Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Georgia

I'm going to Georgia.  No, not back home to Atlanta.  I'm going to Georgia, the country; not the state.  Even though it came in last place in my travel poll results I've decided to still go.  I'll fly in and out of Georgia and if the visas won't be too bloody difficult then I'll also go to Armenia and Azerbaijan.  This will be my first two week European holiday.  Aside from the 3.5 weeks I took off last year to visit the USA, this will be the first time that I've taken more than a week off to travel.  It should be pretty interesting.  Three ex-Soviet republics; each with its own language and unique alphabet.  The three countries make up the border between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.  Combined they are about the size of the UK and lie between Chechnya and Iran.  Two of the countries are Christian and one is Muslim.  Two of the countries are technically still at war with each other.  So here's a bit about Georgia... 

Georgia, საქართველო, is on the Black Sea.  It borders Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.  It is a bit smaller than South Carolina and has a population of almost 4.7 million.  Tbilisi is the capital.

In the 19th century, Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire.  After the Russian revolution the country was independent for three years until 1921 when it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR as the Georgia Soviet Socialist Republic.  In 1991, Georgia gained independence.  Most of the 1990s was filled with civil unrest and economic hardship until 2003's Rose Revolution when a new government introduced democratic and economic reforms.

In 2004, the government took action to stop corruption.  Today, the World Bank ranks Georgia as #51 in its list of transparency and corruption ratings.  The USA is ranked #19 and the Czech Republic comes in at #54.

Georgia has its own language - Georgian.  It's alphabet is not used by any other language.  There are no upper/lower case letters.  To me, written Georgian looks like a bunch of spaghetti noodles.   

Georgia contains two breakaway republics - Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Georgia considers the regions to be under Russian military occupation.  While it is possible to visit Abkhazia from Georgia I don't have any plans to go there since it is on the other side of the country.  South Ossetia is much closer to where I'll be but the only way in is via Russia so that's not possible this time.

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Georgia sees itself as a part of Europe.  It is currently working to become a full member of NATO.  Georgia joining NATO is something that must make Russia uneasy.  It may also have something to do with why Russian troops are stationed in the breakaway republics.

Here's a short video I found out on YouTube that gives a bit more info about Georgia.
video
© CNN

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