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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tbilisi

Tbilisi, თბილისი [ˌtbiˈliːsi] ( listen)) is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mt'k'vari (Kura) River. The name is derived from an early Georgian form T'pilisi and it was officially known as Tiflis (ტფილისი) until 1936. The city covers an area of 726 km² (280.3 square miles) and has 1,480,000 inhabitants.
Founded in the 5th century by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian King of Iberia, and made into a capital in the 6th century, Tbilisi is a significant industrial, social, and cultural centre. The city is also emerging as an important transit route for global energy and trade projects. Located strategically at the crossroads between Europe and Asia and lying along the historic Silk Road routes, Tbilisi has often been a point of contention between various rival powers and empires. The history of the city can be seen by its architecture, where the Haussmannized Rustaveli Avenue and downtown are blended with the narrower streets of the medieval Narikala district.

The demographics of the city are diverse and historically it has been home to peoples from diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities. Despite being overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian, Tbilisi is one of the few places in the world (Sarajevo and Paramaribo being others) where a synagogue and a mosque are located next to each other, in the ancient Bath district several hundred metres from the Metekhi Church. In recent times, Tbilisi has become known for the peaceful Rose Revolution, which took place around Freedom Square and nearby locations after the contested parliamentary elections of 2003 led to the resignation of the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.
Tbilisi has one international airport. Notable tourist destinations include the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, Freedom Square, Sioni Cathedral, Metekhi, Narikala, Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, Anchiskhati Basilica, Mtatsminda Pantheon (Holy Mountain), Kashveti Church along with the National and Historic Museums of Georgia and a number of art galleries. Tbilisi is the home of famous artists. The city life was immortalized in their art by Niko Pirosmani and Lado Gudiashvili.


    History of Tbilisi

    According to an old legend, the present-day territory of Tbilisi was covered by forests as late as 458. One widely accepted variant of the legend of Tbilisi's founding states that King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Georgia went hunting in the heavily wooded region with a falcon (sometimes the falcon is replaced with either a hawk or other small birds of prey in the legend). The King's falcon allegedly caught or injured a pheasant during the hunt, after which both birds fell into a nearby hot spring and died from burns. King Vakhtang became so impressed with the hot springs that he decided to cut down the forest and build a city on the location. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word "Tpili" (თბილი), meaning warm. The name 'Tbili' or 'Tbilisi' ('warm location') was therefore given to the city because of the area's numerous sulphuric hot springs that came out of the ground.
    Archaeological studies of the region have revealed that the territory of Tbilisi was settled by humans as early as the 4th millennium BCE. The earliest actual (recorded) accounts of settlement of the location come from the second half of the 4th century CE, when a fortress was built during King Varaz-Bakur's reign. Towards the end of the 4th century the fortress fell into the hands of the Persians after which the location fell back into the hands of the Kings of Kartli (Georgia) by the middle of the 5th century. King Vakhtang I Gorgasali (reigned in the middle and latter part of the 5th century), who is largely credited for founding Tbilisi, was actually responsible for reviving and building up the city and not founding it. The present-day location of the area which Gorgasali seems to have built up is spread out around the Metekhi cliff and the latter-day Abanotubani neighbourhood.

    King Dachi I Ujarmeli, who was the successor of Vakhtang I Gorgasali, moved the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi according to the will left by his father. It must be mentioned that Tbilisi was not the capital of a unified Georgian state at that time (therefore did not include the territory of Colchis) and was only the capital of Eastern Georgia/Iberia. During his reign, King Dachi I was also responsible for finishing the construction of the fortress wall that lined the city's new boundaries. Beginning from the 6th century, Tbilisi started to grow at a steady pace due to the region's favourable and strategic location which placed the city along important trade and travel routes between Europe and Asia.

    Tbilisi after Independence

    After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the city served as a location of the Transcaucasus interim government which established, in the spring of 1918, the short-lived independent Transcaucasian Federation with the capital in Tbilisi. It was here, in the former Caucasus Vice royal Palace, where the independence of three Transcaucasian nations – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – was declared on May 26 to 28 1918. After this, Tbilisi functioned as the capital of the Democratic Republic of Georgia until 25 February 1921. From 1918 to 1919 the city was also consecutively home to a German and British military headquarters.
    Under the national government, Tbilisi turned into the first Caucasian University City after the Tbilisi State University was founded in 1918, a long-time dream of the Georgians banned by the Imperial Russian authorities for several decades. On 25 February 1921, the Bolshevist Russian 11th Red Army invaded Tbilisi after bitter fighting at the outskirts of the city and declared Soviet rule.

    Capital of a unified Georgian state

    In 1122, after heavy fighting with the Seljuks that involved at least 60,000 Georgians and up to 300,000 Turks, the troops of the King of Georgia David the Builder entered Tbilisi. After the battles for Tbilisi concluded, David moved his residence from Kutaisi (Western Georgia) to Tbilisi, making it the capital of a unified Georgian State. From 12-13th centuries, Tbilisi became a dominant regional power with a thriving economy (with well-developed trade and skilled labour) and a well-established social system/structure. By the end of the 12th century, the population of Tbilisi had reached 100,000. The city also became an important literary and a cultural center not only for Georgia but for the larger civilized world as well. During Queen Tamar's reign, Shota Rustaveli worked in Tbilisi while writing his legendary epic poem, The Knight in the Panther's Skin. This period is often referred to as "Georgia's Golden Age" or the Georgian Renaissance.

