization sales promised to reverse this trend. By the mid1990s both GDP and total foreign investment began to grow steadily. In September 1998 the decision was made to make all future economic regulations in full conformity with the norms of the European Community. Legislation in 2000 extended the scope of the privatization program, created a capital market, and provided for the registration of enterprise and agricultural land, all conducive to improving Georgia's investment climate. Also in 2000, the currency appeared to have stabilized. The main hindrances to foreign investment flows are not the legal framework but pervasive corruption and arbitrary and biased administration.

Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow swelled to $242 million in 1997 and $265.3 million in 1998 mainly due to work on the Baku-Supsa pipeline and on the Supsa terminal. FDI flows fell to an annual average of $124.3 million 1999 to 2001. Total FDI stock from 1990 to 2000 was an estimated $672 million. The United States has been the leading source of foreign investment, accounting for about 22%.

Investment levels have, as expected, soared in recent years. Mainly due to work on the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the Shah Deniz gas pipeline, FDI levels have grown from $163 million in 2002, to $336 million in 2003, and $490 million in 2004. Preliminary data for 2005 shows that inflows of capital have reached $284 million in the first half of the year. An encouraging fact is the winding down of the effects of the pipeline projects, and the increase in foreign investments as a result of privatizations done by the government.


In late 1992, the government inaugurated its Medium-Term Program of Macroeconomic Stabilization and Systemic Change focusing on price and trade liberalization, budget constraints for public enterprises, and privatization. As part of a small enterprise privatization program, the first auction of small-scale assets was held in T'bilisi in March 1993. Practically all housing has been privatized, as well as a high percentage of agricultural land. Privatization was progressing as of 2003, and the government was developing the legal framework necessary for a good climate of investment. Nevertheless, due to a lack of enough foreign direct investment in 2003, the transportation and communication infrastructure remains in poor condition.

In spite of these reforms, political instability continues to hamper Georgian economic development. Although the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline brings much needed foreign investment, most observers feel that the fate of the Georgian economy hinges on the ultimate fate of the Caucasus.

Corruption hampers economic development, and has undermined the credibility of the government's economic reforms. The size of the shadow economy is also a concern. The Paris Club rescheduled Georgian debt in 2001. That year, Georgia negotiated a three-year $144 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the IMF, which was due to expire in 2004. The IMF encouraged the country to implement tax reform, to improve revenue collection, strengthen the banking system, and to combat corruption and smuggling.

The construction of the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipe lines and the Baku-T'bilisi-Erzerum gas pipe lines have been extremely beneficial for the economy of Georgia. The economy has registered impressive growth rates (11.1% in 2003, and 8% in 2005), unemployment has been alleviated, and the privatization of several national enterprises has been made easier as a result. A strong industrial sector, together with higher productivity rates in the agricultural sectors, will ensure that the impressive economic expansion will continue at similar rates for at least another couple of years. The government needs to speed up reforms however, and ensure a proper economic restructuring by developing and diversifying its manufacturing and export bases.


All employees are eligible for old age benefits, which are funded primarily by employers, who contribute 31% of payroll. Disability and death are not covered. A special social pension exists for the aged and disabled who do not qualify for the employee pension system as determined by need. Paid maternity leave is provided for up to eight weeks, although it is reported that employers frequently withhold benefits. Temporary disability is only payable if the employer is responsible for the injury, although unemployment and permanent disability benefits are provided. Medical services are provided to needy residents by government health officials. Family allowances, initiated in 2002, provide for all needy residents, and is funded by the government.

Women remain predominantly in low-skilled, low-paying jobs, regardless of qualifications. Female participation in politics has been discouraged, and women rarely fill leadership positions in the private sector. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace are common. Violence against women is a serious problem and there are virtually no mechanisms to assist victims. Societal bias discourages the reporting of domestic abuse or sexual violence. In 2004, kidnapping of women for marriage still occurred.

Human rights abuses by the police and security forces continue, often to obtain confessions or extract money. Prison conditions are inhumane and life threatening, and corruption is endemic in the judicial and law enforcement systems. There is some discrimination against ethnic minorities.


Since 1995 there have been wide-ranging reforms to the centralized system of health care inherited from the former Soviet Union. Staffed by a disproportionate number of specialists, and supporting a relatively high number of hospital beds, the system proved too costly and inefficient to maintain. In the period immediately following independence, financial shortages led to delayed payment, or even nonpayment, of medical staff salaries; a virtual halt to investment in new medical equipment and buildings; and the emergence of a black market in pharmaceuticals. Changes in health care policy since 1995 include introduction of a health insurance system and an end to free health care outside a basic package of health benefits, as well as new systems of provider payment. The network of rural and urban primary care centers is still largely a holdover from the Soviet era, but the payment structure for services has changed. Health care expenditure was estimated at 2.8% of GDP.

In 2004, there were an estimated 391 physicians, 372 nurses, 29 midwives, and 30 dentists per 100,000 people. Immunization rates for the country in 1997 were as follows: children up to one year old were vaccinated against tuberculosis, 76%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 92%; polio, 98%; and measles, 95%.

Life expectancy in 2005 was an average of 75.88 years and the infant mortality rate was 18.59 per 1,000 live births. The total fertility rate has decreased from 2.9 children per woman of child-bearing years in 1960 to 1.1 in 2000. The under-five mortality rate was 59 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate was much lower than the average in Eastern Europe. In 1995 there were 22 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The estimated overall mortality rate as of 2002 was 14.6 per 1,000 people. There were approximately 2,000 civil war-related deaths in 1992. A diphtheria epidemic has spread through the former Soviet Union. In most affected countries, the incidence rate of reported diphtheria has increased two- to tenfold every year.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 3,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 200 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Before independence, most urban housing was regulated by the government while most rural housing was privately owned. Beginning in the mid 1990s, legislation towards privatization led to the legalization of an open real estate market. Unfortunately, the need for adequate housing is far greater than current supplies. In 1989, there were 152,033 people registered and waiting for adequate housing. Overcrowding became a problem as extended families stayed together in one household simply because of the lack of alternative housing. Natural disasters have caused trouble for an already problematic housing situation. Mudslides are common in some areas. In 1987, a mudslide destroyed 210 homes and seriously damaged 850 more. In 1991, an earthquake destroyed 46,000 homes. Civil unrest has caused a great deal of homelessness as well. As of 2001, there were about 300,000 displaced persons throughout the country.

During 1995 a total of 55,423 sq m of dwelling was built in the republic, but this represented only a 4.4% increase in new dwelling area since 1987. Building costs are high, with the price of one square meter often between $500 and $1,000. At the 2002 census, there were 1,243,158 private households, with the average size of household at 3.5 persons.

In western Georgia, a typical older home is wooden, raised off the ground slightly in areas where flooding or very damp ground is problematic. In the drier climate of eastern Georgia, stone (later brick) houses with flat roofs were constructed along roads. In urban regions, two-story brick or cement block homes are not uncommon.


Georgia's educational system was based on the Soviet model until the late 1980s, when there was a de-emphasis of Soviet educational themes in favor of Georgian history and language. Georgian students are taught in a number of languages, including Georgian, Russian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Abkhazian, and Ossetian. Education is compulsory for nine years, beginning at age seven. Elementary school covers six years of study. This is followed by either seven years of general secondary school or six years of technical school. The academic year runs from September to June.

In 2001, about 41% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 89% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 78% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 82% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 16:1 in 2000; the ratio for secondary school was about 8:1.

There are 24 state institutions of higher learning in the country and 73 private accredited institutions. These include the Iran Dzhavakhiladze University of T'bilisi, Georgian Technical University, Abkhazian State University, and State University of Batumi. In 2003, about 38% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate has been estimated at about 99%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.2% of GDP, or 11.8% of total government expenditures.


The National Library in T'bilisi holds over six million volumes, while the Georgian State Public Library has eight million. The largest library in the country, however, is the Scientific and Technological Library of Georgia, which contains 10.1 million volumes. There are dozens of private libraries held by various scientific, cultural, and religious organizations and extensive university library holdings. Chief among the latter are T'bilisi State University (three million volumes), the Polytechnic University in T'bilisi (1.14 million volumes), and the Pedagogical Institute in T'bilisi (336,000 volumes).

Most of the country's cultural institutions are in T'bilisi, including the State Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the State Museum of Georgia, the T'bilisi Museum of History and Ethnography, and the Georgian State Museum of Oriental Art. There are local or specialty museums in Gori, Suchumi, and Kútáisi.


Georgia has international telecommunications links via landline to other former Soviet republics and Turkey. There is also a low capacity satellite earth station and connections via Moscow. In 2003, there were an estimated 133 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 138,800 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 107 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

In 2004, there were 54 independent television stations in the country, but only three provided national service. Though independently operated, most stations rely on some amount of support from the national or regional governments. There are at least 10 radio stations in operation, most of which are privately owned. Primary news agencies include the state operated Sakinform, and the privately held Prime-News, Iprinda, and Kavkasia-Press. In 2003, there were an estimated 568 radios and 357 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 12.4 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 31.6 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 31 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 11 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

In 2001, there were about 200 independent newspapers throughout the country. The most widely read was Sakartvelos Respublika, with a 1995 circulation of 40,000. In T'bilisi, the major daily is Vestnik Gruzzi (Georgian Herald ). There are also several general and special interest periodicals available.

The constitution and a 1991 press law provide for a free press, but in practice the government is said to restrict some press rights. Libel laws, as well as pressure from business and society leaders and government authorities, inhibit hard core investigative reporting.


Georgia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry promotes trade and commerce with its fellow members of the CIS. The country belongs to the International Chamber of Commerce as well. Union organizations in Georgia include the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, an umbrella organization. Important political organizations include the all-Georgian Mecrab Kostava Society and the Paramilitary group Mkhredrioni.

The Georgian Academy of Sciences, promoting research and education in all branches of science, was established in 1941. The Georgian Medical Association serves as a physician networking organization while also promoting research and education on health issues and working to establish common policies and standards in healthcare There are also associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions, such as Georgian Association of Cardiology.

Youth organizations include the National Youth Council of Georgia (through the Department of Youth and Sport), the United Nations of Youth: Georgia, YMCA/YWCA, and scouting programs. There are also several sports associations promoting amateur competition in such pastimes as baseball, track and field, badminton, and figure skating.

Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs and Kiwanis International, are also present. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society and Caritas.


Bounded by the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia has been known for its lucrative tourist industry, but tourism declined after independence due to political and economic turmoil. Mtskheta, the ancient capital, is home to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, an 11th-century edifice that is the spiritual center of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and a major tourist attraction. The present-day capital, T'bilisi, is over 1,000 years old and offers historic citadels, cathedrals, and castles, as well as warm springs and dramatic mountain views. In 2002, approximately 298,469 tourists visited Georgia. There were 3,712 hotel rooms with 8,250 beds and an occupancy rate of 71%.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the average daily expenses for T'bilisi at $245. Other areas ranged from $96 to $128 per day.


Eduard A. Shevardnadze (b.1928), a key figure in the Soviet government, was president of Georgia from 1992 until 2003, when he resigned in the midst of mounting criticism following disputed elections, known as the "Rose Revolution." Mikhail Saakashvili (b.1967) was elected president in January 2004. Joseph Stalin (18791953), a key figure in the Soviet period, was born in Gori, Georgia. The medieval poet Shota Rustaveli, who was from Georgia, wrote the masterpiece Knight in the Tiger's Skin. Nineteenth-century poets include Ilia Chavchavadze (18371907), Akaki Tsereteli (18401915), and Vazha Pshwda. Writers of that century include Titsian Tabidze (18951937), Giorgi Leonidze, and Irakli Abashidze. Painters include Niko Pirosmanashvili (18621918), and Irikli Toidze. Composers include Zakhari Paliashvili (18711933) and Meliton Balanchivadze (18621937).


Georgia has no territories or colonies.


Giannakos, S.A. (ed.). Ethnic Conflict: Religion, Identity, and Politics. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002.

Nationalism and History: The Politics of Nation Building in Post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Centre for Russian and East European Studies, 1994.

Streissguth, Thomas. The Transcaucasus. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books, 2001.

Transcaucasia, Nationalism and Social Change: Essays in the History of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

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Republic of Georgia

Major City:

Other Cities:
Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Sukhumi


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 1999 for Georgia. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Georgia is an ancient land, rich in history. It is the site of Colchis where, legend has it, Jason found the Golden Fleece. A Christian country since the fourth century, Georgia has been a crossroads and, at times, a battlefield for Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Persians, Turks, Russians, and others.

A new Georgia has emerged from the collapsed Soviet Empire. In today's Georgia, Western engineers are building oil pipelines where the Silk Road once ran. Fully occupied with nation building, Georgians are anxious to draw on the American experience to build a viable democracy and free market economy.

Tbilisi lies along the Kura River across a series of steep hills; its winding, tree shaded streets are at the heart of a charm that made Tbilisi one of the most livable cities in the former Soviet Union. Although it is just the size of West Virginia, Georgia enjoys some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the world. Mountain, desert, vineyards, sub-tropical groves and the fabled Black Sea Coast are within a few hours of each other. A visit to Georgia is a ticket into the very eye of history.



In 458 AD, the capital of Georgia was moved from the small, nearby town of Mtskheta to its present location, Tbilisi. The founder of Tbilisi, King Vakhtang Gorgasali, named the city Tbilisi (from the Georgian word "tbili," meaning warm) after discovering hot sulfur springs. Many hot sulfur baths are still in use today.

Tbilisi has a population of approximately 1,400,000 and is spread out over 135 square miles. Adding to Tbilisi's natural beauty is the Mtkvari River (also called the Kura in Russian) which flows through the city center. Tbilisi is neither European nor Asian but an exotic mixture of both, as illustrated by the architecture, houses of worship, open-air markets, sulfur baths, and different nationalities living together in common courtyards.


The electrical current in Tbilisi is 220 volt/50 Hz.

Personal computer users should bring a high quality surge suppressor and an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).


While many fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, and spices are seasonally available, supply, selection, and quality also vary seasonally. Generally, pork, beef, veal, lamb, imported whole chicken and leg quarters, and fish (freshness is not guaranteed) are available in the local open markets. The art of carving is not practiced by local meat vendors: meat is cut off the carcass and not trimmed to Western standards. Cutting utensils, storage bags, and a meat grinder are essential in preparing meat for cooking or freezing. Likewise, those interested in freezing or canning fruits or vegetables should bring all supplies required.

Yogurt, sour cream, eggs (bring egg cartons), butter, and local cheeses are available but textures and tastes vary. The joint venture stores have imported dairy products but the supply is unreliable.

A variety of fresh and dried spices is available year-round. Raisins, apricots, figs, and dried beans are also available but must be cleaned well before use.


At present only a few small private shops offer a limited supply of Western-style clothing. It is advisable to bring all clothing and shoes to post as well as a supply of mail order catalogs. The climate in Tbilisi is similar to that in Boston or Washington; thus, clothing for a full range of seasons is needed.

Washable, lightweight cotton fabrics are appropriate for the late spring and summer months. Winter clothing is required for the cold months of November through March.

Locally available shoes are mostly imported from Turkey and Italy. Many Western-style shoes can be found but at unusually high prices. Sizes are generally erratic. To have clothing made locally, personnel should bring all fabric and sewing notions.

Supplies and Services

Although Tbilisi has several new supermarkets, items can be quite expensive and inventory is erratic. Bring a good supply of toiletries, cosmetics, hair care products, sanitary supplies, tobacco, home medicines, common household needs, household repair items, candles, cleaning equipment and products, laundry detergents, napkins, and postage stamps. In addition to all clothing and baby supplies, bring children's art supplies, books, and toys. A durable stroller is a must because the roads and sidewalks are extremely bumpy. Disposable diapers, available only in small sizes, are obtainable but at somewhat higher prices than in the U.S. Other items to consider are clothes hangers, European plug converters, photographic supplies, flashlights (large and pocket-sized), batteries, computer supplies, battery operated lights, stationery supplies, pet supplies, and hobby supplies.

Tailoring, dress making, shoe repair, dry cleaning, beauty shops, and barber shops are available locally. It is advisable to take all beauty supplies to the barber or hairdresser because most of the shops do not exercise Western hygiene standards. The joint venture dry-cleaners do a fine job and shoe repair service is good. Tailoring and dress making are also done with care, and prices are reasonable.

Domestic Help

Reasonably priced domestic help, English-speaking nannies, and drivers are available. Few Georgians have had any exposure to Western cleaning techniques and products and thus require training.

Religious Activities

Places of worship for various faiths conduct services in Hebrew, Russian, Georgian, and Armenian. Additionally, the Salvation Army offers English-language Protestant worship services for the international community. Also, some Americans have opened their homes to sponsor church services, Sunday school, and Bible study.


Quality Schools International (QSI), a non-profit institution which opened in September of 1995. QSI offers high quality education in English for elementary students from ages four through thirteen. Several Embassy families currently have children attending this school. The school's curriculum includes English (reading, grammar, composition, keyboarding, and spelling), mathematics, cultural studies (history, geography, economics, etc.), science, computer literacy, art, music, physical education, and Russian or Georgian language. In the 1997-98 school year, the school had an enrollment of approximately thirty-one students. QSI also offers extension courses for older children through the University of Nebraska.

School-age children and adults may take private or group lessons in tennis, art, dance, music, horseback riding, gymnastics, and ice skating. One should, however, have some background in Russian or Georgian or make arrangements for an English-speaking instructor.


Small groups do get together with the international and local community to play softball, volleyball, or tennis, to run or hike, to practice aerobics or gymnastics, and to ice skate or fish at Tbilisi Sea, Bazaleti, or Jinvali Lakes. Staff interested in any of these activities should bring proper equipment and attire. For spectators, the most commonly held international competitions in Georgia are wrestling, chess, and soccer.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The city of Tbilisi possesses many interesting historic sites. The Old City has preserved its intricate maze of its narrow meandering streets and lanes. Steep cobblestone streets often end in stairs leading up the mountain; courtyards are encircled by wooden balconies; domes of ancient churches and bath-houses catch the eye. Nearby is the 13th century Metekhi Church and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the founder of Tbilisi. Dominating Old Tbilisi are the ruins of the Narikala Fortress and the gleaming statue of Mother Georgia.

One of the greatest benefits of living in Tbilisi is the proximity to the Caucasus Mountains. Opportunities to ski in winter and hike in summer are found only two hours away by car in Gudauri, which offers a four-star hotel. The seaside of Batumi on the Black Sea is a drive of 6-7 hours.

Hotel accommodations are generally still of the Soviet style. Camping is possible throughout the country, even near the capital city.


Excellent operas, ballets, recitals, concerts, dramatic plays, pantomime, and marionette
theater are popular forms of entertainment during various seasons. Tickets are generally inexpensive. Quality movie theaters do not exist, but the Embassy shows movies on select Friday nights. Restaurants now in operation offer Italian, German, Chinese, Mexican and Georgian food. The Western standard, five-star Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel offers a cafe, restaurant, piano bar, and discotheque. Nightclub entertainment is limited but small, informal, gatherings at home with friends from the active international and local communities occur often.

The International Women's Association offers numerous activities and opportunities for women from many nations to get acquainted. The Club meets once a month at the Sakartvelo Restaurant and offers many social and volunteer activities


The city of BATUMI is in the extreme southwestern corner of Georgia. Batumi's location on the Black Sea coast has led to its development as a major Georgian seaport and shipyard. The city is home to a major oil refinery, which receives oil via a pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan. Several industries are located in Batumi. These industries produce furniture, machinery, and zinc-plating. Batumi is situated in a rich agricultural region where citrus fruits and tea are grown. Many popular resorts are located on the outskirts of the city. Batumi's major tourist attraction is the Batumi Botanical Gardens, which feature a wide array of flora and fauna. Batumi has an estimated population of 137,000.

KUTAISI is situated on the Rioni River in western Georgia. It is one of Georgia's largest industrial cities. Industries in Kutaisi manufacture furniture, textiles, clothing, processed foods, mining machinery, trucks, and consumer goods. Notable tourist attractions near Kutaisi include the remains of a first-century A.D. Bagrat church and fortress and the Sataplia Nature Reserve, which offers informative displays of dinosaur fossils and tours of several limestone caverns. With an estimated population of 240,000 in 1997, it is Georgia's second largest city.

The city of RUSTAVI is situated on the Kura River approximately 16 miles (26 km) southeast of Tbilisi. Rustavi is primarily an industrial center and is the home of large steel and iron works. Synthetic fibers and fertilizers are produced by a major chemical factory in the city. In 1995, Rustavi had an estimated population of 160,000.

SUKHUMI is a major resort city. Tourists from Georgia and other former Soviet republics flock to Sukhumi for its warm weather and sandy beaches. Several small industries are located in the city. These industries are involved in wine-making and canning the fruit grown near Sukhumi. The city has a population of approximately 122,000.


Geography and Climate

The Republic of Georgia is situated on the eastern bank of the Black Sea and bordered by the Caucasus Mountains to the north. Its neighbor to the east is Azerbaijan, and to the south are Turkey and Armenia. Georgia is at a crossroads of European and Asian commerce, culture, and religion.

Georgia is 69,900 sq. km., slightly larger than West Virginia. Starting in the east, Georgia's landscape is largely semi-desert. In the western portion lie the permanently snow-covered peaks and glaciers of the Caucasian Mountains, with summits as high as 5,000 meters. The subtropical climate near the Black Sea coast nourishes citrus fruits. Numerous rivers, including the Kura and the Rioni, wind through Georgia's mountains and valleys. Many of these rivers are used for hydroelectric power generation.

