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Wednesday 13th December
Georgia Facts
The highest point in Georgia is Mount Shkhara (5,201 m).

It is known that people inhabited Georgia from very early times. Skulls of early man have been found in the country dating back 1.7 million years.

People have lived in Tbilisi since the fourth millennium BC.

The name of the present-day capital, Tbilisi, is derived from the Georgian word for warm.

In Greek and Roman times the western part of Georgia was called Kolkheti (Colchis); the eastern part of the country was known as Iberia.

Ancient myth says that the King of Colchis (Aeetes) possessed a Golden Fleece. The story of Jason and the Argonauts is about the quest for the fleece.

In ancient times merchant ships used the port of Poti (known as Phazisi).

Early Georgian merchants sailed as far as the Indian Ocean to trade their goods and bring back spices.

The Silk Road, the trade route between Europe and China, ran through Phazisi.

St Nino of Cappadoccia, a relative of St George, converted King Marian III to Christianity around 330 AD.

The Bagrationi family ruled Georgia at the beginning of the ninth century and continued to rule a part of the country until the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In the eleventh century King David, known as the Builder, invited scholars to study and teach at Gelati Monastery.

The reign of Queen Tamar (1184-1213) is known as a golden age of Georgian history. During her reign the country prospered and culture flourished.

Perhaps the most famous Georgian was Josif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, known as Stalin or man of steel. Born in 1879, Stalin became the second leader of the USSR (after Lenin). Stalin led the USSR until his death in 1953.

Georgia gained its independence from the USSR at the end of 1991. (Members of the former USSR were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia - from WW2, Latvia - from WW2, Lithuania - from WW2 and Moldova - from WW2).

Georgia's independence was followed by a civil war and conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali). Peacekeeping forces were deployed in both regions.

In recent years many members of ethnic groups have left Georgia for their homelands.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia aims to attract foreign investment to Georgia.

On a visit to London in 2004, the President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, revealed that American, Turkish and British military had participated in training the Georgian army.

Zurab Zhvania, the Prime Minister of Georgia, and Raul Usupov, a Georgian official, were found dead in an apartment in Tbilisi in February 2005. Death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heater.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, opened in 2006, ends at a marine terminal at Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. The pipeline brings oil from the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan, through Georgia to Turkey's port.

Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August 2008 was condemned by the West.

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