    Politics and administration of Tbilisi

    The status of Tbilisi, as the nation's capital, is defined by the Article 10 in the Constitution of Georgia (1995) and the Law on Georgia's Capital – Tbilisi (February 20, 1998).
    Tbilisi is governed by the Tbilisi Assembly (Sakrebulo) and the Tbilisi City Hall (Meria). The City Assembly is elected once every four years. The mayor is elected by the City Assembly. The Mayor of Tbilisi is Giorgi (Gigi) Ugulava and the Chairman of the Tbilisi City Assembly is Zaal Begashvili.
    Administratively, the city is divided into raions (districts), which have their own units of central and local government with jurisdiction over a limited scope of affairs. This subdivision was established under Soviet rule in the 1930s, following the general subdivision of the Soviet Union. Since Georgia regained independence, the raion system was modified and reshuffled. According to the latest revision, Tbilisi raions include:
    Old Tbilisi (ძველი თბილისი)
    Vake-Saburtalo (ვაკე-საბურთალო)
    Didube-Chugureti (დიდუბე-ჩუღურეთი)
    Gldani-Nadzaladevi (გლდანი-ნაძალადევი)
    Isani-Samgori (ისანი-სამგორი)
    Didgori (დიდგორი)


    Freedom Square
    Most of the raions are named after respective historical neighbourhoods of the city. The citizens of Tbilisi widely recognise a system of the smaller non-formal historical neighbourhoods. Such neighbourhoods are several, however, constituting a kind of hierarchy, because most of them have lost their distinctive topographic limits. The natural first level of subdivision of the city is into the Right Bank and the Left Bank of the Mt'k'vari. The names of the oldest neighbourhoods go back to the early Middle Ages and sometimes pose a great linguistic interest. The newest whole-built developments bear chiefly residential marketing names.
    In pre-Revolution Tiflis, the Georgian quarter was confined to the southeastern part of the city; Baedeker describes the layout succinctly:
    In the north part of the town, on the left bank of the Kurá and to the south of the railway station, stretches the clean German Quarter, formerly occupied by German immigrants from Württemberg (1818). To the south is the Gruzinian or Georgian Quarter (Avlabár). On the right bank of the Kurá is the Russian Quarter, the seat of the officials and of the larger business firms. This is adjoined on the south by the Armenian and Persian Bazaars.
    Avlabari is considered "the integral component of the so-called 'old Tbilisi'" and is currently the object of planning and cultural heritage preservation.

    Sports in Tbilisi

    Tbilisi has a fairly rich sports history. Like many other towns of the Near East with strong Asian cultural influences, Tbilisi historically had a special area of town that was designated for sports competitions. The present-day districts of Saburtalo and Didube were the most common areas where such competitions were held. Up until the beginning of the 19th century, sports such as horse-riding (polo in particular), wrestling, boxing, and marksmanship were the most popular city sports. As Tbilisi started to develop socially and economically and integrate more with the West, new sports from Europe were introduced. The Soviet period brought an increased popularization of sports that were common in Europe and to a certain extent, the United States. At the same time, Tbilisi developed the necessary sports infrastructure for various professional sports. By 1978, the city had around 250 large and small sports facilities, including among others, four indoor and six outdoor Olympic sized pools, 185 basketball courts and halls, 192 volleyball facilities, 82 handball arenas, 19 tennis courts, 31 football (soccer) fields, and five stadiums. At present, the largest stadium in Tbilisi is the Boris Paichadze Stadium (55,000 seats) and the second largest is the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium (24,680 seats). The Sports Palace which usually hosts basketball games with high attendance and tennis tournaments can seat up to approximately 11,000 people.
    Vere Basketball Hall is a smaller indoor sports arena with a 2,500 seating capacity.
    The most popular sports in Tbilisi today are football, rugby union, basketball, and wrestling. Also popular sports include tennis, swimming and water polo. There are several professional football and rugby teams as well as wrestling clubs. U.S. National Basketball Association players Zaza Pachulia and Nikoloz Tskitishvili are Tbilisi natives. Outside of professional sports, the city has a number of inter-collegiate and amateur sports teams and clubs.
    Tbilisi's signature football team, Dinamo Tbilisi, has not won a major European championship since 1981, when it won the European Cup Winners' Cup and became the easternmost team in Europe to achieve the feat. The basketball club Dinamo Tbilisi won the Euroleague in 1962 but also never repeated any such feat.

    Transportation in Tbilisi

    Tbilisi Metro serves the city with rapid transit subway services. It was the Soviet Union's fourth metro system. Construction began in 1952, and was finished in 1966. The system operates two lines, the Akhmeteli-Varketili Line and the Saburtalo Line. It has 22 stations. and 186 metro cars. Most stations, like those on other Soviet-built metro systems, are extravagantly decorated. Trains run from 6:00 am to midnight. Due to the uneven ground, the rail lines run above ground level in some areas. Two of the stations are above ground.
    The Tbilisi Metro underwent a campaign of modernization. Stations were reconstructed, and trains and facilities were modernized. In 2005, President Mikheil Saakashvili charged Director General Zurab Kikalishvili with bringing the station up to European standards by 2007. In 2006, the city's budget allocated 16 million Lari for the project. A third line is being planned, which will encompass the Vake District. The three lines will form a triangle, and intersect in the city center.
    Tbilisi had a tram network, since 1883 starting from horse driven trams and from 25 December 1904 electric tramway, When Soviet Union demolished electric transport went to a degradation state within the years and finally the only tram line left was closed on 4 December 2006 together with 2 trolleybus lines which were left. There are plans to construct a modern tram network.
    The most dominant form of transportation is the Marshrutka. An elaborate marshrutka system has grown in Tbilisi over the recent years. In addition to the city, several lines also serve the surrounding countryside of Tbilisi. Throughout the city a fixed price is paid regardless of the distance (50 tetri in 2011). For longer trips outside the city, higher fares are common. There are no predefined stops for the marshrutka lines, they are hailed from the streets like taxis and each passenger can exit whenever he likes.

