|4 million [a]|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Georgian and other Kartvelian languages|
|Predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christian (Georgian Orthodox Church) |
Minority: Catholicism, Islam, Judaism
a. ^ The total figure is merely an estimation; sum of all the referenced populations only.
The Georgians or Kartvelians ( // ; Georgian :ქართველები, translit.:kartvelebi, pronounced [kʰɑrtʰvɛlɛbi] ) are a nation and indigenous Caucasian ethnic group native to Georgia. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Ukraine, United States, and throughout the European Union.
Georgian is a Kartvelian language spoken by Georgians. It is the official language of Georgia.
Romanization of Georgian is the process of transliterating the Georgian language from the Georgian script into the Latin script.
The peoples of the Caucasus are diverse comprising more than 50 ethnic groups throughout the Caucasus region.
Georgians arose from the ancient Colchian and Iberian civilizations. After Christianization of Iberia by Saint Nino they became one of the first who embraced the faith of Jesus in the early 4th century and now the majority of Georgians are Eastern Orthodox Christians and most follow their national autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church. There are also small Georgian Catholic and Muslim communities in Tbilisi and Adjara, as well as a significant number of irreligious Georgians.
In pre-Hellenistic Greco-Roman geography, Colchis was an exonym for the Georgian polity of Egrisi located on the coast of the Black Sea, centred in present-day western Georgia.
In Greco-Roman geography, Iberia was an exonym for the Georgian kingdom of Kartli, known after its core province, which during Classical Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages was a significant monarchy in the Caucasus, either as an independent state or as a dependent of larger empires, notably the Sassanid and Roman empires. Iberia, centered on present-day Eastern Georgia, was bordered by Colchis in the west, Caucasian Albania in the east and Armenia in the south.
A civilization or civilisation is any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification imposed by a cultural elite, symbolic systems of communication, and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment.
A complex process of nation formation has resulted in a diverse set of geographic subgroups of Georgians, each with its characteristic traditions, manners, dialects and, in the case of Svans and Mingrelians, own regional languages. The Georgian language, with its own unique writing system and extensive written tradition, which goes back to the 5th century, is the official language of Georgia as well as the language of education of all Georgians living in the country.
Georgian is a Kartvelian language spoken by about 4.1 million people, primarily in Georgia but also by indigenous communities in northern Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the diaspora, such as in Russia, Turkey, Iran, Europe, and north America. It is a highly-standardized language, with established literary and linguistic norms dating back to the 5th century.
The Svans are an ethnic subgroup of the Georgians (Kartvelians) living mostly in Svaneti, a region in northwest Georgia. They speak the Svan language and are mostly bilingual also in Georgian. Both these languages belong to the Kartvelian language family. In the pre-1930 Soviet census, the Svans were afforded their own "ethnic group" (natsional'nost) category. The self-designation of the Svan is Mushüan, which is probably reflected in the ethnonym Misimian of the Classical authors.
The Mingrelians are an indigenous Kartvelian-speaking ethnic subgroup of Georgians that mostly live in Samegrelo region of Georgia. They also live in considerable numbers in Abkhazia and Tbilisi. In the pre-1930 Soviet census, the Megrelians were afforded their own ethnic group category.
Located in the Caucasus, on the crossroads of predominantly Christian Europe and Muslim Western Asia, Georgian people formed a unified Kingdom of Georgia in the early 11th century and inaugurated the Georgian Golden Age, a height of political and cultural power of the nation. This lasted until being weakened by Mongol invasions, as well as internal divisions following the death of George V the Brilliant, the last of the great kings of Georgia. Thereafter and throughout the early modern period, Georgians became politically fractured and were dominated by the Ottoman Empire and successive dynasties of Iran. To ensure the survival of his polity, in 1783, Heraclius II of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti forged an alliance with the Russian Empire. The Russo-Georgian alliance, however, backfired as Russia was unwilling to fulfill the terms of the treaty, proceeding to annex the troubled kingdom in 1801, as well as the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti in 1810. Russian rule over Georgia was eventually acknowledged in various peace treaties with Iran and the Ottomans, and the remaining Georgian territories were absorbed by the Russian Empire in a piecemeal fashion in the course of the 19th century. Georgians briefly reasserted their independence from Russia under the First Georgian Republic from 1918 to 1921, and finally, in 1991 from the Soviet Union.
The Caucasus or Caucasia is an area situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and occupied by Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but is today accepted by the majority of scholars as being part of Asia.