Protected by the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains, Georgia's climate is relatively mild. Seasonal temperatures range from winter daytime highs of 32°F-35°F to summer daytime highs of 86°F-93°F Summers have relatively low humidity. Spring daytime highs average in the high 60°F to the mid 70°F.


Georgia's population, according to the 1989 Soviet census, is 5.5 million, of which some two-thirds are ethnic Georgians. Over 80 other nationalities reside in Georgia, including Armenians, Russians, Azerbaijanis, Ossetians, Greeks, Abkhazians, Ukrainians, Jews and Kurds.

Within Georgia are two autonomous republics, Abkhazia and Adjara. During the Soviet period, the region settled by Ossetians was also granted autonomous status.

Georgian is a proto-Caucasian language of the Iberian-Caucasian family and is spoken throughout the country. Most urban Georgians speak Russian; it is somewhat less common in the country-side.

Christianity was spread throughout Georgia in the 4th century. Today, the majority of Georgians identify themselves as Georgian Orthodox, an autocephalous church (i.e. one with its own patriarch) similar to Greek and Russian orthodox churches. The unusual Georgian Orthodox cross, with its downward-bowed crosspiece, is ascribed to Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who introduced Christianity to Georgia. According to legend, upon entering Georgia she took two vine branches and, with strands of her own hair, bound them together in the form of a cross.

Islam is practiced among sectors of the population of Tbilisi, in villages near the Azeri and north Caucasus borders, and in the autonomous republic of Adjara in the southwest. The Jewish population in Georgia dates back twenty-five centuries. Roman Catholicism is practiced by some Georgians, mostly in the west. Reflecting Georgia's religious diversity, one small area in Old Town Tbilisi has five different places of worship: a Georgian Orthodox Church, a Roman Catholic Church, a mosque, a synagogue, and an Armenian Orthodox Church. Hospitality is one of the most notable characteristics of the Georgian people. Georgians receive guests as a "gift from God." The hospitality is particularly well represented by the "Georgian Table." The table is stacked with many traditional dishes, such as Georgian flat bread; "khachapuri" (a cheese pie); lamb, pork or beef shishkebab; roast pig; chicken or turkey in a walnut sauce; and accompanying "tkemali," a spicy plum sauce. The traditional drink of Georgia is wine; grapes are grown throughout the country, especially in the region of Kakheti. "Churchkhela" is a special dessert made with walnuts or hazelnuts dipped into a paste made from boiled grape skins. A unique feature of the Georgian table is the "tamada," or toastmaster. Chosen by the male members of the table, the tamada offers a series of traditional toasts for the guests during the meal.

The family unit is important for Georgians. Many nuclear families live together with parents or grandchildren, often because of the housing shortage. Tradition has passed down a strong sense of obligation for family members to look after one another.

Public Institutions

Georgia became one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union in 1921. The Communist Party dominated the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic for over seventy years.

As the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, Georgia became one of the first republics to declare its independence. The first post-Soviet government, headed by Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was strongly nationalistic. Although democratically elected, Gamsakhurdia did not observe democratic norms. Following a coup, the Gamsakhurdia government was replaced in March 1992 by a State Council headed by former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. After an initial period of political turmoil, Georgia held elections for Parliament in October 1992. Mr. Shevardnadze was elected Head of Parliament and Head of State.

Georgia adopted a new constitution in August 1995. The constitution provides for three branches of government: the Executive (President), Legislative (Parliament), and Judicial (Supreme Court). In November of that year, Presidential and parliamentary elections were held. International monitors described them as "generally free and fair." Eduard Shevardnadze was elected to a 5 year term. The unicameral Parliament has four political parties: the Citizens' Union of Georgia which holds 110 seats and is the governing party; the Adjara-based Revival Union Party; the National Democratic Party; and the People's National Democratic Party.

Arts, Science, and Education

Georgians are proud of their centuries-long cultural and academic traditions, many of which continue to the present day. Georgians are particularly talented musicians. The Georgian folk song continues an age-old polyphonic style, and even singers who have never met each other can create complex harmonies. A traditional dinner always includes Georgian folk songs.

In three handsome state theaters in Tbilisi, one can see opera, symphony concerts, ballet, and drama. Tbilisi's most famous theater company, the Rustaveli Theater, has performed throughout Europe and took its performance of King Lear to the 1996 Edinburgh Festival. There are also several other theaters, including a marionette and children's theater, where all performances are in Georgian.

Tbilisi is home to several of Georgia's finest history museums and art galleries.

The Fine Arts Museum contains remarkable examples of ancient textiles and jewelry, and the Ethno-graphic Museum is an unusual open air exhibit depicting life at various times in all the regions of Georgia. In Tbilisi and throughout the country, travelers encounter marvelous examples of Georgian ecclesiastical and secular architecture.

Georgia's educational system is currently faced with both pressures to reform to meet contemporary needs and with extremely difficult financial problems. Georgian students attend school from age six and continue through graduation from high school. Georgians are highly educated and place great value on education. Literacy rates approach 100%, with almost all Georgians bilingual in Georgian and Russian and many speaking a third and fourth language. English is increasingly widely spoken in Tbilisi, and Georgians are usually eager to practice English with Americans.

Commerce and Industry

The Georgian economy is primarily agricultural. Immediately after independence in 1991, the Georgian economy contracted dramatically, due in large part to the sudden requirement to obtain energy supplies at world prices. By 1994, economic output stood at about one-third of its level in 1990 and hyper-inflation raged. In late 1994, with the assistance of the IMF, the Government of Georgia introduced an economic reform program aimed at curtailing inflation and creating conditions for economic growth. This economic recovery continued in 1996. However, much of the country's Soviet-era industry is either closed or operating below capacity. The country needs substantial productive investment to modernize its industry and infrastructure.

Successful economic reform relies heavily on technical assistance and funding provided by the international community, including the United States. The character of assistance programs to Georgia has shifted from humanitarian food and medicines to longer-term support for economic restructuring, especially in the critical energy sector.

Georgia's international trade is increasing, albeit from a very low base. The current account deficit is financed by significant lending. Georgia is preparing its application to join the World Trade Organization and has chosen a relatively open trading regime. The government also welcomes foreign investment. A variety of mid-size joint ventures have sprung up that include U.S. and German partners, and Tbilisi receives frequent visits from investors interested in Georgia's business potential. Georgia's principal trading partners are Turkey, Russia, and Western Europe.

Small enterprises have now been almost completely privatized, as has housing. Georgia is engaging in the difficult task of privatizing large, residual state holdings and hopes to find foreign investors interested in some of these enterprises. Considering the distance the economy has come since introducing economic reforms in 1994, Georgia's economic



Travelers should consider the following factors when selecting a vehicle for local use: the fuel quality is inconsistent, parts for non-Russian vehicles are largely unavailable, and vehicle servicing is well below Western standards. A few dealerships, such as Mitsubishi, operate in Tbilisi but do not stock spare or replacement parts. Roads inside and outside the capital are not well maintained. Some staff prefer four-wheel drive vehicles that allow more ground clearance. Russian-made and used German vehicles are available locally. Prices are competitive but quality is inconsistent. Cars and drivers can be privately rented for outings. Some long term visitors hire a personal car and driver at rates significantly lower than the cost of owning and operating a personal vehicle.


In Tbilisi, an inexpensive underground metro system connects outlying districts to the city. However, power outages can strand metro riders between stops, hundreds of feet underground. Overcrowded buses and trolley buses serve the inner city, and taxis can be hailed throughout the city. The best mode of transportation is often by foot because Tbilisi is relatively small.


Two train stations provide service to other regions of the country and to the countries of the former Soviet Union. The trains do not meet Western standards, and schedules are not dependable.

Tbilisi opened a new airport in 1996. Commuter airplanes fly on an unpredictable schedule between Tbilisi and four of Georgia's main cities. International flights ferry passengers to cities outside of Georgia. The airlines serving Georgia which reflect Western standards are Turkish Air, British Airways, Austrian Air and Swissair. Aeroflot provides regular flights between Tbilisi and other cities within the former Soviet Union.



Most people in the city have private telephones. Service sometimes is problematic but costs are reasonable. Domestic telegraph, fax, and wireless services are available with reasonable prices. Cellular telephone service is also available in Tbilisi. Most public telephones in the city are not in working order.


Georgian international mail service is very slow. Federal Express and DHL are available in Tbilisi but can be very expensive.

Radio & TV

Cable television is available in Tbilisi for a reasonable monthly fee. English-speaking programming includes CNN, Cartoon Network, TNT, ESPN, SKYNEWS, and NBC SUPER CHANNEL. Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Russian programs are also available on cable. Georgia uses the PAL format for all television broadcasts.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Medical facilities in Tbilisi are government operated and include specialized hospitals, medical institutes, and outpatient polyclinics. One of the largest hospitals, Republican Hospital, serves not only Tbilisi but also outlying areas of the country. None of the facilities practices Western standards. There is a shortage of medicines, but the situation is improving slowly with supplies coming in from Turkey and Germany.

Under the Soviet system, everyone was immunized. At present, however, a shortage of vaccines has caused epidemics of diphtheria, measles and mumps. Also due to the lack of vaccines for animals, rabies has been on the increase. Last year there were over 25 human cases of rabies in Georgia.

Several private medical emergency/referral services are available which provide twenty-four hour ambulance service and direct referral to specialists.

In the past year, a private medical clinic, OMS, has opened. It is staffed by a western trained doctor and medic.

Community Health

The most common health problems encountered with Embassy personnel are the usual health problems found in the United States, mainly those causing upper respiratory distress. Those with allergies have increased problems during the spring when the trees are flowering.

The most common intestinal problems are giardia and food poisoning. Post provides water filters which attach to the water source in the kitchen and supply potable water. Many people also purchase Brita filters to filter out the large amount of sediment in the water. Care should be taken in eating raw fruits and vegetables. As in most overseas posts, it is recommended that fruits and vegetables not peeled or cooked be washed and then soaked in a chlorine solution. Purchasing meat and dairy products in the open market can be risky in the summer due to lack of refrigeration. Meat should always be well cooked.

Preventive Measures

Update immunizations before coming and bring at least a three to six month supply of prescription and frequently used over-the-counter drugs. Limited emergency dental care is available but it is very important to get a dental checkup and complete all dental work before leaving the U.S.

Prescription glasses are not available locally so it is helpful to bring an extra pair or make arrangements to have glasses sent if necessary. Bring a copy of your prescription with you.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 7 Christmas (Orthodox)

Jan. 19 Epiphany

Mar. 3 Mother's Day

Apr. 9 Memorial Day

Aprl. 16 Recollection of Deceased

May 26 Independence Day

Aug. 15 Mariamoba (Assumption)

Aug. 24 Constitution Day

Aug. 28 Day of the Virgin

Oct. 14 Svetitskhovloba

Nov. 23 St. George of Iberia Day



Passage, Customs & Duties

A passport and visa are required. U.S. citizens may receive a visa upon arrival at Tbilisi Airport, the Port of Poti, and the Red Bridge ("Tsiteli Khidi") crossing on Georgia's border with Azerbaijan. Americans intending to enter Georgia at other points-of-entry must obtain a visa beforehand at a Georgian embassy or consulate abroad. Armenian and Azerbaijani visas are no longer valid for transit through Georgia. Travelers to Georgia must fill out a customs declaration upon arrival that is to be presented to customs officials when departing the country. (Please see also the section on Georgian Customs regulations.) For further information, please contact the Embassy of Georgia at 1615 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20009, tel. (202) 387-2390, fax: (202) 393-4537; Internet:

Travelers to Georgia must fill out a customs declaration upon arrival that is to be presented to customs officials when departing the country. Travelers are advised to declare all items of value on the customs form. Failure to declare currency and items of value can result in fines or other penalties. If your customs form is lost or stolen, please report the loss to the police to obtain a certificate to show to customs officials when you depart the country.

Traveler's should be aware that Georgia's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary importation into or export from Georgia of items such as alcohol, tobacco, jewelry, religious materials, art or artifacts, antiquities, and business equipment. Only personal medicines with a doctor's statement can be imported without the permission of the Georgian Department of Healthcare.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Georgia are strongly encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, where they may obtain updated information on travel and security within Georgia. The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi is located at 25 Atoneli Street, tel. (995)(32)98-99-67 or (995)(32)98-99-68, fax: (995)(32)93-37-59. The Embassy web site address is located at:

Complex visa requirements in Russia make it more desirable to fly to Tbilisi from Western Europe, usually from London, Zurich, Frankfurt, Vienna, or Istanbul.

Air travel connections to Tbilisi are difficult to arrange outside of Georgia. A number of charter flights serve Tbilisi each week, but it is difficult to get information on these flights outside of Georgia.


In compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO), Georgian authorities require that pets entering or departing Georgia must have a health certificate stating the pet is in good health, is free from infectious disease, and has had a rabies inoculation not less than 10 days and not more than 30 days before departure. The certificate must be validated by the appropriate medical authority in the country where travel begins.

U.S. airlines require that animals must be in a kennel and transported in the reserved animal area in the hold. Note that the few veterinarians in Tbilisi have a shortage of supplies and vaccines. Boarding kennels are unavailable. All pet vaccinations should be up-to-date. Pet owners should bring all pet supplies that may be required.

Firearms & Ammunition

U.S. citizens may not import firearms into Georgia; however, hunting weapons may be brought into the country for a two-week period based on valid Georgian hunting licenses. Membership in the Georgian Society for Hunting is also required.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The Lari is Georgia's official currency. Only Lari-based transactions are legal. Georgia has several reliable banking facilities which can transfer currency into and out of Georgia.

The Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel is the only business venture that accepts travelers checks and major credit cards for dining and lodging. The Guest House "Betsy" also accepts credit cards.


These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on Georgia.

Allen, W.E.D. A History of the Georgian People. Barnes & Noble, 1971.

Burney, Charles, and David Marshall Lang. The Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus. Praeger, 1972.

Dumas, Alexandre. Adventures in Caucasia. Chilton Books, 1962.

Kazemzadeh, Firuz. The Struggle for Transcaucasia, 1917-1921. Philosophical Library, 1951.

Rosen, Roger. The Georgian Republic. Guidebook Co. Ltd., 1991.

Shevardnadze, Eduard. The Future Belongs to Freedom. The Free Press, 1991.

Ulam, Adam. Stalin: The Man and His Era. Viking Press, 1973.

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Official name : Georgia

Area: 69,700 square kilometers (26,807 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Shkhara (5,201 meters/17,064 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 3 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: Not available

Land boundaries: 1,461 kilometers (906 miles) total boundary length; Armenia 164 kilometers (102 miles); Azerbaijan 322 kilometers (200 miles); Russia 723 kilometers (448 miles); Turkey 252 kilometers (156 miles)

Coastline: 310 kilometers (192 miles)

Territorial sea limits: None


Georgia is located in southwestern Asia, east of the Black Sea. It borders Turkey and Armenia on the south, Azerbaijan on the southeast, and Russia on the north. With a total area of about 69,700 square kilometers (26,807 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina. Georgia is divided into fifty-three rayons, nine cities, and two autonomous republics.


Georgia has no outside territories or dependencies.


The Georgian climate is notably humid, warm, and pleasant on the Black Sea coast. The Greater Caucasus Mountains to the north protect this area from truly cold weather. Even in midwinter, the average temperature is 5°C (41°F). The average summer temperature along the coast is 22°C (72°F). The plains region to the east, blocked from the sea by the Suram Mountains, is more continental in climate with hot summers and cold winters. Summer temperatures there range from 20°C (68°F) to 24°C (75°F), while in winter they range from 2°C (36°F) to 4°C (39°F). The climate becomes cooler in the mountains, with alpine conditions starting at about 2,100 meters (6,800 feet). Above 3,600 meters (12,000 feet), the mountains are covered with snow and ice year-round.

The areas along the Black Sea coast and inland through the Kolkhida Lowlands experience high humidity and heavy precipitation of 100 to 200 centimeters (40 to 80 inches) per year. The Black Sea port of Batumi receives 254 centimeters (100 inches) of rain per year. At higher elevations, humidity is lower and rainfall averages 46 to 81 centimeters (18 to 32 inches) per year.


Although it is a small country, Georgia features extremely diverse terrain, with both high mountain ranges and fertile coastal lowlands. Most of the country is mountainous, with the Greater Caucasus Mountains in the north and the Lesser Caucasus in the south. In the mountains, earthquakes and landslides frequently destroy life and property. In the west, the Kolkhida Lowland borders the Black Sea, while the terrain in the east consists of the plains of the Kura River Basin. The country is situated in the isthmus between the Caspian and Black Seas.

Included within Georgia's boundaries are two autonomous republics: Ajaria in Georgia's southwestern corner, and Abkhazia in the northwest. Another autonomous region is South Ossetia, in the north-central part of Georgia. Separatists have sought to detach these areas from Georgia, especially in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Georgia's shoreline lies at the easternmost edge of the Black Sea. The Black Sea is a tideless, nearly landlocked body of water that lies between southeastern Europe and Asia Minor. It connects to the Sea of Marmara to the southwest through the Bosporus Strait. The principal Black Sea ports in Georgia are Pot'i and Batumi.


The largest lake in Georgia is Lake Paravani, which is located in the south-central area of the country and covers an area of about 37 square kilometers (14 square miles). Lake Ritsa, located in the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest corner of the country, is the nation's deepest lake, at 116 meters (382 feet). Other major lakes include Paliastomi, Kartsakhi, and Yabatskuri. There are also several small lakes found in the mountains.


The Kura (Mtkvari) River is the largest river in Georgia. It flows 1,514 kilometers (941 miles) from its source in Turkey across the plains of eastern Georgia, through the capital, Tbilisi, and on into Azerbaijan before entering the Caspian Sea. The largest river in western Georgia, the Rioni, flows from the Greater Caucasus into the Black Sea at the port of Pot'i. The country's other rivers include the Iori, Khrami, and Inguri.


There are no desert regions in Georgia.


With a mostly mountainous terrain, Georgia has no significantly large sections of flatland or prairie.


About 85 percent of the total land area of Georgia consists of rugged mountains. The Greater Caucasus Mountains, stretching across the northern border with Russia, is the tallest range in the country. Mount Shkhara (5,201 meters/17,064 feet), on the Georgian-Russian border, is the highest peak. Mount Kazbek (5,037 meters/16,526 feet), also in this chain, is the tallest mountain fully within Georgia's borders. In the south, the Lesser Caucasus peaks rarely exceed 3,000 meters (10,000 feet). The Suram Mountains follow a northeast-southwest path across the center of the country, connecting the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Ranges.


The cave towns of Georgia are considered to be among the most significant historical and cultural monuments of the nation. As the name suggests, these are ancient towns built entirely of caves that include both natural caves and those hand-carved into the mountains and hills. The mountain locations and underground structures served to protect the inhabitants from early invaders.

The ancient city of Uplistsikhe, dating from the sixth century b.c., was inhabited well into the ninth and tenth centuries. It is located near Gori and carved into a rocky plateau that forms a bank of the Kura River. Besides living quarters, the complex includes huge banquet halls, long corridor-shaped streets, chapels for pagan worship and the remains of Georgia's oldest theaterwith an auditorium, stage, and orchestra pit.

Vardzia is a cave monastery complex in southern Georgia, near the border with Armenia, that was built in the twelfth century by Queen Tamar, the daughter of King Giorgi III. The complex stretches for five hundred meters along the Kura River. It includes a large cathedral, as well as a number of smaller churches, wine cellars, feast halls, and hundreds of small cells, which served as living quarters for the monks.

The Gareji Complex is also a cave monastery system which was founded by the Syrian monk David Gareji, who lived in a natural cave that became the center of the complex. Located south of Tbilisi, it is built into a hill area near the separation of the Kura and Iori Rivers, and includes at least twelve individual cave dwellings. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the monks of the Gareji order became famous for their own school of fresco painting. A number of the walls of the cave structures are covered with such paintings.


A high plateau known as the Kartaliniya Plain follows the eastern side of the Suram Range, along the Kura River to the border with Azerbaijan. Further east, a semiarid region called the Iori Plateau borders the Iori River.


In Georgia's Soviet period (1921-1991), engineers turned the Rioni River lowlands into prime subtropical agricultural land by straightening and banking much of the river and building an extensive network of canals.

Numerous man-made reservoirs exist throughout the country to provide water for drinking and irrigation. They include the Khrami, Djandari, Shaori, Tbilisi, Sioni, and Zhinvali, among others.


The Caucasus Region is the land area between the Black and Caspian Seas, which includes southwest Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. This area forms part of the traditional natural boundary between Europe and Asia.



Georgia. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1993.

Spilling, Michael. Georgia. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1998.

Suny, Ronald G. The Making of the Georgian Nation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Web Sites

International Union: Georgia Travel Guide. (accessed May, 2003).

Parliament of Georgia: State of the Environment. (accessed May, 2003).

United Nations Environment Programme. (accessed May, 2003).

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The people of Georgia are called Georgians; about 70 percent of the population trace their ancestry to Georgia. Minorities include Armenians, 8 percent; Russians, 6 percent; Azerbaijanis, 6 percent; Ossetians, 3 percent; and Greeks, 2 percent. This chapter includes an overview article on the Georgians, and articles on two of Georgia's smaller ethnic groupsAbkhazians and Adjarians.

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Country statistics


69,700sq km (26,910sq mi) 5,402,800

capital (population):

Tbilisi (1,382,900)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Georgian 70%, Armenian 8%, Russian 6%, Azerbaijani 5%, Ossetian 3%, Greek 2%, Abkhazian 2%, others 3%


Georgian (official)


Georgian Orthodox 65%, Sunni Muslim 11%, Russian Orthodox 10%


Lari = 100 tetri

Republic in central Europe. The Transcaucasian republic of Georgia contains the two autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Ajaria, and the province of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia). It has four geographical areas: the Caucasus Mountains form its n border with Russia, and include its highest peak, Mount Kazbek, at 5042m (16,541ft); the fertile Black Sea coastal plain in the w; the e end of the Pontine Mountains form its s borders with Turkey and Armenia; and a low plateau to the e extends into Azerbaijan. Between the mountains lies the Kura valley and the capital Tbilisi.


The climate varies from subtropical in the Black Sea lowlands to the permanent snow-covered, alpine Caucasus. Tbilisi has moderate rainfall, hot summers and cold winters.


Forest and shrub cover c.50% of Georgia. Alpine meadows lie above the tree line. The coastal plain has apple orchards and orange groves.


The land of the legendary Golden Fleece, Georgia has a strong national culture and a long literary tradition based on their own language and alphabet. From the 6th century bc, the two Black sea kingdoms of Iberia and Colchis developed in eastern and western Georgia respectively. In 66 bc, the Roman Empire conquered both kingdoms. The Persian Sassanids ruled during the 3rd and 4th centuries ad. Christianity arrived in ad 330, and the established Church is independent Eastern Orthodox. In the 11th century, it acquired independence from the Turkish Seljuk Empire. The 12th century was Georgia's greatest period of cultural, economic, and military expansion. Thereafter it split, finding itself in the centre of a power struggle between the rival Persian and Turkish empires. In 1555, Georgia divided between Persia (w) and Turkey (e). In the early 19th century, the Russian Empire absorbed the whole of Georgia.

Despite a brief period of independence after the Russian Revolution (1917), in 1921 Georgia became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union. Russia combined Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan into a single republic of Transcaucasia. This federation dissolved in 1936, and Georgia became a separate Soviet republic.

After violent demonstrations in 1989, Georgia declared independence (May 1991). By the end of 1991, President Gamsakhurdia's authoritarian regime brought civil war to Tbilisi. In 1992, Gamsakhurdia was deposed and Eduard Shevardnadze emerged as the leading figure. Faced by conflict from Gamsakhurdia's supporters and secessionist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Shevardnadze called in Russian troops to defeat the rebellion.

In return for Russian support, Georgia joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1993. Shevardnadze was elected president in 1995, and re-elected in 2000. Minority demands for secession continued, and in 1995 South Ossetia was renamed Tskhinvali, and Abkhazia granted autonomous status. In 2001, Georgia and Abkhazia signed a peace accord and agreed to the safe return of refugees. CIS peace-keeping forces deployed in the region. In 2002, US military instructors arrived in Georgia to train special forces against Chechen and al-Qaeda fighters in the remote Pankisi Gorge region. In 2003, Shevardnadze was deposed in a peaceful revolution following accusations of vote-rigging. In 2004, Mikhail Saakashvili won presidential elections.


Georgia is a developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$4600), its economy devastated by civil war and the break-up of the Soviet Union. Agriculture engages 58% of the workforce, although the rugged terrain makes farming difficult. The e region is famous for its grapes, used to make wine. The coastal lowlands produce tea and tropical fruit, and are a tourist destination. Georgia is rich in minerals, such as barite, coal, and copper. These remain largely unexploited, although manganese mining is relatively extensively. Georgia has huge potential for generating hydroelectric power, but depends on Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Russia for oil.

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Country statistics


69,700sq km (26,910sq mi) 5,402,800

capital (population):

Tbilisi (1,382,900)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Georgian 70%, Armenian 8%, Russian 6%, Azerbaijani 5%, Ossetian 3%, Greek 2%, Abkhazian 2%, others 3%


Georgian (official)


Georgian Orthodox 65%, Sunni Muslim 11%, Russian Orthodox 10%


Lari = 100 tetri

Republic in central Europe. The Transcaucasian republic of Georgia contains the two autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Ajaria, and the province of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia). It has four geographical areas: the Caucasus Mountains form its n border with Russia, and include its highest peak, Mount Kazbek, at 5042m (16,541ft); the fertile Black Sea coastal plain in the w; the e end of the Pontine Mountains form its s borders with Turkey and Armenia; and a low plateau to the e extends into Azerbaijan. Between the mountains lies the Kura valley and the capital Tbilisi.


The climate varies from subtropical in the Black Sea lowlands to the permanent snow-covered, alpine Caucasus. Tbilisi has moderate rainfall, hot summers and cold winters.


Forest and shrub cover c.50% of Georgia. Alpine meadows lie above the tree line. The coastal plain has apple orchards and orange groves.


The land of the legendary Golden Fleece, Georgia has a strong national culture and a long literary tradition based on their own language and alphabet. From the 6th century bc, the two Black sea kingdoms of Iberia and Colchis developed in eastern and western Georgia respectively. In 66 bc, the Roman Empire conquered both kingdoms. The Persian Sassanids ruled during the 3rd and 4th centuries ad. Christianity arrived in ad 330, and the established Church is independent Eastern Orthodox. In the 11th century, it acquired independence from the Turkish Seljuk Empire. The 12th century was Georgia's greatest period of cultural, economic, and military expansion. Thereafter it split, finding itself in the centre of a power struggle between the rival Persian and Turkish empires. In 1555, Georgia divided between Persia (w) and Turkey (e). In the early 19th century, the Russian Empire absorbed the whole of Georgia.

Despite a brief period of independence after the Russian Revolution (1917), in 1921 Georgia became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union. Russia combined Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan into a single republic of Transcaucasia. This federation dissolved in 1936, and Georgia became a separate Soviet republic.

After violent demonstrations in 1989, Georgia declared independence (May 1991). By the end of 1991, President Gamsakhurdia's authoritarian regime brought civil war to Tbilisi. In 1992, Gamsakhurdia was deposed and Eduard Shevardnadze emerged as the leading figure. Faced by conflict from Gamsakhurdia's supporters and secessionist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Shevardnadze called in Russian troops to defeat the rebellion.

In return for Russian support, Georgia joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1993. Shevardnadze was elected president in 1995, and re-elected in 2000. Minority demands for secession continued, and in 1995 South Ossetia was renamed Tskhinvali, and Abkhazia granted autonomous status. In 2001, Georgia and Abkhazia signed a peace accord and agreed to the safe return of refugees. CIS peace-keeping forces deployed in the region. In 2002, US military instructors arrived in Georgia to train special forces against Chechen and al-Qaeda fighters in the remote Pankisi Gorge region. In 2003, Shevardnadze was deposed in a peaceful revolution following accusations of vote-rigging. In 2004, Mikhail Saakashvili won presidential elections.


Georgia is a developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$4600), its economy devastated by civil war and the break-up of the Soviet Union. Agriculture engages 58% of the workforce, although the rugged terrain makes farming difficult. The e region is famous for its grapes, used to make wine. The coastal lowlands produce tea and tropical fruit, and are a tourist destination. Georgia is rich in minerals, such as barite, coal, and copper. These remain largely unexploited, although manganese mining is relatively extensively. Georgia has huge potential for generating hydroelectric power, but depends on Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Russia for oil.

Political map

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Georgiabadger, cadger •Alger, neuralgia •ganja, grandeur, phalanger •charger, enlarger, maharaja, raja •slàinte • turbocharger •dredger, edger, hedger, ledger, pledger, St Leger •avenger, revenger •gauger, golden-ager, major, old-stager, pager, rampager, sergeant major, stager, wager •arranger, changer, danger, endanger, exchanger, Grainger, hydrangea, manger, ranger, stranger •moneychanger • teenager •bushranger •besieger, paraplegia, procedure •abridger •cringer, ginger, impinger, infringer, injure, ninja, whinger, winger •dowager • voyager • harbinger •bondager • wharfinger • packager •Scaliger •challenger, Salinger •pillager, villager •armiger • scrimmager •rummager, scrummager •manager • derringer • forager •porringer • encourager •Massinger, passenger •presager • messenger • Kissinger •integer, vintager •cottager • frontager • ravager •salvager • scavenger •Elijah, Niger, obliger •codger, dodger, lodger, roger, todger •forger, Georgia, gorger •gouger •lounger, scrounger •sunlounger • soldier •Abuja, puja

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GEORGIA , state in S.E. United States. The Jewish population of Georgia grew tremendously from the 1960s. In 1968, approximately 26,000 Jews resided in the state; by 2001 this figure had risen to 93,500 and showed no sign of abating. With about 92% of the state's Jews concentrated in the metropolitan Atlanta area, the tremendous growth in Georgia's Jewish population is almost solely due to the rise of Atlanta as a national Jewish center. Georgia was first settled at *Savannah by Gen. James Oglethorpe in February 1733. Two shiploads of Jews, about 90 persons, arrived during the same year and were permitted to stay owing to Oglethorpe's personal influence. They were of both Portuguese and German origin, poor and financed by the Jewish community of London. Notable among them were Benjamin Sheftall, Abraham de Lyon, Abraham Minis, and Dr. Nunez who, as the colony's only physician, made himself and his coreligionists more welcome by stemming an epidemic. This pioneer group brought a Torah with them and soon established the colony's first congregation, Mikveh Israel, in 1735. The first settlement failed. By 1741 all but three or four Jewish families had moved north. Most returned during the 1750s, prospered, and reestablished the congregation Mikveh Israel in 1786. Its first president was Philip

Minis. His father Abraham Minis probably was the first white male born in Georgia. A Masonic lodge and a welfare society founded by Oglethorpe during the 1750s listed Jews among the charter members.

There were 400 Jews in the state by 1829; a few families lived in Augusta and isolated areas, while the majority were in Savannah. More rapid growth began during the 1840s with increased immigration from Germany. Jews then settled throughout the state in almost every community, establishing congregations in Augusta in 1850; Columbus, 1854; and Macon, 1859. Although many moved north just before and during the Civil War, they returned in greatly increased numbers immediately after the war. By 1877 there were Jewish communities of 100 or more persons in seven cities, with congregations in *Atlanta; Rome, established in 1871; Athens, 1872; and Albany, 1876. Groups from Eastern Europe began to arrive in the 1880s, settling primarily in Atlanta, Savannah, and Brunswick, which had a congregation by 1885. In 1900 there were 6,400 Jews in Georgia.

Georgian Jews have always enjoyed full civil and religious freedom, including the holding of public office and service in the militia, although the requirement to take a Christian oath restricted them from elective office until 1789. They served as commissioned officers as well as enlisted men in every war, providing all-Jewish companies from Macon and West Point to defend Savannah in 1862. A county is named for David Emmanuel, president of the Georgia Senate in 1797 and governor in 1801, who is believed to have been the first Jewish governor of any U.S. state. Capt. Abraham Simons went to the State Legislature in 1804. Col. Raphael Moses, of Columbus, went to the legislature in 1868 and became chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 1877. The University of Georgia Law School Building is named for Harold Hirsch (1881–1939), who was a distinguished Atlanta attorney. Several communities have elected Jewish mayors and other city officials. A Jewish woman from Columbus was the first director of the Georgia Department of Public Welfare.

Although relatively free from antisemitism, Georgia Jews have suffered hostility on several occasions. During the Civil War they were temporarily banned from Thomasville, and Jewish-owned stores were broken into in Talbottom. A discriminatory newspaper and the Ku Klux Klan exercised widespread influence in the early 20th century, becoming exceptionally bitter during the Frank case (see Atlanta; Leo *Frank).

Organized Jewish communities exist in the early 21st century in 15 Georgia cities, the major ones in Atlanta, 85,900; Savannah, 3,000; Augusta, 1,300; Columbus, 750; Macon, 1,000; and Athens, 600. Since the 1960s, the state's Jewish community has undergone a significant demographic shift, as the Jewish population in small towns has declined. Small town Jewish merchants once prevalent throughout the state, have retired or sold out due to pressures from national retailing chains. The generations of Jewish merchants have been replaced by a new generation of Jewish professionals, best seen in the tremendous rise of Jewish Atlanta, which has seen the number of its congregations grow from five in 1968 to 38 in 2005. Jewish life is also growing in college towns like Athens, which elected a Jewish mayor, Heidi Davison, in 2002.

There is a home for the aged in Atlanta, serving the entire state, and Jewish community centers exist in Atlanta, Savannah, and Columbus. Two summer camps, one operated by the Southeastern Region of the Union for Reform Judaism and the other by the Atlanta Jewish Community Center, are located at Cleveland. The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum was opened in Atlanta in 1996 and preserves and displays the history of Jews in the state. There is a Hillel Foundation at Emory University in Atlanta and at the University of Georgia in Athens, and several Anglo-Jewish newspapers published in Atlanta. Jewish Studies programs are also found at the universities with Emory featuring such scholars as David Blumenthal and Deborah Lipstat.


W.G. Plaut, in: huca, 14 (1939), 575–82; M.H. Stern, in: ajhsp, 53 (1963/64), 169–99; L. Huehner, ibid., 10 (1902), 65–95; C.C. Jones, ibid., 1 (1893), 5–12; J.R. Marcus, Early American Jewry, 2 (1953), 277–373; J.O. Rothschild, As But a Day (1967); B.W. Korn, American Jewry and the Civil War (1951), passim.

[Stuart Rockoff (2nd ed.)]

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Culture Name



Identification. The term "Georgian" does not derive from Saint George but from the ancient Persian Gurg or Gorg, meaning wolf, "supposedly a totemic symbol, or from the Greek georgios ("farmer," "cultivator of land").

Self-identification is based mainly on linguistic tradition, and population groups that belong to different ethno-linguistic groups, such as Ossetians, Abkhazians, Armenians, Greeks, and Kurds, are not considered Georgian. There are some exceptions, such as Jews, who speak Georgian as a native language and have surnames with Georgian endings, but historically have had a distinct cultural identity. Georgians are subdivided into smaller regional ethno-cultural entities. All that have specific traditions and customs, folklore, cuisine, and dress and may speak a different language. Ajarans, unlike the Eastern Orthodox majority, are mostly Sunni Muslims. All these groups preserve and share a common identity, literary language, and basic system of values.

Location and Geography. Georgia is on the southern slopes of the Caucasus mountains, forming a natural border with the north Caucasian republics of the Russian Federation. The country, occupying approximately 27,000 square miles (69,900 square kilometers), stretches along the Greater Caucasus ridge, bordered by the Black Sea to the west, the Armenian and Turkish highlands to the South, and Azerbaijan to the east. The topography is varied. The northern region is characterized by high mountains, and the central and southern parts, while mountainous, are much lower and are covered with alpine fields and forests. In the east, the rivers all join the Mtkvari (Kura), forming the Caspian basin, while in the west, the rivers, of which the Rioni and Enguri are the largest, run into the Black Sea.

The climate is temperate and is more mild and humid along the western marine coast. Mountains create temperature zones that vary with elevation. The eastern plains and highlands, which are isolated from the sea, have a continental climate, while year-round snow and glaciers are found in the highest mountains. Climatic zones range from moderately humid Mediterranean, to dry-continental Arab-Caspian, and to cooler mountainous regions. Almost half the land is in agricultural use, with much of the remainder consisting of forests and high mountains. Land use varies with local climatic and soil patterns.

Tbilisi, the capital, was founded by King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the fifth century, and continues to be the most important political and cultural center of the country. Tbilisi is located in the culturally dominant eastern region, Kartli, on the banks of the Mtkvari (Kura), on the ancient crossroads of one of the great silk roads between Europe and Asia.

Demography. In the 1990s, the population was estimated to be from five to five and a half million, but reliable figures are not available because of extensive uncounted emigration. Just over half the population lives in urban areas, including 1.6 million in Tbilisi. Ethnic Georgians form the great majority of the population in most regions, though there are settlements of Armenians and Azeris in the south and the south-east, respectively; Ossetians in the north-central area; Abkhaz and Armenians in the northwest; Greeks in the southeast; and small numbers of Batsbi, Chechens, Ingushes, and Lezghs in the northeast. Russians and smaller ethnic minorities such as Kurds, Ukrainians, Jews, and Assyrians are concentrated mostly in urban areas. In the 1989 census, ethnic Georgians accounted for seventy percent of the population; Armenians 8 percent; Russians 6 percent, Azeris 6 percent, Ossetians 3 percent, and Abkhazians, under 2 percent.

This proportion has changed as a result of emigration among ethnic minorities, especially Russians, Jews, Greeks, and Armenians. Most ethnic Georgians were distributed throughout the country, while Abkhazians moved mostly to Russian cities and Ossetians took refuge in Northern Ossetia.

Linguistic Affiliation. The majority language is Georgian, which belongs to the Kartvelian (South Caucasian) language group. However, some subgroups speak other languages in the same linguistic group. The literary language comes from the Kartlian dialect spoken in the historically dominant eastern kingdom of Kartli. Georgian is the only Kartvelian language that is written and taught, and is the literary language used by all Georgians.

The principal minority languages are Abkhazian, Armenian, Azeri, Ossetian, and Russian. Abkhazian is, along with Georgian, the state language in Abkhazia. Most ethnic minorities in urban areas speak Russian rather than Georgian as a second language, but bilingualism and trilingualism are common, and Russian continues to be understood in most of the country. Russian, Armenian, and Azeri are used in schools and as official languages locally.

Symbolism. The competing impact of Asian and western cultures is most prominently expressed in Byzantine and Persian influences. Another overlap is between Christian and pagan, with a much weaker influence from neighboring Muslim patterns. Today, much cultural symbolism reflects a mythologized interpretation of tradition that is influenced by self-perception as belonging to European, Christian contemporary society.

Mythical symbols include the Golden Fleece of the Greek myth of the Argonauts' journey to Colchis and the mythical ancestor of Georgians, Kartlos. Other important mythical figures include Saint George, and Amirani, a noble hero analogous to Prometheus. Mythical symbols of the Abkhazians and Ossetians are both dominated by a mythical cycle dealing with the semidivine people of Narts.

The numbers seven and nine have symbolic meaning, as does the number three, which reflects the Trinity. The snow leopard and lion symbolize noble valor and vigor. The vine symbolizes fertility and the Dionysian spirit, and dominates medieval architectural ornamentation. A very important ornamental symbol is the fire-wheel swastika, a solar symbol traditionally used both as an architectural ornament and in wood carving as well as on the passport and currency. The Cross plays an equally significant role.

The hymn "Thou Art the True Vine" is the most important sacred song. National symbols often refer to language, motherland (national territory), and Confession (Christian Orthodoxy). The ideas of loyalty to kin, honor, and hospitality are held in high esteem. The characteristic metaphor is that of a mother. Other metaphors are linked to the sun, which is interpreted as a source of beauty and light, brotherhood, supreme loyalty, and victory.

State symbolism dates back to the Democratic Republic of Georgia (19181921). The most respected national festival (26 May) is linked to the declaration of independence in 1918. The national flag of black and white stripes against a dark crimson background and the state emblem, White George on horseback framed by a septagonal star, repeat the imagery of that period.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Cultural unity was influenced by political unification and fragmentation. In the southern and eastern regions, the state of Kartli (Iberia) united tribes that spoke the Kartvelian language. The first attempt to unite the country occurred under King Parnavaz of Kartli at the beginning of the third century b.c.e. Georgia adopted Christianity in 334, when King Mirian III of Kartli-Iberia, following the instructions of Saint Nino of Cappadocia, declared it the state religion. The alphabet probably was created soon afterward to translate holy texts, replacing Aramaic and Greek scripts and producing both the hieratic script and the contemporary secular alphabet. The first Georgian inscriptions appeared in Jerusalem in the fifth century, followed by the first known literary text, the Martyrdom of Saint Shushanik. At about that time, King Vakhtang briefly united eastern and western Georgia. Several centuries later, the new dynasty of the Bagrations took control of the Inner Kartli and the city of Uplistsikhe, and in 978, King Bagrat III Bagration became the first king of both Kartli and Abkhazia. In 1314, Giorgi V the Brilliant reunited Georgia after a long period of decline under the Mongols, but Tamerlain's invasions broke the nation's strength and unity. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Georgia became the only Christian stronghold in a region of Muslim kingdoms. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Georgia was united by the Russian Empire, when the tsars Pavel and Alexander annexed the eastern region, abolishing the kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence in 1918, but the democratic Republic of Georgia, ruled by a social-democratic government, was invaded by the Red Army in 1921, a few days after it was recognized by European states. The Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia retained formal sovereignty but was a puppet member of the Soviet Empire until its dissolution in 1991, when Zviad Gamsakhurduia proclaimed independence. By the end of that same year, Gamsakhurdia fell victim to a military coup. The military government, unable to cope with international isolation and an economic crisis, invited the former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze to become the chairman of the State Council, keeping real power in its own hands. After two years of civil war and secessionist conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Shevardnadze took over the government. A new parliament was elected in 1995, a new constitution was adopted, and Shevardnadze was elected president. The self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia continue to be source of conflict, but negotiations on their status is ongoing and virtually no military action has taken place since 1993.

National Identity. The development of the nation is linked to the attempt to unite Georgia by King Parnavaz. However, at that time different parts of the country spoke different languages and had little in common. Western Georgia was inhabited by Colchian, proto-Abkhazian and proto-Svan tribes, with Greek settlements along the Black Sea shore, while in the eastern and southern regions the language was closer to contemporary Georgian, although part of the territory was inhabited by Turkic, Armenian, Alan, and Albanian tribes. Migration of eastern Georgian tribes to the west and the gradual assimilation of other ethnic groups in the east were accompanied by religious unity and unification under the Bagratid dynasty at the end of tenth century. During several centuries of common statehood, the Abkhaz, Armenians, Turks, and Ossetians partly preserved their cultural identities, while Albanians were fully assimilated.

