Alright, let’s learn about Georgia. No! Georgia. No, history of Georgia. Famous people from Georgia. *sigh* “Sakartvelo” Got it! [Intro]
♪ It’s time to learn geography, NOW! ♪ Hey everyone, I’m your host, Barby. You have no idea how frustrating it is for these people to explain who and where they are from. We have reached our last country in the Caucasus Region And we’re going to have a lot of fun, Because this place is so incredibly unknown and so incredibly interesting Welcome to the land of wolves! ♪ [Transition] ♪ Now ask a random person on the street where Georgia is on a map. 80% of them won’t know, 19.3% of them will point to this, and the remainder 0.7% might get it right. For the 99.3% of you normies out there, Georgia is the northern-most Caucasus country located in this quarter slip of land, nuzzled between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, below Eastern Russia, with Turkey and Armenia and Azerbaijan to the south and east. Now here’s where the geographical dilemma commences. Is Georgia in Europe or Asia? Some will argue that it stands east of Turkey, which is kind of seen as like the “gateway to Asia,” but culturally it identifies as closer to Europe. Ultimately, I guess you could conclude that it’s kind of like both in one. It’s a bunch of white people in Asia. Or… Cauc-asians! *Ridiculous laughter* Quick side note: the origin of their name, “Georgia,” is kind of disputed. Some will say that it has to do with Saint George, their patron saint. Others will say that it came from the Greeks and their word “Giorgios” Which means “tiller of the lands” since the land was so fertile But a lot of scholars might say it comes from the Persian word “Gurğ” or “Gurğān” meaning wolf! Hence, “land of the wolves”. I mean, that name does sound pretty cool. I mean if I were a scholar I’d probably discredit all the other claims in favor of that one. Nonetheless, Georgians call their own country “Sakartvelo” or, “The land of the Kartvelians” which is another word for Georgians. Now this is going to be my favorite part because, you know me, incredibly complicated and administrative division time! Georgia is a candy shop loaded with territorial anomalies. First of all: if you go to Georgia and look at a map of Georgia that they have drawn out themselves, you’ll get something that looks like this. A country divided into what looks like 11 regions and one city: the capital, Tbilisi. Yeah I know it looks like, *tries to horribly pronounce Tbilisi* It’s Tblisi. However, it’s more like 10-ish regions and 2 Autonomous Republics. One of which cuts through parts of 4 of the regions. These Republics are Abkhazia, and be careful what you call the second one: Most people outside of Georgia will refer to it as South Ossetia, but in Georgian it’s called Samchablo or the Skhincali Region. In the simplest way I can put this, these regions came about through a complicated history that involved independence from the U.S.S.R., then support from Russia after the U.S.S.R.. Technically, these are, at least considered by most in the international community, “Autonomous breakaway Regions of Georgia” that kind of govern themselves but are kind of heavily influenced by Russia as well. To this day, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and for some reason Nauru are the only fully sovereign countries that recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations. Travel between these two breakaway states is still possible though, it’s just way more difficult for Georgians to enter the region than it is for Ossetians and Abkhazians to get into Georgia. Phew… So anyway! Aside from all that, Georgia is an incredibly vivacious, yet rustically refined nook hidden away in the mountains, hard to get to. …Like Rivendell! The country laden with enigmatic castles and centuries old stony fortresses and arch ways…Like Rivendell! As well as an abundance of monuments and statues with the curiously, fascinating, curly, wispy script written all- Okay this is freaking me out! No but seriously, Georgia is a very rock and stone type of country. They love rocks! The largest cities and airports are of course in the capital Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. Tibilisi is a bustling city with a stone and mortar Narikala fortress looming above on a hill, Batumi though is kind of like the fun city on the Black Sea with a more youthful flare and bold, sharp, dynamic architecture. All adjacent to the famous Batumi stone beaches. I’m telling you, they love stones! Some notable sites would include places like the Gori Fortress with the statues of the 8 warriors, or the Katskhi Pillar, a limestone monolith with a single Church on top only accessible by climbing. And finally, castles, castles, castles! Everywhere you go, notable ones like Rabati, Khinkani, Aspindza, and Ninotsminda. All of which are made of, you guessed it, stones. There’s more to this country than stones I promise! Alright, let’s