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Summary: Found in southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia, Georgia has a history soaked in the ancient kingdom of Colchis dating back 3,000 years, and is largely mountainous with the Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and the Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south, with lowlands in the west and the Mtkvari River Basin in the east. Despite a myriad of problems, some progress on market reforms and democratization has been made, and Georgia's main economic activities include the cultivation of agricultural products and mining.

Capital: T'bilisi
Time Zone: DST +0400 UTC
Population: 4,693,892
Languages: Georgian, Russian, Armenian, Azeri, Abkhaz
Power: 220 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Lari - Currently 1 GEL = 0.6202 USD $
Climate: The climate is warm and pleasant, and very Mediterranean-like on the Black Sea coast.

Tbilisi: T'Bilisi can be found at the base of rolling hills on the banks of the River Mtkvari, and is the cultural center of the country. Sights offered to visitors include the Sioni Cathedral Church, dating back to the 5th century, and the ancient Narikhala fortress, as well as many 19th century houses.

Uplistsikhe: A fully functioning city in the year 1000 BC, and still housing 20,000 people in the middle ages in 700 caves in the mountainside, Uplistsikhe is an interesting and eerie place to see. More than 150 caves still remain only an hour's drive from the capital, and visitors can hike around the hills through ancient rocky paths, hand hewn steps and ancient burial sites.

Vani: Facing the Caucasus Mountains and about 25 miles southeast of Kutaisi, Vani has become popular recently because of its archeological history. Its roots date back to the 8th century BC, mostly as a religious center of the Colchis Empire, and it is thought to be evidence of the myth of Jason, the Argonauts, and the golden fleece.


Current Situation: Despite a coup in 2003, and infrequent reports of kidnapping and land mines, Georgia is working to become a safe place to visit. Still, avoid travelling near the Russian border region.

Common Sense: Avoid displays of wealth, travel in groups, travel during daylight hours, and use major roads where possible.

Toast: To the outsider, it seems that everything gets a toast, although it is best not to toast while drinking beer - it may be regarded as a subtle insult.

When To Visit: Georgia doesn't have a real peak season, however, travel is easiest during the warmer summer months, from May to October. Catch the wine season and the T'Bilisi Festival Day in October for a little fun.

Food: Georgian food has a focus on herbs and garlic, including khinkali, kabab, and the breakfast khachi, a soup of tripe, cow hoof and lots of garlic.
Tipping: Tips are not normally expected, but you can tip for good service if you choose.

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