Georgia country profile –

Situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia, Georgia has a unique and ancient cultural heritage, and is famed for its traditions of hospitality and cuisine.
Over the centuries, Georgia was the object of rivalry between Persia, Turkey and Russia, before being eventually annexed by Russia in the 19th Century.
Since emerging from the collapsing Soviet Union as an independent state in 1991, Georgia has again become the arena of conflicting interests.
Increasing US economic and political influence in the country has long been a source of concern for neighbouring Russia, as have Georgia's aspirations to join Nato and the EU.
Tense relations with Russia were further exacerbated by Moscow's support for the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, leading to a brief war in 2008.
President: Salome Zourabichvili
Salome Zourabichvili first came to prominence in 2004, when President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed her foreign minister. She had previously served as ambassador to France, where she was born the daughter of Georgian emigres and worked in the French diplomatic service, before obtaining Georgian citizenship.
But she soon turned against the president, accusing him of being a "dictator", although she remained independent of the Georgian Dream party that defeated Mr Saakashvili in the 2012 elections.
Georgian Dream has since reduced the presidency to a ceremonial post, and all future presidents are expected to be chosen by an electoral college, not the public.
Ms Zourabichvili stood for the post as an independent in 2018, with the backing of Georgian Dream, beating pro-Saakashvili opposition challenger Grigol Vashadze in the run-off.
Prime Minister: Irakli Garibashvili (resigned)
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced his resignation in January 2024, saying he wanted to allow his replacement time to prepare for parliamentary elections due in October 2024.
Garibashvili said he had been offered the job of leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party instead.
Georgian media have reported that Irakli Kobakhidze, the current leader of Georgian Dream, may succeed Garibashvili as prime minister.
Observers say that the change of prime minister is unlikely to mean policy changes and was primarily aimed at shoring up the governing bloc ahead of the elections.
Television is the most popular medium although online media are gaining ground as news sources.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech, and journalists often criticise officials. Freedom House says the media are "robust and competitive, but frequently partisan".
Some key dates in Georgia's history:
11th Century – Georgian kingdom becomes politically unified under the Bagrationi dynasty.
12th-13th Centuries – Kingdom of Georgia reaches its zenith during the reigns of David IV (reigned 1089-1125) and his great-granddaughter Tamar (reigned 1184-1213).
c. 1220-1330s – Mongol invasions and occupations of the Caucasus.
1299-1302 – George V of Georgia defeats the Mongols and restores the Georian kingdom. After his death, Georgia disintegrates politically and collapses by the 15th Century.
16th-18th Centuries – Safavid Iran (and successive Iranian Afsharid and Qajar dynasties) and Ottoman Turkey subjugate the eastern and western parts of Georgia.
1801-1804 – Most of present-day Georgia becomes part of the Russian Empire.
1879 – History's best-known Georgian, future Soviet leader Iosif Dzhugashvili (Joseph Stalin), is born in the town of Gori.
1918 – Independent Georgian state declared in wake of Russian Revolution.
1921 – Red Army invades, Georgia absorbed into emerging Soviet Union.
1956 – Protests against Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's de-Stalinisation policy turn violent and prompt calls for secession from the USSR; they are brutally crushed by Soviet forces.
1989 – Demands for more autonomy in South Ossetia lead to violent clashes between Georgians and Ossetians. Soviet – later Russian – peacekeepers are deployed.
1990-92 – After several outbreaks of violence, South Ossetia declares its intention to secede from Georgia and proclaims independence in 1992. Sporadic violence involving Georgian irregular forces and Ossetian fighters continues until agreement on the deployment of Georgian, Ossetian and Russian peacekeepers is reached.
1991 – Georgian parliament declares secession from the Soviet Union after independence is overwhelmingly supported in a referendum.
1992-93 – Georgia-Abkhazia War: Georgia sends troops to Abkhazia to halt moves for secession. Fierce fighting ends with Georgian forces being expelled from Abkhazia. Up to 30,000 people are killed. Before the war Georgians make up nearly half of Abkhazia's population, but up to 250,000 Georgians and others are expelled, virtually halving Abkhazia's population.
1994 – Georgian government and Abkhaz separatists sign a ceasefire agreement, paving the way for the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping force in the region.
2001– Clashes in Abkhazia between Abkhaz troops and Georgian paramilitaries backed by fighters from the North Caucasus. The tension is heightened as Russia accuses Georgia of harbouring Chechen rebels, a charge dismissed by Georgia.
2004 – Several deaths are reported in clashes between Georgian and South Ossetian forces.
2006 – South Ossetians vote in favour of independence in an unrecognised referendum.
2008 – Tensions between Georgia and Russia escalate into a full-blown military conflict after Georgia tries to retake South Ossetia by force following lower-level clashes with Russian-backed rebels.
Russian forces counter-attack and push Georgian troops out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. After five days of fighting, the two sides sign a French-brokered peace agreement. Russia recognises both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states – very few other countries do.
Russia says it will keep a military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
2014 – European Union and Georgia sign association agreement – a far-reaching trade partnership deal.
2015 – Russian forces in South Ossetia move internal border 1.5km further inside Georgia proper, threatening main road linking west and east of country.
2017 – Breakaway region of South Ossetia holds presidential election and a referendum on changing its name to the State of Alania as part of a plan to join the Russian Federation.
2022 – Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Georgia becomes a temporary home for many Russian exiles.
2023 – Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili draws domestic and international criticism for saying that Nato enlargement was one of the main reasons for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Georgia gains its long-standing goal of European Union candidate status.
Russia country profile
Abkhazia profile
South Ossetia profile
North Ossetia profile
Azerbaijan country profile
Armenia country profile
Turkey country profile
BBC Media Action – Europe and Caucasus
BBC Russian
Georgian parliament
Georgia revealed (travel site)
Government of Georgia (in English)
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