Ethnic Relations. Sub-groups with common cultural identities experienced little conflict, although the medieval feudal system often caused internecine wars and warfare among ethnic kin. Today, despite mass migrations of Svans to southeastern Georgia and Megrel refugees from secessionist Abkhazia to other parts of the country, tensions have calmed. However, among the Abkhaz and Ossetians, tension and radical nationalism after the disintegration of the Soviet Union led to civil wars. There are some tensions with Armenians and between Azeris and Armenians in the rural southeast.

There are significant numbers of predominantly Muslim ethnic Georgians in Iran and Turkey. 100,000 Georgians have preserved their cultural identity in the small Fereydan region near Isfahan. Turkey controls a large territory with a traditionally Georgian population and numerous cultural monuments. These groups of Gürji, as they are called in Turkey, and Laz acknowledge their Georgian origin but have a strong sense of Turkish national identity.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Settlements tend to be dominated by a church built on a hill nearby if not in the center. However, in the Soviet period, many churches were destroyed or turned into storehouses. Newly built churches are mostly poor replicas of older examples, primitive expressions of a declining tradition. Little is left of the medieval structure of small urban settlements surrounded by a citadel wall.

Urban architecture bears strong traces of Soviet influence. Government buildings and sculptures from the Soviet era are gloomy and pompous. These buildings have flat surfaces and enormous waste spaces in the form of colonnades or halls. In the 1970s and 1980s a new tradition emerged with more light and better use of space but was depersonalized and lacked creativity. Since independence, economic crises have precluded the construction of new government buildings. The older quarters in some cities are elegant and demonstrate an attractive mixture of European and Asian architecture. The majority of smaller towns are overgrown villages that show little effort to organize space or create an urban environment.

Rural architecture is typified by two-story stone buildings with large verandas. In the mountains, villages often are dominated by picturesque towers. Stone houses may surround a family tower or be organized in terraces with small gardens or yards. Traditional dwellings in the southern volcanic highlands were set deep in the ground and had no windows, with polygonal narrowing ceilings with a central opening for light and the exit of smoke. Internal space was organized around the fireplace below the roof opening, and a richly engraved central column played both a functional and a sacral role.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The greatest culinary divide is between the western and eastern region. In the west, there is a greater emphasis on vegetarian food, predominantly prepared with walnuts. Herbs and spices, especially tarragon, basil, coriander, feuille Grec, and pepper make western Georgian food hot and spicy. Cheese usually is made from cow's milk and is eaten with either corn bread or a corn and flour porridge. Khachapuri, a kind of cheese pizza, is common.

In the eastern area, the food is heavier, with more of an accent on mutton and pork. Wheat bread is preferred to corn, and sheep's cheese from Tusheti is popular. Among people in the mountains, the most popular food is khinkali, a cooked meat dumpling that usually is accompanied by beer. The most popular vegetables are tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, pumpkins, eggplant, beans, cucumbers, and cabbage. The most popular sauce, tkemali, is made of wild plums; other sauces are based on walnuts with spices, or pomegranate juice. Wine is drunk everywhere, and stronger alcoholic beverages include araki, which is made of grapes and other fruit with honey. Fish, especially trout, is eaten universally. A wide variety of locally grown fruit is supplemented by wild and cultured berries, watermelons and other melons. Dried fruit and nuts covered with a mixture of grape juice and wheat or corn flour are eaten in the winter. Jams are prepared from fruit, unripe walnuts, watermelon, eggplant, and green tomatoes.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. At the New Year's festivity, ground walnuts boiled in honey are served, along with a turkey or chicken in walnut sauce. An Easter meal includes hard-boiled eggs dyed red and other bright colors, roasted piglet and lamb, and special cakes with vanilla and spices. Special dishes are served at a wake: rice with mutton in the east, and meat with sweet rice and raisins in the west. Special wheat porridge with walnuts and honey is served forty days after a person's death.

Basic Economy. Georgians were basically rural people until the beginning of this century, when industrialization caused a mass rural-to-urban migration, especially to the capital. Most families are still linked through kinship relations with the countryside and preserve some traditions of their native localities.

Industrialization and the urban economy have had a limited influence on the national culture. Today, most of the population is urbanized and works in services or industrial production. Industry has been slow in recovering from the economic crisis of the early 1990s. Agriculture has been quicker to recover and accounts for almost 30 percent of the gross domestic product. A significant portion of exports consists of processed or raw agricultural produce such as hazelnuts, tea and wine. However, the country is not self-sufficient in producing grain as a result of the limited arable land.

Land Tenure and Property. After independence, much of land owned by the state was privatized. Over half the cultivated land was privatized by 1994, and that proportion continues to grow. However, in the highlands, where there is little cultivated land, privatization may entail restitution, as families respect traditional ownership. The state continues to control almost all uncultivated land, forests, and pastures; further privatization is expected in these areas.

Commercial Activities. Apart from agricultural goods, mineral water, soft drinks, and beverages, few goods are produced locally for the retail market. Cheaper goods from Turkey, Russia, China, and Bulgaria are sold in the shops. Some locally produced building materials, chemicals, and textiles are sold.

Major Industries. Major industries include metallurgy, metal and chemical works, mining (manganese, arsenic, copper, gold, oil, and raw materials for chemical production such as barite and mineral water), electronic devices, and machinery. A larger role is being played by transportation and especially transhipment because of the development of pipeline routes and transportation projects.

Trade. The principle exports are food, drink, tobacco, metals, and chemicals. The major imports are energy and fuel, mineral products, machinery, and food, drink and tobacco. There is a significant trade deficit. The main trading partners are Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, the European Union, and the United States.

Division of Labor. High-paying jobs are available for those with a good command of English and advanced computer skills, while older people remain in poorly paid occupations. However, workers in their forties and fifties continue to occupy leading positions in ownership and management, as result of their advantage in starting capital and business connections from the Soviet era.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The systems of social stratification changed significantly because of the increasing income gap between the impoverished masses and former white-collar workers, and the new rich, who have used financial and social capital to accumulate capital through privatization or trade, or have taken advantage of corruption in the state bureaucracy. Another change is linked to the restructuring of the political and economic system from the Soviet centralized type to a free market, although frequently the same Soviet bureaucrats and Communist officials have become capitalists and advocates of a liberal economy. Much of the new capital is concentrated in Tbilisi, Batumi, and the Black Sea port of Poti and thus is dominated by ethnic Georgians. The Armenian and Jewish economic elite that once played an important role, especially in Tbilisi, has lost its position because of emigration or because they maintain a lower profile.

Symbols of Social Stratification. An advanced position is expressed by a Westernized lifestyle. A Mercedes car symbolizes success, as do an apartment or house in a prestigious district, summering in France, and sending one's children to private European or American schools. Visiting casinos is another sign of upward social mobility.

Political Life

Government. Georgia is a presidential republic. The president is also the head of the executive branch, although the ministers are formally headed by the state minister. The single-chamber (225 members strong) parliament is elected in a mixed majoritarian-proportional system. The last parliamentary elections were won by the president's Citizens' Union of Georgia. The other two parties in the parliament are the Union of Industrialists and the Union of Georgia's Revival. The judicial branch, which was weak in the communist era, is in the process of being reformed. Local governments are partly elected and partly appointed from Tbilisi and have little formal power and small budgets. Depending on personal authority and local conditions, they may be fairly independent in their policies.

Leadership and Political Officials. Political parties, apart from the Union of Georgia's Revival, have little unity and lack well-defined political agendas. They mostly serve as instruments for pursuing a political career. Most parties tend to be social-democratic or moderately nationalistic. Personalities and personal connections play a decisive role in a political career, and the need to balance political issues and personal loyalty makes personnel appointments far from meritocractic. Many politicians are involved in economic activities, and this often creates conflicts of interest.

Social Problems and Control. Since the increase in crime during the civil wars and turmoil of the early 1990s, there has been a significant reduction in law violations and major crimes such as murder and burglary. The most socially dangerous crime is drug trafficking, which has increased the number of young drug addicts. Organized crime is another important concern. Corruption and incompetence in overstaffed law enforcement bodies along with a weak judiciary system have made it difficult to fight crime. The general public is dissatisfied with the existing situation and with the system of law. Sometimes, especially in rural areas with a strong tradition of customary law, the community itself or a victim's relatives will take the law into their own hands and punish the perpetrator of a particularly shocking crime.

Military Activity. There has been little military action since the end of the civil war and the suspension of the conflict in Abkhazia, but the development of the nation's military potential attracts great attention from both the public and the government. Georgia participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and aspires to achieve closer cooperation, and even integration, with NATO. There still are four Russian military bases in the country, although their gradual withdrawal is under way.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The state welfare system is inefficient, and has few resources. Pensions provide only a fifth of the minimum sustenance level, are poorly targeted, and cover too many beneficiaries. Much of the assistance goes to internally displaced persons from Abkhazia. A number of international and intergovernmental organizations are attempting to improve the welfare system.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

There are thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but few of them are active and successful. NGOs participate in defending human rights and freedom of expression as well as environmental protection. However, as virtually all NGOs are funded by western sources, they have to adapt to the preferences and style of foreign funders, which often have only a vague understanding of the real needs of the country.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. There is no explicit division of labor by gender except in the areas of hard physical labor such as mining. The national culture places women in both the role of breadwinner and housewife. Most urban women work when they have the opportunity, although few have positions in the military and law enforcement. Top-level political and business jobs are less accessible for women, and only a few are in the government. No women can become a priest in the Orthodox church or a mullah among Muslims.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. The national culture strongly values respect for women. Legislation provides for a woman's right to take the children after a divorce. Women receive pregnancy leaves and earlier retirements and are not subject to military conscription. Although men dominate both public and family life, most housework is done by women. With many young educated women getting better paid jobs than their fathers or husbands, traditional stereotypes of gender-defined social roles are changing.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriage is based on the free will of the partners and rarely is prearranged, although that sometimes happens in rural areas, especially in the Muslim population. Mutual attraction is the most common reason for marriage, although for older couples, economic benefits or comfort may be more important. In Muslim areas, unofficial polygamy exists in rare cases. There is a significant incidence of early marriage, but there is a general tendency for later marriage. Married persons who maintain a joint household have equal rights to their possessions.

Domestic Unit. The basic household in cities is the nuclear family, but frequently, grandparents live together with the family and help to bring up the children. In rural and mountainous areas, a few extended families exist, usually including several brothers with their parents and children. In this case the father of the family may control the resources, and assign tasks on the farm, while the mother is responsible for keeping the household. Younger members gradually split off, building a separate house in the neighborhood.

Inheritance. If there is no will after a person's death, the property is divided among all the children, including daughters, or among the closest relatives if there are no children.

Kin Groups. People ascribe great importance to kinship. Relatives up to the third or even fourth generation are considered close, and are expected to share both happy events and grievances. They meet regularly at important social events such as weddings and funerals, and neglecting the social duty to attend is disapproved. The kinship system played an important role in cushioning the effects of economic crisis when the social welfare system was disrupted. Extended kinship relations may create clientelism and protectionism as well as organized crime.


Infant Care. Customary practices in the care of infants have been abandoned, such as the practice of rearing young infants in a special type of cradle that restricted the movement of a child. Children are the focal point of the family, and much attention is paid to their education and development, especially in the educated classes. Because kindergartens are less available today, retired grandparents often care for the children.

Child Rearing and Education. The early intellectual development of infants is valued, and parents love to show their children's achievements. The values inculcated and the skills taught differ by gender. Boys are taught to be strong and courageous and deal with cars or tools. Girls are supposed to be modest and skilled in housekeeping, sewing, and cooking; play with dolls rather than war toys; and are more often taught to play musical instruments. Although many parents believe in genetically transmitted qualities and talents, education is valued.

Higher Education. Higher education and a university diploma are highly valued even when the quality of education is unsatisfactory. It is almost impossible to have a career without a diploma, although higher education is not always correlated with a higher income.


Both men and women may kiss one another on the cheek in public places. Kissing on the lips and intimate hugging in public are not approved. Shaking hands is common, but women shake hands less often than men do. Either the person with higher social status or the woman is supposed to initiate greeting and define its form. In the countryside, it is common to greet strangers. Men may embrace while walking in the street. In general, the closer the relationship, the smaller the distance at which people stand. Women are not supposed to gaze at a stranger or smoke on the street.


Religious Beliefs. The great majority of the population belongs to the Georgian Orthodox Church, an Eastern (Greek) Orthodox church. Confessional identity is a strong cultural factor that defines the prevailing system of social values. The majority of Georgians in Ajara are Sunni Muslims, as are a few inhabitants of the Meskheti region. There are also Shiite Muslims among the Turkic inhabitants in the southeast (Azeris) and Sunni Muslims among the Abkhaz, Ossetians, and Greeks. Several Protestant churches are active, with the Baptists being the most successful. Most ethnic Armenians belong to the Gregorian Christian Church. There are small groups of Yezid Kurds, Russian Molokans and Dukhobors, and Jews; the population of the latter two groups has diminished because of emigration. New emerging cults and sects, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, meet with hostility and aggression from the established churches and the population.

Rituals and Holy Places. The great majority of Orthodox religious ceremonies are carried out by priests in churches. The most important ceremonies, especially those celebrating Easter and Christmas, are carried out by the Patriarch in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the ancient town of Mtskheta, or in the Zion Cathedral in Tbilisi. Daily services are held in churches, as well as weddings and baptisms. In some cases priests are invited to other places to bless new initiatives, buildings or organizations. Many people claim to be religious but seldom attend religious ceremonies. In mountainous regions, people who self-identify as Christian continue to follow rituals of pagan origin.

Death and the Afterlife. Many of popular beliefs and rituals regarding death and afterlife stem from a mixture of Christian and pagan concepts, with many superstitions and cultural borrowings. Respecting the deceased is a very important part of social life, and much time is spent attending funerals and wakes and caring for graves. Although people believe in an eternal afterlife, there is no clear understanding of its nature; people observe rules and try to reduce their grief by ritualizing the mourning process.

Secular Celebrations

The most widely observed holiday still is the New Year. Among national holidays, Independence Day is the most respected, and people like to attend even newly invented festivities such as Tbilisoba in October, a holiday invented by the Communist authorities.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Although the state is supposed to support arts through the Ministry of Culture, there are few funds that rarely find the proper application. Some professional unions, once controlled by the government, continue to claim state support despite contributing little to cultural life. Artists whose work depends less on linguistic restrictions, such as painters and craftsmen, look for financial support and markets abroad. Many writers and artists work in politics or business or try to couple them with their art; it is not uncommon for film makers and writers to have a position in the parliament or other agencies of the government.

Literature. Literature is in a dire condition because of the political and economic crisis that started long before independence. There are only a few young talented writers and poets and almost none from the older generation. The literary market is dominated by translations of bestsellers, detective stories, and erotica.

Graphic Arts. Graphic arts are popular, and many young artists are demonstrating high levels of creativity and skill. Many artists sell their work in the West.

Performance Arts. The performance arts are in a crisis because limitations imposed by language hinder the art from finding a wider audience. Several ballet dancers, opera singers, and theater directors have achieved success in other countries. However, in Tbilisi, performance art and dramatic art are alive and rich.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Physical and natural sciences, along with engineering, were highly developed in the Soviet period because of their application to defense. Today there is next to no funding in these areas, as most Western aid goes to the social sciences. This has caused many scientists to emigrate, and the brain drain has helped maintain relations with leading scientific institutions. The social sciences were underdeveloped in the communist era and have not reached international standards in teaching and research.


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GEORGIA (Rus. Gruziya ), republic in W. Transcaucasia. There is a tradition among the Jews of Georgia (the "Gurjim") that they are descended from the Ten Tribes exiled by Shalmaneser, which they support by their claim that there are no kohanim (priestly families) among them.

Georgian historical literature had used the term "Georgian Jews" already in the 11th century, but as a firmly established term referring to a specific community it was used only from the early 19th century after Georgia was incorporated in the Russian Empire. The Jews of Georgia call themselves Ebraeli and use Georgian language as their spoken and written language of communication, without resorting to the Hebrew alphabet. Georgian Jewish traders developed the jargon Qivruli (Jewish), many roots of which originated in Hebrew.

According to the 1897 census 6,407 Jews in the Russian Empire considered Georgian their mother-tongue. According to the 1926 census, the only census where each of the Jewish ethnic and linguistic groups appeared as a separate entity, there were 30,534 Jews in Georgia, among them 20,897 Georgian Jews and 9,637 were Ashkenazim. In the same census 96.6% of the Georgian Jews named Georgian as their mother-tongue, and their literacy rate reached 36.29%. In 1931 the State Planning Committee estimated their number at 31,974. The 1939 census showed 42,300 Jews (Georgian and Ashkenazi), representing 1.2% of the total population. The 1959 census reported that 35,673 Jews considered Georgian their mother-tongue. The 1970 census reported 55,382 Jews. About 70% of them left for Israel in the course of the next decade. There were some Georgian Jews who were registered as Georgians and not as Jews but no reliable estimate of their number was available. The Georgian Jews lived mostly in Tbilisi (Tiflis), capital of Georgia, the other centers being Kutaisi, Kulashi, Tshinvali, Gori, Oni, and Sachkhere.

One historical tradition speaks of the first Jews coming to the country after the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar 586 b.c.e. It is possible that this reflects the arrival of Jews from Babylonia in Georgia, the southern part of which was

included in 539 b.c.e. in the ancient Persian state. The Jews presumably spread to the rest of the country from the south.

Archaeological evidence supports the traditions by confirming the existence of Jews in Mtzkheta, the ancient capital of the East Georgian state of Kartli, in the first centuries c.e. Among the first Christian missionaries in the early 4th century, a Jew is mentioned named Eviatar or Abiatar from Urbnisi, as well as his sister Sidonia. Both were sanctified by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Mention is also made of the Jewess Salomea who wrote the life of Nina from Cappadocia who baptized the Georgians.

Georgian sources refer to the arrival of Jews in Western Georgia in the 6th century, evidently from the Byzantine Empire, and the further migration of 3,000 Jews into Eastern Georgia. This information might indicate a mass flight of Jews from the Western regions of Georgia, ruled by the Byzantine Empire – where they were subjected to severe suppression in the 6th century – to the south-eastern regions of Georgia ruled at the time by Persians who tolerated Jews. Sources also speak of Jewish migrations to Georgia from Armenia and Iran. It is likely that the toponym אפריקי mentioned several times in the Babylonean Talmud (e.g., Sanhedrin 94a, Tamid 32a) is to be read as efirike, i.e., Iberika or Iberia which was one of the ancient names of Eastern Georgia, as well as of Georgia as a whole.

After the Arab conquest of considerable territory of Georgia in the second half of the 7th century, it was transformed into a province of the Arab caliphs, although it remained a Christian country. In the late 9th century a Jewish sect emerged in Georgia which denied some laws of halakhah including marriage and kashrut regulations. The founder of the sect, Abu-ʿImran Musa (Moshe) al-Za'farani, went to Tbilisi (Tiflis) from the Babylonian Empire and was later known as *Abu-ʿImran al-Tiflisi, and the sect as a whole, which existed at least 300 years, was known as the "Tiflis Sect."

In the 9th century, Georgia was bordered to the east and north by the Khazar kingdom (see *Khazars), the elite of which adopted Judaism. There are no authentic data on contacts between the Khazars and the Jews of Georgia, but it is known that in the middle of the 10th century *Ḥisdai Ibn Shaprut wanted to send his famous letter to Joseph, the king of the Khazars, through Georgia which Ibn Shaprut called "Armenia" in accordance with Arabic terminology of the time.

In the early Middle Ages Georgian Jewry was connected mainly with Persian Jewry, and through Iran with Baghdad, the religious center of eastern Jewry.

From the travel diaries of *Pethahiah of Regensburg, written in the second half of the 12th century, it might be concluded that some of the Jews living in "the Ararat country," i.e., in Trans-Caucasus, had emigrated to other countries. He also noted that during his stay in Baghdad he saw the messengers of the kings of "Meshekh Land," and those messengers related that the "Kings of Meshekh and all their Lands became Jews," and also that there were teachers among the inhabitants of Meshekh "educating their children in Torah and in the Jerusalem Talmud." Under the term "Meshekh" one of the Georgian tribes, the Meskhi, might have been meant. However no support has been found for the theory that this tribe as a whole or partially adopted Judaism. Another Georgian tribe, the Hevsures, have up to the present time preserved historical legends connected with Judaism. Chronologically this would accord with the time of Pethahiah's story.

In the 12th century Abraham *Ibn Daud (Rabad i) mentioned Georgia among the countries where the Jews adhered to Rabbinical Judaism and not to Karaism. In the synagogue of the small town of Lailashi in northwestern Georgia, there was preserved up to the 1930s, a Pentateuch manuscript of the 11th or 12th century which was revered not only by the Georgian Jews, but also by the Christian population who attributed to it miraculous properties.

When invaded by the Mongols some of the Jews of eastern and southern Georgia moved to western Georgia, which preserved its independence, and founded new communities there. In the 14th century mention is made of the Jewish community of Gagra on the Black Sea Coast, headed by R. Joseph al-Tiflisi. At the same time the philologist R. Judah ben Jacob either composed or rewrote a Hebrew grammatical work showing traces of influence of the Karaite school of Hebrew grammar.

