Capital | Tbilisi
Population | 4,585,874 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 4,934,413
Official Language | Georgian
Holidays | Independence Day, 26 May (1918); note - 26 May 1918 was the date of independence from Soviet Russia; 9 April 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union.
Currency | Lari (GEL)
Time Zone | UTC +4
Best Time to Visit | May, June, and September for pleasant weather
Connecting with the Culture | Hiking in the magnificent Caucasus Mountains. Taking a walk in Batumi’s fragrant botanical gardens. Exploring the ancient cave monastery city at Vardzia. Strolling through the picturesque lanes of Tbilisi’s Old Town. Discovering the religious architecture at Mtskheta. Chilling out at a pebble-beach resort on the Black Sea coast.
Read | Please Don’t Call It Soviet Georgia by Mary Russel, an entertaining travelogue describing the period of upheaval leading to independence.
Listen | to Georgian Voices by the Rustavi Choir, Georgian music performed by a collection of singers from various parts of the country showcasing different styles and brilliant harmonies.
Watch | Keto and Kote by respected Georgian filmmaker Siko Dolidze, shot in 1949.
Eat | khachi (a breakfast soup made from cow hoof, tripe and garlic), pkhali (beetroot or spinach paste mixed with garlic and walnuts), lobio (spiced red or green beans), tkemali (tasty wild plum sauce).
Drink | world-famous Georgian wines such as Guurdzaani, Tsinadali and Saperavi.
In a Word | Didi madloba (many thanks).
Characteristics | The stunning flora and fauna of the Caucasus; impressive cave complexes; elaborate toasting and revelry at a traditional dinner; cakes laden with cream, fruit and sugar; churches, monasteries and pagan temples.
Surprises | Until you experience a full Georgian meal, complete with lengthy toasting ceremonies, you can’t truthfully claim to have seen the real Georgia.