Cruising in Georgia
The region of present-day Georgia contained the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Kartli-Iberia. The area came under Roman influence in the first centuries A.D. and Christianity became the state religion in the 330s. Domination by Persians, Arabs, and Turks was followed by a Georgian golden age (11th-13th centuries) that was cut short by the Mongol invasion of 1236. Subsequently, the Ottoman and Persian empires competed for influence in the region.
Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. An attempt by the incumbent Georgian government to manipulate national legislative elections in November 2003 touched off widespread protests that led to the resignation of Eduard SHEVARDNADZE, president since 1995.
New elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his National Movement Party. Progress on market reforms and democratization has been made in the years since independence, but this progress has been complicated by two civil conflicts in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. These two territories remain outside the control of the central government and are ruled by de facto, unrecognized governments, supported by Russia. Russian-led peacekeeping operations continue in both regions. The Georgian Government put forward a new peace initiative for the peaceful resolution of the status of South Ossetia in 2005.
Location: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey
Warm and pleasant; Mediterranean-like on Black Sea coast
Largely mountainous with Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south; Kolkhet'is Dablobi (Kolkhida Lowland) opens to the Black Sea in the west; Mtkvari River Basin in the east; good soils in river valley flood plains, foothills of Kolkhida Lowland
Lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
Georgia's main economic activities include the cultivation of agricultural products such as grapes, citrus fruits, and hazelnuts; mining of manganese and copper; and output of a small industrial sector producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals. The country imports the bulk of its energy needs, including natural gas and oil products. It has sizeable but underdeveloped hydropower capacity. Despite the severe damage the economy has suffered due to civil strife, Georgia, with the help of the IMF and World Bank, has made substantial economic gains since 2000, achieving positive GDP growth and curtailing inflation.
Georgia had suffered from a chronic failure to collect tax revenues; however, the new government is making progress and has reformed the tax code, improved tax administration, increased tax enforcement, and cracked down on corruption. In addition, the reinvigorated privatization process has met with success, supplementing government expenditures on infrastructure, defense, and poverty reduction. Despite customs and financial (tax) enforcement improvements, smuggling is a drain on the economy. Georgia also suffers from energy shortages due to aging and badly maintained infrastructure, as well as poor management. Due to concerted reform efforts, collection rates have improved considerably to roughly 60%, both in T'bilisi and throughout the regions.
Continued reform in the management of state-owned power entities is essential to successful privatization and onward sustainability in this sector. The country is pinning its hopes for long-term growth on its role as a transit state for pipelines and trade. The construction on the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-T'bilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline have brought much-needed investment and job opportunities. Nevertheless, high energy prices in 2006 will compound the pressure on the country's inefficient energy sector. Restructuring the sector and finding energy supply alternatives to Russia remain major challenges.
Airports: 25 (2005)
Total: 192 ships (1000 GRT or over) 936,396 GRT/1,373,814 DWT
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Bat'umi, P'ot'i; Georgia's transportation network is in poor condition resulting from ethnic conflict, criminal activities, and fuel shortages; network lacks maintenance and repair
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region
Albania - Algeria - Bulgaria - Croatia - Cyprus - Egypt - France - Georgia - Gibraltar - Greece - Israel - Italy - Lebanon - Libya - Malta - Monaco - Morocco - Romania - Serbia and Montenegro - Slovenia - Spain - Syria - Tunisia - Turkey - Ukraine