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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Georgia

Ethnicity

Most of the people in Georgia are ethnically Georgian, which is a fairly unique and ancient ethnicity. Although this ethnicity has incorporated other Caucus genes and peoples over time, the mountainous landscape and cultural differences with neighboring countries has isolated the people to the point that the Georgian ethnicity is considered as old as the ancient Greeks, Etruscans, or any other ancient European or Asian ethnic group. Due to the geography, there are also dozens of small ethnic groups hidden in the mountains, but together they only make up a very small minority of the country. Despite the historic ethnic make-up, the closest relatives to the ethnic Georgians (other than the many small ethnic groups in the country) are likely their neighbors, the Armenians, although the two are quite distinct.

Language

Georgian is the official language of the country. The Georgian language is one of the oldest languages in the world; it belongs to the South Caucus language family and among its closest relatives is a language called "Svan" which broke away from Georgian over 2,000 years ago. Svan and other minor South Caucus languages are spoken by the isolated minorities within the country. There are no other languages (other than minor Caucus languages) that are closely related to the Georgian language, which boasts its own alphabet, not used anywhere outside the South Caucus Mountains.

Having been under Soviet rule for decades, most older people in Georgia speak Russian as a second language and the younger generation is slowly learning English as a secondary language of communication. This process is slow to change and today only a handful of youth speak English fluently, although speaking English at a conversational level is quickly growing; none-the-less Russian is still the language of communication and likely will continue to be in the near future.

Religion

Georgian Orthodox is the official state religion and most of the people do follow this church. However, much of the country is isolated due to the mountains and there are dozens of small isolated Muslim groups.

Orthodoxy is a Christian religion that claims to be the most loyal to the Christian faith and religion as it was described by Jesus and the Gospels in the New Testament. Christianity, including Orthodoxy, was founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD; various branches of Orthodoxy were officially recognized by governments long before Catholicism was recognized in the Roman Empire.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism have many of the same beliefs; both believe that there is a single God who created everything and a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins. However, Orthodoxy is decentralized so each bishop oversees their local country or region, giving each orthodox country a different leader. In this way, no bishop has more power than any other, meaning the tenants and interpretations of the faith remain relatively unchanged. These beliefs are based on the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, in particular the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

This page was last updated: May, 2014