Georgia may not be Europe’s most popular nation, but it has its fair share of fascinating history and culture. Despite being a crossroad between Asia and Europe, the country is also filled with many natural charms, such as mountain ranges and beaches. Here are some random facts about Georgia and its people you probably know nothing about.
1. The Locals Call Their Country Saqartvelo
While the rest of the world might know the country as Georgia, the locals refer to their homeland as Saqartvelo. It is believed that the name Georgia was coined during the Middle Ages by St George, the country’s then patron. During this period, Georgia’s citizens were also called “Gurj”.
2. Georgia’s President Once Fired the Entire Traffic Police Force for Corruption
The Georgian National Police underwent massive changes in 2005 when the ruling President, Mikheil Saakashvili, fired the entire traffic police department for corruption. About 30,000 police officers lost their jobs. With the help of the United States, Mikheil built a new police force with better morals, training, and equipment.
3. Some Farm Houses in Georgia Have Fortified Towers
When you visit the farmhouses of the Svans, a subgroup of the Georgians, you’ll find households with well-built fortresses, popularly known as the Towers of Svaneti. The locals built these to safeguard their livestock and treasures from invading armies of the Romans, Arabs, Assyrians, and Mongols.
4. Georgia is the Birthplace of Wine
Although many people associate wine with Italy and France, and excusably so, it turns out that the actual origin of wine is Georgia. Historical documents show that alcoholic drinks have been popular in the region as far back as 8,000 years ago.
Interestingly, wine in Georgia was discovered by accident. Some lucky guy buried grape juice in an earthenware jar in a shallow pit, and voila! Today, most people in the region engrave their wine in honor of the Mother of Georgia statue in Tbilisi. She holds a bowl of wine in one hand.
5. In Georgian, Mother is Pronounced as Deda and Vice Versa
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Georgian language is how some words are opposite to what they commonly mean in other dialects. For instance, Mother is pronounced as Deda, and Father is pronounced as mama. This probably explains why the Georgian language is rarely used elsewhere.
6. Georgians Have Their Version of the Simpsons Called the Samsonadzes
In Georgia, they have their version of the Simpsons called the Samazonadzes. They have copied nearly all the characters from the original Simpsons show but have slightly edited their appearance. The Samsonadzes is filmed in Georgian.
7. Georgia is One of the Safest Countries in the World
According to Nomad Capitalist, Georgia is the 7th safest country in the world. It records commendably low crime rates, thanks to the numerous security measures that previous governments enforced. It’s common to find guards and police officers on roads in major cities and tourist destinations surveilling and maintaining order.
8. A 75-year-old Georgian Woman Once Cut Off Armenia’s Internet for 12 Hours
Aishtan Shakarian, a 75-year-old Georgian woman, was arrested by the authorities in 2011 for cutting off Armenia’s internet for 12 straight hours. She accidentally sliced a fiber optic cable while shoveling the ground, searching for scrap metal. This one-in-a-million case happened in a small village near Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.
9. The World’s Oldest Honey was Discovered in Georgia
In 2003, oil pipeline construction workers stumbled across what they believed was the world’s oldest honey. Archaeologists estimated that the honey was about 5,500 years old. This was quite something, considering the oldest recorded honey before that was found in an Egyptian tomb – about 2,000 years old.
10. Taiwanese Are Not Allowed in Georgia
Interestingly, Georgia does not recognize Taiwan’s passport mainly because the United Nations doesn’t. As such, a Taiwanese can only enter the country using an alternative/third-party passport.
11. President George Bush Survived an Assassination Attempt in Georgia
In 2005, George Bush survived a failed assassination attempt in Georgia. A Georgian nationality by the name of Vladimir Arutyunian threw a live grenade at the former President, who was accompanied by the country’s President, Mikheil Saakashvili. Fortunately, the grenade failed to detonate – Vladimir was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.
12. Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin was Born in Georgia
Contrary to popular belief, Joseph Stalin was not born in Russia. He was born in Georgia in a town called Gori. A statue of the former Soviet Russian leader remains in Gori.
13. Georgia was the 2nd Country to Accept Christianity
Georgia adopted Christianity in 326 AD, making it the second country after Armenia to do so. To date, the majority of Georgians are active Orthodox Christians. This explains the smaller percentage of Muslims and other religions in the region.
14. In 2017, the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi Hosted a Mass Baptism to Increase Georgia’s Birth Rate
To counter the low birth rate in Georgia, the Patriarch of All Georgia II hosted a mass infant baptism at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. More than 780 children were baptized. The Patriarch’s goal was to spike the country’s low birth rate.
15. Video Game Ghost Recon Foretold the Invention of Georgia By Russia
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon is a military-themed video game that centers on Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Its release in 2001 foresaw the Russo-Georgian War that would later occur in 2008.
16. Georgians Celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January
Unlike other countries, Georgia celebrates Christmas on the 7th of January. This is mainly because the country follows the Julian Calendar, which sets Christmas on the stated date instead of the common 25th of December.
17. Toasting is a Very Popular Ritual Among Georgians
Georgians toast to almost every occasion. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a birthday, graduation, or somebody just got hired; they will always make a toast. Wine toasting is the most popular; the natives call it “chacha.”