    Media in Tbilisi

    Large majority of Georgia's media companies (including television, newspaper and radio) are headquartered in Tbilisi. The city is home to the popular Rustavi 2 television channel which gained considerable fame after its coverage of the Rose Revolution. In addition to Rustavi 2, the remaining three out of the four major public television channels of Georgia (including Imedi TV Mze and the Public Broadcasting Channel) are based in the city as well. Tbilisi's television market has experienced notable changes since the second half of 2005 when Rustavi 2 successfully bought out the Mze TV Company and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation became a shareholder of Imedi Media Holding at the beginning of 2006. By taking over the Imedi Media Holding Group, News Corporation entered the Post-Soviet media market for the first time in the company's history.
    Tbilisi has a number of newspaper publishing houses. Some of the most noteworthy newspapers include the daily 24 Saati ("24 Hours"), Rezonansi ("Resonance"), Alia, the English-language daily The Messenger, weekly FINANCIAL, Georgia Today, and the English-language weekly The Georgian Times. Out of the city's radio stations Imedi Radio (105.9FM), Fortuna, and Radio 105 are some of the more influential competitors with large national audiences.

    Education in Tbilisi

    Tbilisi is home to several major institutions of higher education: The biggest Georgian university is Tbilisi State University which was established on 8 February 1918. TSU is the oldest university in the whole Caucasus region. Over 35,000 students are enrolled and the total number of faculty and staff (collaborators) is approximately 5,000. Tbilisi is also home to the largest medical university in Caucasus region - Tbilisi State Medical University, which was founded as Tbilisi Medical Institute in 1918 and became the Faculty of Medicine within the Tbilisi State University (TSU) in 1930. Tbilisi State Medical Institute has been renamed to Medical University in 1992. Since that University operates as an independent educational institution. TSMU became one of the high-ranking state-supported institutions of higher education in the whole Caucasus region. Currently there are almost 5000 undergraduate and 203 postgraduate students at the University of whom 10% come from foreign countries. Georgia's main and largest technical university named - Georgian Technical University is also located in Tbilisi.Georgian Technical University was founded in 1922 as a polytechnic faculty of the Tbilisi State University. The first lecture in the walls of this establishment was read by the world famous Georgian mathematician Professor Andria Razmadze.It achieved University status by 1990. The two most popular private higher educational institution in Georgia Caucasus University and Free University of Tbilisi are also located in Tbilisi. Caucasus University was established in 2004 as an expansion of the Caucasus School of Business (CSB) (established in 1998) by a consortium consisting of Tbilisi State University and Georgian Technical University in partnership with Georgia State University (Atlanta, USA). Free University of Tbilisi was established in 2007 through the merger of two higher education schools - European School of Management (ESM-Tbilisi) and Tbilisi Institute of Asia and Africa (TIAA). Today Free University comprises three schools - Business School (ESM), Institute of Asia and Africa and Law School delivering academic programs at undergraduate, graduate and doctorate levels. In addition, Free University conducts a wide array of short-term courses, runs several research centers and summer school programs.
    Higher educational institutions in Tbilisi:
    Tbilisi State University
    Georgian Technical University
    Ilia Chavchavadze State University
    Tbilisi State Conservatory
    Tbilisi State Medical University
    Caucasus University
    Free University of Tbilisi
    International Black Sea University
    Georgian Institute of Public Affairs
    Georgian Agrarian University
    Tiflis by Ivan Aivazovsky
    The University of Georgia (Tbilisi)

    Tbilisi International Airport

    Tbilisi International Airport, თბილისის საერთაშორისო აეროპორტი, is the main international airport in Georgia, located 17 km (11 mi) southeast of the capital Tbilisi.

    History
    The first airport terminal building was constructed in 1952. Designed by the architect V. Beridze in the style of Stalinist architecture the building featured a floor plan with symmetric axes and a monumental risalit in the form of a portico. The two side wings featured blind arcades in giant order. A new terminal building was finished in 1990, designed in the International style. In 1981 Tbilisi airport was the twelfth largest airport in the Soviet Union, with 1,478,000 passengers on so-called central lines, that is on flights connecting Tbilisi with cities in other union republics. In 1998 the number of passenger had shrunk to 230,000 per year.

    Overview
    In February 2007, the reconstruction project was finished. The project consisted of construction of a new international terminal, car park, improvements to the apron, taxiway and runway and acquisition of ground handling equipment at Tbilisi International Airport. A rail link to the city centre has been constructed. There is an infrequent rail service to the city centre of Tbilisi (6 trains per day in each direction). George W. Bush Avenue leads from the airport to downtown Tbilisi.
    The airport is a product of a contemporary and functional design, boasting high technology. It is designed to provide the optimum flow of both passengers and luggage from the parking lot to the planes with a 25,000 square meter total usable area. It has the ability and flexibility to easily facilitate future expansions without interrupting terminal operations. It has been fitted with high-tech contemporary systems, keeping passenger convenience and efficiency of the terminal operations in mind, throughout functional spaces organized in an elegant manner. The Food and Beverage operations at the Tbilisi International Airport are carried out by BTA at 7 points with a staff of 75, while ATU provides Duty Free services at its four stores.

