President: Giorgi Margvelashvili (2013)
Prime Minister: Irakli Garibashvili (2013)
Total area: 26,911 sq mi (69,700 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 4,935,880 (growth rate: –.11%); birth rate: 12.93/1000; infant mortality rate: 16.68/1000; life expectancy: 75.72
Capital and largest city (2014 est.): Tbilisi, 1.15 million
Other large cities: Kutaisi, 268,800; Batoumi, 145,400; and Sokhumi, 110,300
Monetary unit: Lari
Georgia is bordered by the Black Sea in the west, by Turkey and Armenia in the south, by Azerbaijan in the east, and Russia in the north. The republic also includes the Abkhazia and Ajara autonomous republics and South Ossetia.
Georgia became a kingdom about 4 B.C. and Christianity was introduced in A.D. 337. During the reign of Queen Tamara (1184–1213), its territory included the whole of Transcaucasia. During the 13th century, Tamerlane and the Mongols decimated its population. From the 16th century on, the country was the scene of a struggle between Persia and Turkey. In the 18th century, it became a vassal to Russia in exchange for protection from the Turks and Persians.
Georgia joined Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1917 to establish the anti-Bolshevik Transcaucasian Federation, and upon its dissolution in 1918, Georgia proclaimed its independence. In 1922, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were annexed by the USSR and formed the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1936, Georgia became a separate Soviet republic. Under Soviet rule, the country was transformed from an agrarian to a largely industrial, urban society.