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwestern Asia or Southwest Asia is the westernmost subregion of Asia. The concept is in limited use, as it significantly overlaps with the Middle East, the main difference usually being the exclusion of the majority of Egypt and the inclusion of the Caucasus. The term is sometimes used for the purposes of grouping countries in statistics. The total population of Western Asia is an estimated 300 million as of 2015. Although the term "Western Asia" is mostly used as a convenient division of contemporary sovereign states into a manageable number of world regions for statistical purposes, it is sometimes used instead of the more geopolitical term "Middle East".
The Kingdom of Georgia, also known as the Georgian Empire, was a medieval Eurasian monarchy which emerged circa 1008 AD. It reached its Golden Age of political and economic strength during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar the Great from 11th to 13th centuries. Georgia became one of the pre-eminent nations of the Christian East, her pan-Caucasian empire stretching, at its largest extent, from Eastern Europe and the North Caucasus to the northern portion of Iran and Anatolia, while also maintaining religious possessions abroad, such as the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem and the Monastery of Iviron in Greece. It was the principal historical precursor of present-day Georgia.
Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). According to The Georgian Chronicles , the ancestor of the Kartvelian people was Kartlos, the great-grandson of the Biblical Japheth. However, scholars agree that the word is derived from the Karts, the latter being one of the proto-Georgian tribes that emerged as a dominant group in ancient times.Ancient Greeks (Homer, Herodotus, Strabo, Plutarch etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to western Georgians as Colchians and eastern Georgians as Iberians.
The Georgian Chronicles is a conventional English name for the principal compendium of medieval Georgian historical texts, natively known as Kartlis Tskhovreba, literally "Life of Kartli", Kartli being a core region of ancient and medieval Georgia, known to the Classical and Byzantine authors as Iberia.
Kartlos is the eponymous ancestor of the Georgians (Kartvelians) in Georgian mythology, more specifically of the nation of Kartli . Kartlos is introduced in the medieval Georgian Chronicles , presumably recorded from oral tradition by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century.
Japheth, is one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis, where he plays a role in the story of Noah's drunkenness and the curse of Ham, and subsequently in the Table of Nations as the ancestor of the peoples of the Aegean, Anatolia, and elsewhere. In medieval and early modern European tradition he was considered to be the progenitor of European and, later, East Asian peoples.
The term "Georgians" is derived from the country of Georgia. In the past, lore based theories were given by the traveller Jacques de Vitry, who explained the name's origin by the popularity of St. George amongst Georgians,while traveller Jean Chardin thought that "Georgia" came from Greek γεωργός ("tiller of the land"), as when the Greeks came into the region (in Colchis ) they encountered a developed agricultural society.
Jacques de Vitry was a French canon regular who was a noted theologian and chronicler of his era. He was elected bishop of Acre in 1214 and made cardinal in 1229. His Historia Orientalis is an important source for the historiography of the Crusades.
Saint George was a soldier of Palestinian and Greek origins and a member of the Praetorian Guard for Roman emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. He became one of the most venerated saints and megalo-martyrs in Christianity, and was especially venerated by the Crusaders.
Jean Chardin, born Jean-Baptiste Chardin, and also known as Sir John Chardin, was a French jeweller and traveller whose ten-volume book The Travels of Sir John Chardin is regarded as one of the finest works of early Western scholarship on Persia and the Near East in general.
However, as Prof. Alexander Mikaberidze adds, these explanations for the word Georgians/Georgia are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian word gurğ/gurğān ("wolf") as the root of the word. Starting with the Persian word gurğ/gurğān, the word was later adopted in numerous other languages, including Slavic and West European languages. This term itself might have been established through the ancient Iranian appellation of the near-Caspian region, which was referred to as Gorgan ("land of the wolves" ).
The eighteenth century German professor of medicine and member of the British Royal Society Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, widely regarded one of the founders of the discipline of anthropology, regarded Georgians the most beautiful race of people.
Caucasian variety – I have taken the name of this variety from Mount Caucasus, both because its neighborhood, and especially its southern slope, produces the most beautiful race of men, I mean the Georgian; and because all physiological reasons converge to this, that in that region, if anywhere, it seems we ought with the greatest probability to place the autochthones (original members) of mankind.
Most historians and scholars of Georgia as well as anthropologists, archaeologists and linguists tend to agree that the ancestors of modern Georgians inhabited the southern Caucasus and northern Anatolia since the Neolithic period.Scholars usually refer to them as Proto-Kartvelian (Proto-Georgians such as Colchians and Iberians) tribes.