discuss that! ♪ [Transition] ♪ Well as you may already figured, Georgia is quite mountainous, with an expanse of incredibly diverse, conveniently located hills and valleys. The reason why it’s so convenient is because the entire country is pretty much nestled between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains which protects it from the blistering cold air masses that pummel Southern Russia, it also barricades against the hot and dry streams that penetrate from the South. This means that they have overall pretty comfortable weather and just the right amount of rainfall and sunshine. The mighty Kura, or Mtkvari is the longest river that flows upwards and arches south into the areas through Tbilisi, and the highest mountain and the 3rd highest in Europe (if you consider Georgia part of Europe) Mount Skhara, located in the north along the Caucuses. Concealed within the hills, lies the Javakheti volcanic plateau, and the Southern Georgia volcanic highland. These are some rather unstable geological regions that will produce hot springs, mineral water, and seismic activity. And of course: Caves. So many of them here! You have the yet still yet to be completely exploded Melouri cave in Imereti with waterfalls, the Prometheus caves that Greeks claim to be the spot where Prometheus was changed to his rock in Greek Mythology. Greeks have a history of diaspora in Georgia, since like the 7th century. But the most famous cave would probably be the Krubera cave, found in Abkhazia, otherwise known as the world’s deepest cave, that goes further than 2000 meters down. Rapid fire round, you may also wanna see the Abasha Waterfalls, Martvilli canyon, Crybaby mountain because it rains there almost the entire year, the incredibly beautiful Blue Lake in Abkhazia, with peacocks around it for some reason. Speaking of animals, many might say that unofficially the national animal might be the wolf, The Caucasus region has some of the highest quality of soil in the world. In terms of land usage, Georgia has one of the oldest and finest wine-making traditions that go back as far as 300 BC. Otherwise, Georgia has been a hub for mineral mining and petroleum extraction. They share a pipeline that goes to Turkey into Azerbaijan. The national dish would have to be “Khachpuri”, or unofficially referred to as “Georgian pizza”, a decdent soft bread baked with gooey, melted cheese, sometimes served with eggs, and other ingredients often baked in. They love cheese — they have so many different kinds, from the salty, briny Sulguni, to the weird, stringy Tenili. They even have a dish where they put cheese inside of cheese. Basically, all you have to know is that when it comes to Georgian cooking, they love cherry plums, and tarragon. That’s like their “go to”s. Alright, enough about food, let’s talk about the people that eat those foods. ♪ Beautiful Transition ♪ Now if you felt pointing to Georgia on a map was difficult, try explaining what a Georgian person is. First of all, one broader term you could use to refer to someone who is ethnically Georgian would be “Kartvelian”, which encapsulates all the ethno-linguistic groups found in Georgia. If you include Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the country has about 4.8 million people, and is currently attempting a population rebound after losing about 1 million people in the past 20 years due to migration. The country is made up of about 87% of ethnic Georgians, or Kartvelians, 6% Azerbaijani and Azeri, 5% Armenians, and the rest are made up of other groups like Greeks, Russians and Ossetians. They also use the Georgian Lari as their currency, they use the C and F plug outlets, and they drive on the right side of the road. The most distinguishable facet about Georgia, though. would have to be the Georgian language. Like Armenian, it’s unlike any others in the world, standing on its own, not derived from any Indo-european or even Asiatic language branch. The language is also written in the Georgian script. Technically they have three alphabets, but they only use one. The alphabet has 33 letters, no “f” sound, and a ton of strange, almost impossible-to-pronounce letters, for example, *demo of strange, impossible-to-pronounce letters* Thank you to those geograpeeps. You guys rockkkkkk. Keep in mind though, there are other Kartvelian minority langauges spoken in Georgia as well, such as Mingrelian and Svan in the west, and partially in Abkhazia, as well as Laz in the south. Abkhazia and South Ossetia each has their own distinct languages and cultures, that contrasts with Georgia, although Georgians like to think that Abkhazians are basically just Georgians that speak a different language. The Abkhazian people write in the Cyrillic alphabet, and the Ossetians are actually a Christian Iranian-based ethnic group that inhabited the area. Keep in mind that I said “Iranian”, not “Persian”. Not all Iranians are Persians, just, keep that in mind. Now