Georgia (West Asia) & Georgia (USA)

Georgia (West Asia) & Georgia (USA)

Asian Georgia is separated from Russia by the Caucasus Mountains. It has a coast on the Black Sea, shares a border with Turkey to the west, and has boundaries with Azerbaijan and Armenia to the east and south. All these proximities have affected Georgia in one way or the other (usually the other) throughout her history.

This is one of the most superbly beautiful countries in the world. In fact its aspect is awesome, as about one third of it is forest. The climate is sub-tropical which explains why so many Asians wish to take holidays there; many Russians own second homes there. Most of the eastern part is grassland, ideal for horses, which again explains the ancient traditions of fine horsemanship. Most of the country’s abundant agriculture is vine-growing.Georgia’s infamous son Josef Stalin used to growl that Georgian wine was the best in the world, and who would want to gainsay him?

This has been a distinctive state since the 4th century BC. In the third century AD however it was part of the Sassanian Empire (Persian, occupying most of south-West Asia from the 3rd to the 7th century). In 400 AD the Persians were expelled. The 12th and 13th centuries witnessed cultural improvements and territorial expansion but everything was cut short by savage Mongolian destruction.  As if this was not enough Tamerlaine (or Tamburlane) laid waste to the country between 1386 and 1403, after which King Alexander I unwisely split the kingdom into 3 unequal parts for his sons. Two and a half centuries had to pass under Ottoman rule in the west, and Persian in the east – and then the Russian conquest ‘united’ the whole country between 1821 to 29.

Georgian nationalism was unpopular with the Czars and they suppressed it. A stout Social Democrat Party emerged in the first years of the 20th century and it was able to form a brief Republic under British protection (1918 – 21) – to no avail, as the Red Army invaded Georgia in 1921 and it became part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic, together withAzerbaijan and Armenia. A large anti-communist uprising in 1924 was suppressed with the usual barbarity and in 1936 the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic became a full member of the Soviet Union.

The capital is Tbilisi and there were revolutions there in 1956 (suppressed) and again in 1989 (brutally suppressed again). Independence of a sort came after the fall of the Wall, under President Gamsakhurdia but he was deposed in December 1991, leaving the way clear for Edward Shevardnadze, who had been Soviet Foreign Minister, and was without a doubt the West’s most popular Asian statesman. He became Chairman of the State Council, later President.

Civil wars continued however, as Gamsakhurdia tried to regain control. He was routed by combined Georgian and Russian forces, but the country was beset by other armed conflicts within its borders. In 1989, for example, a rebellion broke out in South Ossetia where the people demanded greater autonomy and secession from Georgia. The same thing happened in Abkhazia, which wanted full independence. Here, Georgian forces were actually defeated and expelled. The United Nations negotiated and a provisional ceasefire was agreed to in April 1994, with Shevardnazde agreeing to give considerable autonomy to Abkhazia.

In December 1993 Georgia at last agreed to join the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and signed a 10-year Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation with Russia. Shevardnadze was re-elected in presidential elections late in 1995. The beginnings of civilized living began when an economic co-operation agreement was signed with the European Union in 1996.

Georgia is not large (26,900 sq. m.), not much bigger than Switzerland, and the population (Georgian, Armenian, Russian, Azeri, Abkhazian & Ossete) is around 6 million. The chief religion is the Georgian Eastern Orthodox Church followed by Muslims in plenty.

Georgia (USA) is a state on the southern Atlantic coast of the United States. It was founded as a British colony as late as 1732, as a defensive measure against the Florida Spanish as well as providing a new start for British debtors! Comparisons with murderous convicts in Australia are odious, but the fact remains that many of the earliest citizens of Georgia were shipped there from Britain because they could not face debts in the home country. Nevertheless Georgia has always been the home of what the Americans call ‘the typical Southern Gentleman’.

Settlements at Savannah were established and strictly controlled. Slavery was prohibited, as was the making or consumption of rum. There were rules against the sale of land that had been ascribed to you.  Production of both wine and silk was however encouraged.

Local rules became gentler in the 1780s, and immigration fromEurope (and other colonies) was encouraged. Georgians did not agree with George Washington at all, and the colony remained  staunchly Loyalist. It continued to be so during the War of Independence. It did not even join the Union until 1782,  six years after the signing of the Declaration.

Georgia suffered abominably by being a member of the Confederacy during the dreadful American Civil War. Atlanta, the capital, fell bloodily to Sherman’s army in September ’64.

Cotton-growing had been the chief staple in Georgia, but this fell into decline as the State’s original source of wealth, to be replaced in the late 19th century by investment in manufacturing industries. In 1977 a son of Georgia, a Democratic farmer called Jimmy Carter, was elected President of the United States of America.

About the Author:

‘Dean Swift’ is a pen name: the author has been a soldier; he has worked in sales, TV, the making of films, as a teacher of English and history and a journalist. He is married with three grown-up children. They live in Spain.

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