    Airlines and destinations
    Tbilisi airport mainly serves destinations in the former Soviet Union and Europe. Due to the strained Georgian-Russian relations only six flights per week between Tbilisi and Moscow-Domodedovo are permitted on a charter basis. The Georgian government is negotiating with several airlines in the hope to increase the number of destinations. These airlines include Wizz Air and Ryanair.
    Airlines Destinations
    Aerosvit Airlines Kiev-Boryspil, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk
    Air Astana Almaty, Astana
    airBaltic Riga
    Arkia Israel Airlines Seasonal: Tel Aviv
    Ata Airlines Tehran
    Azerbaijan Airlines Baku
    Belavia Minsk
    bmi London-Heathrow
    China Southern Urumqi [begins 9 June]
    Czech Airlines Prague
    Georgian Airways Amsterdam, Athens, Batumi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Kharkiv, Kiev-Boryspil, Minsk, Moscow-Domodedovo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Tel Aviv, Vienna
    Seasonal: Antalya, Sharm-el-Sheikh
    Kenn Borek Air Mestia
    LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw
    Lufthansa Munich
    Pegasus Airlines Antalya [begins 4 June], Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen
    Qatar Airways Doha [begins 30 November]
    S7 Airlines Moscow-Domodedovo
    SCAT Aktau, Astana
    Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk
    Ukraine International Airlines Kiev-Boryspil
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    Kutaisi

    Kutaisi, ქუთაისი, Aea/Aia, Kutatisi, Kutaïssi, is Georgia's second largest city and the capital of the western region of Imereti. It is 221 km to the west of Tbilisi.

    History
    Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis. Archeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the kingdom of Colchis as early as the second millennium BC. It is widely believed by historians that when Apollonius Rhodius was writing about Jason and the Argonauts and their legendary journey to Colchis, Kutaisi/Aia was the final destination of the Argonauts and the residence of King Aeëtes. From 978 to 1122 CE Kutaisi was the capital of the united Kingdom of Georgia, and from the 15th century until 1810 it was the capital of the Imeretian Kingdom. In 1508, the city was captured by Selim I, who was the son of the Sultan of the Ottomans at that time, Bayezid II.
    During the seventeenth century, Imeretian kings made many appeals to Russia to help them in their struggle for independence from the Ottomans. All these appeals were ignored as Russia did not want to spoil relations with Turkey. Only in a reign of Ekaterina II in 1768 troops of general Gottlieb Heinrich Totleben were sent to join forces of King Heraclius II of Georgia who hoped to reconquer the Ottoman-held southern Georgian lands in conjunction with Russia. Totleben helped King Solomon I of Imereti recover his capital Kutaisi on August 6, 1770.
    Finally Russian-Turkish wars ended with annexion in 1810 of the Imeretian Kingdom by Russian Empire. The city was the capital of the Gubernia of Kutaisi, which included much of west Georgia. In March 1879, the city was the site of a blood libel trial that attracted attention all over Russia; the ten accused Jews were acquitted.
    Kutaisi was a major industrial center before Georgia's independence in 1991. Independence was followed economic collapse of the country and as a result, many inhabitants of Kutaisi have had to leave and work abroad. Small-scale trade prevails among the rest of the population.

    Sport
    Kutaisi has a great tradition in sports, with many famous sport clubs. FC Torpedo Kutaisi has participated on the highest level of the Soviet Union football league. After Georgia achieved independence, it won many domestic and international titles. RC AIA Kutaisi won the Soviet Championship several times in rugby, and after independence, national championships and cups. Kutaisi also had an influential basketball club.
    Main sights

    The landmark of the city is the ruined Bagrati Cathedral, built by Bagrat III, king of Georgia, in the early 11th century. The Bagrati Cathedral, and the Gelati Monastery a few km east of the city, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the famous churches in Georgia is Motsameta Church. It is named after two saints, brothers David and Constantine. They were the Dukes of Margveti, and were martyred by Arab invaders in the 8th century. Besides the churches, there are many interesesting places in Kutaisi, such as: Sataplia Cave, where one can observe footprints of Dinosaurs; Geguti Palace, which was one of the residences of Georgian monarchs; "Okros Chardakhi" – Georgian Kings’ Palace; and the Pantheon, where many notable citizens are buried.
    In December 2009, the demolition (using explosives) of a major war memorial in the city killed two people due to insufficient security around the demolition site. Russia also criticised the decision to remove the war memorial.

