Driving Directions Georgia

GEORGIA, a republic in the southwest of the former USSR, gained full independence from Russia in 1991. It shares borders with Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation and is bounded to the west by the Black Sea. The country incorporates the breakaway repub­lic of Abkhazia, as well as the semi-autonomous regions of Adzharia and South Ossetia. It consists of a coastal plain and low-lying river valleys sandwiched between two high mountain ranges – the Great Caucasus in the north and the Lesser Caucasus in the south.

The climate on the coast is moist and warm, while inland, it is dry, with hot summers and cold winters. Glaciers and snowfields occur on the highest peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, and about one-third of the country is forested, with conifers on the mountain slopes and deciduous species lower down. Wildlife includes deer, lynx, wolf, wild boar, and eagle.

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Agriculture, which is the main occupation of the population, includes tea cultivation and fruit growing, especially citrus fruits and viticulture. The republic is rich in minerals, especially manganese, but imports the majority of its energy needs. Industries include coal, timber, machinery, chemicals, silk, food processing, and furniture.

In the past, the Black Sea tourist trade exploited the country’s wealth of thermal and mineral springs very successfully, and tourism should again become an economic mainstay. The country has been devastated, the economy and the life of its people have been severely disrupted by internal strife during the last decade as ethnic minorities have struggled for regional autonomy.

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