Around 600 BC Greek (Ionian) trade colonies were
founded along the Georgian Black Sea coast. The name
Kolchis for the lowlands west of the Surami Mountains
comes from this period, while the east was called
Iberia. The area of today's Georgia was founded in the
6th century BC. first by the Persian Achaemenids, in the
4th century BC. conquered by the troops of Alexander the
Great. After his death in 323 BC. the area initially
fell to his successor Seleukos, from 65 BC. it was under
Roman rule. By the end of the 4th century AD
Christianity had spread throughout the area.
After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD
Kolchis came to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) empire,
while the east (Iberia) came under Persian influence (Sassanids).
From the middle of the 7th century, the Islamic Arabs
conquered the territory of today's Georgia and made it
part of the Caliphate Empire. The local peoples were
largely able to maintain their religion and
United Georgian Kingdom
Under the Armenian prince Ashot I, who founded the
Bagratid dynasty in the 9th century, and his successors,
the individual Georgian kingdoms in western and eastern
Georgia united to form a kingdom recognized by the
caliph. In the 12th century, the empire stretched from
the Black to the Caspian Sea and included parts of
Armenia and Persia.
From 1221 the kingdom was involved in battles with
the Mongols, in 1242 it was defeated by the troops of
the Mongol leader Batu Khan, the leader of the "Golden
Horde". In the second half of the 14th century, the
country was partially devastated by the raids of the
From the end of the 15th century, the area of
today's Georgia fell into numerous smaller state
entities, which became objects of controversy between
the Ottomans (Turks) and the Persian Safavid dynasty.
Some of the empires (eg Khartli and Kakheti) fell to the
Persians, while Imeretia in the west of the country fell
into the hands of the Ottomans.
In the 18th century, some of the local rulers, such
as Irakli II, concluded agreements with the Tsar of
Russia in 1783 to protect themselves against new attacks
by the Persians. Indeed, the Safavid troops that
attacked again could be driven out with Russian help,
but the Russian armed forces remained in the country and
exercised increasing influence. The Khartli and Kakheti
empires were annexed by Russia in 1801 after the last
Bagratid king died. In 1810 Imeretia also became part of
the Tsarist Empire. The "Russification" of the areas of
today's Georgia and with it the suppression of local
cultures and traditions (for example, the Georgian
church was forced to merge with the Russian Orthodox,
introducing the Russian language).Numerous uprisings by
the population against the new foreign rule failed.
During the First World War, almost the entire Caucasus
and parts of Eastern Anatolia came under Russian rule.
Georgia in the USSR
After the October Revolution in Russia in 1917,
Russian troops were withdrawn from the Caucasian
countries. According to AbbreviationFinder, Georgia took advantage of this and declared
itself an independent republic in May 1918. But already
three years later Russian soldiers marched into Georgia
again, the country was united with Armenia and
Azerbaijan to form the "Transcaucasian Socialist
Federative Soviet Republic" within the newly founded "
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics "(Soviet Union /
USSR). Like the other Soviet republics, Georgia was
forcibly adapted to the social and economic system of
the USSR: The measures included the abolition of private
property, compulsory collectivization, the establishment
of a centralized planned economy, the introduction of
the Soviet school system and industrialization.Countless
Georgians fell victim to so-called "cleansing
operations" during the Stalin era (1923-53) and
disappeared in labor camps.
In 1936, the "Transcaucasian Socialist Soviet
Republic" was dissolved and Georgia became an
independent Soviet Republic (as were Armenia and
Azerbaijan). The territories of the Ossetian, Abkhaz and
Adzhara ethnic groups were declared autonomous areas.
Georgia became one of the wealthiest republics within
As part of the reforms of the Soviet head of state
and party leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91), calls for
the country's independence were raised again in Georgia.
After a series of demonstrations, some of which were
bloodily suppressed by the Russian military, the Supreme
Soviet in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi declared its
willingness to hold free elections. Under President
Swiad Gamsachurdia, the Republic of Georgia declared its
independence in April 1991 on the basis of the 1921
constitution. In the same year the Soviet Union was
officially declared dissolved.
Georgian nationalism had already caused unrest among
ethnic minorities in 1989. When the South Ossetians
called for the union with the Autonomous Republic of
North Ossetia, which was located in Russian territory,
there was an open civil war with the government troops.
The nationalist course of the head of state Gamsachurdia
intensified the conflicts of the central power with the
Ossetians, Abkhazians and Adjars. A unilateral
declaration of independence by the South Ossetia
Autonomous Region has not been recognized by the
government in Tbilisi.
