About Georgia

At the crossroads of two continents, you'll find the former Soviet republic of Georgia lying 600 miles east of the Bosphorus Strait. A little-known fact is that Georgia is called Sakartvelo by Georgians. A theory has it that Christian crusaders named the country Georgia after noticing that its citizens were devotees of St George, who is Georgia's patron saint, and you'll easily spot the national flag with his red cross flying across the country.

Those who use the Caucasus Mountains to denote Europe's border will place Georgia firmly in Asia while others place the whole Caucasus region in Europe, which is where most Georgians feel it belongs. However, a trip to the Georgian countryside will likely give you the impression that you're in 19th-century Sicily rather than the modern-day EU.

The Caucasus Mountains ' the highest mountain range in Europe ' marks the border between Georgia and Russia, and Georgia lays claim to its second highest peak, Shkara. In Greek mythology, these dramatic mountains, with their hairpin roads and concealed villages, were one of the pillars holding up the world. Nowadays, they are increasingly considered by expats and travellers to be a marvellous destination for hiking, climbing, and skiing in winter.

In fact, as an expat living in Georgia, you'll never run short of outdoor adventures exploring its green valleys, which are dotted with vineyards and old churches, or its cave cities, such as Vardzia. Horse riding, cycling, and rafting are all popular pastimes, and Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine, which is good news for oenophiles. This is a country where guests are considered a gift from God, and hospitality is of utmost importance. Over 80% of Georgians claim to belong to the Orthodox Church, and the religion has been central to Georgians' sense of identity since independence. Foreigners can expect to be made welcome, and be plied with food and drink ' particularly in the shape of a bottle of Chacha (Georgian schnapps) or a large plastic bottle of homemade wine that is downed in shots.

Extremely apt for a country of such charismatic personalities and landscapes, the Georgian 33-letter alphabet appears to be a series of theatrical swirls and flourishes that are thought to be based on the Aramaic spoken during Jesus' time. Meanwhile, spoken Georgian belongs to its own ancient linguistic group that includes rare sounds that many expats have never heard before.

Although many of the country's roads and infrastructure remain in bad shape, Georgia is a rapidly developing country, with spectacular contemporary buildings, such as the new parliament building, and police stations that have been built out of glass as a symbol of Georgia's aspiration for democratic transparency. It can also boast a minimal crime rate and ever-improving facilities, which make it particularly appealing to the expatriates and visitors who are playing a vital role in its future.

Over the past decade, the country's economy has grown at an average annual rate of 5%, and the poverty rate is projected to further decline in the future. Opportunities are beginning to abound for expats in this region, and the more you get to know the country and its people, the more enthralled you will become by its architecture, art, heritage, and traditions.