    Climate
    The climate in Kutaisi is humid subtropical with a well-defined on-shore/monsoonal flow (characteristic of the Colchis Plain) during the Autumn and Winter months. The summers are generally hot and relatively dry while the winters are wet and cool. Average annual temperature in the city is 14.5 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 5.3 degrees Celsius while July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 23.2 degrees Celsius. The absolute minimum recorded temperature is -17 degrees Celsius and the absolute maximum is 44 degrees Celsius. Average annual precipitation is around 1,530 mm (60.24 in). Rain may fall in every season of the year. The city often experiences heavy, wet snowfall (snowfall of 30 cm/12 inches or more per single snowstorm is not uncommon) in the winter, but the snow cover usually does not last for more than a week. Kutaisi experiences powerful easterly winds in the summer which descend from the nearby mountains.
    Landscape
    Kutaisi is surrounded by deciduous forests to the northeast and the northwest. The low-lying outskirts of the city have a largely agricultural landscape. Because of the many gardens in the city centre and the high leafy trees alongside the sidewalks of its streets and boulevards, Kutaisi is painted in bright green in the spring and in yellow-red in the autumn. In the springtime, when the snow starts to melt in the nearby mountains, the storming Rioni River in the middle of the city is heard far beyond its banks.

    Transport
    Kopitnari Airport (IATA: KUT, ICAO: UGKO) is an airport located 14 km (8.70 mi) west of Kutaisi. It is one of three international airports currently in operation in Georgia.
    Local celebrations

    Kutaisi is the most important holiday in Qutaisi. It celebrates on 2 May. On this day the population of Kutaisi crowds into the central park, with their children and celebrate together. Some people make masks and the are many kinds of performances, so it is a lot of fun. Also little children sell chamomiles. It is an old tradition, in the past ladies collected money for poor people, so today children also collect money for them.
    On this day you can see traditional Georgian dances and you can hear folk music. Also it is an old tradition to go in the forest, which is near Kutaisi. Families have a barbecue, play games and have a great time together. On this day people wear traditional clothes, choxa so you can imagine that you are in past times. Also there is a new tradition of writing lyrics which have been written by writers from Qutaisi and then airplanes throw them from the sky.
    Kutaisoba is a most important holiday celebrated in mukhrans wood. There is a competition in different kinds of combative art, also semblance to sport.
    Usually regions of imereti performing traditions representative for them and folksongs, tablecloth. Everyone felicites each other kutaisoba, sprind and may. in this holiday observe rules blessing chokha. At the end of the blessing they sing "mravaljamieri". Participants are elated to hear this song.

    Kopitnari Airport

    Kopitnari Airport, is an airport located 14 km (8.7 mi) west of Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia and capital of the western region of Imereti. It is one of three international airports currently in operation in Georgia.

    Airlines and destinations

    Airlines Destinations
    Aerosvit Kiev-Boryspil
    Wind Rose Aviation Kiev-Boryspil

    Batumi

    Batumi, ბათუმი, is a seaside city on the Black Sea coast and capital of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. It has a population of 121,806 (2002 census).
    Batumi, with its large port and commercial center, is also the last stop of the Transcaucasian Railway and the Baku oil pipeline. It is situated some 20 km (12 mi) from the Turkish border, in a subtropical zone, rich in agricultural produce such as citrus fruit and tea. Industries include shipbuilding, food processing, and light manufacturing.

    Communism and Independence
    During 1901, 16 years prior to the Russian Revolution, Joseph Stalin the future leader of the Soviet Union, lived in the city organizing strikes. Unrest during World War I led to Turkey re-entering in April 1918, followed by the British in December, who stayed until July 1920. Kemal Atatürk then ceded it to the Bolsheviks, on the condition that it be granted autonomy, for the sake of the Muslims among Batumi's mixed population.
    When the USSR collapsed, Aslan Abashidze was appointed head of Adjara's governing council and subsequently held onto power throughout the unrest of the 1990s. Whilst other regions, such as Abkhazia, attempted to break away from the Georgian state, Adjara maintained an integral part of the Republic's territory. However due to a fragile security situation, Abashidze was able to exploit the central government's weaknesses and rule the area as a personal fiefdom. In May 2004 he fled the region to Russia as a result of mass protests sparked by the Rose Revolution in Tbilisi.

    History

    Batumi is located on the site of the ancient Greek colony in Colchis called Bathus or Bathys - derived from the Greek phrase bathus limen or bathys limin meaning "deep harbour". Under Hadrian (r. 117-138 AD), it was converted into a fortified Roman port later deserted for the fortress of Petra founded in the times of Justinian I (r. 527-565). Garrisoned by the Roman/Byzantine forces, it was formally a possession of the kingdom of Lazica until being occupied briefly by the Arabs who did not hold it; in the 9th century it formed part of the Bagratid monarchy of Tao-Klarjeti, and at the close of the 10th century of the unified kingdom of Georgia which succeeded it.
    From 1010, it was governed by the eristavi (viceroy) of the king of Georgia. In the late 14th century, after the disintegration of the Georgian kingdom, Batumi passed to the princes (mtavari) of Guria, a western Georgian principality under the nominal sovereignty of the kings of Imereti. A curious incident occurred in 1444 when the Burgundian flotilla, after a failed crusade against the Ottoman Empire, penetrated the Black Sea and engaged in piracy along its eastern coastline until the Burgundians under the knight Geoffroy de Thoisy were ambushed during their landing raid at the port of Vaty as Europeans then knew Batumi. De Thoisy was taken captive and released through the mediation of the emperor John IV of Trebizond.

    In the 15th century, in the reign of the prince Kakhaber Gurieli, the Ottoman Turks occupied the town and its district, but did not hold them. They returned in force a century later after the decisive defeat which they inflicted on the Georgian and Imeretian armies at Sokhoista. Batumi was recaptured, first by the prince Rostom Gurieli in 1564, who lost it soon afterwards, and again in 1609 by Mamia Gurieli. Since 1627 Batumi was part of the Ottoman Empire. With the Turkish conquest the Islamisation of the Adjara region, hitherto Christian began. It was completed by the end of the 18th century. Under the Turks, Batumi, a large fortified town (2,000 inhabitants in 1807 and more than 5,000 in 1877) was already an active port, the principal centre of the Transcaucasian slave-trade.

