The Republic of Georgia covers an area of 69,700 square kilometers and is slightly smaller than South Carolina. Located in Southwestern Asia, Georgia borders the Black Sea and sits between Turkey and Russia. The population of Georgia is 4.65 million (July 2007 est.), made up primarily of Georgians, with small percentages of Azeris, Armenians, and Russians in the population.
The terrain is mostly rugged and mountainous, while the climate is generally moderate; it is mild on the Black Sea coast, with cold winters in the mountains
Georgia's recorded history dates back more than 2,500 years. Georgian, a South Caucasian (or "Kartvelian") language unrelated to any other outside the immediate region, is one of the oldest living languages in the world, and has its own distinctive alphabet. In the wake of the collapse of tsarist rule and war with the Turks, the first Republic of Georgia was established on May 26, 1918, and the country enjoyed a brief period of independence under the Menshevik president, Noe Zhordania. However, in March 1921, the Russian Red Army re-occupied the country, and Georgia became a republic of the Soviet Union. Several of the Soviet Union's leaders in the 1920s and 1930s were Georgian, such as Joseph Stalin, Sergo Orjonikidze, and Lavrenti Beria. In the postwar period, Georgia was perceived as one of the wealthiest and most privileged of Soviet republics, and many Russians treated the country's Black Sea coast as a kind of Soviet Riviera. On April 9, 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the U.S.S.R.
CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 7/2008, 2/2008