The Georgian people in antiquity have been known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Colchians and Iberians.East Georgian tribes of Tibarenians-Iberians formed their kingdom in 7th century BCE. However, western Georgian tribes (Colchian tribes) established the first Georgian state of Colchis (circa 1350 BCE) before the foundation of the Iberian Kingdom in the east. According to the numerous scholars of Georgia, the formations of these two early Georgian kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia, resulted in the consolidation and uniformity of the Georgian nation.
The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus mentions Georgians as Iberes who were also called Thobel (Tubal).
Diauehi in Assyrian sources and Taochi in Greek lived in the northeastern part of Anatolia, a region that was part of Georgia. This ancient tribe is considered by many scholars as ancestors of the Georgians. Modern Georgians still refer to this region, which now belongs to present-day Turkey, as Tao-Klarjeti, an ancient Georgian kingdom. Some people there still speak the Georgian language.
Colchians in the ancient western Georgian Kingdom of Colchis were another proto-Georgian tribe. They are first mentioned in the Assyrian annals of Tiglath-Pileser I and in the annals of Urartian king Sarduri II, and are also included western Georgian tribe of the Meskhetians.
Iberians, also known as Tiberians or Tiberanians, lived in the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia.
Both Colchians and Iberians played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the modern Georgian nation.
According to the scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff:
Colchis appears as the first Caucasian State to have achieved the coalescence of the newcomer, Colchis can be justly regarded as not a proto-Georgian, but a Georgian (West Georgian) kingdom ... It would seem natural to seek the beginnings of Georgian social history in Colchis, the earliest Georgian formation.
A study of human genetics by Battaglia, Fornarino, al-Zahery, et al. (2009) suggests that Georgians have the highest percentage of Haplogroup G (30.3%) among the general population recorded in any country. Georgians' Y-DNA also belongs to Haplogroup J2 (31.8%), Haplogroup R1a (10.6%), and Haplogroup R1b (9.1%).
Georgian is the primary language for Georgians of all provenance, including those who speak other Kartvelian languages: Svans, Mingrelians and the Laz. The language known today as Georgian is a traditional language of the eastern part of the country which has spread to most of the present-day Georgia after the post-Christianization centralization in the first millennium CE. Today, Georgians regardless of their ancestral region use Georgian as their official language. The regional languages Svan and Mingrelian are languages of the west that were traditionally spoken in the pre-Christian Kingdom of Colchis, but later lost importance as the unified Kingdom of Georgia emerged. Their decline is largely due to the capital of the unified kingdom, Tbilisi, being in the eastern part of the country known as Kingdom of Iberia effectively making the language of the east an official language of the Georgian monarch.
All of these languages comprise the Kartvelian language family along with the related language of the Laz people, which has speakers in both Turkey and Georgia.
Georgian dialects include Imeretian, Racha-Lechkhumian, Gurian, Adjarian, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tush, Khevsur, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan, Mtiuletian, Meskhetian and Javakhetian dialect.
According to Orthodox tradition, Christianity was first preached in Georgia by the Apostles Simon and Andrew in the 1st century. It became the state religion of Kartli (Iberia) in 337.At the same time, in the first centuries C.E., the cult of Mithras, pagan beliefs, and Zoroastrianism were commonly practiced in Georgia. The conversion of Kartli to Christianity is credited to St. Nino of Cappadocia. Christianity gradually replaced all the former religions except Zoroastrianism, which become a second established religion in Iberia after the Peace of Acilisene in 378. The conversion to Christianity eventually placed the Georgians permanently on the front line of conflict between the Islamic and Christian world. Georgians remained mostly Christian despite repeated invasions by Muslim powers, and long episodes of foreign domination.
As was true elsewhere, the Christian church in Georgia was crucial to the development of a written language, and most of the earliest written works were religious texts. Medieval Georgian culture was greatly influenced by Eastern Orthodoxy and the Georgian Orthodox Church, which promoted and often sponsored the creation of many works of religious devotion. These included churches and monasteries, works of art such as icons, and hagiographies of Georgian saints.
Today, 83.9% of the Georgian population, most of whom are ethnic Georgian, follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity.A sizable Georgian Muslim population exists in Adjara. This autonomous Republic borders Turkey, and was part of the Ottoman Empire for a longer amount of time than other parts of the country. Those Georgian Muslims practice the Sunni Hanafi form of Islam. Islam has however declined in Adjara during the 20th century, due to Soviet anti-religious policies, cultural integration with the national Orthodox majority, and strong missionary efforts by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Islam remains a dominant identity only in the eastern, rural parts of the Republic. In the early modern period, converted Georgian recruits were often used by the Persian and Ottoman Empires for elite military units such as the Mameluks, Qizilbash, and ghulams. The Georgians in Iran are all reportedly Shia Muslims today, while the Georgian minority in Turkey are mostly Sunni Muslim.
