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name Georgia is only used in English and other foreign languages. It likely comes
from the Persian language roughly meaning "land of wolves." The Persians
referred to the people and region in this way during the Crusades, expanding the
name to much of Europe. Another theory states the name comes from St. George, who
is a prominently revered saint in the country.
In the Georgian language, the name of the country is Sakartvelo, which
means "land of Kartvelians." The Kartvelians are the descendants of Kartlos,
the great-great-grandson of Noah, from the Biblical Noah's Ark story; the ark
is believed by many to have landed near modern day Georgia, in the mountains between
Armenia and Turkey.
The country of Georgia is very mountainous and the people have been fairly isolated
from outside influences for much of history. This isolation has led to a unique
culture that is unmatched anywhere else. The people have a language with no close
relatives, an alphabet used nowhere else, and are one of the first Christian countries
in the world. These historic aspects of their culture are still very much alive
today, but many other things have changed.
Over time the people of Georgia grew apart in many ways as numerous sub-languages
were formed and seemingly ever valley had different styled clothing and foods. Outside
influences also had varying effects as some people adopted outside influences, while
others never even knew of their existence. In fact some claim there are people in
Georgia who were unaware of the Soviet Union's existence since they were so
The landscape created a huge number of sub-cultures in Georgia, but the people remained
united due to their many similarities as well as outside influences they avoided.
With the outside influences though, the culture became more focused on the mountains
as people fled to more inaccessible areas to maintain their historic culture, language,
and foods. This changed with the arrival of the Soviets in the 1900s.
Although the Russians arrived earlier, it wasn't until Soviet rule that life
in Georgia truly changed as a whole. The Soviets fought rural culture, urbanizing
many of the people and shifting their lifestyle to one based on the lands to one
based on industrialization and factories. Education changed and forced the Russian
language on the people, transportation changed, and technology changed. Nearly every
aspect of life changed, even the destruction of religion. Georgian culture suffered
greatly under Soviet rule, in part since Josef Stalin was an ethnic Georgian and
did his best to "revolutionize" the people, which meant changes were undertaken
with no mercy.
Since Soviet rule, much of the historic Georgian culture has returned, but some
aspects are still struggling or are lost. Today most of the people remain urbanized
and for many people jobs are focused on industry. The country has also grown more
diverse and also more divided. Many ethnic minorities in the mountains are now connected
to the country, but they have few similarities with the ethnic Georgians, creating
division. Many of these people are Muslim, while others cling more closely to Russia,
including in some areas with large ethnic Russian populations. Despite the differences,
Georgia is a country returning to its cultural roots, which nearly always seems
to be focused on good food, local wines, and incredible scenery.
Learn More About Georgia:
Map of Georgia: