Georgia is a mountainous country located in the intersection between eastern Europe and western Asia. It is bordered by Russia in the north, Turkey and Armenia in the south, Azerbaijan in the east and the Black Sea in the west. The climate in Georgia is generally temperate, though the Likhi mountain range splits the country into east and west, with these areas having different climates. In the east, summer is a warm 20ºC to 24ºC and the winter a chilly -4ºC to 2ºC). The west is warmer and humid, with an average temperature of 22ºC in the summer and 5ºC in winter. Rainfall peaks in the autumn and winter in the west, and in the spring in the east. Mountainous areas tend to experience plenty rain.
Georgia is famous for its mountain range, which is the highest in Europe and which boasts beautiful snowy villages and excellent skiing opportunities for sports enthusiasts. Georgia is also known for its modern architecture – take its parliament building: a huge dome made of glass and concrete that reflects the Georgian passion for democratic transparency. Modern cities like Tbilisi, Batumi and Borjomi are a photographer’s dream, as are the many local markets, which tempt buyers with a plethora of colourful fruit, vegetables, meat and bread. Sites to catch include Mtskheta, Georgia’s oldest city and part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, Svaneti (in the north of Georgia, known for its awe-inspiring landscapes and architectural wonders) and the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park (one of the largest in Europe). Georgia is known for its rich culinary tradition, bearing influences from Europe and the Middle East. The national dish is called khinkali: dumplings filled with spiced meat. Walnuts are also big in; they are used in chopped salads and whisked into soups and sauces to add body. Walnuts are also chopped coarsely and candied in honey, to make one of Georgia’s most famous desserts: gozinaki.
Hominid fossils and stone tools found in Georgia date back to 1.8 million B.C. As can be expected, the area has a rich and exciting history characterised by settlements, wars and interesting alliances. In the 11th and 12th centuries A.D., Georgia experienced its Golden Age, enjoying wealth and influence under the rule of King David the Builder and Queen Tamar. In 1783, the territory became a protectorate of Russia. From 1801-1804, most of Georgia became part of the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution, Georgia was declared an independent state. In 1921, it was invaded by the Red Army and declared part of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the Georgian parliament declared secession from the Soviet Union following a referendum.
Georgia, known as a ‘country of flowers and mountains’, boasts a great diversity of flora and fauna species, owing to its strategic located. Its varied habitats include sub-alpine coniferous forests, wetlands, lakes, caves, and mountain gorges. Local plant species include the several types of bellflowers, the Caucasian fir, and the Tilia dasystyla lime tree. The rich variety of ecosystems gives rise to a wealth of animal species, including the red deer, lynx, ibex, wild goats, badger, wild cat and fox. Georgia is also home to around 50 reptile species and four amphibian species.
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