There is also a small number of Georgian Jews, tracing their ancestors to the Babylonian captivity.
In addition to traditional religious confessions, Georgia retains irreligious segments of society, as well as a significant portion of nominally religious individuals who do not actively practice their faith.
The Georgian cuisine is specific to the country, but also contains some influences from other European culinary traditions, as well as those from the surrounding Western Asia. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, such as Megrelian, Kakhetian, and Imeretian cuisines. In addition to various meat dishes, Georgian cuisine also offers a variety of vegetarian meals.
The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a Caucasian feast, or supra , when a huge assortment of dishes is prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine, and dinner can last for hours. In a Georgian feast, the role of the tamada (toastmaster) is an important and honoured position.
In countries of the former Soviet Union, Georgian food is popular due to the immigration of Georgians to other Soviet republics, in particular Russia. In Russia all major cities have many Georgian restaurants and Russian restaurants often feature Georgian food items on their menu.
The Georgians have historically been classified into various subgroups based on the geographic region which their ancestors traditionally inhabited.
Even if a member of any of these subgroups moves to a different region, they will still be known by the name of their ancestral region. For example, if a Gurian moves to Tbilisi (part of the Kartli region) he will not automatically identify himself as Kartlian despite actually living in Kartli. This may, however, change if substantial amount of time passes. For example, there are some Mingrelians who have lived in the Imereti region for centuries and are now identified as Imeretian or Imeretian-Mingrelians.
Last names from mountainous eastern Georgian provinces (such as Kakheti, etc.) can be distinguished by the suffix –uri (ური), or –uli (ული). Most Svan last names typically end in –ani (ანი), Mingrelian in –ia (ია), -ua (უა), or -ava (ავა), and Laz in –shi (ში).
|Name||Name in Georgian||Geographical region||Dialect or Language|
|Adjarians||აჭარელი achareli||Adjara||Adjarian dialect|
|Gurians||გურული guruli||Guria||Gurian dialect|
|Imeretians||იმერელი imereli||Imereti||Imeretian dialect|
|Javakhians||ჯავახი javakhi||Javakheti||Javakhian dialect|
|Kakhetians||კახელი kakheli||Kakheti||Kakhetian dialect|
|Kartlians||ქართლელი kartleli||Kartli||Kartlian dialect|
|Khevsurians||ხევსური khevsuri||Khevsureti||Khevsurian dialect|
|Lechkhumians||ლეჩხუმელი lechkhumeli||Lechkhumi||Lechkhumian dialect|
|Megrelians||მეგრელი megreli||Samegrelo||Megrelian language|
|Meskhetians||მესხი meskhi||Meskheti (Samtskhe)||Meskhian dialect|
|Mokhevians||მოხევე mokheve||Khevi||Mokhevian dialect|
|Pshavians||ფშაველი pshaveli||Pshavi||Pshavian dialect|
|Rachians||რაჭველი rachveli||Racha||Rachian dialect|
|Svans||სვანი svani||Svaneti||Svan language|
|Tushs (Chagma)||თუში tushi||Tusheti||Tushetian dialect|
The 1897 Russian census (which accounted people by language), had Imeretian, Svan and Mingrelian languages separate from Georgian.During the 1926 Soviet census, Svans and Mingrelians were accounted separately from Georgian. Svan and Mingrelian languages are both Kartvelian languages and are closely related to the national Georgian language.
Laz people also may be considered Georgian based on their geographic location and religion. According to the London School of Economics' anthropologist Mathijs Pelkmans,Lazs residing in Georgia frequently identify themselves as "first-class Georgians" to show pride, while considering their Muslim counterparts in Turkey as "Turkified Lazs".
|Subethnic groups||Georgian name||Settlement area||Language |
|Number||Difference(s) from mainstream Georgians|
(other than location)
|Laz people||ლაზი lazi||Chaneti (Turkey)||Laz language||1.6 million||Religion: Muslim majority, Orthodox Minority|
|Fereydani||ფერეიდანი Pereidani||Fereydan (Iran)||Pereidnuli dialect||100,000 +||Religion: Muslim|
|Chveneburi||ჩვენებური chveneburi||Black Sea Region (Turkey)||Georgian language||91,000 –1,000,000||Religion: Muslim|
|Ingiloy people||ინგილო ingilo||Saingilo Hereti Zaqatala District (Azerbaijan)||Ingiloan dialect||12,000||Religion: Muslim majority, |
| Imerkhevians |
|შავში shavshi||Shavsheti (Turkey)||Imerkhevian dialect||Religion: Muslim majority.|
|Klarjians||კლარჯი klarji||Klarjeti (Turkey)||Imerkhevian dialect|
Throughout history Georgia also has extinct Georgian subdivisions
|Name||Name in Georgian||Geographical location||Dialect or Language|
|Dvals||დვალები dvalebi||Russian Federation North Ossetia||Dval dialect Ossetic dialect|
The Laz language is a Kartvelian language spoken by the Laz people on the southeastern shore of the Black Sea. It is estimated that there are around 20,000 native speakers of Laz in Turkey, in a strip of land extending from Melyat to the Georgian border, and about 2,000 in Georgia.
