Georgia (Georgian: საქართველო, romanized: Sakartvelo; IPA: [sɑkʰɑrtʰvɛlɔ] (listen)) is a transcontinental country at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is part of the South Caucasus, bounded by the Black Sea to the west, by Russia to the north and east, by Turkey to the southwest, by Armenia to the south, and by Azerbaijan to the southeast. The country covers an area of 69,700 square kilometres (26,900 sq mi), and has a population of 3.7 million people. Tbilisi is its capital as well as its largest city, home to roughly a third of the Georgian population.
During the classical era, several independent kingdoms became established in what is now Georgia, such as Colchis and Iberia. In the early 4th century, ethnic Georgians officially adopted Christianity, which contributed to the spiritual and political unification of the early Georgian states. In the Middle Ages, the unified Kingdom of Georgia emerged and reached its Golden Age during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar in the 12th and early 13th centuries. Thereafter, the kingdom declined and eventually disintegrated under the hegemony of various regional powers, including the Mongols, the Timurids, the Ottoman Empire, and the successive dynasties of Persia. In 1783, one of the Georgian kingdoms entered into an alliance with the Russian Empire, which proceeded to annex the territory of modern Georgia in a piecemeal fashion throughout the 19th century.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Georgia emerged as an independent republic under German protection. Following World War I, Georgia was invaded and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1922, becoming one of its constituent republics. By the 1980s, an independence movement emerged and grew quickly, leading to Georgia's secession from the Soviet Union in April 1991. For most of the subsequent decade, post-Soviet Georgia suffered from economic crisis, political instability, ethnic conflict, and secessionist wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Following the bloodless Rose Revolution in 2003, Georgia strongly pursued a pro-Western foreign policy; it introduced a series of democratic and economic reforms aimed at integration into the European Union and NATO. The country's Western orientation soon led to worsening relations with Russia, which culminated in the Russo-Georgian War of 2008; Russia has since been occupying a portion of Georgia.
Georgia is a representative democracy governed as a unitary parliamentary republic. It is a developing country, ranking 63rd on the Human Development Index. Economic reforms since independence have led to higher levels of economic freedom, as well as reductions in corruption indicators, poverty, and unemployment. It was one of the first countries in the world to legalize cannabis, becoming the only former-socialist state to do so. The country is a member of international organizations across Europe and Asia, such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE, Eurocontrol, the EDRB, the BSCE, the GUAM, and the Asian Development Bank. (Full article...)