The impoverished situation of Georgian Jewry after the Mongol invasion contributed to their becoming serfs. Numerous sources refer to their serfdom over a five hundred year period, starting from the end of the 14th century. The process of enslavement accelerated in the 15th–16th centuries when their situation deteriorated as a result of military invasions, first by Timur and then by the armies of Turkey and Persia, and also because of constant inner conflicts. All these events resulted in the disintegrating of the country into three kingdoms and five feudal territories, as from the end of the 15th century. Documents from the early 17th to the mid-19th century attest to the numerous cases of the selling of individual Jews or whole families and groups, or of their changing one owner for another as debt payment or as a gift.

Persistent wars and rebellions devastated entire regions of the country in the late 18th–early 19th century, depriving Jews of their property, and often to escape immediate danger they had to seek the protection of the local feudal lords, but in the final analysis they became enslaved by their protectors. However, one premise of their serfdom was always preserved: the owner was obliged not to force them to convert to Christianity.

The Jewish serfs occupied themselves with agriculture or with the traditional Jewish crafts: fabric weaving and dyeing. Some of them were involved in retail trade and other outside jobs, paying their masters a yearly compensation. As late as 1835, several decades after eastern Georgia had been incorporated in the Russian Empire, many Jews still lived on the estates of their feudal lords, and only a small proportion was engaged in outside jobs in towns. Free Jews who could buy their liberation now also lived in the towns. They were mostly affluent merchants or owners of large stores.

Throughout the period of their serfdom, migration – forced or voluntary – took place. Thus voluntary migrations to the Crimea occurred in the 15th–16th centuries. Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries were still to be found in the Crimea having family names of Georgian origin. In the 17th–18th centuries a forced migration occurred when Georgian Jews were driven out by Persian invaders to Persia together with tens of thousands of non-Jewish Georgians.

The Jewish serfs lived on their masters' estates as small groups, separated from each other. Due to their isolation and the absence of a uniting religious and spiritual center, their Jewish knowledge deteriorated. The German traveler Reineggs who visited Georgia in 1780 wrote about the rural Jews being called "Canaanites" by the urban Jewish merchants and weavers because of the former's poor knowledge of the religious laws.

Sometimes Jews converted to Christianity to escape their serfdom. The Georgian Church favored the conversions: documentary evidence exists of cases where the Church paid for the liberation of serfs who wished to convert. There were also cases when the feudal lords, contrary to their obligations, forced their Jewish serfs to convert to Christianity.

According to the Georgian legislation the Jewish serfs of Georgia were divided into three categories: the King's serfs, the Feudal serfs and the Church's serfs. Both groups of Jews, free and enslaved, were not admitted to serve in the army, and instead of military service payed the "army ransom." When in 1801 eastern Georgia was included in the Russian Empire the category of the King's serfs became the "Treasury Serfs" obligated to pay taxes to the Russian treasury. In 1864–1871 serfdom in Georgia was abolished, and the former serfs among Georgian Jews moved to towns where the Jews had been already settled, and became engaged mainly in retail trade.

A comparatively small share of the Jewish population was engaged in various crafts, mainly in shoe and hat making. Before the revolution of 1917 this share did not exceed 3–5% of the Jewish labor force. Women dealt with weaving and dyeing for home and for sale. Some families also possessed land plots, mostly under grape cultivation.

The structure of the Jewish community finally developed following the liberation of Georgian Jews from serfdom and their subsequent urbanization. The liberated serfs coming from the same settlement as a rule moved to the same town where they attempted to establish their own synagogue, settling around it. Usually such a group consisted of a limited number of large families encompassing three or four generations.

Each group elected its *gabbai responsible for all the affairs connected with the synagogue's activity. The ḥakham authorized the religious life of the group combining functions of a rabbi, ḥazzan, shoḥet, mohel and teacher of medreshe (ḥeder). The Georgian Jewish groups from rural settlements lived side by side in a new place of settlement, so the Jewish population concentrated in one part of the town which later turned into the Jewish quarter of the given town.

Open outbursts of antisemitism in Georgia became frequent in the second half of the 19th century. Causes stemmed from the process of urbanization of the Jewish community and the consequent change of occupation by the majority of Jews who now chose trade as their livelihood; from the influence of Russian antisemitism; and from turning the Jew, a weak outsider, into the object of a xenophobia which could not be released against another stranger – the powerful Russian invader.

In the second half of the 19th century, six blood libels occurred in Georgia which at the time constituted the highest concentration of cases not only in the boundaries of the Russian Empire, but in the whole world. The biggest and best known happened in 1878 in the little town of Sachkhere where nine Jews were accused of the ritual killing of a Christian child in anticipation of Passover. The trial of the nine took place in Kutaisi and became known as the "Kutaisi trial" which drew the attention of the civilized world. Although the accused were not found guilty, the local population remained convinced that the Jews used Christian blood for preparing maẓẓot. Other blood libels in Georgia took place in 1852, 1881, 1882, 1883, and 1884. In 1895 the Kutaisi Jews suffered from a severe pogrom. In 1913 a gang headed by the deputy governor of Kutaisi systematically extorted money from the Jews, and those refusing to pay were killed.

One of the most important events in Georgian Jewish life in the 19th century was the establishment of contacts with Russian Ashkenazi Jews who began to settle in Georgia after it was joined to the Russian Empire. For decades the relations between the Georgian Jews and the Ashkenazi communities remained strained: the Georgian Jews considered the majority of the Ashkenazi Jews living in Georgia as godless or insufficiently observant, while the Ashkenazim often looked down on the Georgian Jews. Contacts became closer only at the end of the 19th century, but even then their relations were strained.

At the end of the 1890s R. Abraham ha-Levi Khvoles (1857–1931) – a pupil of the famous Lithuanian Rabbi Isaac Elhanan *Spektor – was elected chief rabbi of the town of Tzkhinvali. His only language for communicating with his congregation was Hebrew, and as time passed the number of Jews of the town using this language increased considerably. In 1906 Khvoles established the first talmud torah in Georgia where about 400 pupils studied. He was the first in Georgian Jewish life to introduce education for girls, inviting for this purpose a female Hebrew teacher. To accustom the Jews to crafts and skills he brought in experienced teachers who taught boys shoemaking, leather tanning, soap-boiling, and other skills. He sent some of his best students to the Lithuanian yeshivot to continue their education and receive the title of rabbi. In time, such practice became common among the Georgian Jewish communities. Rabbi Khvoles influenced other communities throughout Georgia: for example, in 1902 a school for children was established in Tbilisi where teaching was conducted according to the "Hebrew in Hebrew" system. The teachers for the school came from Vilna.

The Social-Democratic movement which emerged in Georgia at the end of the 19th century had almost no impact on the Jews. One Jewish Social-Democrat, Itzka Rizhinashvili (1885–1906), who became well known, was killed by police in Kutaisi.

From the end of the 19th century Zionist circles sprang up in the Ashkenazi communities, and its members began to propagate Zionist ideas among the Georgian Jews. Rabbi David Baazov, one of the founders of Zionism in the Georgian communities, participated in the Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903. The majority of the Orthodox leaders, the ḥakhams, actively struggled against the spreading of Zionist ideas among Georgian Jews. Emissaries of the Ḥabad movement, who arrived in Georgia from 1916, also resisted the penetration of Zionism.

World War i interrupted the process of Georgian aliyah to Palestine which had begun in 1863. By 1916, 439 Georgian Jews were living in Palestine, the majority in Jerusalem where they established their own quarter near the Damascus Gate. They had to leave the quarter after the anti-Jewish Arab riots of 1929 had led to its partial destruction.

Most Georgian Jews going to the Holy Land belonged to the poorest strata of the community and engaged in physical labor. In Jerusalem, many were freight-handlers. Only a small number became prominent in trade. These included the Kokiashvili (Kokia) family which owned a network of shops and large land holdings in Jerusalem. The Dabra family (Davarshvili) traded on a large scale, mostly in Jerusalem. The Ḥasidov (Khasidoshvili) and the Khakhamshvili families founded banking businesses.

Despite the fact that the main motivation for aliyah was religious, only a small number of ḥakhams went to the Holy Land. The well-known ḥakham of Akhaltzikhe, Yosef Davidashvili, arrived in the 1890s; Simon ben Moshe Rizhinashvili published in Jerusalem in 1892 a Hebrew-Georgian textbook and conversation book, Sefer ḥinukh ha-ne'arim ("The Book for Education of the Youth"), in Hebrew letters; Efraim ben Ya'akov ha-Levi Kokia published in 1877 in Jerusalem the religious and philosophical treatise Yalkut Ephraim al ha-Torah im Ḥamesh Megillot ("Comments by Ephraim on the Torah and the Five Scrolls"); he also wrote Sam Ḥayyim: likkutim u-musarim tovim ("Elixir of Life: Extracts and Benevolent Morals").

After the October 1917 Revolution, the Georgian population expressed its strong desire for independence, and in May 1918 a democratic republic was established. In the Georgian Executive Assembly, two places were allocated for representatives of the Georgian Jews, and one for the Ashkenazim. In the process of the elections, a small group of young assimilatory Jews, headed by the brothers Yosef and Mikhael Khananishvili were backed by Social Democrats – Mensheviks who formed the coalition government. This group considered the Georgian Jews as Jewish, not from the ethnic point of view, but as Georgians differing from the rest of the population only by their religion. They fought Zionism in concert with some Georgian Jewish religious leaders, supported by members of the Ḥabad movement which had acquired considerable influence in Kutaisi and in several other towns. Kutaisi became the center of the anti-Zionist movement, whose participants abstained from taking part in the All-Jewish Congress in Tbilisi in 1918 where all the Georgian Jewish and Ashkenazi communities of Georgia were represented.

The Association of Zionists of Georgia became the leading group in the congress. The three Jewish representatives elected by the congress to participate in the Executive Assembly were rejected by the Georgian Election Committee which was averse to Zionist representatives and preferred two candidates elected at the Kutaisi congress held at the same time by anti-Zionist groups. The Ashkenazim protested against this action by refusing to elect a new Ashkenazi representative instead of the rejected one.

When the Red Army invaded Georgia in February 1921 the population fled on a mass scale; 1,500–2,000 Jews left Georgia, and about 1,000–1,200 of them arrived in Palestine. The rest settled mainly in Istanbul where a Georgian Jewish community had been in existence from the 1880s. In 1921, there were 1,700 Georgian Jews in Palestine.

At the outset of the Sovietization of Georgia the central Soviet authorities adhered to a policy emphasizing respect of local traditions including religious beliefs. This attitude applied also to Georgian Jewry. The government bodies did not interfere in affairs connected with Jewish religion and synagogues were open as previously. In the early 1920s, Zionist activities also were not impeded. The Zionist school in Tblisi was reopened in 1921 after a short interruption, being now called the Jewish Labor School No. 102, and Hebrew was taught there as the national language of Georgian Jews. In 1924 a Zionist organ appeared in Georgian called Makabeeli, but only three issues were published. In 1924–25 the semi-legal ḥalutzic youth organization called "Avoda" managed to function and the youth theater company "Kadima" presented plays on Jewish themes in Georgian.

After an anti-Russian and anti-Soviet rebellion in Georgia was suppressed in 1924, Soviet policy changed for the worse. Legal and semi-legal Zionist activities were cut short. The economic regulations resulted in the bankruptcy of many Jewish traders, large and small. The Zionist group, headed by D. Baazov and N. Eliashvili, appealed to the local authorities to allow Jews to occupy themselves with agriculture, but were turned down. The two leaders then suggested that the authorities should allow those Jews who could not be engaged in Georgian agriculture to leave for Palestine. Two hundred families applied to leave, and in October 1925, 18 of them were allowed to emigrate, under the leadership of N. Eliashvili.

In the mid-1920s industrialization and secularization became the Soviet authorities' main aims for the Jews of Georgia, who were dragged to factories as a working force, or compelled to join craft cooperatives and collective farms.

In 1927–28, ozet (the organization for settling Jewish workers on the land) strengthened its activities, and its Georgian affiliate established branches in many towns. The first Jewish collective farm was formed in 1928 in Tziteli-Gora. By 1933 there were 15 collective farms with a population of 2,314 and land area of 1,540 ha. In 1928 efforts were made to settle some Georgian Jewish communities in *Birobidjan and in certain regions of the Crimea assigned for Jewish agricultural settlement, but these attempts failed. The Jewish collective farms in Georgia contributed to local Jewish welfare, as a means to alleviate their difficult material conditions; moreover they could continue to live according to their religious and communal traditions observing kashrut, Sabbath, Jewish festivals, and so on.

From the outset of the 1930s, however, the authorities decided to break the Jewish traditions by eliminating the ethnic homogeneity of the Jewish collective farms; as a result the Jewish community could no longer function. Thus in 1931 in establishing a collective farm in the small town of Mukhrani the Jewish collective farmers were mixed with the Georgians and Armenians, the collective farm being declared "international." Toward 1934 the collective farm in Akhalzikhe, established in 1931 as a Jewish undertaking, lost its ethnic homogeneity.

The policy of integrating the Jewish collective farms was conducted against the background of intermittent blood libels occurring in Sachkhere in 1921, in Tbilisi in 1923, and in Akhalzikhe in 1926. Moreover, the ethnically heterogeneous collective farms became a convenient target for anti-religious campaigns, which had become common in Georgian Jewish life from the end of the 1920s.

From 1938 the Jewish collective farms were united with non-Jewish ones, and the Jewish farmers started to leave them on a large scale. Thus the experiment of turning part of Georgian Jewry into agricultural workers ended, with the sole exception of the first Georgian-Jewish collective farm of Tziteli-Gora which continued to exist up to the beginning of the 1970s.

As its main tool to drive Jews to work in industry and to establish producing cooperatives, the Soviet authorities founded "Evkombed" ("All-Georgian Committee for Assisting the Jewish Poor"). The committee was created in 1928 after a fire in the Jewish quarter of Kutaisi which was burnt to the ground: dozens of people perished and about 6,000 lost their homes.

In 1929 a considerable number of Jews were working in the silk factories in Kutaisi and in Tbilisi. In 1931, 1,430 Jews joined the production cooperatives of shoemakers, hat-makers, leather-tanners, and others, half of them in Tbilisi. The majority of those cooperatives served as cover for the private activities of a large family or several closely connected families; the ethnic homogeneity of the productive cooperatives allowed the members to observe Jewish tradition, and in the first period of their existence Sabbath was the rest day.

The efforts of the authorities to eradicate the religious tradition and to mix nationalities within each co-operative was partially successful. The immediate result was the flight of Jews from mixed co-operatives. On the whole the attempt to industrialize Georgian Jewry failed, and by 1935 only 7,000 Jews were involved in the process.

Religion was considered by the authorities the main ideological impediment to their efforts to influence the Jews, and they accordingly tried all means to secularize the community. From 1927 the authorities established a school network for Georgian Jews with instruction in Georgian. Camps and clubs were created especially for Georgian Jewish youth and in 1933 the "Lavrentii Beria Culture Club" for the working Jews of Georgia was established. All these establishments were conducted in an anti-religious spirit.

For some time the authorities toyed with the idea of creating a Soviet Georgian-Jewish culture, of the same type as the Soviet-Yiddish culture. In 1934 they established a "State History and Ethnography Museum" of the Georgian Jews with the official aim of studying the history and customs of the community and struggling against "survivals of the past in its life." This undertaking attracted a group of young Jewish scholars. About 60 pictures were exhibited in the Museum of Shlomo Koboshvili, an artist of the 1920s, whose pictures depicted Georgian Jewish everyday life and the past of Georgian Jewry. When the museum was closed in the early 1950s, the pictures disappeared. The best-known Georgian author of the 1920s and the 1930s was Herzl *Baazov, novelist and playwright, the subject of whose works was Georgian Jewish life.

In 1937–38 the authorities clamped down on Georgian culture, attacking both Jewish religion and secular Jewish culture. In September 1937 nine ḥakhams, of whom two were Ashkenazim, were arrested, in Tzkhinvali (called Staliniri at the time), and killed in prison without trial. In the beginning of 1938 Herzl Baazov perished in prison.

The only Jewish cultural establishment that continued to exist was the History and Ethnography Museum, but in 1948 its director, Aharon Krikheli, was arrested, and soon after, in the early 1950s, the museum was closed.

Thus, the Soviet authorities finally destroyed the non-religious Georgian-Jewish culture which they had assiduously established in the pre-war years. Only from the end of the 1950s did poems and stories by writers belonging to the community and describing its life begin to reappear.

The Soviet rule was far from successful in its efforts to destroy the religious tradition. Even in the 1960s and in the 1970s most Georgian Jews observed religious traditions: visiting synagogues, observing kashrut, and conducting their family life according to religious Law. Many of their children studied in illegal ḥeders. The authorities were aware of these schools but chose not to notice them.

Although statistical data are lacking, it may be presumed that a considerable proportion of Georgian Jewry became adjusted to the economic situation in Georgia after World War ii, viz. the flourishing of private enterprise in trade and small stores under the cover of the state trade and industrial establishments, with the silent acquiescence of the local authorities. The latter used these enterprises to boost the economy of the republic and raise their own affluence.

However whenever they had to organize a show trial of "violators of the Soviet economic laws," demanded by the central authorities, the Jews were always chosen as a scapegoat. Jews predominated among those convicted for economic crimes in Georgia, were punished severely, and sometimes sentenced to death. Community life developed amid continuing blood libels: in 1963 in Tzkhaltubo, in 1964 in Zestafoni, and in 1965 in Kutaisi.

After the *Six-Day War Georgia was the leading region in the Soviet Union for Jewish demonstrations and petitions demanding the right to leave for Israel. The letter of Aug. 6, 1969, by 18 heads of Georgian families to the United Nations containing an appeal to influence the Soviet government to allow them to leave for Israel, was the first document of the aliyah movement in the Soviet Union to receive wide publicity in the West. The mass aliyah of Georgian Jewry began in 1971; by 1981, about 30,000 of them had immigrated to Israel.

[Michael Zand /

The Shorter Jewish Encyclopaedia in Russian]

Participation in Intellectual Life

Georgian Jews took part in the literary, intellectual, and cultural life of Georgia. Among them were Moshe Danieloshvili, a stage producer who translated S. *An-Ski's play The Dybbuk into Georgian and produced it at the state theater at Tbilisi; Gyorgi Kokashvili, a poet, playwright, and literary critic, whose play "The Children of the Sea" was performed at the state theater at Tbilisi; Rosa Davidashvili, an ethnologist and author of children's literature of the generation preceding the Revolution; and Shalom Mikhaelashivli, a historian who investigated the history of his native community at Kulashi. Joseph Kotsishvili, wrote an historical novel on the beginning of Jewish settlement in Georgia; he translated Shalom Aleichem into Georgian as well as works by Lion *Feuchtwanger. Other notable Georgian Jews were Herzl Baazov, Nissan *Babalikashvili, Yiẓḥak *Davidashvili, Boris *Gaponov (d. 1972), and Abraham *Mamistabolob.

[Mordkhai Neishtat]

Developments in the Georgian Republic

A cis republic, Georgia declared its independence in 1991, becoming an arena of military conflict, first between President Zviad Gamsakhurdiia and the opposition, and then, after the former was driven out in January 1992, between the government of Eduard Shevardnadze and separatists in Southern Osetia and Abkhazia. One of Gamsakhurdiia's advisors was Isai Goldshtien, a former refusenik who became an anti Zionist. Most Georgian Jews, however, were reluctant to become involved in the struggles for power.

The Soviet censuses reported 24,800 Jews in 1989; 14,300 of the latter were Georgian Jews who had preserved their ethnic and religious distinctiveness despite speaking the same language as their host nationality. In the mass emigration of Jews that proceeded after the breakup of the Soviet Union, their number dropped to 14,500 in 1993 and under 5,000 in 2000. Approximately 30 Jewish organizations were in operation, including a day school in Tbilisi and supplementary schools in other cities. In February 1993, the first issue of the Jewish newspaper in the Georgian language, Menora, was published; the publisher and the editor was Guram Bariashvili.

[Michael Beizer]


E. Salgaller, in: jsos, 26 (1964), 195–202; A. Harkavy, Ha-Yehudim u-Sefat ha-Slavim (1867), 106–20; J.J. Chorny, Sefer ha-Massa'ot be-Ereẓ Kavkaz u-va-Medinot asher me-Ever la-Kavkaz (1884); A.L. Eliav (Ben-Ammi), Between Hammer and Sickle (1969), passim; M. Neistadt, Yehudei Gruzyah (1970); Histoire de Géorgie depuis l'antiquité jusqu'au xixè siècle (attrib. uncertain, trans. M.F. Brosset (Rus. name M.I. Brosse), 7 vols., 1849–58); J. Baye, Les Juifs des montagnes et les Juifs géorgiens (1902); A. Katz, Die Juden im Kaukasus (1894); D.M. Maggid, in: Istoriya yevreyskogo naroda, 12 (1921; = Istoriya yevreyev v Rossii, 2 bk. 1) 85–95; M.S. Plisetski, Religiya i byt gruzinskikh yevreyev (1931); Yevreyskaya Biblioteka, 7 no. 12 (1880), 1–188 (on the Kutaisi blood libel); Al Yehudei Berit ha-Mo'aẓot, published by the Israel Ministry of Education and Culture (1970). the 1990s: U. Schmelz and S. DellaPergola in ajyb 1995, 478; Supplement to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, 2 (1995); Mezhdunarodnaia Evreiskaia Gazeta (meg) (1993).

