Friday, March 11, 2005

History of Georgia

History of Georgia. This is an overview to the history of the Soviet successor state of Georgia. And no, this is not the history of the American state of Georgia. The south has not risen again...

From the site:

Georgia's recorded history dates back more than 2,500 years. Georgian -- a South Caucasian (or “Kartvelian”) language unrelated to any other outside the immediate region -- is one of the oldest living languages in the world, and it has its own distinctive alphabet. Tbilisi, located in the picturesque Mtkvari River valley, is more than 1,500 years old. In the early 4th century Georgia adopted Christianity, only the second nation in the world to do so officially, and Orthodox Christianity -- in combination with a unique language and alphabet -- proved to be key factors in preserving Georgia’s separate identity for so many centuries. Georgia has historically found itself on the margins of great empires, and Georgians have lived together in a unified state for only a small fraction of their existence as a people. Much of Georgia's territory was fought over by Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, and Turkish armies from at least the 1st century B.C. through the 18th century. The zenith of Georgia’s power as an independent kingdom came in the 11th and 12th centuries, during the reigns of King David the Builder and Queen Tamara, who still rank among the most celebrated of all Georgian rulers. In 1783 the king of Kartli (in eastern Georgia) signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with the Russians, by which Russia agreed to take the kingdom as its protectorate.

In 1801, the Russian empire began the piecemeal process of unifying and annexing Georgian territory, and for most of the next two centuries (1801-1991) Georgia found itself ruled from St. Petersburg and Moscow. Exposed to modern European ideas of nationalism under Russian tutelage, Georgians like the writer Ilya Chavchavadze began calling for greater Georgian independence. In the wake of the collapse of tsarist rule and war with the Turks, the first Republic of Georgia was established on May 26, 1918, and the country enjoyed a brief period of independence under the Menshevik president, Noe Zhordania. However, in March 1921, the Russian Red Army re-occupied the country, and Georgia became a republic of the Soviet Union. Several of the Soviet Union’s most notorious leaders in the 1920s and 1930s were Georgian, such as Joseph Stalin, Sergo Orjonikidze, and Lavrenti Beria. In the postwar period, Georgia was perceived as one of the wealthiest and most privileged of Soviet republics, and many Russians treated the country’s Black Sea coast as a kind of Soviet Riviera. On April 9, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the U.S.S.R.

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