we don’t really have time to explain the complete history, but basically all you have to know is that in the third century BC, some dude named King Parnavaz of Kartli united all the Kartvelian-speaking tribes in the Caucasus area, hence creating what was essentially the first “proto-Georgian” nation. From there, you had Romans, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Golden Age, where they had woman under the title of “King”, Mongols, Ottomans, Russians and finally back to Georgia. DONEEEE. The funny thing is, even after two millennia of usurping empires, Georgia still maintained and held on to their own distinct identity, refusing to completely assimilate into any outside systems. Christianity is a dominant religion. It has about 84% of population that adheres to the Eastern Orthodox faith. 10% mostly being Muslim from the Azerbaijani population, and the remainder are mostly Armenian Apostolic or Roman Catholic. Christianity is kind of like a big deal here. Georgia became one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity, and as tradition holds, Jesus’ disciple, Andrew, preached the gospel into ancient Scythia, which included the regions that Georgia lies in today. Also, a lady named Saint Nino converted the entire country. Culture wise, Georgia is kind of strange, because it is not quite European, and it’s not quite Asian. It’s its own thing. Georgian polyphonic singing is actually filed under UNESCO intangible heritage list. *Astonishing polyphonic singing* All Georgians will tell you that Georgian traditional dance is something that they are proud of, fast, difficult, dynamic, and bold with lots of leaping, and pointing. Georgians are also known for being into strength sports, even woman. They love wrestling, weightlifting and judo. They typically compete well in these events at the Olympics. Konstantine Janashia reaching some of the highest ranks in the world’s strongest men competition. Speaking of which, the most notable Georgian in the world ever seen although they might not be proud of him would probably Joseph Stalin. Although to be fair, he did spend a lot of his time in Russia, being a Russian dictator, so yeah. Hospitality is a huge deal out here, as a saying goes in Georgia, “a guest is a gift from God”, and granted, no matter who you are, they will pretty much treat you to some khachapuri. That’s kind of how they are with their diplomacy, mostly. *COUGH* Russia. Let’s explain. *Grandioso transition camera sweeping backwards through the streets* In the simplest way I can put this, Georgia is like the Christian country with most Muslim friends. It’s really because everything is like a high school drama, with their neighbors. They get along well with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Trade and travel have been open for centuries. However, the memory of the Ottoman times still lingers ever so slightly, so they keep things at a flat, platonic cordial level. Armenia kinda used to be their best friends, but then too many things happened and they kinda decided not to hang out as much. She first started in the 6th century with the Council of Chalcedon, in which they split over secondary Christian doctrine issues. Armenia became Apostolic Orthodox, similar to the Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian branches, whereas Georgia stayed Eastern Orthodox like the Greeks, Serbians and Russians and most of the other Eastern European states. Also, keep in mind — Armenia favored Russia after all that drama with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so that kind of split and divided a little bit more. Their best friend though, would probably the Ukraine, and the Balkan countries, like Latvia and Lithuania, and Estonia, even though Estonia is kinda too busy chatting it up with Finland. All these countries have had the same scenario of dealing with some kind or form of aggression with Russia, and in a sense, bond over the shared calamity. However, there’s a strange twist — because even though you would think Georgia’s worst nightmare would be Russia, they kinda secretly still kind of a little bit maybe still have a soft spot for them. Each country has family of their own residing in each side, and loves to visit each other Even though politically it looks bad, the general citizens of each country still love each other and look forward to each encounter Ha! Isn’t it funny how the general populist of a country is not always rightly represented by their government? shockinggggggggggg~ In conclusion, Georgia is an elaborately hidden, rustic yet modernized medieval domain, locked away in the secret hidden mountains caught between two worlds that it refuses to identify with, with its own vibrant heritage that stood the test of time, on its own Especially that melted cheese bread part 😛 Stay tuned, the big guy, Germany is coming up next. *Thank you for watching*
*Enjoy the music and the long list of names*
*Barby is awesome*