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Compiled from the August 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Georgia



Area : 69,700 square kilometers; slightly smaller than South Carolina; 20% of total territory is not under government control.

Cities: Capital Tbilisi (population 1.1 million, 2002).

Terrain: Mostly rugged and mountainous.

Climate: Generally moderate; mild on the Black Sea coast with cold winters in the mountains.


Nationality : Noun and adjective Georgian(s).

Population: (July 2007 est.) 4.65 million.

Population growth rate: (2007 est.) 0.33%.

Ethnic groups: (2002 census) Georgian 83.8%, Azeri 6.5%, Armenian 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other 2.5%.

Religions: (2002 census) Orthodox Christian 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian Apostolic 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%; other 0.8%; none 0.7%.

Languages: Georgian (official), Abkhaz also “official language” in Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia.

Education: Years compulsory 11. Literacy (2004 est.) 100%.

Health : Infant mortality rate (2007 est.) 17.36 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2007 est.) 76.3 yrs.


Type: Republic.

Constitution: August 24, 1995; amended February, April, and June 2004; December 2005; and January 2007.

Government branches: Executive: president with State Chancellery. Legislative: unicameral parliament, 235 members. Judicial: Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and local courts.

Political subdivisions: 67 electoral districts, including those within the two autonomous republics (Abkhazia and Adjara) and five independent cities.

Political parties: United National Movement-Democrats [Mikheil Saakashvili]; Industry Will Save Georgia (Industrialists) [Georgi Topadze]; Labor Party [Shalva Natelashvili]; National Democratic Party [Bachuki Kardava]; New Rights [David Gamkrelidze]; Republican Party [David Usupashvili]; Traditionalists [Akaki Asatiani]; Union of National Forces-Conservatives [Koba Davitashvili and Zviad Dzidziguri], Georgia's Way [Salome Zourabichvili].

Suffrage: Universal over 18 years of age.


GDP: $6.46 billion (2006).

GDP per capita: $3,800, purchasing power parity (2006).

GDP growth: 9.4% in 2006 and 11.4% in the 1st quarter of 2007.

Inflation rate: 7.3% (end of June 2007).

Natural resources: Forests, hydropower, nonferrous metals, manganese, iron ore, copper, citrus fruits, tea, wine.

Industry: Types—steel, aircraft, machine tools, foundry equipment (automobiles, trucks, and tractors), tower cranes, electric welding equipment, fuel re-exports, machinery for food packing, electric motors, textiles, shoes, chemicals, wood products, bottled water, and wine.

Trade: (2006 est.) Exports—$1.76 billion. Partners: United Kingdom, Turkey, United States, Spain, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan. Imports—$3.32 billion. Partner: Turkey, United States, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Germany, Italy.

Work force: (2.02 million in 2005) Agriculture 40%, industry: 20%, services: 40%.

Unemployment: (2005 est.) 13.8%.


Georgia's recorded history dates back more than 2,500 years. Georgian, a South Caucasian (or “Kartvelian”) language unrelated to any other out-side the immediate region, is one of the oldest living languages in the world, and has its own distinctive alphabet. Tbilisi, located in the picturesque Mtkvari River valley, is more than 1,500 years old. In the early 4th century Georgia adopted Christianity, the second nation in the world to do so officially. Georgia has historically found itself on the margins of great empires, and Georgians have lived together in a unified state for only a small fraction of their existence as a people. Much of Georgia's territory was fought over by Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, and Turkish armies from at least the 1st century B.C. through the 18th century. The zenith of Georgia’ power as an independent kingdom came in the 11th and 12th centuries, during the reigns of King David the Builder and Queen Tamara, who still rank among the most celebrated of all Georgian rulers. In 1783 the king of Kartli (in eastern Georgia) signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with the Russians, by which Russia agreed to take the kingdom as its protectorate. In 1801, the Russian empire began the piecemeal process of unifying and annexing Georgian territory, and for most of the next two centuries (1801-1991) Georgia found itself ruled from St. Petersburg and Moscow. Exposed to modern European ideas of nationalism under Russian tutelage, Georgians like the writer Ilya Chavchavadze began calling for greater Georgian independence. In the wake of the collapse of tsarist rule and war with the Turks, the first Republic of Georgia was established on May 26, 1918, and the country enjoyed a brief period of independence under the Menshevik president, Noe Zhordania. However, in March 1921, the Russian Red Army re-occupied the country, and Georgia became a republic of the Soviet Union. Several of the Soviet Union's most notorious leaders in the 1920s and 1930s were Georgian, such as Joseph Stalin, Sergo Orjonikidze, and Lavrenti Beria. In the postwar period, Georgia was perceived as one of the wealthiest and most privileged of Soviet republics, and many Russians treated the country's Black Sea coast as a kind of Soviet Riviera. On April 9, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the U.S.S.R.

Beset by ethnic and civil strife from independence in 1991, Georgia began to stabilize in 1995. The separatist conflicts in Georgia's regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain unresolved, although cease-fires are in effect. In Abkhazia, the Common-wealth of Independent States (in fact, only Russian forces) maintains a peacekeeping force, and the United Nations maintains an Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), both of which monitor compliance with the 1994 cease-fire agreement. In South Ossetia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has the prime role in monitoring the 1992 cease-fire and facilitating negotiations.

The Georgian Government stakes much of its future on the revival of the ancient Silk Road as a Eurasian transportation corridor, using Georgia's geography as a bridge for the transit of goods, including oil and gas, between Europe and Asia. Georgians are renowned for their hospitality and artistry in dance, theater, music, and design.


Georgia has been a democratic republic since the presidential elections and constitutional referendum of October 1995. The President is elected for a term of 5 years, limited to 2 terms; his constitutional successor is the Speaker of Parliament.

Parliamentary elections on November 2, 2003 were marred by irregularities and fraud according to local and international observers. Popular demonstrations ensued in the streets of Tbilisi; protestors carried roses in their hands and these peaceful protests became known as the Rose Revolution. Former President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned on November 23, 2003, and the Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze assumed the role of Interim President. President Mikheil Saakashvili was elected to a 5-year term in January 2004. Parliamentary elections were re-held in March 2004 and President Saakashvili's party, National Movement, combined with Speaker Burjanadze's party, the Burjanadze-Democrats, won the majority of seats. On May 24, 2005, the Parliament passed legislation to decentralize power from the central government in Tbilisi to local government authorities in the regions. Elections were held on October 5, 2006 to elect 1,732 members of 69 local councils and seven city governments.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2008.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

President (Acting): Nino BURJANADZE

Speaker of Parliament (Acting): Mikheil MACHAVARIANI

Prime Minister: Lado GURGENIDZE

Min. of Agriculture: Petre TSISKARISHVILI

Min. of Culture: Giorgi GABASHVILI

Min. of Defense: Davit KEZERASHVILI

Min. of Economics & Infrastructure: Giorgi ARVELADZE

Min. of Education & Science: Maia MIMINOSHVILI

Min. of Energy: Alexander KHETAGURI

Min. of Environment: Davit CHANTLADZE

Min. of Finance: Nikoloz GILAURI

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Gela BEZHUASHVILI

Min. of Health & Social Welfare: Davit TKESHELASHVILI

Min. of Internal Affairs: Vano MERABISHVILI

Min. of Justice: Eka TKESHELASHVILI

Min. of Refugees: Koba SUBELIANI

State Min. for Conflict Resolution: Davit BAKRADZE

State Min. for Euro-Atlantic Integration: Giorgi BARAMIDZE

State Min. for National Reconciliation: Zinaida BESTAYEVA

State Min. for Small & Medium-Size Businesses: Kakha BENDUKIDZE

Prosecutor General: Zurab ADEISHVILI

Sec., National Security Council: Kakha LOMAIA

Chmn., National Bank (Acting): David AMAGLOBELI

Ambassador to the US: Vasil SIKHARULIDZE

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Irakli ALASANIA

Georgia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2209 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 387-2390, fax (202) 393-4537.


President Mikheil Saakashvili came to power following his near-unanimous election in early 2004 on the heels of the Rose Revolution in November 2003. The revolution swept out nearly all the old, discredited politicians in the previous government and replaced them with young, often western-educated officials. Saakashvili's National Movement party continues to enjoy wide popularity; opposition parties are weak and disunited, although they are free to organize and actively campaign for office. Beginning in 2004, the government announced its goals of building democracy, increasing prosperity, and peacefully reincorporating Georgia's separatist regions. The political status of the Russian-supported separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains unresolved, however, and continues to challenge the government.

Since 2004, the Government of Georgia has turned a nearly failed state into a rapidly maturing market democracy. Parliamentary and municipal elections have been judged to be largely free and fair, although problems remain with voter lists. The new government took action against endemic corruption. It completely reorganized the traffic police, which was infamous for its corruption prior to the Rose Revolution. Corrupt judges were dismissed, and a fair examination system for entering the universities was implemented. A great deal of progress has also been made in reforming Georgia's military, bringing it closer to the standards required for NATO membership. Georgia is seeking membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions, particularly the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and eventually the European Union (EU). In September 2006, NATO granted Georgia Intensified Dialogue on requirements for membership in the organization.

Nearly four years after the Rose Revolution, the Georgian government has implemented an impressive program of governance reform, anti-corruption measures, and democratic institution building. The Saakashvili government has been criticized for concentrating too much power within the executive branch of government. However in 2006, Parliament passed sweeping local government reforms designed to decentralize power to the regions and give local governments increased authority. Successful local elections were held in October 2006 to elect officials to fill new positions throughout Georgia created by these reforms. Georgia has received high marks from the World Bank and others on the government's aggressive anti-corruption campaign. Democratic institutions were strengthened as public service reform gained momentum and judicial reform was acknowledged as a priority. Constitutional amendments signed into law in 2006 increased the independence of the judiciary; further reforms have aimed at increasing respect for and strengthening the rule of law. In July 2007, legislation banning ex parte communication was passed, prohibiting parties to a case from communicating with judges during the pretrial investigation period as well as during the trial. Legislation requiring the Ministry of Justice to establish a legal aid office was also passed, making available assistance and representation in court proceedings to those who request it. The Georgian legislature has instituted political reforms supportive of higher human rights standards, including religious freedoms that are enshrined in the constitution. The government has launched an aggressive campaign to combat trafficking in persons.

The separatist conflict in Abkhazia continues to simmer, with frequent accusations from the Georgian Government that ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia face discrimination from the Abkhaz de facto authorities. The Abkhaz de facto authorities seek full independence from Georgia, and are currently refusing talks following the reassertion of Georgian Government control over the upper Kodori Valley area of Abkhazia in the summer of 2006. Since December 1993, the United Nations has chaired negotiations toward a settlement in Abkhazia. The UN mediator is the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), currently Ambassador Jean Arnault. The Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General on Georgia (consisting of the United States, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom) supports the UN-led peace process. UNOMIG and the Friends continue to encourage the adoption of confidence-building measures in the region. The Georgian legislature passed a resolution on the CIS peacekeepers in Abkhazia, declaring its belief that the peacekeepers have been ineffective in establishing conditions to allow the return of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Georgians displaced by the conflict.

The Parliament has repeatedly expressed its desire for the peacekeepers to be replaced by an international police force; however, the Georgian Government has made no official demand for the peacekeepers in Abkhazia to leave. For more information on the separatist conflict in Georgia's Abkhazia region, see the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Abkhazia The United States supports the strengthening of Georgia's territorial integrity through peaceful means. Unilaterally and as a member of the Group of Friends, the U.S. seeks to advance negotiations toward a comprehensive settlement of the conflict, including on Abkhazia's future status within Georgia and the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally-displaced perso

The 1992 Sochi Agreement, which established a cease-fire between the Georgian and South Ossetian forces, and defined both a zone of conflict around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and a security corridor along the border of South Ossetian territories, remains in effect. The South Ossetia region is comprised of a patchwork of Georgian villages interspersed with ethnic Ossetian villages. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors the ceasefire and facilitates negotiations between the Georgians and the South Ossetians toward a comprehensive settlement consistent with Georgian independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The Agreement also created the Joint Control Commission (JCC) and a peacekeeping body, the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF). The JPKF is under Russian command and is comprised of peacekeepers from Georgia, Russia, and Russia's North Ossetian autonomous republic. South Ossetian peacekeepers, however, serve in the North Ossetian contingent. Talks on South Ossetia are held under the auspices of the Joint Control Commission (JCC), with Georgian, Russian, North Ossetian, and South Ossetian delegations participating. The Georgian Government has frequently complained that the current format for talks puts Georgia at a disadvantage, and would like greater participation by the international community.

In January of 2005, Georgian President Saakashvili put forth a proposal to give autonomous status to South Ossetia within Georgia. The United States welcomed President Saakash-vili's initiative to resolve the conflict through peaceful means and continues to look for ways to encourage a lasting resolution of the conflict. An alternative leader in South Ossetia emerged in November 2006, when ethnic Georgian Dmitry Sanakoyev was elected in an unrecognized, de facto presidential election by the ethnic Georgian population. Sanakoyev has set up an alternative government in Kurta, South Ossetia.

The United States supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and supports only a peaceful resolution of the separatist conflict in South Ossetia that defines the status of South Osse-tia within Georgia's internationally recognized borders, while affording South Ossetia significant autonomy within a unified Georgia.

The United States views Georgia's autonomy proposal as an important step in a peace process that should be marked by direct and frequent negotiations between the two sides. International donors, including the United States, launched an economic rehabilitation project in 2006 to help establish a peaceful and prosperous future for South Ossetia within Georgia.


The Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia was one of the most prosperous and envied locations in the former Soviet Union. The political turmoil after independence had a catastrophic effect on Georgia's economy. The cumulative decline in real GDP is estimated to have been more than 70% between 1990 and 1994, and by the end of 1996, Georgia's economy had shrunk to around one-third of its size in 1989. Today, the largest share of Georgia's GDP is produced by agriculture, followed by trade, manufacturing, and transport. Georgia's main exports are metals and ores, wine, nuts, and aircraft.

Although Georgia experienced some years of growth in the mid-1990s, it was hit hard by the Russian economic crisis of 1998-99. The later years of former President Shevardnadze's administration were marked by rampant cronyism, corruption, and mismanagement. Public disaffection with the situation resulted in the Rose Revolution of 2003. The new government, led by Mikheil Saakashvili, promised to reorient the government and the economy toward privatization, free markets, and reduced regulation, to combat corruption, to stabilize the economy, and to bring order to the budget.

The government reduced the number of taxes from 21 to 7 and introduced a flat income tax of 12%. It significantly reduced the number of licenses a business requires, and introduced a “one-window” system that allows an entrepreneur to open a business relatively quickly. Strict deadlines for agency action on permits were introduced, and consent is assumed if the agency fails to act within the time limit. The government intends to completely eliminate import duties by 2008, which should reduce costs and stimulate business.

The World Bank recognized Georgia as the world's fastest-reforming economy in its 2007 “Doing Business” report, ranking it as the world's 37th easiest place to do business, in the same league as countries such as France, Slovakia, and Spain. The World Bank's “Anti-Corruption in Transition 3” report places Georgia among the countries showing the most dramatic improvement in the struggle against corruption, due to implementation of key economic and institutional reforms, and reported reduction in the bribes paid by firms in the course of doing business.

Economic growth has remained strong, reaching 8% in 2006; inflation reached 10% in the same year but decreased to 7.3% in the first six months of 2007.. Efforts to improve the efficiency of government operations since the Rose Revolution have required the government to release workers, pushing official unemployment to 13.8% in 2005. A strongly negative balance of trade is offset by inflows of investment and assistance from international donors. The fiscal deficit was 2.9% of GDP in 2006according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Improved collection and administration of taxes have greatly increased revenues for the government. In two years, from 2003 to 2005, tax collections went up from 13.8% of GDP to 20.8%. The government has been able to pay off wage and pension arrears and increase spending on desperately needed infrastructure such as roads and electric energy supply systems. The government privatized nine times the value of state-owned assets in 2005 as it did in all of 2000-2003. It expects to have privatized all of the largest state-owned industries by the end of 2008, increasing revenues and removing a major temptation toward corruption from the control of state bureaucrats.

Before 2004, electricity blackouts were common throughout the country, but since late 2005, distribution has been much more reliable, approaching consistent 24-hour-a-day service. Improvements have resulted from increased metering, better billing and collection practices, reduced theft, and management reforms. Investments in infrastructure have been made as well. Hydroelectricity output increased by almost 27%, and thermal by 28%, from 2005 to 2006. Natural gas has traditionally been supplied to Georgia by Russia. Through conservation, new hydroelectricity sources, and the availability of new sources of natural gas in Azerbaijan, Georgia's dependence on Russia for energy supplies should decrease in the near future.

The banking sector is becoming more open to competition from foreign-owned banks. The sector is relatively stable, and is supplying more credit to domestic businesses. Credit from Georgian banks to the economy was 15% of GDP in 2005, compared to 10% in 2004—still low, compared to the average in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland for 2005, which was 36%.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is the most important source of capital for Georgia and other post-Soviet states. Such investment not only supports new plants and equipment, but usually entails bringing in modern management methods as well. The Georgian Government is eager to welcome foreign investors. From 2002 to 2006, FDI averaged 9% of GDP, with much of it dedicated to the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline. In 2006, which saw diminishing pipeline investment as a function of total FDI, more than half of FDI went to the banking, manufacturing, and tourism sectors.

Georgia faces many challenges in attracting foreign investment and growing its economy. In 2006, more than 50% of the population lived below the official poverty line. With only 4.7 million people, most of whom have little disposable income, it is a small market in itself. The major market to which Georgia has traditionally been linked is Russia. (For example, at one time nearly 100% of the Soviet Union's citrus fruits were grown in Georgia.) In 2006, trade relations were plagued by politically motivated interruptions when Russia imposed bans on all Georgian exports of wine, fruits and vegetables, and mineral water. In October 2006, Russia severed all direct transportation links, as well as postal service and visa issuance. In addition, Russia undertook a campaign of deportations of Georgian nationals residing in Russia and closed the only legal land border crossing between Georgia and Russia, diverting traffic into the separatist regions outside of Georgia's control. In light of these restrictions, Georgian businesses are actively seeking new markets for their products in the EU, Eastern Europe, North America, and elsewhere. Reports confirm that the sanctions have not had an adverse effect on the economy; in fact, exports have increased since the beginning of 2006 because Georgia was forced to find alternate markets for its goods.

The government faces a major challenge in controlling corruption, which is a persistent problem. Shortly after President Saakashvili took office, his administration dismissed nearly the entire police force and replaced it with better-paid and -trained officers. Several high officials have been prosecuted for corruption-related offenses. On the other hand, widespread lack of confidence in the Georgian courts and system of justice is a major obstacle to both foreign and domestic investment. The new government has promised to tackle this difficult task, which requires balancing the objective of judicial independence with honest, fair, and competent decision making.

The United States and other international donors have targeted foreign assistance to promote democratic reform, resolve regional conflicts, foster energy independence, assist economic development, and reduce poverty. The U.S. seeks to help Georgia consolidate democratic gains since the Rose Revolution. The USG lends significant diplomatic and funding support to Georgia's efforts to resolve the separatist conflicts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. With USG assistance, Georgia is working to free itself from near total energy dependence on Russian sources of energy. Georgia is one of the first countries to receive a compact, in the amount of $295 million over five years, from the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). MCC offers grant assistance to countries that meet certain requirements for good governance and commitment to reform. In 2004, Georgia's debt to the Paris Club was restructured. Since 2004, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has monitored a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility that will terminate in 2007. The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EU, OSCE, and the UN are all active in Georgia. Their goals are complementary, and include assisting in conflict resolution in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, energy and transportation development, legal and administrative reform, health, and many other areas.


Georgia's location between the Black Sea, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey gives it importance as a transport corridor far beyond its size. It is developing as the gateway from the Black Sea to the Caucasus and the Caspian basin. Following Russian bans on imports of Georgian wine, water, and agricultural products, and the severing of transportation links in 2006, Georgia has reached out to other neighbors and to the West to diversify its export markets. It signed a partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union, and in 2006 signed an action plan under the European Union's European Neighborhood Policy for reforms aimed at building a closer relationship with the EU. Georgia participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. In September 2006, Georgia was granted Intensified Dialogue with NATO to formalize discussions on Georgia's membership aspirations. In addition, Georgia has reached out to a number of countries that have expressed interest in investing in the country. China, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine, as well as a number of European Union countries (including Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) maintain embassies in Tbilisi. Georgia is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development—GUAM.


U.S.Georgia relations continue to be close. Extensive U.S. assistance is targeted to support Georgia's democratic, economic, and security reform programs, with an emphasis on institution-building and implementing lasting reforms. The United States has provided Georgia approximately $1.7 billion in assistance since 1991. On September 12, 2005, Georgia signed a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a five-year $295.3 million assistance package. Information about U.S. assistance to Georgia can be found at

In recognition of the extensive assistance provided to Georgia and the political dynamic of the time, in September 2003, the United States completed a comprehensive review of U.S. foreign assistance to Georgia. Following the Rose Revolution in November 2003, the United States increased assistance to the Georgian Government in response to its ambitious reform and anti-corruption plans. We continue to help Georgia establish itself as a successful market economy and democracy.

The United States works closely with Georgia to promote mutual security and counterterrorism interests. The United States provides Georgia with bilateral security assistance, including English-language and military professionalism training, through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The multiyear Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) ended in 2004, achieving its intended goals of enhancing Georgia's military capability and stimulating military reform. Launched in January 2005, the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program has advanced GTEP's goals and trained the Georgian contingent participating in coalition operations in Iraq. Partnership with the Georgia (U.S.) National Guard, visits by the Sixth Fleet and the Coast Guard to Georgia, and the Bilateral Working Group on Defense and Military Cooperation are also important components of our security relationship with Georgia.

