Georgia is situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia. The country has a unique and ancient cultural heritage, and is famed for its traditions of hospitality and cuisine.
The recorded history of Georgia dates back more than 4,000 years. The country is proud of the unique Georgian alphabet introduced in 5th century BC. Georgia is also one of the first world countries that adopted Christianity as the state religion in the first half of the 4th century.
Over the centuries, Georgia has been a home for people of different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. According to the 2002 census, ethnic Georgians represent 83.8% of the population, Azeri 6.5%, Armenians 5.7%, Russians 1.5%, and the other national minorities – 2.5%.
Throughout its long and eventful history Georgia was the object of rivalry between Persia, Turkey and Russia, before being eventually annexed by Russia in the 19th century.
Since emerging from the collapsing Soviet Union as an independent state in 1991, Georgia has gone through the armed conflicts with the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 1992-1993, a peaceful Rose Revolution in 2003, and an armed conflict with Russia in 2008.
Georgia has made a notable progress since 2004 in accelerating democratic reforms in different areas, including: public service, elections, judiciary, local governance and economic development.
The 2012 parliamentary polls demonstrated Georgia’s maturity as a state for the conduct of democratic election and a peaceful transfer of power. Public opinion surveys conducted by the Nations Democratic Institute (NDI) after the elections, showed up 79 percent of the public trust to the election process and Electoral Administration, with 93 percent of the respondents stating that they had sufficient information about voting procedures.
Poverty and unemployment remain among the key challenges of Georgia. In the first three quarters of 2014,Georgia’s economy grew by 5.6%. Despite this, the poverty rate remains high- 11.6 % (GEOSTAT 2014).
The political environment in Georgia in 2013 is being influenced by the challenges of co-habitation between the ruling party and the opposition, as well as by the Presidential elections in October 2013.
The ongoing reforms within the legislative, executive and judicial branches are directed towards enhancing independence of judiciary, liberalization of a criminal justice policy, improving transparency and conditions in penitentiary, and curbing remaining challenges on election system and inequality of suffrage.
The reform of media is critically important to ensure its transparency and equal access.
Georgia is struggling to resolve old conflicts with the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to approximate towards the European Union and Euro-Atlantic structures.
The Government Programme “For Strong, Democratic, United Georgia” provides good basis for people-centred development policies. The road map for the economic development still needs to be developed.