    Climate
    Batumi lies at the northern periphery of the humid subtropical zone. The city's climate is heavily influenced by the onshore flow from the Black Sea and is subject to the orographic effect of the nearby hills and mountains, resulting in significant rainfall throughout most of the year, making Batumi the wettest city in both Georgia and the entire Caucasus Region.
    The average annual temperature in Batumi is approximately 14 °C. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 7 °C. August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 22 °C. The absolute minimum recorded temperature is -9 °C, and the absolute maximum is 40 °C. The number of days with daily temperatures above 10 °C is 239. The city receives 1958 hours of sunshine per year.
    Batumi's average annual precipitation is 2,718mm. (107.0 in.). September is the wettest month with an average of 335mm. (13.19 in.) of precipitation, while May is the driest, averaging 92mm (3.62 in.). Batumi generally does not receive significant amounts of snow (accumulating snowfall of more than 30 cm.), and the number of days with snow cover for the year is 12. The average level of relative humidity ranges from 70-80%.

    Present day
    Batumi today is the main port of Georgia. It has the capacity for 80,000-tonne tankers to take materials such as oil which is shipped through Georgia from Central Asia. Additionally the city exports regional agricultural products. Since 1995 the freight conversion of the port has constantly risen, with an approximate 8 million tonnes in 2001. The annual revenue from the port is estimated at between $200 million and $300 million.
    Since the change of power in Ajara, Batumi has attracted several international investors with real estate prices in the city trebling since 2001. Kazakh investors have reportedly invested $100 million to purchase more than 20 hotels in the Ajara region of Georgia. Construction of a number of new hotels will be launched in Ajara’s Black Sea resorts starting from 2007.
    Batumi was also host to the Russian 12th Military Base. Following the Rose Revolution, the central government pushed for the removal of these forces, and in 2005 an agreement with Moscow was reached. According to the agreement, the process of withdrawal was planned to be completed in a course of 2008, but the Batumi base was officially handed over to Georgia on November 13, 2007, ahead of planned schedule.
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    Batumi International Airport

    Batumi International Airport, is an airport located 2 km (1.2 mi) south of Batumi, a city on the Black Sea coast and capital of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. The airport is also 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Hopa, Turkey, and serves as a domestic and international airport for northeastern Turkey.
    Batumi is one of three international airports currently in operation in Georgia. The new airport terminal has been in operation since May 26, 2007. With a total area of 3,915 square metres (42,140 sq ft), it will be capable of handling 600,000 passengers a year.


    Airlines and destinations

    Airlines Destinations
    Belavia Minsk
    Georgian Airways Kiev-Borispol, Tbilisi, (from June 5) Tel-aviv, (from June 5) Baku
    Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk
    AnadoluJet Ankara
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    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    History of Georgia

    Territory of modern-day Georgia has been inhabited by Homo erectus since the Paleolithic. The proto-Georgian tribes first appear in written history in the 12th century BC. Archaeological finds and references in ancient sources reveal elements of early political and state formations characterized by advanced metallurgy and goldsmith techniques that date back to the 7th century BC and beyond.

    Antiquity
    The classic period saw the rise of the early Georgian states Diaokhi (XIII BC) of Colchis (VIII BC), of Sper (VII BC) and of Iberia (VI BC). In the 4th century BC a unified kingdom of Georgia—an early example of advanced state organization under one king and an aristocratic hierarchy—was established.
    The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity, known to Greco-Roman historiography as Iberia (Georgian: იბერია) (in the east of the country) and Colchis (Georgian: კოლხეთი) (in the west), were among the first nations in the region to adopt Christianity (in AD 337, or in AD 319 as recent research suggests). In Greek Mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius' epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis was also the battlefield of the Lazic War fought between Byzantine 

    Empire and Persia.
    "Pompey's Bridge", built by the Roman legionaries of Pompey during their conquests of Georgia in c.65 BC
    After the Roman Empire completed its conquest of the Caucasus region in 66 BC, the Georgian kingdoms were Roman client states and allies for nearly 400 years. In 337 AD King Mirian III declared Christianity as the state religion, giving a great stimulus to the development of literature, arts, and ultimately playing a key role in the formation of the unified Georgian nation. King Mirian III's acceptance of Christianity effectively tied the kingdom to the neighboring Eastern Roman Empire which exerted a strong influence on Georgia for nearly a millennium, determining much of its present cultural identity.

    Middle Ages
    The early kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for Arabs to conquer parts of southeastern Georgia in the 7th century. The rebellious regions were liberated and united into a unified Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the 11th century. Starting in the 12th century, the rule of Georgia extended over a significant part of the Southern Caucasus, including the northeastern parts and almost the entire northern coast of present-day Turkey.
    Although Arabs captured the capital city of Tbilisi in AD 645, Kartli-Iberia retained considerable independence under local Arab rulers. In AD 813 the prince Ashot I - also known as Ashot Kurapalat - became the first of the Bagrationi family to rule the kingdom. Ashot's reign began a period of nearly 1,000 years during which the Bagrationi, as the house was known, ruled at least part of what is now the republic.