Promoting democracy and reform is another strategic pillar of our bilateral relationship with Georgia. In April 2006 the government passed a strong anti-trafficking-in-persons law. Since then, the government has taken further constructive steps to combat trafficking in persons. In 2007, Georgia moved up to the Tier 1 list, meaning that it fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

TBILISI (E) 11 George Balanchine Street, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0131, APO/ FPO Unit 7060, APO/AE 09742-7060, 995 32 277000, Fax 995 32 532310, INMARSAT Tel 2 INMARSATS 683130425/BGAN 870772242768; 2 Thurayas +8821652073174 & +8821651072639, Workweek: M-F; 0900-1800, Website:

DCM OMS:Valerie Davis
AMB OMS:Judy Thiessen
DHS/CIS:Ronald Grimes
DHS/ICE:Chris Nelson
DPO:Lester Brayshaw
ECO:Robert Kiene
FM:Steven Gavazza
HRO:Richard Marsh
MGT:John Bernlohr
PAO/ADV:Stepen Guice
POL ECO:Bridget Brink
USCS OIC:Christopher Nelson
AMB:John Tefft
CON:Lindsay Henderson
DCM:Mark Perry
PAO:Cynthia Whittlesey
GSO:Brian Anselman
RSO:John Galido
AGR:Sean Carmody
AID:Robert Wilson
CLO:Georgetta Caroll
DAO:Col. Matthew Brand
FIN:Timothy Grewe
FMO:Kristen Heslink-Purcell
ICASS:Chair Bridget Brink
IMO:Lester Brayshaw
ISO:Guadalupe Pinon
ISSO:Lester Brayshaw
LEGATT:Jeffrey Pelaez
NAS:Laura A Melanas
State ICASS: Bridget Brink


Consular Information Sheet

October 3, 2007

Country Description: Georgia is a constitutional republic with a developing economy. Tourist facilities outside of Tbilisi are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry Requirements: A passport is required. U.S. citizens visiting for 90 days or less do not need a visa to enter Georgia. Armenian and Azerbaijani visas are no longer valid for transit through Georgia. For further information, please contact the Embassy of Georgia at 2209 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20008 tel. (202) 387-2390, fax: (202) 393-4537. Visit the Embassy of Georgia web site at for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: As a result of civil wars in the 1980s early 1990s, there are two separatist regions in Georgia that are not under the control of the Government of Georgia: South Ossetia, in north-central Georgia; and Abkhazia, in northwest Georgia. Although armed conflict between the separatist regions and the central government has ceased, episodes of violence continue and political relations are tense. Political developments have the potential to result in open hostilities. Due to the volatility of the political situation, high levels of crime, and inability of Embassy personnel to travel to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, the U.S. Embassy advises American citizens not to travel to these separatist-controlled areas.

In July 2004, political tensions increased significantly between the Georgian Government and the South Ossetia separatist regime, based in Tskhinvali. This situation culminated in sniper and mortar exchanges between South Ossetian and Georgian troops. Although the fighting did not escalate into an all-out war, low-level violence continues between the two sides, periodically resulting in deaths, and underscoring the potential for instability in the region. A tense truce also exists between the Georgian Government and the separatist de facto government of Abkhazia. Over the past several years, a number of attacks, criminal incidents, and kidnappings have occurred in Abkhazia. While Abkhaz “border officials” may demand that travelers entering the region purchase “visas” from the so-called “Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia,” the U.S. Government recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia. American citizens in areas of western Georgia, near Abkhazia, are advised to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to avoid straying off main roads or traveling after dark.

Because of the restricted access of U.S. officials to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the ability of the U.S. Government to assist American citizens in these regions is extremely limited, even in emergencies. All travelers to these regions, regardless of purpose, should register with the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Embassy recommends that Americans maintain contact with the Embassy for the latest information on the security situation in these separatist regions.

American citizens should be aware that they cannot legally cross by land, air, rail, or sea between Russia and Georgia, even if in possession of valid Russian or Georgian visas. In July 2006, the Russian Government closed the only border crossing between Georgia and Russia under the control of both governments (the only other crossings are through Georgia's separatist regions). Russian authorities said the closure, at Verkhny Lars, would be temporary, pending necessary repairs at the crossing, although it remains closed as of August 2007. On August 6, 2007 a missile was fired from an aircraft near a village between the city of Gori and the separatist region of South Ossetia. Although this was an isolated incident, it serves as a reminder that the situation near the separatist areas remains unpredictable.

Georgia's armed forces have periodically conducted operations against suspected international terrorists, Chechen fighters, and criminals who have taken refuge in the Pankisi Gorge. American citizens should avoid all travel to the Pankisi Gorge, north of the city of Akhmeta. American citizens are also advised to exercise caution when traveling in the northern mountainous areas of Georgia bordering the Russian Federation, especially the Chechnya and Dagestan sectors.

Regardless of the region in Georgia one is planning to visit, American citizens are urged to review their personal security precautions, increase their levels of awareness, register with the consular section, and as appropriate, take increased security measures.

In the past, religious minorities in Georgia have been targets of violent attacks. The victims were primarily Jehovah's Witnesses, but also include Pentecostals, Baptists, and members of the Assembly of God. Incidents included the burning of literature, the destruction of private property and the beating (sometimes severe) of believers, including American citizens. Although Georgian authorities arrested, convicted and imprisoned the ringleader of the group responsible for these attacks in 2005, American citizens should remain cautious when engaging in missionary activity in Georgia.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair's Internet site at, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Crime is a very serious problem in Georgia. There is a great disparity in affluence between foreigners and most Georgians. Americans in particular are perceived as being wealthy, and are therefore specifically targeted for economic- and property-based crimes. Incidents such as residential break-ins, carjacking, car theft, petty theft, and armed robbery account for most of the crimes involving Americans that are reported to the Embassy. Petty street crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and cell phone theft, is also common throughout the country. Furthermore, violent attacks have become more commonplace. Because illegal firearms are readily available in Georgia, assailants are likely to be armed with firearms and other weapons.

Crime remains a particularly serious issue in Tbilisi, where criminal activity against foreigners remains at levels disproportionate to other metropolitan areas in Europe and the United States. Many robberies and assaults have occurred in areas frequented by American citizens and foreigners, such as on side streets near Tbilisi's city center; trouble spots include areas off the main avenues in the Vake and Vera districts, and Chavchavadze and Rustaveli avenues, as well as the Saburtalo region of Tbilisi. These crimes often occurred when the victim was alone, after dark, and in unfamiliar surroundings.

Petty theft is also a problem on the Tbilisi metro system and in minivans marshrutkas marshrutkas” used for public transport. American citizens are advised to use personal vehicles or use taxis from established companies that carry passengers door-to-door. While the security of overland travel in Georgia has improved, vehicular and rail traffic remains vulnerable to robbery.

The threat of kidnapping exists both within and outside of Tbilisi. In the past, foreign businessmen have been abducted for ransom, and Americans in the Tbilisi area have received kid-napping threats. The possibility of similar risk to Americans elsewhere in the country cannot be discounted.

Outside of Tbilisi, criminal activity is also a problem, especially in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, due to the reduced capacity of law enforcement in those areas. Other regions of concern include: upper Svanetia, Samtskhe-Javakheti, the administrative border with Abkhazia (including Zugdidi city), and areas along the border with Russia. When visiting or traveling through these regions, American citizens are urged to increase their vigilance, review their personal security precautions, and take appropriate security measures, e.g. traveling with a native Georgian escort familiar with the local area.

Despite much progress in the Georgian Government's efforts to reform police and fight internal corruption, serious concerns remain as to the police's ability to deter criminal activity or conduct effective post-incident investigations. Although police emergency response is good, criminals continue to have freedom of movement throughout Tbilisi day or night.

In light of the serious crime situation, all American citizens visiting Georgia are again strongly advised to exercise basic security precautions. American travelers should vary times and routes, especially from places of residence to work locations. Americans should maintain a low profile by not carrying large amounts of cash, not wearing excessive amounts of jewelry, and not behaving in a manner that would draw unnecessary attention. Additionally, Americans should be aware of their surroundings, travel in pairs or groups, and stay on main streets and routes. The Embassy recommends that those traveling throughout the country do so during daylight hours only and provide a travel itinerary and contact telephone numbers to a friend or business colleague. Also, Americans should not hesitate to report any unusual incidents or suspicious vehicles or individuals to the Georgian authorities as soon as possible. Finally, those that do become a victim of crime should not resist their assailant and should cooperate with the assailant as best they can. Assailants are most interested in money and/or property; cooperation reduces the chance of being assaulted and/or injured.

Information for Victims of Crime: The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) has established a police emergency hotline. This service is currently limited to larger cities, but the MOIA is planning to expand this service countrywide. To contact police in an emergency, simply dial “022” from your landline or cell phone. Please note that the police dispatcher speaks only Georgian or Russian.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in Georgia is limited. There is a severe shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. It is recommended that travelers who intend to visit Georgia for at least two weeks get the hepatitis A vaccine and a pre-exposure rabies vaccine. Travelers are also encouraged to bring medicine to treat diarrhea, which regularly afflicts newcomers. Georgian doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment before rendering medical services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC site at For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at Further health information for travelers is available at

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company before traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Georgia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

As in the United States, vehicular traffic in Georgia moves along the right side of roadways. Speed limits range from 80 to 100 km/hr on highways, and from 30 to 60 km/hr on urban thoroughfares. Motorists are not permitted to make right turns on red traffic lights. While legislation mandating seat belt use has yet to be enacted, drivers and passengers are nevertheless strongly advised to buckle up on Georgian roads. Georgian law requires that children under seven (7) years of age be restrained in child-safety seats. A driver with any blood alcohol concentration exceeding 0.00% is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol.

Motorists should exercise extreme caution when driving in Georgia, as many local drivers do not operate their vehicles in accordance with established traffic laws. Traffic signals and rules of the road are often completely ignored. Motorists drive erratically, often recklessly, and at excessive speeds. Motorists may frequently encounter oncoming high-speed traffic attempting to pass other vehicles at blind turns or over hilltops. Pedestrians enjoy no right-of-way and need to be extremely careful when crossing streets. The Georgian Patrol Police, who come under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, are responsible for maintaining traffic safety in Georgia, but enforcement of traffic regulations is haphazard.

Undivided two-lane roads connect most major cities in Georgia. Roads are generally in poor condition and often lack shoulder markings and centerlines. In addition, traffic signals may not work because of power outages or poor maintenance. Driving at night can be especially dangerous. Travel on mountain roads is treacherous in both rain and snow, and during winter, heavy snowfalls may make some roads impassable.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Georgia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Georgia's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at

Travelers on regional airlines among the countries of the South Caucasus may experience prolonged delays and sudden cancellations of flights. In addition to frequent delays, flights are often overcrowded or overbooked. Basic safety features such as seat belts are sometimes missing. Air travel to Georgia on international carriers via Europe is typically more reliable. Ticketed passengers on flights departing from Georgia should reconfirm reservations with the airline 24 hours prior to departure.

Special Circumstances: Georgia has been subject to energy crises in the last few years. During the winter months, frequent and prolonged power outages are common, especially outside of Tbilisi. The lack of lighting in public places, even when electricity is available, heightens vulnerability to crime (please see the Crime section above for details).

Georgia's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import into or export from Georgia of items such as alcohol, tobacco, jewelry, religious materials, art or artifacts, antiquities, and business equipment. Only personal medicines with a doctor's statement can be imported without the permission of the Georgian Drug Agency section of the Ministry of Health.

U.S. citizens may not import firearms into Georgia; however, hunting weapons may be brought into the country for a two-week period, based on valid Georgian hunting licenses. While there is no limit to the amount of currency that can be imported, if more money is exported than was declared at the time of entry, the traveler is obligated to prove it was legally obtained. There are limits on the amount of Georgian currency that may be exported. The Ministry of Culture, Department of Expertise and Evaluation must license any valuables such as artwork, antiques, jewelry, paintings, etc. This license describes the object, assesses its value, and provides permission to export it from Georgia.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi can provide more specific information on quantities of items that can be imported duty-free, as well as duties excised for specific items. It is also advisable to contact the Embassy of Georgia in Washington, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements. While the Georgian lari is the only legal tender, dollars can be freely exchanged for laris at market rates. ATMs are also becoming more widespread, but only within the city of Tbilisi. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside of upscale hotels and restaurants, and travelers’ checks are difficult to cash. American citizens in Georgia have reported incidents of credit card fraud and identity theft.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences.

Persons violating Georgian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Georgia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Georgia are strongly encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site,, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Georgia. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi is located at 11 George Balanchine Street. Office hours from American Citizens Services are from 2 to 5 pm on weekdays; no appointment is necessary. The telephone number is (995) (32) 27-70-00, which can also be reached after hours, and the fax number is: (995) (32) 53-23-10. The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi's web site is

International Adoption

October 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: In August 2006, the Georgia Ministry of Education informed the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia that a very limited number of Georgian children are eligible for intercountry adoption. Information about available children may be obtained by contacting Ms. Tamar Golubiani, head of the Child Care Department at the Ministry of Education and Science. Her contact information is below.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at

Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for adoptions in Georgia is the Ministry of Education and Science. The main contact is Ms. Tamta Golubiani, the head of the Child Care Department.

Ms.Golubiani (speaks English).
52 Uznadze Street
Tbilisi, Georgia 0102
Tel: 995-32-95-17-68

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 16 years older than the child they wish to adopt. Spouses must adopt the child jointly.

Unmarried individuals may also adopt. Persons who have been denied parental rights in a court of law or who have had other adoptions annulled due to failure to perform parental duties may not adopt. Persons unable to perform parental duties due to physical or mental illness, moral, criminal or other reasons may not adopt.

Residential Requirements: There are no residency requirements in Georgia for prospective adoptive parents.

Time Frame: Georgian adoptions should take from three months to nine months. However, the U.S. Department of State is aware of individual cases that took much longer than nine months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Georgia does not require adoption agencies to be licensed or accredited. The Ministry of Education requires that the prospective adoptive parent(s) submit the required documentation, legalized by the Georgian Embassy in the U.S., directly to the Ministry of Education. While the Ministry will accept applications submitted through adoption agencies or facilitators, the use of such intermediaries has sometimes lengthened the process.

Adoption Fees: The average total fees in Georgia are around $4,000 to $5,000. This fee includes the cost of an attorney, translation and notarization services as well as other costs charged by the Georgian government including the child's passport.

Please note that the Ministry of Education does not charge any fees for the referral of a child for adoption. If a prospective adoptive parent uses an adoption agency the total fee to adopt a child could be from $20,000-$30,000.

Adoption Procedures: Children available for adoption are registered in the Central Registry Database maintained by the Ministry of Education. The children can be adopted locally only for six months after being put in the database. A child is only eligible for intercountry adoption after six months in the database. Only the Ministry of Education is authorized to make matches of adoptive parents with available children, and only after the adoptive parents’ application for adoption is approved.

U.S. citizens wishing to adopt a child from Georgia must submit the documents listed below to the Ministry of Education for approval. It usually takes two to three months of review and investigation by the Ministry before the application is accepted. The Ministry will then provide the adopting parent(s) with basic information about children in the Central Registry Database (date of birth, sex, and medical diagnosis if relevant). After the adopting parent(s) confirms in writing a willingness to adopt, the adopting parent(s) is provided with the location of the child, allowed to visit, and have any desired medical consultations done. A final written confirmation from the adoptive parent(s) in regards to a specific child is then required before the Ministry of Education will submit a statement of adoption consent to the City Court Civil Cases Collegium. The length of this process fluctuates; there have been informal reports by adoptive parents(s) that the Ministry of Education review takes longer than the three to nine months stated above. The prospective adoptive parents must submit the documents to the Ministry of Education and see the child before the Ministry will issue the statement of adoption consent. Prospective adoptive parents must be present at the court session. After the court has approved the adoption, copies of all documentation are taken by the prospective adoptive parents or facilitators to the regional registration department, where the new birth certificate and the adoption certificate are issued. The adopting parents must be present for this procedure. A new Georgian passport, based on the new birth certificate, will be issued.

Required Documents: Prospective adoptive parents need to submit the following documents directly to the Ministry of Education:

  • Statement from the adoptive parent(s) indicating their full name, address, age, and sex and the category of child desired for adoption;
  • Copy of passport(s);
  • Copy of marriage certificate if applicable. If single or divorced, a sworn statement notarized by the consular section of the U.S. Embassy;
  • Documents from a U.S. doctor certifying health of adoptive parents, including a psychiatric certificate;
  • Certificate from adoptive parent's workplace indicating position and salary;
  • Copy of adoptive parent's personal financial account;
  • Clean record of no criminal activity of the adoptive parents;
  • References from friends, family, clergy, this is often covered by the home study;
  • Completed home study;
  • I-600A approval.

All the above documents MUST be translated into Georgian, notarized by a notary public, and then authenticated and legalized by the Consular Office of the Georgian Embassy in the U.S.

Embassy of Georgia
1101 15th St., NW, Suite 602
Washington, D.C. 20009
Tel: 202-387-2390
Consular Section: 202-393-6060
Fax: 202-393-4537

Email: [email protected] or [email protected] Internet:

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at

U.S. Embassy
11 George Balanchine St., Tbilisi,
Georgia 0131
Tel: (995) (32) 277-000,
Email: [email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Georgia may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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2802 Moore Hwy.
Tifton, GA 31793
Tel: (229)386-3236
Free: 800-733-3653
Admissions: (229)391-5001
Fax: (229)386-7006
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


State-supported, 2-year, coed. Part of University System of Georgia. Awards certificates, transfer associate, and terminal associate degrees. Founded 1933. Setting: 390-acre small town campus. Endowment: $4.3 million. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $1968 per student. Total enrollment: 3,423. Student-undergrad faculty ratio is 22:1. 2,114 applied, 60% were admitted. Full-time: 2,237 students, 51% women, 49% men. Part-time: 1,186 students, 71% women, 29% men. Students come from 10 states and territories, 0.1% Native American, 3% Hispanic, 17% black, 1% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 1% international, 29% 25 or older, 28% live on campus. Core. Calendar: semesters. Academic remediation for entering students, ESL program, services for LD students, advanced placement, honors program, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, internships. Off campus study at Ben Hill Irwin Technical Institute, Moultrie Technical Institute.

Entrance Requirements:

Open admission. Options: Common Application, early admission, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, minimum 2.0 high school GPA, college prep curriculum. Required for some: minimum 2.2 high school GPA. Entrance: noncompetitive. Application deadline: 9/24.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $20. State resident tuition: $1542 full-time, $65 per credit hour part-time. Nonresident tuition: $6166 full-time, $257 per credit hour part-time. Mandatory fees: $232 full-time, $52 per term part-time. College room and board: $5040.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Drama-theater group, choral group, student-run newspaper, radio station. Most popular organizations: Rodeo Club, Baptist Student Union, Forestry/Wildlife Club. Major annual events: Spring Fling, concerts, dances. Student services: health clinic, personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: 24-hour emergency response devices and patrols, late night transport-escort service. On-campus residence required in freshman year. Option: coed housing available. Baldwin Library with 69,986 books and 431 serials. 158 computers available on campus for general student use. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

A rural area between Macon and Valdosta having a temperate climate. All modes of transportation serve the area. Scheduled airlines are nearby at Moultrie and Albany. Tifton is an agricultural area; plants are grown here and then sent north for transplanting. Other products are tobacco, cotton, peanuts, melons, commercial grasses and livestock. Part and full-time employment is good. Recreational activities include hunting, tennis, golf, swimming and other water sports.


141 East College Ave.
Decatur, GA 30030-3797
Tel: (404)471-6000
Free: 800-868-8602
Admissions: (404)471-6285
Fax: (404)471-6414
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


Independent, comprehensive, affiliated with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Awards bachelor's and master's degrees. Founded 1889. Setting: 100-acre urban campus with easy access to Atlanta. Endowment: $274.7 million. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $14,489 per student. Total enrollment: 1,016. Faculty: 110 (81 full-time, 29 part-time). Student-undergrad faculty ratio is 10:1. 1,526 applied, 53% were admitted. 48% from top 10% of their high school class, 75% from top quarter, 96% from top half. 4 National Merit Scholars, 32 student government officers. Full-time: 879 students, 99% women, 0.3% men. Part-time: 124 students, 94% women, 6% men. Students come from 39 states and territories, 29 other countries, 54% from out-of-state, 0.2% Native American, 3% Hispanic, 20% black, 5% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 8% international, 7% 25 or older, 87% live on campus, 1% transferred in. Retention: 84% of full-time freshmen returned the following year. Academic areas with the most degrees conferred: social sciences; psychology; visual and performing arts. Core. Calendar: semesters. Services for LD students, advanced placement, accelerated degree program, self-designed majors, independent study, double major, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, internships, graduate courses open to undergrads. Off campus study at Mills College, American University, members of Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education and Public Leadership Education Network. Study abroad program. ROTC: Air Force (c).

