Georgia is located in southwest Asia where it is bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey. Geographically, Georgia is a little smaller than South Carolina, USA. Tbilisi is Georgia's capital and largest city. Most of the population resides in the central valley where Tbilisi is located, as well as in Kutaisi and Batumi. Kutaisi was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Colchis, the famed location of the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology. Georgia’s official language is Kartvelian and it has over 7 million speakers world wide as well as its own alphabet called Mkhedruli. In fact, the alphabet has inspired some astounding architecture, such as the Batumi Alphabet Tower which is decorated with the 33 characters of the alphabet. Religion is an important part of Georgian life, as almost 90% of the population identifies as Orthodox Christian. In fact, Orthodox Christianity has been the country’s official religion since the 4th century and St. George is the patron saint of Georgia. The Muslim community makes up about 10% of the population.
The Great Caucasus mountain range marks the border between Russia and Georgia. Shkhara mountain is the highest peak in Georgia at around 17000 ft tall. The mountain regions are home to red deer, beats, wolves, jackals, wild goats, and wild sheep. The four deepest caves in the world are also located in Georgia. The Veryovkina Cave is the deepest at approximately 7300 ft below the surface. Additionally, Georgia’s natural resources are harnessed for energy. For example, Georgia relies on hydroelectric power produced at Zhinvali Dam. Agriculture and mining are also important sectors of Georgia’s economy, as more than half of Georgia's population work in agriculture and gold and copper are some of the primary exports.
Georgia has several historical landmarks and attractions, including four UNESCO world heritage sites. One of them is the medieval Jvari Monastery located in Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns in Georgia. The Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi is another famous attraction, with its bright blue shingled roofs. In Tbilisi, the uber-modern Bridge of Peace over the Mtkvari river connects the old city center to the newer parts. Some of Georgia’s natural wonders include the Katskhi pillar, a limestone monolith that is over 100 ft tall. A tiny church and a few hermit cells lie atop this “pillar of life.”
Georgian cuisine draws from Greek, Mediterranean, Turkish, and Persian flavors. Popular dishes include Khacapuri, a cheese-filled flat bread that tourists have nicknamed “Georgian pizza.” Skhmeruli is another favorite dish that consists of roasted chicken in garlic sauce. As one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, Georgia has fine selections of wine, too. Wine is traditionally stored and aged in huge clay jars called qvevri and one of the most famous Georgian varieties is separavi.