Georgia is an ancient land, continuously inhabited since the Stone Age. It is defined chiefly by the mighty Caucasus mountains which form its northern border. Some of the tallest mountains in Europe, many of the peaks exceed 16,000 ft. South of the Caucasus are several smaller ranges and a large plateau. These peaks are a result of the entire region being squeezed between the Eurasian land mass and the Anatolian plate.
The great variety of landforms present in Georgia has lead to a great diversity of agriculture and wild habitats. Between each mountain range is a valley. In each valley is a different climate. Swamps, meadows, marshes, and forests are just a few of the habitats present in the central part of the country. This has led to a wide variety of agriculture and husbandry, making the country much less dependent on trade than those around it.
In the modern era Georgia has been defined by conflict. Georgia is bordered by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Chechnya, and the behemoth Russia. Even when the Georgians were at peace with their neighbors, their neighbors were fighting each other. Currently there is a conflict with the Russians over the westernization of the Georgian people and government.
Georgia was at one time the leading light of eastern Christianity. The Orthodox church was established in Georgia by the Apostle Andrew in the first century. Christianity was adopted as the state religion in the fifth century, the first in the east to do so. Some say the Georgians acted as a reservoir of faith in the east much as Ireland did in the west. There are a great number of ancient churches and artifacts in the country which are worthy of study. This includes ruins going back thousands of years prior to the Christian era.
Georgian agriculture is as widely varied as the many landforms it occupies. Georgian wine is famous throughout the Black Sea area. Its cuisine is mostly hearty peasant food. The larger cities are beginning to foster a more sophisticated menu. The visitor to Georgia will not go hungry. Hospitality is of the generous and friendly sort found throughout the region. Vodka acts as a traditional social lubricant.
The wild areas of the countryside are equally diverse. Hunting and sightseeing trips reveal a wealth of small and large game. Many birds, particularly raptors, use the currents along the face of the Caucasus to aid in their yearly migration. Bird-watchers can count on a wealth of sightings in both the spring and fall.
The Caucasus make possible year-round skiing in may locations. The ski resorts are not as modern or luxurious as those in the high Alps but the skiing is every bit the equal. Perhaps the biggest advantage to skiing in Georgia is that the prices are much lower than in the Alps. Transportation is a bit iffy at times, but the friendly people and robust hospitality more than make up for it.
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