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About Georgia:


Situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia, Georgia has a unique and ancient cultural heritage, famous traditions of hospitality and cuisine and an alphabet which is entirely its own.

It also has a history of winemaking said to date back thousands of years.


Background:

Over the centuries, Georgia has been the object of rivalry between Persia, Turkey and Russia, and was eventually annexed by Russia in the 19th century. Georgia enjoyed an interlude of independence after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia but was invaded by the Soviet Red Army in 1921 and incorporated into the Soviet Union a year later.

Following the collapse of Communism in the USSR in 1991, Georgians voted overwhelmingly for the restoration of independence and elected nationalist leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia as president. However, Gamsakhurdia was soon overthrown by opposition militias which in 1992 installed former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze as the country's new leader. An attempt by the government to manipulate legislative elections in November 2003 touched off widespread protests that led to the resignation of Eduard SHEVARDNADZE, president since 1995. New elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his National Movement Party.

Facts:

" Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia
" Population: 4,693,892 (July 2004 est.)
" Capital: Tbilisi
" Area: 69,700 sq km (26,911 sq miles)
" Major languages: Georgian, Russian, English
" Major religion: Orthodox Christian
" Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
" Monetary unit: 1 lari = 100 tetri
" Main exports: Scrap metal, wine, fruit
" GNI per capita: US $830 (World Bank, 2003)
" Internet domain: .ge
" International dialing code: +995



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