Blog / 10 surprising facts about Georgia Georgia, Blog | 22.07.2018

10 surprising facts about Georgia

Year after year Georgia is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination. And yet many people still know quite little about this fascinating country in the Caucasus. We have compiled 10 interesting facts about Georgia that will help you to get to know the country better.

1. Georgia is not named Georgia at all

Not only in German we call the country Georgia. The term also appears in a similar form in numerous other languages. In English, Italian and Spanish the country is called «Georgia», in French «Géorgie» and in Portuguese «Geórgia». In former times the name «Grusinien» was also common in German-speaking countries - a term derived from the Slavic language. In Russian, Georgia is called Gruzija, for example. Other Slavic languages use the same term. But actually Georgia is neither Georgia nor Gruzija: The Georgians themselves call their country Sakartvelo. The term is composed of two words: Kartvel refers to the inhabitants of the historic Kartli-Iberia region (Kartveli; in the Plural Kartvelebi). The Circumfix Sa... o (well: Sa-kartvel-o) changes the meaning to the extent that it is about the people who live in a certain place (Kartli).

2. Georgia has its own scripture

There are basically three different writing systems in Europe: The Latin spelling is most common. There are also Cyrillic and Greek scriptures. If you add the Caucasus to Europe, two more writings are added: the Armenian and the Georgian. The Georgian alphabet has 33 letters. There is no conclusive clarity as to where it comes from or how it originated. However, many scientists believe that it has its roots in Aramaic scripture and has evolved from it.

3. Wine was invented in Georgia

What the Georgians knew for a long time was confirmed by archaeological finds in 2017: Wine was produced in today's Georgia more than 8,000 years ago. The following examples show how long ago this was. After the first sip of wine was drunk, it took so long until the following events:

- 200 to 500 years later: Britain is separated from mainland Europe (a kind of geological brexite)
- 500 years later: Change from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic Age
- 1'400 years later: The monsoon climate is gradually disappearing from the Mediterranean region
- 4'300 years later: The world's last mammoth dies out
- 5'250 years later: The city of Rome is founded

Georgian wine

4. Georgia is a rugby nation

Rugby is primarily about the «All Blacks» from New Zealand, but also about countries like England, Australia or South Africa. Behind these top teams lies Georgia in lurking position. They currently (May 2018) rank 12th in the Rugby World  Ranking. Georgia is thus better placed than Italy, the USA, Russia, Spain, Brazil or Germany, for example.

Even before the Middle Ages, a sport similar to rugby was practised in what is now Georgia: At the so-called Lelo Burti (field ball) two villages competed against each other, whereby it was necessary to carry a ball weighing about 7 kg into half of the opponent. The victorious village, it was said, would have a better harvest. Following the ancient game, the Georgian national rugby team is still called «the Lelos». The term «Try», i.e. the placement of the game device in the opponent's zone, is called a «Lelo» in Georgia.

5. The world's deepest cave is in Georgia

The Krubera Cave (also called Voronya Cave) is the deepest cave in the world. So far, they have explored researchers to a depth of 2,191 m. However, it is assumed that the cave is much deeper. The cave is located near the village of Zandrypsch in the Arabica Massif in Abkhazia and not far from the Black Sea coast.

The entrance to the cave is through a vertical shaft only 1 m wide and 60 m deep. The cave system is branched. In the upper area, most shafts fall almost vertically. There are underground waterfalls, lakes and a large hall at a depth of 1'710 m.

6. The word gwprzkwnit and other peculiarities

Compared to the Indo-Germanic languages known to us, Georgian has some peculiarities. For example, there is no upper and lower case. All letters are written in lower case; there are no capital letters. What also does not exist are grammatical sexes such as male, female or neuter. There are also no articles: Nouns have neither a specific nor an indefinite article.

But the most trouble is the fact that Georgian is an agglutinating language. Agglutination means that grammatical functions such as person, time or case are affixed to the root form of a word. This sometimes results in regular consonant clusters that are very difficult to pronounce. «You peel us» is Georgian for example «gwprzkwnit». That's eight consonants in a row. If you're interested in the Georgian language, you find further information about it in our blog article «Why Georgian and Russian are not related»-

7. Cable cars instead of buses in Chiatura

In most cities, public transport is carried out by trams, trains or buses. Not so in Chiatura: In the imperial industrial city, cable cars take over this function. Most of them were built in the 1950s, when manganese mining was booming in Chiatura. 26 cable cars transported people and goods to and from the manganese mines. Today, the industrial importance of Chiatura is less pronounced. Nevertheless, around 17 cable cars still run in and around the city. In the hilly surroundings of Chiatura, they are the quickest way for the locals to commute to work or do shopping in the city. The use of the cable cars is free of charge.

8. A worm or not

And we have another one from Chiatura, because the name of the city is quite unusual. «Ch'ia» is Georgian for «worm». And Chiatura literally means «A worm or none». It's a pretty weird name for a town. This name was invented by the famous Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli (1840 - 1915), who wondered when he saw the streets winding up the surrounding hills: «Is this a worm or not?»

9. Hello means «Be victorious!»

The fact that Georgia has a turbulent history behind it and has repeatedly been afflicted by warlike invaders can still be seen today from various linguistic phenomena. For example, if you say «hello» in Georgian, it means «Gamardshoba» (polite: Gamardshobat), which literally means «Be victorious». «Good morning» means «dila mschwidobisa», which means something like «morning of peace». The same applies to Good Evening («ghame mschwidobisa»).

10. Three mountains are higher than 5,000 meters

The highest mountain in the Alps is the 4,804 m high Mont Blanc - there is no mountain above 5,000 m in Switzerland, Austria, France or Italy. Georgia has three five-thousand-metre peaks. With its 5'201 m height the Shkhara is Georgia's highest peak, followed by the Djanga with 5'051 m height. Both mountains are in Svanetia. The third five-thousand-metre peak is Kazbek in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. Learn more about region in our blog article «Wild and authentic Svaneti region».

Mountains in Svaneti
Author: MyCaucasus
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