Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.
Ethnic separation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, poor governance, and Russian military bases deny the government effective control over the entirety of the state's internationally recognized territory. Despite myriad problems, some progress on market reforms and democratization has been made.
Country name: Georgia (local: Sak'art'velo).
Government type: republic.
Independence: 9 April 1991 (from Soviet Union).
Administrative divisions: 9 regions (mkharebi, singular - mkhare), 9 cities (k'alak'ebi, singular - k'alak'i), and 2 autonomous republics (avtomnoy respubliki, singular - avtom respublika).
Regions: Guria, Imereti, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti,
Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti,
Samtskhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli
Autonomous republics: Abkhazia or Ap'khazet'is Avtonomiuri Respublika (Sokhumi), Ajaria or Acharis Avtonomiuri Respublika (Bat'umi)
Note: the administrative centers of the 2 autonomous republics are shown in parentheses.
Terrain: largely mountainous with Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south; Kolkhet'is Dablobi (Kolkhida Lowland) opens to the Black Sea in the west; Mtkvari River Basin in the east; good soils in river valley flood plains, foothills of Kolkhida Lowland.
Total area: 69,700 km˛.
Coastline: 310 km.
Highest point: Mt'a Shkhara 5,201 m.
Climate: warm and pleasant; Mediterranean-like on Black Sea coast.
Ports and harbors: Bat'umi, P'ot'i, Sokhumi.
Population: 4.69 million (July 2004).
Population growth rate: -0.36 % (2004).
Life expectancy at birth: 75.6 years.
Religions: Georgian Orthodox 65%, Muslim 11%, Russian Orthodox 10%, Armenian Apostolic 8%, unknown 6%.
Ethnic groups: Georgian 70.1%, Armenian 8.1%, Russian 6.3%, Azeri 5.7%, Ossetian 3%, Abkhaz 1.8%, other 5%.
Georgian 71% (official), Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, other 7%.
Georgia's main economic activities include the cultivation of agricultural products such as citrus fruits, tea, hazelnuts, and grapes; mining of manganese and copper; and output of a small industrial sector producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals. The country imports the bulk of its energy needs, including natural gas and oil products. Its only sizable internal energy resource is hydropower. Despite the severe damage the economy has suffered due to civil strife, Georgia, with the help of the IMF and World Bank, has made substantial economic gains since 1995, achieving positive GDP growth and curtailing inflation. However, the Georgian Government suffers from limited resources due to a chronic failure to collect tax revenues. Georgia also suffers from energy shortages; it privatized the T'bilisi distribution network in 1998, but collection rates are low, making the venture unprofitable. The country is pinning its hopes for long-term growth on its role as a transit state for pipelines and trade. The start of construction on the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-T'bilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline will bring much-needed investment and job opportunities.
GDP (purchasing power parity): US$ 12.18 billion (2003).
GDP per capita (purchasing power parity): US$ 2,500 (2003)
GDP growth rate: 5.5 % (2003).
Unemployment rate: 17 % (2003).
Population below poverty line: 54 % (2001).
Currency: lari (GEL).
Industries: steel, aircraft, machine tools, electrical appliances, mining (manganese and copper), chemicals, wood products, wine.
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