The region of present day Georgia contained the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Kartli-Iberia. The area came under Roman influence in the first centuries A.D., and Christianity became the state religion in the 330s. Domination by Persians, Arabs, and Turks was followed by a Georgian golden age (11th-13th centuries) that was cut short by the Mongol invasion of 1236. Subsequently, the Ottoman and Persian empires competed for influence in the region. Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1921 and regained its independence when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.
Mounting public discontent over rampant corruption and ineffective government services, followed by an attempt by the incumbent Georgian Government to manipulate parliamentary elections in November 2003, touched off widespread protests that led to the resignation of Eduard SHEVARDNADZE, president since 1995. In the aftermath of that popular movement, which became known as the "Rose Revolution," new elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his United National Movement (UNM) party. SAAKASHVILI made progress on market reforms and good governance during his time in power but also faced accusations of abuse of office. Progress was also complicated by Russian assistance and support to the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that led to periodic flare-ups in tension and violence and that culminated in a five-day conflict in August 2008 between Russia and Georgia, including the invasion of large portions of Georgian territory. Russian troops pledged to pull back from most occupied Georgian territory, but in late August 2008 Russia unilaterally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Russian military forces remain in those regions.
Billionaire Bidzina IVANISHVILI's unexpected entry into politics in October 2011 brought the divided opposition together under his Georgian Dream coalition, which won a majority of seats in the October 2012 parliamentary elections and removed UNM from power. Conceding defeat, SAAKASHVILI named IVANISHVILI as prime minister and allowed Georgian Dream to create a new government before leaving the country after his presidential term ended in 2013. At the time, these changes in leadership represented unique examples of a former Soviet state that emerged to conduct democratic and peaceful government transitions of power. IVANISHVILI voluntarily resigned from office after the presidential succession, and in the following years, the prime minister position has seen frequent turnover. Most recently, Irakli GARIBASHVILI became prime minister in February 2021. In October 2021, SAAKASHVILI returned to Georgia, where he was immediately arrested to serve six years in prison on outstanding abuse of office convictions. Popular support for integration with the West is high in Georgia. Joining the EU and NATO are among the country's top foreign policy goals and Georgia applied for EU membership in March 2022. The EU and Georgia signed an Association Agreement in June 2014 and it fully entered into force in July 2016. Georgia and the EU have a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and Georgian citizens since 2017 can travel to the Schengen area without a visa.
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NOTE: The information regarding Georgia on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Georgia 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Georgia 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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