Georgia (Georgian: საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a country in Eastern Europe. Sandwiched between Russia in the north and Turkey in the south, it sits along the coast of the Black Sea. It is a rather mountainous country and is home to some of Europe’s highest mountain peaks. Despite its modest size, Georgia presents a large mix of other landscapes and micro-climates, ranging from dry wine-growing valleys in the east, to lush Black Sea resorts in the west. In Greek mythology, Georgia was the site of the famous Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts. The tales of Georgia’s ancient history are not without foundation; modern archaeological evidence suggests that Georgia is the oldest winemaking country in the world, with some wine samples dating back to 6,000 years BC. In testament to this rich heritage, Georgia’s cities and countryside are complete with medieval churches, several of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Enjoying low levels of crime and corruption, since the mid-2000s Georgia has developed into a fast-growing destination. The country’s tourist infrastructure continues to expand.
Georgia has a distinctive culture and a rich history that can be traced to classical antiquity and beyond. Archaeologists have found the oldest known traces of wine production, dated 8000 years BC, in Georgia. Due to this long history of viticulture, grapevine is one of Georgia’s national symbols, adorning medieval decorations, carvings and paintings. Even the current Georgian alphabet, with its characteristic curvy shapes, looks like the loops and twists of grapevines.
A people of distinct culture, Georgians are not related to the Russians, Turks or Greeks, nor do they have any ethnic or linguistic ties to other nations that surround them. There are academic theories which link Georgians to Basque and Corsican people in Southwestern Europe, but there is no definitive evidence of this. For centuries, Georgians have been embroiled in power struggles against the world’s biggest empires (Roman, Mongol, Byzantine, Persian, Ottoman and Russian), but they nevertheless managed to preserve their identity. In testament to this long history, Georgia’s countryside is covered with ancient towered fortifications, monasteries and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which have survived through great adversities.