Location: Eastern Europe, bordering theBlack Sea, between Turkey and Russia Area• Total: 69,700 sq km• Country comparison to the world: 121• Land: 69,700 sq km• Water: 0 sq km Area – comparative: Slightly smaller thanSouth Carolina Land boundaries• Total: 1,461 sq km• Border countries: Armenia 164 km, Azerbaijan 322km, Russia 723 km, Turkey 252 km Coastline: 310 km
The abundant diversity of peoples living in Georgia has meant acorrespondingly rich assortment of existing religions. Today, the majority of Georgia’s inhabitants follow OrthodoxChristianity, chiefly the Georgian Orthodox Church (83.9%). About 2% follows the Russian Orthodox Church; approximately 3.9%of the population follows the Armenian Apostolic Church (of whommost are ethnic Armenians). According to the CIA Factbook, Muslims account for 9.9% of thepopulation; they primarily live in the Adjara and Kvemo Kartliregions, and in Tbilisi (as a sizable minority). Roman Catholics comprise almost 0.8% of the population; they chieflylive in the south of Georgia and a small population in Tbilisi. Tbilisi is also home to a sizable Jewish community, served by twosynagogues; the other major community is in Kutaisi. The Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one of theworld’s most prehistoric Christian churches, established in the firstcentury by the Apostle Saint Andrew. Christianity was adopted as Georgia’s state religion in the first half ofthe fourth century; this adoption has presented a strong sense ofnational identity that has contributed to defend a national Georgianidentity, in spite of recurring periods of foreign occupations andattempted assimilation. Georgia has a long history of religious harmony within itsboundaries, despite the past clashes with its neighbors. For thousands of years, various religious minorities have livedin Georgia; religious bigotry is all but unknown there. For centuries, Azerbaijanis have practiced Islam in Georgia, ashave Ajarians and some of the Abkhazians concentrated intheir own self-governing republics. The Armenian Apostolic Church, whose doctrine, to anextent, differs from Georgian Orthodoxy’s, has autocephalousstanding.
Orthodox Christian (official) 83.9% Muslim 9.9% Armenian-Gregorian 3.9% Catholic 0.8% Other 0.8% None 0.7% (2002 census)
The Politics of Georgia is modeled off a presidential representative democratic republicwith a multi-party structure; the President is the head of state and the PM is the head of theGeorgian Government. The government exercises executive power; legislative power is vested in both thegovernment and the parliament. The party structure has been ruled by the National Movement – Democrats since the RoseRevolution. Since the first multiparty, democratic parliamentary elections of 28 October 1990, Georgiahas been a democratic republic. Excluding the self-governing regions of Abkhazia and Adjara, and the once self-governingregion of South Ossetia, the Georgian state is vastly centralized. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which were autonomous within the Georgian SSR underSoviet rule, have unilaterally split from Georgia. Whereas Georgia’s government currently recognizes Abkhazia as self-governing withinGeorgia, they do not in any way recognize South Ossetia.
Deliberation of replacing Georgia’s republic form of government with some type ofconstitutional monarchy has become a subject of the Georgian political debate since theGeorgian Orthodox primate and other leading Georgians proposed that idea in 2007.
THE PRESIDENT’S ROLE MAIN OFFICE HOLDERS The President, who is elected for afive-year term, is the head of state. The Chairman of the Parliament ishis legal successor. A PM, who serves as the head ofgovernment, is nominated by thepresident. Office: President• Name: Mikheil Saakashvili• Party: United NationalMovement• Since: 20 January 2008 Office: Prime Minister• Name: Bidzina Ivanishvili• Party: Georgian Dream• Since: 25 October 2012
The Parliament of Georgia (SakartvelosParlamenti), also called the UmaghlesiSabcho (Supreme Council), consists of 235members, elected to a four-year term; 150seats through proportional representation, 75in single-seat constituencies, and 10 given tothe delegates of the shifted people from theseparatist region of Abkhazia. According to the constitutional revisionsmade in 2003, the parliament will be madeup of only 150 members elected through theproportional representation structure and willbe completely renovated. David Usupashvili is the current Speaker ofParliament.
Georgian Dream (ქართული ოცნება,Kartuli Otsneba)• Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia(ქართული ოცნება – დემოკრატიულისაქართველო, Kartuli Otsneba - DemokratiuliSakartvelo)• Our Georgia – Free Democrats (ჩვენისაქართველო - თავისუფალი დემოკრატები,Chveni Sakartvelo - Tavisupali Demokratebi)• Republican Party of Georgia (საქართველოსრესპუბლიკური პარტია, Respublikuri Partia)• National Forum (ეროვნული ფორუმი, ErovnuliForumi)• Industry Will Save Georgia (მრეწველობაგადაარჩენს საქართველოს, MretsvelobaGadaarchens Sakartvelos) United National Movement (ერთიანინაციონალური მოძრაობა, ErtianiNazionaluri Modzraoba)
Georgia has a Supreme Court, with judges elected by the Parliamenton the suggestion of the president; it also has a Constitutional Court.
Born 21 December 1967 in Tbilisi. Third and current President of Georgia, since 20 January2008; also the current leader of the United NationalMovement Party. Has participated in national politics since 1995; becamepresident on 25 January 2004 following President EduardShevardnadze’s resignation in the November 2003bloodless “Rose Revolution” led by Saakashvili and hispolitical allies, Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania. Was subsequently re-elected in the Georgian presidentialelection held on 5 January 2008. Is commonly seen as a pro-NATO and pro-West leaderwho presided over a series of political and economicchanges. Had a 67% approval rating in 2010, in spite of criticismfrom the domestic opposition for his suspected dictatorialtendencies and electoral fraud. Some non-Georgian sources spell his first name as theRussian version of the name Mikhail. Is frequently called Misha, a hypocorism for Mikheil, inGeorgia. Admitted defeat in the Georgian parliamentary electionagainst Bidzina Ivanishvili the day after it was held (2October 2012).
Born 18 February 1956 in Chorvila. 10th and current PM of Georgia. Leads the coalition Georgian Dream, which wonthe October 2012 parliamentary election; wasconfirmed as PM on 25 October 2012. Was given French citizenship in March 2010and lost his Georgian citizenship in October2011 “according to Article 32 of the GeorgianLaw on Citizenship”, not long after he declaredhis intent to form a political party to opposePresident Mikheil Saakashvili. Was reinstated as a Georgian citizen afterterminating his French citizenship before hecould become PM later in October. Was ranked #153 in Forbes magazine’s yearlylist of the world’s billionaires with a guesstimatedworth of USD 6.4 billion, in March 2012; thismakes him the richest person in Georgia.