In January 1992, Edward Shevardnadze, former Soviet
foreign minister under Gorbachev, became the new head of
state in Georgia after his predecessor Gamsachurdia was
deposed. In July 1992, the Autonomous Republic of
Abkhazia in northwest Georgia declared independence. As
a result, the bloody civil war broke out between the
Muslim Abkhazians and the Christian Georgians, who at
the time made up around half of the population living in
Abkhazia, with the Abkhazian militias receiving massive
support from Moscow. By 1994 most of the Christian
Georgians fled this region.
The ongoing conflict with Abkhazia and South Ossetia
caused the Georgian economy - which was already weakened
by the collapse of the Eastern Bloc markets - to suffer
further losses. In October 1993 Georgia joined the CIS
("Commonwealth of Independent States"), an association
of former Soviet republics that had existed since
December 1991. The CIS brokered a peace agreement
between Abkhazia and the government in Tbilisi in 1994.
Abkhazia has been under strong Russian influence since
the civil war; the common currency was the Russian
ruble, not the Georgian lari. A ceasefire was only
agreed with South Ossetia in 2004 after the conflict
escalated again in the middle of the year.
In 1995 Georgia received a new constitution that
expanded the powers of the head of state and government.
In the presidential election in November 1995, Edward
Shevardnadze was confirmed with a clear majority in the
office of head of state and government (also in April
2000). His ruling party "Citizens Union" was again able
to win the majority of seats in the parliamentary
elections in October 1999. In October 2001, several
thousand demonstrators in Tbilisi demanded the
President's resignation. Opposition politicians, but
also young voices from within the ranks demanded that
the powers of the president be curtailed in favor of the
parliament. Shevardnadze then dismissed the entire
government cabinet. In November 2003, Shevardnadze was
forced to resign,after being accused of electoral fraud
as a result of the general election. Opposition leader
Mikhail Saakashvili clearly prevailed and succeeded
Shevardnadze in January 2004.
In November 2007 there were mass protests, the
citizens accused the head of state of not fighting
poverty and corruption adequately. Saakashvili, who was
increasingly authoritarian, had the protests broken up
by force, imposed a state of emergency for a week and
ordered early presidential elections for January 2008.
On January 5, 2008, tens of thousands of opposition
supporters led by Lewan Gatchchiladze protested the
official election result, which Saakashvili confirmed in
office. OSCE observers also criticized violations of the
law, but declared the election to be democratic overall.
Saakashvili officially took up his second and last term
on January 20, 2008.
In response to protests from the opposition,
Parliament passed a constitutional amendment in March
2008 that, among other things, reduced the number of MPs
from 235 to 150. Saakashvili's ruling United National
Movement won 120 seats in the early parliamentary
elections in May 2008. After the opposition failed to
recognize the election result, mass protests broke out
On August 8, 2008, Georgia launched a military
offensive in the Russian-backed breakaway region of
South Ossetia to regain control of the area. Russia
answered this question by invading its own troops into a
buffer zone in the Georgian heartland and in Abkhazia.
Four days after the invasion, Georgia, Russia, South
Ossetia and Abkhazia - based on EU mediation - agreed on
a six-point plan to pacify the situation. In late
August, despite all warnings from the United States and
numerous European countries, Russia recognized the
independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. According to
official figures, around 850 people died during the war,
and the number of internally displaced persons has
increased to a total of 270,000 since the conflict began
in 1989. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are to be peacefully
reintegrated into the Georgian association of states.
According to the government, violent reconquest is not
to be feared.
Georgia was transformed from a presidential republic
to a parliamentary democracy by the constitutional
changes that came into force when President
Margewelashvili took office in November 2013. The
constitution is committed to fundamental and human
rights, including freedom of expression and the press.
Despite reforms, doubts remain about the independence of
the judiciary. Other judicial and penal reforms are
among the priorities of the Georgian Dream alliance
government elected in office in October 2012. The
country's territorial division (central or federal
state) remains open until reintegration and free
elections are held in the breakaway conflict areas of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Georgian parliament passed a resolution in March
2013 confirming Georgia's integration into the
Euro-Atlantic structures as the country's goal. The
government has made improving relations with Russia one
of its foreign policy priorities, while reaffirming its
commitment to Georgia's territorial integrity. The
Russian-Georgian rapprochement is made more difficult by
Russia's unchanged position in relation to the Georgian
regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it has
recognized as independent. This, the presence of Russian
military in the regions and the expansion of border
facilities is an unacceptable situation for Georgia. The
goal of Georgian foreign policy is to strengthen
relations with the European Union and also with the
Council of Europe, to which it has belonged since 1999.