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macrohistory & world report

Georgia

Map of Georgia

Georgia (capital Tbilisi) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Georgia's main economic activities include cultivation of agricultural products such as grapes, citrus fruits, and hazelnuts; mining of manganese, copper, and gold; and producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals in small-scale industries. The country imports nearly all its needed supplies of natural gas and oil products. It has sizeable hydropower capacity that now provides most of its energy needs... Georgia has historically suffered from a chronic failure to collect tax revenues; however, since 2004 the government has simplified the tax code, improved tax administration, increased tax enforcement, and cracked down on petty corruption, leading to higher revenues. The country is pinning its hopes for renewed growth on a determined effort to continue to liberalize the economy by reducing regulation, taxes, and corruption in order to attract foreign investment, with a focus on hydropower, agriculture, tourism, and textiles production. The government has received high marks from the World Bank for its anti-corruption efforts."

Economic growth rate
2011: 6.8%
2010: minus 3.8%

Labor force in agriculture
2006: 55/6%

Unemployment rate
2010: 16.3%
2009: 16.9%


Export commodities
Vehicles, ferro-alloys, fertilizers, nuts, scrap metal, gold, copper ores

Export partners
2010: Turkey 14.1%, Azerbaijan 11.2%, Bulgaria 10%, US 9.8%, UK 9%, Canada 6.7%, Ukraine 6.1%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $2.189 billion, imports $7.058 billion

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 58th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Health expenditures
2009: 11.3% of GDP

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 53%

Net migration rate
2012: A net loss of 3.96 persons for every 1,000 population per year

Ethnic groups
2002 census: Georgian 83.8%, Azeri 6.5%, Armenian 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other 2.5%

Religions
2002 census: Orthodox Christian (official) 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7%

Geography

Between Russia and Turkey. 310 kilometers of coastline on the Black Sea. Slightly smaller than South Carolina. Largely mountainous.

Government

The president heads ministries for internal affairs and defense. the prime minister runs all ministeries except the two run by the president. President is elected by popular vote to a five-year term and is elegible to a second term. Legislature is a unicameral parliament with 150 members popularly elected for four-year terms.

Georgia remains a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, former republics of the Soviet Union that today are closely associated with Russia economically, in defense and foreign policy.

Capital: Tbilisi.

Recent History

In the 1800s, Russia forced Georgia into its empire. Following the overthrow of Russia's tsar in 1917, Georgia was independent, until 1921, when the Red Army arrived and Stalin and his fellow Bolsheviks forced it into to the Soviet Union. Stalin, incidentally, was Georgian.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia voted overwhelming for independence and elected a nationalist leader, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, as president. Various groups did not except the election. Separatist struggles arose in Abkhazia in the northwest and in the mountainous northern area called South Ossetia, where people wanted to join their kin across the border in Russia, in North Ossetia. Russia backed these separatist struggles. Gamsakhurdia was overthrown by militias which in 1992 installed Eduard Shevardnadze, formerly the foreign minister of Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.

Armed conflict ended in the Abkhazia area in 1994 with Russian troops enforcing a ceasefire there. Russian troops remained

Shevardnadze promised to do something about corruption and poverty. In August 1995, he narrowly escaped assassination, resulting in a crackdown against opposition para-military forces.  Elections scheduled for that August were postponed until November, when Shevardnadze and his Union of Georgia Citizens political party won with what was counted as more than 70 percent of the vote. The parliament that resulted is described as led by "sophisticated reformers." Parliament instituted reforms regarding human rights and religious freedoms.

Economically, Georgia continued to decline. People saw a continuation of corruption and crime, and in 2003 mass demonstrations arose over alleged ballot rigging in parliamentary elections.  The demonstrators were opposed to Shevardnadze, and he stepped down from power – a transition without bloodshed. It was the beginning of a new trend in former Soviet republics that was soon to engulf Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. New Elections in 2004 brought to power Mikheil Saakashvili.

2004: The United States has invested in an oil pipeline that carries oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. Georgia's military has been receiving US training and support, while Russia remains concerned over the US as a rival influence. As of 2004 a Russian "peacekeeping" force remained in the Abkhazia region, with a U.N. military observer group. And a Russian peacekeeping battalion remained in South Ossetia.

SOURCES:
The World Factbook

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