Mirian III was a king of Iberia or Kartli (Georgia), contemporaneous to the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. He was the founder of the royal Chosroid dynasty.
Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari (Kura), on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in the ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages. Kartli had no strictly defined boundaries and they significantly fluctuated in the course of history. After the partition of the kingdom of Georgia in the 15th century, Kartli became a separate kingdom with its capital at Tbilisi. The historical lands of Kartli are currently divided among several administrative regions of Georgia.
For articles related to Georgia, see Category:Georgia (country)
Georgians in Turkey refers to citizens and denizens of Turkey who are, or descend from, ethnic Georgians.
The Laz people or Lazi are an indigenous Kartvelian-speaking ethnic group inhabiting the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia.
The Proto-Kartvelian language, or Common Kartvelian, is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Kartvelian languages, which was spoken by the ancestors of the modern Kartvelian peoples. The existence of such a language is widely accepted by specialists in linguistics, who have reconstructed a broad outline of the language by comparing the existing Kartvelian languages against each other. Several linguists, namely, Gerhard Deeters and Georgy Klimov have also reconstructed a lower-level proto-language called Proto-Karto-Zan or Proto-Georgian-Zan, which is the ancestor of Karto-Zan languages.
The nation of Georgia was first unified as a kingdom under the Bagrationi dynasty by the King Bagrat III of Georgia in the 8th to 9th century, arising from a number of predecessor states of the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia. The Kingdom of Georgia flourished during the 10th to 12th centuries under King David IV the Builder and Queen Tamar the Great, and fell to the Mongol invasion by 1243, and after a brief reunion under George V the Brilliant to the Timurid Empire. By 1490, Georgia was fragmented into a number of petty kingdoms and principalities, which throughout the Early Modern period struggled to maintain their autonomy against Ottoman and Iranian domination until Georgia was finally annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. After a brief bid for independence with the Democratic Republic of Georgia of 1918–1921, Georgia was part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic from 1922 to 1936, and then formed the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Georgia is the Western exonym for the nation in the Caucasus natively known as Sakartvelo. The Russian exonym is Gruziya.
The Kartvelian languages are a language family indigenous to the Caucasus and spoken primarily in Georgia, with large groups of native speakers in Russia, Iran, the United States, the European Union, Israel, and northeastern parts of Turkey. There are approximately 5.2 million speakers of Kartvelian languages worldwide. The Kartvelian family is not known to be related to any other language family, making it one of the world's primary language families. The first literary source in a Kartvelian language is the Old Georgian inscriptions of Bir el Qutt, written in ancient Georgian Asomtavruli script at the once-existing Georgian monastery near Bethlehem, which dates back to c. 430 AD.
The Zan languages, or Zanuri, are a branch of the Kartvelian languages constituted by the Mingrelian and Laz languages. Some linguists consider both to be members dialects of the same, Zan, language. However, Mingrelian and Laz are not completely mutually intelligible, though speakers of one language can recognize many words of the other.
Mingrelian is a Kartvelian language that is mainly spoken in the Western Georgian regions Samegrelo and Abkhazia. In Abkhazia the number of Mingrelian speakers declined dramatically in the 1990s as a result of heavy ethnic cleansing of ethnic Georgians, the overwhelming majority of which were Mingrelians.
The modern state of Georgia was under Roman control between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD. This control varied by time and was intermittent over the kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia in the Caucasus region. These kingdoms roughly correspond to some of the western and eastern parts of modern Georgia.
The Laz people or Lazi are an indigenous Kartvelian-speaking ethnic group inhabiting the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia.
However, such explanations are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian gurğ/gurğān as the root of the word (...)
The Russian designation of Georgia (Gruziya) also derives from the Persian gurg.
About 91,000 Muslim Georgians living in Turkey.
A part of the Ingilo population still retains the (Orthodox) Christian faith, but another, larger segment adheres to the Sunni sect of Islam.