The full, official name of the country is Georgia, as specified in the Georgian constitution. Georgia is an exonym, used in the West since the medieval period. The name was etymologized for the west in honor of Saint George, explicitly so by the end of the 12th century by Jacques de Vitry, due to the Georgians' special reverence for that saint (see Tetri Giorgi). Early modern authors such as Jean Chardin tried to link the name to the literal meaning of the Greek word ("tiller of the earth; agriculturalist"). The self-designation used by ethnic Georgians is Kartvelebi; the native name of Georgia Sakartvelo land of Kartvelians, and the name of the Georgian language Kartuli. The medieval Georgian Chronicles present an eponymous ancestor of the Kartvelians, Kartlos, a great-grandson of Japheth. The name Sakartvelo consists of two parts. Its root, specifies an inhabitant of the core central-eastern Georgian region of Kartli, or Iberia as it is known in sources of the Eastern Roman Empire. Ancient Greeks (Strabo, Herodotus, Plutarch, Homer, etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Tacitus, etc.)referred to early western Georgians as Colchians and eastern Georgians as Iberians (Iberoi in some Greek sources).
The classical period saw the rise of the early Georgian states Diauehi (13th century BC), Colchis (8th century BC), Sper (7th century BC) and Iberia (6th century BC). In the 4th century BC, a unified kingdom of Georgia an early example of advanced state organization under one king and an aristocratic hierarchy was established. Sargon II of the Assyrian empire conquered the Georgian state of Tabal and all of the Hittite kingdoms of the Taurus Mountains. In Greek mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius' epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis was also the battlefield of the Lazic War fought between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persia. After the Roman Empire completed its conquest of the Caucasus region in 66 BC, the Georgian kingdoms were Roman client states and allies for nearly 400 years. In 337 AD King Mirian III declared Christianity as the state religion, giving a great stimulus to the development of literature, arts, and ultimately playing a key role in the formation of the unified Georgian nation.
Government and politics
Georgia is a representative democratic semi-presidential republic, with the President as the head of state, and Prime Minister as the head of government. The executive branch of power is made up of the President and the Cabinet of Georgia. The Cabinet is composed of ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, and appointed by the President. Notably, the ministers of defense and interior are not members of the Cabinet and are subordinated directly to the President of Georgia. Giorgi Margvelashvili is the current President of Georgia after winning 62.12% of the vote in the 2013 election. Since 2013, Irakli Garibashvili has been the prime minister of Georgia. Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament of Georgia. It is unicameral and has 150 members, known as deputies, of whom 75 are elected by plurality to represent single-member district, and 75 are chosen to represent parties by proportional representation. Members of parliament are elected for four-year terms.
Geography and climate
Georgia is situated in the South Caucasus, between latitudes 41Â° and 44Â° N, and longitudes 40Â° and 47Â° E, with an area of 67,900 km2 (26,216 sq mi). It is a very mountainous country. The Likhi Range divides the country into eastern and western halves. Historically, the western portion of Georgia was known as Colchis while the eastern plateau was called Iberia.
Like most native Caucasian peoples, the Georgians do not fit into any of the main ethnic categories of Europe or Asia. The Georgian language, the most pervasive of the Kartvelian languages, is neither Indo-European, Turkic nor Semitic. The present day Georgian or Kartvelian nation is thought to have resulted from the fusion of aboriginal, autochthonous inhabitants with immigrants who moved into South Caucasus from the direction of Anatolia in remote antiquity. The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus mentions Georgians as Iberes who were also called Thobel Tubal. Ethnic Georgians form about 84 percent of Georgia's current population of 4,661,473 (July 2006 est.). Other ethnic groups include Abkhazians, Ossetians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Pontic Greeks (here divided between Caucasus Greeks and Turkish repealing Urums), Jews, Russians. The Georgian Jews are one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world.