Travel Trivia: 11 facts about Georgia

This Travel Trivia post will be all about Georgia, the small South Caucasian country at the intersection between Europe and Asia. Georgia is indeed a very proud country: her people seem to share a quiet, apparent dignity and they have always struggled to remain autonomous. The origins of Georgia can be traced back to the ancient times, with Georgians claiming to originate from Noah’s great-great-grandson Kartlos. Its history is quite fascinating, so this time the facts will be a bit more historically coloured than usual:

  • As mentioned, Georgia is quite small and there are only 3.7 million Georgians. It is in fact not called Georgia, but rather Sakartvelo by the locals (Kartveli), which can be roughly translated as the land where Kartveli live. The more modern name Georgia likely comes from the country’s fascination with St. George.
  • The first Europeans, i.e. the very early humans who crossed over from Africa, likely came through Georgia. Archaeologists found 1.8 million years old skulls of a couple in Dmanisi and they named them Zezva and Mzia. Those two have rekindled the debate of where exactly modern humans come from and it’s still raging.
  • In addition, Georgia also has two of Europe’s oldest cities: Kutaisi, the capital of today’s Imereti region, which dates back to 2000 B.C., when it was the main city of the ancient Georgian kingdom of Colchis; and Mtskheta, the former capital of the kingdom of Iberia in 1000 B.C..
  • Georgia is also the home of winemaking, as they were producing wine as early as 8000 years ago, gold mining (6000 years ago) and thread. They found the world’s oldest thread in Georgia and it is supposed to be 34.000 years old.
  • Surprisingly, despite all that history, Georgia is also full of futuristic architecture and their main dream is to become western enough to join the European union, so they could cement their freedom from Russia.
  • Joseph Stalin was born in Georgia, so their relationship towards him is rather complicated… You can find tons of Soviet era memorabilia at the local flea markets.
  • Georgia is situated in the Caucasus region, so it has plenty of breathtaking mountain areas and is extremely diverse in terms of terrain.
When God apportioned the Earth to all the peoples of the world, the
Georgians arrived late. The Lord asked them why they were tardy. The
Georgians replied that they had stopped on the way to drink and raise their glasses in praise of Him. God was so pleased with their response that He gave the Georgians the part of the Earth that He had been reserving for himself.” A Georgian legend (photo from Akhaltsikhe)
  • In terms of language, Georgia has its own unique language and alphabet with 33 letters, which is intelligible and unpronounceable to anyone except Georgians.
  • They also have their own version of the Orthodox church, are majorly religious and considerably homophobic, despite the abundance of physical contact between people. Most things in Georgia stay within the family and they greatly rely on their relatives for help.
  • Georgia is famous for its brutally generous hospitality: a guest is a gift from God and it shows. A traditional dinner feast can last up to 6 hours and liquor must be drunk in large shots every time someone says mshvidoba! (for peace).
  • They are equally famous for their polyphonic music, which made it on the UNESCO world heritage list. More here and their folk songs are quite beautiful too.

Also, Georgia is full of impressive monasteries – they are literally at every corner, UNESCO and non-UNESCO ones, so I dare you to spend a day there without seeing at least one. As you can see, there’s quite a lot more to Georgia than you might expect and since they’ve only started with tourism efforts about 20 years ago, it is still relatively undiscovered, so there aren’t many visitors tramping about yet. It is quite cheap by Western standards to, which makes it a great destination for anyone who isn’t afraid of visiting an authentic place where they don’t speak perfect English (or any at all).

P.S.: Georgian public toilets are an experience in itself

P.P.S: Come check out my photo travel guides from all the places I visited in Georgia and my Pinterest board with all the interesting sights.

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