    Bagrat III (r. 1027-72) united western and eastern Georgia. In the next century, David IV (called the Builder, r. 1089-1125) initiated the Georgian golden age by driving the Seljuk Turks from the country and expanding Georgian cultural and political influence southward into Armenia and eastward to the Caspian Sea.
    The Georgian Kingdom reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period has been widely termed as Georgia's Golden Age or Georgian Renaissance during the reigns of David the Builder and Queen Tamar. This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its West European analogue, was characterized by the flourishing of romantic-chivalric tradition, breakthroughs in philosophy, and an array of political innovations in society and state organization, including religious and ethnic tolerance.
    The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin".David the Builder is popularly considered to be the greatest and most successful Georgian ruler in history. He succeeded in driving the Seljuks out of the country, winning the major Battle of Didgori in 1121. His reforms of the army and administration enabled him to reunite the country and bring most lands of the Caucasus under Georgia's control.

    King George V the Brilliant restored Georgia as a vibrant Christian culture after the expulsion of Mongols
    David the Builder's granddaughter Tamar succeeded in neutralizing opposition and embarked on an energetic foreign policy aided by the downfall of the rival powers of the Seljuks and Byzantium. Supported by a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated the Caucasus until its collapse under the Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar's death.
    The revival of the Georgian Kingdom was set back after Tblisi was captured and destoyed by the Khwarezmian leader Mingburnu in 1236. The Mongols were expelled by George V of Georgia, son of Demetrius II of Georgia, who was named "Brilliant" for his role in restoring the country's previous strength and Christian culture. George V was the last great king of the unified Georgian state. After his death, different local rulers fought for their independence from central Georgian rule, until the total disintegration of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Georgia was further weakened by several disastrous invasions by Tamerlane. Neighbouring kingdoms exploited the internal division of the weakened country, and beginning in the 16th century, the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.
    The rulers of regions which remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. However, subsequent Persian and Ottoman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of wars the population of Georgia dwindled to 250,000 inhabitants at one point. Eastern Georgia, composed of the regions of Kartli and Kakheti, had been under Persian suzerainty since 1555. With the death of Nader Shahin 1747, both kingdoms broke free of Persian control and were reunified through a personal union under the energetic king Heraclius II in 1762.

    Georgia in the Russian Empire
    In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, which recognized the bond of Orthodox Christianity between Russian and Georgian people and promised eastern Georgia protection. However, despite this commitment to defend Georgia Russia rendered no assistance when the Turks and Persians invaded in 1785 and in 1795, completely devastating Tbilisi and massacring its inhabitants. This period culminated in the 1801 Russian violation of the Treaty of Georgievsk and annexation of entire Georgian lands, followed the deposing of the Bagrationi dynasty and suppression of the Georgian church.
    On December 22, 1800, Tsar Paul I of Russia, at the alleged request of the Georgian King George XII, signed the proclamation on the incorporation of Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire, which was finalized by a decree on January 8, 1801, and confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801.The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin. In May 1801, Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring dethroned the Georgian heir to the throne David Batonishvili and instituted a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev. Pyotr Bagration, a man of minor Georgian nobility, joined the Russian army aged 17 as a sergeant and rose to be a general by the Napoleonic wars.
    The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring compassed the nobility in Tbilisi's Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were arrested temporarily.
    In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near Zagam defeated the Persian army and saved Tbilisi from conquest now that it was officially part of the Imperial territories.
    Western Georgian principalities of Mingrelia and Guria assumed the Russian protection in 19th century. Finally in 1810, after a brief war, the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler Solomon II died in exile in 1815. From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against the Ottoman Empire, several of Georgia's previously lost territories - such as Adjara - were recovered. The principality of Guria was abolished in 1828, and that of Samegrelo (Mingrelia) in 1857. The region of Svaneti was gradually annexed in 1857–59.

    Declaration of independence
    After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918 in the midst of the Russian Civil War. The parliamentary election was won by the Georgian Social-Democratic Party, considered to be pro-Mensheviks, and its leader, Noe Zhordania, became prime minister.
    In 1918 a Georgian–Armenian war erupted over parts of Georgian provinces populated mostly by Armenians which ended because of British intervention. In 1918–19 Georgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led a Georgian attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for independent Georgia. The country's independence did not last long. Georgia was under British protection from 1918-1920.

    Name of Georgia

    Georgia is sometimes thought to be named after St. George. 15th c. cloisonné enamel on gold.
    Ethnic Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო - meaning "a place for Kartvelians"), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). According to the ancient Georgian Chronicles, the ancestor of the Kartvelian people was Kartlos, the great grandson of the Biblical Japheth. The name Sakartvelo (საქართველო) consists of two parts. Its root, kartvel-i (ქართველ-ი), specifies an inhabitant of the core central-eastern Georgian region of Kartli, or Iberia as it is known in sources of Eastern Roman Empire.Ancient Greeks (Strabo, Herodotus, Plutarch, Homer, etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to early eastern Georgians as Iberians (Iberoi in some Greek sources) and western Georgians as Colchians.
    Like most native Caucasian peoples, the Georgians do not fit into any of the main ethnic categories of Europe or Asia. The Georgian language, the most pervasive of the South Caucasian languages, is neither Indo-European, Turkic nor Semitic. The present day Georgian or Kartvelian nation is thought to have resulted from the fusion of aboriginal, autochthonous-inhabitants with immigrants who infiltrated into South Caucasus from the direction of Anatolia in remote antiquity. The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus mentions Georgians as Iberes who were also called Thobel Tubal.
    The terms Georgia and Georgians appeared in Western Europe in numerous early medieval annals. The French chronicler Jacques de Vitry and the English traveler Sir John Mandeville wrote that Georgians are called Georgian because they especially revere Saint George. Notably, in January 2004 the country restored the five-cross flag, featuring the Saint George's Cross; the flag was used in Georgia from the 5th century throughout the Middle Ages