Entrance Requirements:

Options: Peterson's Universal Application, Common Application, electronic application, early admission, early decision, deferred admission, international baccalaureate accepted. Required: essay, high school transcript, 2 recommendations, SAT or ACT. Recommended: minimum 3.0 high school GPA, interview. Required for some: SAT Subject Tests. Entrance: very difficult. Application deadlines: 3/1, 11/15 for early decision. Notification: continuous until 5/1, 12/15 for early decision.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $35. Comprehensive fee: $32,070 includes full-time tuition ($23,260), mandatory fees ($310), and college room and board ($8500). College room only: $4250. Room and board charges vary according to board plan and housing facility. Part-time tuition: $970 per credit hour. Part-time mandatory fees: $310 per year. Part-time tuition and fees vary according to course load.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Drama-theater group, choral group, student-run newspaper. Social organizations: 77 open to all. Most popular organizations: Student Government Association, Blackfriars, Joyful Noise, Witkaze (African-American Student organization), Volunteer Board. Major annual events: Black Cat, Senior Investiture, Sophomore Family Weekend. Student services: health clinic, personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: 24-hour emergency response devices and patrols, late night transport-escort service, security systems in apartments, public safety facility, surveillance equipment. 775 college housing spaces available; 755 were occupied in 2003-04. Freshmen guaranteed college housing. On-campus residence required through senior year. Option: women-only housing available. McCain Library with 220,041 books, 32,677 microform titles, 1,264 serials, 15,505 audiovisual materials, an OPAC, and a Web page. Operations spending for 2004 fiscal year: $905,954. 558 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed from student residence rooms and from off campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

See Clark Atlanta University.


504 College Dr.
Albany, GA 31705-2717
Tel: (229)430-4600
Admissions: (229)430-4646
Fax: (229)430-3936
Web Site:


State-supported, comprehensive, coed. Part of University System of Georgia. Awards associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Founded 1903. Setting: 144-acre urban campus. Endowment: $2 million. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $6843 per student. Total enrollment: 3,668. 1,777 applied, 91% were admitted. Full-time: 2,658 students, 65% women, 35% men. Part-time: 554 students, 79% women, 21% men. 35% live on campus. Retention: 82% of full-time freshmen returned the following year. Core. Calendar: semesters. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, honors program, independent study, distance learning, double major, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, co-op programs and internships. Off campus study at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Bainbridge College, Waycross College. Study abroad program. ROTC: Army.

Entrance Requirements:

Options: early admission, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, minimum 2.0 high school GPA, SAT or ACT. Required for some: interview. Entrance: minimally difficult. Application deadline: 7/1.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Drama-theater group, choral group, marching band, student-run newspaper. Social organizations: 47 open to all; national fraternities, national sororities. Most popular organizations: Gospel Choir, Religious Life Organization, Business Professionals of America, Concert Chorale, NAACP ASU Chapter. Major annual events: Homecoming Week, Honors Day, Founders' Day. Student services: health clinic, personal-psychological counseling, women's center. Campus security: 24-hour emergency response devices and patrols, late night transport-escort service, controlled dormitory access. 1,070 college housing spaces available; 1,040 were occupied in 2003-04. Options: coed, men-only, women-only housing available. James Pendergrast Memorial Library with 338,744 books, 691,524 microform titles, 1,066 serials, 3,301 audiovisual materials, an OPAC, and a Web page. Operations spending for 2004 fiscal year: $891,081. 1,000 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed from student residence rooms and from off campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

The campus is situated in a progressive community that affords a variety of advantages. Albany is located on the Flint River. Air transportation is accessible at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. The Marine Corps Supply Center is located here. Albany's economy is broadly based on agriculture, manufacturing, and business from the nearby military bases. The most notable industry is the production of papershell pecans; more than 700,000 pecan trees cover 60,000 acres in the vicinity. The Spanish peanut industry and other diversified businesses and farming contribute to the city's high rating in retail sales. Part-time employment is available. Radium Springs, four miles south, has the largest natural spring in the state.


1704 South Slappey Blvd.
Albany, GA 31701-3514
Tel: (229)430-3500
Admissions: (229)430-3520
Fax: (229)430-5155
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


State-supported, 2-year, coed. Awards certificates, diplomas, and terminal associate degrees. Founded 1961. Total enrollment: 2,787. Full-time: 1,390 students, 61% women, 39% men. Part-time: 1,397 students, 66% women, 34% men. 0.2% Native American, 1% Hispanic, 66% black, 0.3% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 0% international. Core. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, distance learning, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, internships.

Entrance Requirements:

Open admission. Options: Common Application, electronic application, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, ACT COMPASS or ASSET. Entrance: noncompetitive.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $15. State resident tuition: $1116 full-time, $31 per credit hour part-time. Nonresident tuition: $2232 full-time, $62 per credit hour part-time.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. College housing not available. Albany Technical College Library and Media Center plus 1 other with 42,000 books, 20 microform titles, 40 serials, 520 audiovisual materials, an OPAC, and a Web page. 500 computers available on campus for general student use. Computer purchase/lease plans available. A campuswide network can be accessed from off-campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.


1777 West Cherry St.
Jesup, GA 31545
Tel: (912)427-5800
Admissions: (912)427-5817
Fax: (912)427-5823
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


State-supported, 2-year, coed. Awards certificates, diplomas, and terminal associate degrees. Total enrollment: 859. Full-time: 342 students, 56% women, 44% men. Part-time: 517 students, 59% women, 41% men. 0.1% Native American, 2% Hispanic, 27% black, 0.2% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 0% international. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, distance learning, internships.

Entrance Requirements:

Open admission. Option: deferred admission. Required: high school transcript. Placement: ACT COMPASS or ASSET required. Entrance: noncompetitive.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $15. State resident tuition: $1116 full-time, $31 per credit hour part-time. Nonresident tuition: $2232 full-time, $62 per credit hour part-time.

Collegiate Environment:

College housing not available. 4,435 books, 90 serials, and 292 audiovisual materials.


3330 Peachtree Rd., NE
Atlanta, GA 30326-1016
Tel: (404)231-9000; 888-999-4248
Admissions: (404)965-5772
Fax: (404)231-1062
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


Proprietary, 4-year, coed. Administratively affiliated with Career Education Corporation. Awards associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Founded 1977. Setting: 3-acre urban campus. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $3000 per student. Total enrollment: 1,732. 1,305 applied, 93% were admitted. Full-time: 1,319 students, 65% women, 35% men. Part-time: 378 students, 67% women, 33% men. Students come from 31 states and territories, 39 other countries, 39% from out-of-state, 0.2% Native American, 1% Hispanic, 16% black, 0.4% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 4% international, 30% 25 or older, 14% live on campus, 40% transferred in. Retention: 44% of full-time freshmen returned the following year. Core. Calendar: five 10-week terms. Academic remediation for entering students, accelerated degree program, independent study, distance learning, double major, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, co-op programs and internships. Study abroad program.

Entrance Requirements:

Open admission. Options: early admission, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript. Recommended: essay, minimum 2.0 high school GPA, 2 recommendations, interview, SAT or ACT, SAT Subject Tests. Entrance: noncompetitive. Application deadline: 10/15. Notification: continuous.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $50. Tuition: $16,386 full-time, $430 per credit part-time. Full-time tuition varies according to course load and program. Part-time tuition varies according to course load and program. College room only: $5400. Tuition guaranteed not to increase for student's term of enrollment.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Student-run newspaper. Most popular organizations: Student Government Association, Positive Image (Black History), International Student Association, Ministries in Action, Fashion Association. Major annual events: Beginning of Quarter Welcome Party, Professional Week, graduation. Student services: personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: 24-hour patrols. 237 undergraduates lived in college housing during 2003-04. No special consideration for freshman housing applicants. American Intercontinental University Library-Buckhead Campus with 29,672 books, 245 serials, 2,296 audiovisual materials, and an OPAC. Operations spending for 2004 fiscal year: $222,648. 86 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed from off-campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.


6600 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd.
500 Embassy Row
Atlanta, GA 30328
Tel: (404)965-6500
Free: 800-255-6839
Admissions: (404)965-8050
Fax: (404)965-6501
Web Site:


Proprietary, comprehensive, coed. Part of AIU is owned by Career Education Corporation. Awards associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Founded 1970. Setting: 2-acre urban campus. Total enrollment: 1,150. 367 applied, 80% were admitted. Full-time: 924 students, 53% women, 47% men. Part-time: 183 students, 63% women, 37% men. 0.2% Native American, 1% Hispanic, 11% black, 0.4% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 1% international, 13% live on campus. Calendar: five 10-week terms.

Entrance Requirements:

Required: high school transcript, minimum 2.0 high school GPA, interview. Recommended: SAT or ACT. Required for some: TOEFL or equivalent, ACCUPLACER/PLATO.

Collegiate Environment:

Major annual event: Student Forum. Student services: personal-psychological counseling. College housing not available.


413 College St.
Cuthbert, GA 39840-1313
Tel: (229)732-2171
Free: 800-664-9250
Admissions: (229)732-5934
Fax: (229)732-2176
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


Independent United Methodist, 2-year, coed. Awards certificates and transfer associate degrees. Founded 1854. Setting: 40-acre small town campus. Endowment: $7 million. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $3926 per student. Total enrollment: 331. 578 applied, 96% were admitted. Full-time: 328 students, 48% women, 52% men. Part-time: 3 students, 33% women, 67% men. Students come from 11 states and territories, 10 other countries, 16% from out-of-state, 4% Hispanic, 45% black, 1% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 6% international, 2% 25 or older, 90% live on campus, 6% transferred in. Core. Calendar: semesters. Academic remediation for entering students, ESL program, services for LD students, advanced placement, honors program, summer session for credit, part-time degree program.

Entrance Requirements:

Options: Peterson's Universal Application, electronic application, early admission, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, SAT or ACT. Recommended: minimum 2.0 high school GPA. Required for some: essay, 1 recommendation, interview. Entrance: moderately difficult. Application deadline: 8/6.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $20. Comprehensive fee: $15,980 includes full-time tuition ($9814) and college room and board ($6166).

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Drama-theater group, choral group, student-run newspaper. Social organizations: 10 open to all. Most popular organizations: Drama Club, Outdoor Club, International Club, BSU. Major annual events: Homecoming, Christmas Dance, Spring Semi-Formal. Student services: health clinic, personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: 24-hour patrols, controlled dormitory access, night patrols by trained security personnel. 360 college housing spaces available; 321 were occupied in 2003-04. Freshmen guaranteed college housing. On-campus residence required through sophomore year. Options: coed, men-only, women-only housing available. Pitts Library with 40,000 books and 100 serials. 50 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed from student residence rooms and from off campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

Cuthbert is a rural community 40 miles from Albany, and 55 miles from Columbus. Its climate is ideal. Airline services are available one hour away. Part-time employment exists for students. Community facilities include a library, churches, and good shopping. A public recreation center, two swimming pools, golf course and nearby lakes provide facilities for fishing, boating and water skiing.


100 Campus Dr.
Jasper, GA 30143
Tel: (706)253-4500
Admissions: (706)253-4537
Fax: (706)253-4510
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


State-supported, 2-year, coed. Awards certificates, diplomas, and terminal associate degrees. Founded 1965. Total enrollment: 1,047. Full-time: 414 students, 70% women, 30% men. Part-time: 633 students, 67% women, 33% men. 0.3% Native American, 1% Hispanic, 2% black, 0.5% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 0% international. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, distance learning, internships.

Entrance Requirements:

Open admission. Option: deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, ACT COMPASS or ASSET. Entrance: noncompetitive.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $15. State resident tuition: $1116 full-time, $31 per credit hour part-time. Nonresident tuition: $2232 full-time, $62 per credit hour part-time.

Collegiate Environment:

College housing not available.


990 Hammond Dr., 11th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30328-5505
Tel: (770)671-1200; 888-671-4777
Fax: (770)671-0476
Web Site:


Proprietary, upper-level, coed. Administratively affiliated with Education Management Corporation. Awards bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees and post-master's certificates. Founded 1990. Setting: suburban campus. Total enrollment: 13. 18 applied, 72% were admitted. Full-time: 4 students, 75% women, 25% men. Part-time: 9 students, 89% women, 11% men. 0% Native American, 0% Hispanic, 38% black, 0% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 0% international, 60% 25 or older. Calendar: semesters.

Collegiate Environment:

Student-run newspaper. Social organizations: 4 open to all; 10% of eligible men and 30% of eligible women are members. Most popular organizations: SGA, Student Senate. College housing not available.


11935 Abercorn St.
Savannah, GA 31419-1997
Tel: (912)927-5211
Free: 800-633-2349 Admissions: (912)927-5275
Fax: (912)921-5462
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


State-supported, comprehensive, coed. Part of University System of Georgia. Awards associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Founded 1935. Setting: 250-acre suburban campus. Endowment: $2.2 million. Research spending for 2004 fiscal year: $13,680. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $2779 per student. Total enrollment: 6,710. Faculty: 424 (224 full-time, 200 part-time). Student-undergrad faculty ratio is 17:1. 804 applied, 99% were admitted. Full-time: 3,677 students, 66% women, 34% men. Part-time: 2,238 students, 72% women, 28% men. Students come from 46 states and territories, 71 other countries, 11% from out-of-state, 0.4% Native American, 3% Hispanic, 21% black, 3% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 2% international, 39% 25 or older, 10% live on campus, 10% transferred in. Retention: 67% of full-time freshmen returned the following year. Academic areas with the most degrees conferred: health professions and related sciences; education; liberal arts/general studies. Core. Calendar: semesters. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, honors program, independent study, distance learning, double major, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, co-op programs and internships, graduate courses open to undergrads. Off campus study at Georgia Southern University, Savannah State University. Study abroad program. ROTC: Army, Naval (c).

Entrance Requirements:

Options: Peterson's Universal Application, early admission, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, proof of immunization, SAT or ACT. Required for some: SAT Subject Tests. Entrance: minimally difficult. Application deadline: 7/1. Notification: continuous.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $20. State resident tuition: $2894 full-time, $102 per hour part-time. Nonresident tuition: $10,210 full-time, $407 per hour part-time. Mandatory fees: $456 full-time, $213 per term part-time. Full-time tuition and fees vary according to program. Part-time tuition and fees vary according to course load and program. College room only: $4980. Room charges vary according to housing facility.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Drama-theater group, choral group, student-run newspaper. Social organizations: 57 open to all; national fraternities, national sororities, local fraternities, local sororities. Most popular organizations: Wesley Fellowship, Hispanic Student Society, Ebony Coalition, American Chemical Society, Phi Alpha Theta. Major annual events: AASU Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Beach Bash. Student services: health clinic, personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: 24-hour emergency response devices and patrols, student patrols, late night transport-escort service. 600 college housing spaces available; all were occupied in 2003-04. No special consideration for freshman housing applicants. Option: coed housing available. Lane Library with 223,412 books, 666,657 microform titles, 1,166 serials, 15,618 audiovisual materials, an OPAC, and a Web page. Operations spending for 2004 fiscal year: $1.8 million. 160 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed from student residence rooms and from off campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

The college is located on the southside of Savannah, 30 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. All modes of transportation are available. Savannah is a highly industrialized metropolitan area with only minor agricultural activities. Industrial plants number over 350. This city is considered to be one of the first planned cities in North America. The charm of the city comes from the cobblestoned riverfront, and the many squares shaded by majestic oak trees. Points of interest include Factor's Walk, Savannah riverfront shopping, Johnson Square, Pink House, Owens-Thomas House, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Independent Presbyterian Church, Colonial Park, and many others.


6600 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd., 100 Embassy Row
Atlanta, GA 30328
Tel: (770)394-8300
Free: 800-275-4242
Fax: (770)394-0008
Web Site:


Proprietary, 4-year, coed. Part of Education Management Corporation. Awards associate and bachelor's degrees. Founded 1949. Setting: 7-acre suburban campus. Educational spending for 2005 fiscal year: $3742 per student. Total enrollment: 2,651. Full-time: 2,322 students, 47% women, 53% men. Part-time: 329 students, 43% women, 57% men. Students come from 43 states and territories, 33 other countries, 38% from out-of-state, 0.4% Native American, 4% Hispanic, 32% black, 3% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 3% international, 31% 25 or older, 13% live on campus. Core. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, honors program, independent study, distance learning, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, internships. Study abroad program.

Entrance Requirements:

Options: Peterson's Universal Application, electronic application, deferred admission, international baccalaureate accepted. Required: essay, minimum 2.0 high school GPA, interview. Required for some: high school transcript. Entrance: minimally difficult. Notification: continuous.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $50. Tuition: $18,000 full-time, $375 per credit part-time. Full-time tuition varies according to course load. Part-time tuition varies according to course load. College room only: $7311. Room charges vary according to housing facility. Tuition guaranteed not to increase for student's term of enrollment.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Student-run newspaper. Social organizations: 16 open to all. Most popular organizations: AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Artists) Student Chapter, ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) Student Chapter, SGA - Student Government Association, Housing Council, Haven. Major annual events: Spring Party, Fall Carnival. Student services: personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: 24-hour emergency response devices and patrols, late night transport-escort service, controlled dormitory access. 350 undergraduates lived in college housing during 2003-04. Freshmen guaranteed college housing. Option: coed housing available. Library with 40,799 books, 159 serials, 35,562 audiovisual materials, an OPAC, and a Web page. Operations spending for 2004 fiscal year: $1.3 million. 388 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

Just north of Atlanta's city limits, the campus is located in one of Atlanta's fastest growing business and residential districts and provides easy access to public transportation, shopping, housing, restaurants, and jobs for students.


430 Technology Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
Tel: (770)729-8400
Free: 800-223-4542
Fax: (770)729-9296
Web Site:


Proprietary, 2-year, coed. Administratively affiliated with Professional Career Development, LLC. Awards transfer associate and terminal associate degrees. Students come from 50 states and territories. Core. Calendar: semesters. Services for LD students, advanced placement, accelerated degree program, independent study, distance learning, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, external degree program, adult/continuing education programs. Off campus study. Study abroad program.

Entrance Requirements:

Options: Common Application, electronic application. Required: high school transcript. Entrance: noncompetitive.


800 US Hwy. 29 North
Athens, GA 30601-1500
Tel: (706)355-5000
Admissions: (706)355-5124
Fax: (706)369-5753
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:


State-supported, 2-year, coed. Part of Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. Awards certificates, diplomas, and terminal associate degrees. Founded 1958. Setting: 41-acre suburban campus with easy access to Atlanta. Total enrollment: 3,805. Full-time: 1,436 students, 65% women, 35% men. Part-time: 2,369 students, 70% women, 30% men. Students come from 2 states and territories, 0.1% Native American, 2% Hispanic, 23% black, 4% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 0.03% international, 40% 25 or older. Core. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, distance learning, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, adult/continuing education programs, internships.

Entrance Requirements:

Open admission. Option: deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, ACT COMPASS or ASSET. Entrance: noncompetitive.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $15. State resident tuition: $1116 full-time, $31 per credit hour part-time. Nonresident tuition: $2232 full-time, $62 per credit hour part-time.

Collegiate Environment:

Most popular organizations: Athens Technical Student Advisory Council, Phi Theta Kappa, Delta Epsilon Chi, Radiological Technology Society, Organized Black Students Encouraging Unity and Excellence. Major annual events: Blood Drives, Can-A-Thon, Smoke Out. Campus security: 24-hour patrols. College housing not available. 33,891 books, 15,608 microform titles, 538 serials, and 3,279 audiovisual materials. 277 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed. Staffed computer lab on campus.


2605 Ben Hill Rd.
East Point, GA 30344-1999
Tel: (404)761-8861
Free: 800-776-1ACC
Web Site:


Independent Christian, 4-year, coed. Awards associate and bachelor's degrees. Founded 1937. Setting: 52-acre suburban campus with easy access to Atlanta. Endowment: $30 million. Total enrollment: 443. 827 applied, 37% were admitted. Students come from 13 states and territories, 10% from out-of-state, 2% Hispanic, 17% black, 1% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 30% 25 or older, 60% live on campus. Core. Calendar: semesters. Academic remediation for entering students, services for LD students, advanced placement, independent study, double major, summer session for credit, part-time degree program, internships.

Entrance Requirements:

Options: Peterson's Universal Application, electronic application, early admission, early decision, deferred admission. Required: high school transcript, minimum 2.0 high school GPA, 2 recommendations, medical history, SAT or ACT. Entrance: moderately difficult. Application deadlines: 8/1, 11/15 for early decision.

Costs Per Year:

Application fee: $25. Comprehensive fee: $17,180 includes full-time tuition ($11,800), mandatory fees ($580), and college room and board ($4800). Full-time tuition and fees vary according to course level. Part-time tuition: $495 per hour. Part-time tuition varies according to course level and student level.

Collegiate Environment:

Orientation program. Drama-theater group, choral group, student-run radio station. Social organizations: local fraternities, local sororities; 15% of eligible men and 10% of eligible women are members. Major annual events: Spring Picnic, choir concerts, Junior/Senior Banquet. Student services: health clinic, personal-psychological counseling. Campus security: controlled dormitory access, 12-hour patrols by security personnel. 350 college housing spaces available; 250 were occupied in 2003-04. Freshmen guaranteed college housing. On-campus residence required in freshman year. Options: men-only, women-only housing available. Atlanta Christian College Library with 50,000 books, 187 serials, and an OPAC. 30 computers available on campus for general student use. A campuswide network can be accessed from student residence rooms and from off campus. Staffed computer lab on campus.

Community Environment:

A suburban area with temperate climate, East Point is served by all major forms of transportation. Along with the usual community facilities, the opportunities are excellent for part-time employment.


1630 Metropolitan Parkway, SW
Atlanta, GA 30310-4498
Tel: (404)756-4000
Admissions: (404)756-4004
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site: