Happy Birthday to Sakartvelo

GEORGIA

Today is the 23rd independence day for the country of Georgia. Only two more years until a quarter of a century!

Quick snapshot: Located at the crossroads of western Asia and eastern Europe, the kingdom of Georgia reached its political and economic strength in the twelfth century. It was annexed by Russia in the 1800s and became part of the Soviet Union in 1921. In 1991, it declared independence (on April 9th!) The Rose Revolution of 2003 introduced government reforms. In 2008, there was a conflict with Russia over some breakaway provinces that wanted independence.

Capital: Tbilisi

Official Language: Georgian

Religion: Orthodox Christian (83.9% of the population)

Population: 4.9 million (120th most populous country in the world)

Area: 69,700 square kilometers (also 120 in the world)

Fun Fact: The name ‘Georgia’ comes from the Persian word for wolf (‘gurg’) because, apparently, the medieval Muslims used to call Georgia the Land of the Wolves. Georgians do not call themselves ‘Georgians’ but Kartvelians, and their country ‘Sakartvelo.’

Books to read about Georgia: There aren’t a whole lot of books written in English set in Georgia. The only one I can really think of is A Time of Miracles written by Anne-Laure Bondoux (it was actually written in French, but it’s been translated), which is a YA book about a French orphan who finds himself in Georgia during the civil unrest after the fall of the Soviet Union. A lot of it takes place in refugee camps. Since the boy is French, he keeps thinking, well, I can always escape here and go to France. It raises some interesting questions about nationality and place, in my opinion.

Other than that, I think there are some travel guides and quite a bit about orthodox religious saints in Georgia (I haven’t read any of those though.) Also, for kids, there are some ‘country’ books, but most kids probably won’t want to read those unless assigned for class.

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