    Georgia

    Georgia,  is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km² and its population is almost 4.7 million. Georgia's constitution is that of a representative democracy, organized as a unitary, semi-presidential republic. It is currently a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Community of Democratic Choice, the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, and the Asian Development Bank. The country aspires to join the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.
    The history of Georgia can be traced back to the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia. It was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, in the early 4th century. Georgia reached the peak of its political and economic strength during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar in the 11th - 12th centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century, Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire. After a brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia was annexed by Soviet Russia in 1921 and from 1922 to 1991 the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was one of the fifteen federal republics of the Soviet Union. Like many post-communist countries, Georgia suffered from civil unrest and economic crisis for most of the 1990s through the Rose Revolution of 2003, after which the new government introduced democratic and economic reforms.
    Georgia contains two de facto independent regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which gained limited international recognition after the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia. Georgia considers the regions to be occupied by Russia.

    2008 military conflict with Russia

    Georgian girl holding a poster and candles during the Russo-Georgian war in August of 2008.
    2008 saw a military conflict between Georgia on one side, with Russia and the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other. In response to the shelling of Georgian towns around South Ossetia, supposedly by South Ossetian militias well equipped with Russian military supplies, Georgia massed military forces near the region. Russia also massed larger military forces near the border with South Ossetia. On 7 August, Georgian forces began a massive artillery attack on the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, which started after months-long clashes between Georgian police and peacekeepers, and Ossetian militia and Russian peacekeepers. On early August 8, Georgian Army infantry and tanks, supported by Interior Ministry commandos, began pushing into South Ossetia, supported by artillery and multiple rocket launcher fire and Su-25 strike aircraft. After several hours of fierce fighting, Georgia had captured numerous villages throughout South Ossetia, and had captured almost all of Tskhinvali from Ossetian militia and Russian peacekeepers. A Russian peacekeepers' base stationed in South Ossetia was shelled, and personnel were killed. Units of the Russian 58th Army, supported by irregular forces, subsequently entered South Ossetia through the Russian-controlled Roki tunnel, and a three-day battle left the city of Tskhinvali heavily devastated. Georgian forces were driven out of South Ossetia, and Georgian villages were burned by Ossetian militia to prevent refugees from returning. The Russian Air Force launched a series of coordinated airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia, and multiple targets inside Georgia proper, but met heavy resistance from Georgian air defenses. The Georgian Air Force also managed to carry out air attacks on Russian troops throughout most of the battle. At the same time, the separatist Republic of Abkhazia launched an offensive against Georgian troops in the Kodori Valley with the support of Russian paratroopers, marines, and naval forces. Georgian troops offered minimal resistance and withdrew Russian paratroopers launched raids against military bases in Senaki, Georgia, from Abkhazia. The Russian Navy stationed a task force of sixteen ships off the coast of Abkhazia, and in a brief naval skirmish with Georgian missile boats and gunboats, sank a Georgian Coast Guard cutter.

    Following their defeat in South Ossetia, Georgian forces regrouped at Gori with heavy artillery. Russian forces crossed into Georgia proper, and all Georgian forces retreated to Tbilisi, leaving some military equipment behind. Russian forces entered the city and occupied numerous villages completely unopposed. Irregulars such as Ossetians, Chechens and Cossacks followed and were reported looting, killing and burning. Russian troops removed military equipment abandoned by retreating Georgian troops in Gori, and also occupied the port city of Poti, where they sank several naval and coast guard vessesls moored in the harbor, and removed captured military equipment, including four Humvees. Georgia lost a total of 150 pieces of military equipment (including 65 tanks), 1,728 small arms, and 4 naval vessels during the war.
    On August 12, President Medvedev announced an intent to halt further Russian military operations in Georgia. Russian troops withdrew from Gori and Poti, but remained in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which it recognized as independent countries. Georgia, on the contrary, considers those territories to be under Russian occupation. Russia also created temporary checkpoints in several locations inside Georgia, but gradually withdrew from them.
    Because of the intensive fighting in South Ossetia there were many disputed reports about the number of casualties on both sides, which targets had fallen under aerial attacks, the status of troop movements, and the most current location of the front line between the Georgian and Russian-Ossetian combat units.South Ossetian and Russian officials claimed the Georgian Army was responsible for killing 2,000, and later 1,400 South Ossetian civilians. These allegations have not been substantiated, and Human Rights Watch and European Union investigators in South Ossetia accused Russia of exaggerating the scale of such casualties. The actual death toll, according to the Russian Prosecutor's Office, is 162. Another 150 South Ossetian militiamen were also killed.  Russian casualties totalled 67 dead or missing, and 323 wounded. Abkhaz forces lost 1 dead and 2 wounded. Georgian military casualties totaled 170 dead or missing, 1,964 wounded, and 42 taken prisoner. Georgian civilian casualties stand at 228, with a total of 12 police officers killed or missing. A Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was also killed.