|5 ~ 7 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Part of a series on|
|Ancient Kartvelian people|
|Colchians · Iberians|
|Svans · Mingrelians · Adjarians · Khevsurians · Tushetians · Chveneburi|
|Music · Media · Sport · Calligraphy · Cinema · Cuisine · Dances · Costume · Calendar · Mythology · Architecture|
|Alphabet · Grammar · Dialects|
|Saint George · Saint Nino
Georgian Orthodox Church
Christianity · Catholicism
Judaism · Islam
|Cross of Saint George · Borjgali · Cross of Bolnisi · Grapevine cross|
|History of Georgia|
The Georgians (Georgian: ქართველები, [kʰɑrtʰvɛlɛbi]) are a ethnic group that are indigenous to Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, the USSR Union, United States, and South America.
The majority of Georgians are and most follow the national autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church, which originated in the 4th century. There are also Georgian Tbilisi and Adjara. Many Georgians in ancient time were part of the Persian Empires (such as the Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid, and Safavid Dynasties) and were practicing Zoroastrians.
A complex process of nation formation has resulted in a diverse set of geographic subgroups, each with its characteristic traditions, manners, dialect and, in the case of Mingrelians and Svans, language. The Georgian language, with its own alphabet and extensive written tradition going back to the 5th century, is the official language of Georgia as well as the language of literacy and education of all Georgians living in the country. Georgian, Mingrelian and Svan, together with Laz spoken by the related Laz people form the Kartvelian language family.
Located in at the southeastern edge of Europe, the Georgian people have fought to protect their Christian identity in the face of immense pressure from the neighboring Muslim empires. By the early 11th century they formed a unified kingdom which emerged as a dominant regional power until it was weakened by the invasions of the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur and by internal divisions following the death of George V the Brilliant, the last of the great kings of Georgia. To ensure its survival as a Christian kingdom, the country was soon forced to forge an alliance with the Russian Empire, which was viewed as a replacement for the fallen Eastern Roman Empire, Georgia's traditional ally. Eventually being united with Russia in 1801, Georgians briefly regained national independence from 1918 to 1921, and finally, in 1991 from the Soviet Union.
Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). According to The Georgian Chronicles, the ancestor of the Kartvelian people was Kartlos, the great grandson of the Biblical Japheth. Ancient Greeks (Strabo, Herodotus, Plutarch, Homer, etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to early western Georgians as Colchians and eastern Georgians as Caucasian Iberians.
Most historians and scholars of Georgia as well as anthropologists, archaeologists and linguists tend to agree that the ancestors of modern Georgians inhabited the southern Caucasus and northern Anatolia since the Neolithic period. Scholars usually refer to them as Proto-Kartvelian (Proto-Georgians such as Colchians and Iberians) tribes. Some European historians of the 19th century (for example, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Paul Kretschmer) as well as Georgian scholars (R. Gordeziani, S. Kaukhchishvili and Z. Gamsakhurdia) came to the conclusion that Proto-Kartvelians might be related linguistically and culturally to the indigenous (pre-Indo-European) peoples of ancient Europe including the Etruscans, Pelasgians and Proto-Basques.
The Georgian people in antiquity have been known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Colchians and Iberians. East Georgian tribes of Tibarenians-Iberians formed their kingdom in 7th century BCE. However, western Georgian tribes (Moschians, Suanians, Mingrelians and others) established the first Georgian state of Colchis (circa 1350 BCE) before the foundation of the Iberian Kingdom in the east. According to the numerous scholars of Georgia, the formations of these two early Georgian kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia, resulted in the consolidation and uniformity of the Georgian nation.
- The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus mentions Georgians as Iberes who were also called Thobel (Tubal).
- Diauehi in Assyrian sources and Taochi in Greek. Lived in the northeastern part of Anatolia, a region that was part of Georgia. This ancient tribe is considered by many scholars as ancestors of the Georgians. The Georgians of today still refer to this region, which now belongs to present-day Turkey, as Tao-Klarjeti, an ancient Georgian kingdom. Some people there still speak the Georgian language.
- Colchians in the ancient western Georgian Kingdom of Colchis. First mentioned in the Assyrian annals of Tiglath-Pileser I and in the annals of Urartian king Sarduri II. Also included western Georgian tribe of the Meskhetians.
According to the scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff:
|“||Colchis appears as the first Caucasian State to have achieved the coalescence of the newcomer, Colchis can be justly regarded as not a proto-Georgian, but a Georgian (West Georgian) kingdom ... It would seem natural to seek the beginnings of Georgian social history in Colchis, the earliest Georgian formation.||”|
Georgians are classified as Caucasoids (Europoid or Europid), and often have brown hair and brown eyes. Georgians who have historically lived in alpine areas of less sunny western Georgia — especially Mingrelians and Svans- tend to have lighter features, with higher frequency of blond hair and light blue or green eyes.
Language and linguistic subdivisions 
Georgian is the primary language for Georgians of all provenance, including those who speak other Kartvelian languages: Mingrelians, Svans, and the Laz. The language known today as Georgian is a traditional language of the eastern part of the country which has spread to most of the present-day Georgia after the post-Christianization centralization in the first millennium AD — today Georgians regardless of their ancestral region use Georgian as their official language. The regional languages — Svan and Mingrelian  — are languages of the west that were traditionally spoken in the pre-Christian Kingdom of Colchis, but later lost importance as the unified Georgian Kingdom emerged. Their decline is largely due to the capital of the unified kingdom, Tbilisi, being in the eastern part of the country — known as Iberia — effectively making the language of the east an official language of the Georgian monarch.
Dialects of Georgian include Imeretian, Racha-Lechkhumian, Gurian, Adjarian, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tush, Khevsur, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan, Mtiuletian, Meskhetian dialect.
According to Orthodox tradition, Christianity was first preached in Georgia by the Apostles Simon and Andrew in the 1st century. It became the state religion of Kartli (Iberia) in 337. The conversion of Kartli to Christianity is credited to St. Nino of Cappadocia. The Georgians' new faith, which replaced pagan and Zoroastrian beliefs, allied them permanently with the Eastern Roman Empire, while placing them on the front line of conflict between the Christian and Islamic worlds. As was true elsewhere, the Christian church in Georgia was crucial to the development of a written language, and most of the earliest written works were religious texts. Medieval Georgian culture was greatly influenced by Eastern Orthodoxy and the Georgian Orthodox Church, which promoted and often sponsored the creation of many works of religious devotion. These included churches and monasteries, works of art such as icons, and hagiographies of Georgian saints. Today, 83.9% of the Georgian population, most of whom are ethnic Georgian, practices Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
A sizable Georgian Muslim population exists in Adjara. This autonomous Republic borders Turkey, and was part of the Ottoman Empire for a longer amount of time than other parts of the country. Those Georgian Muslims practice the Sunni Hanafi form of Islam. Islam has however declined in Adjara during the 20th century, due to Soviet anti-religious policies, cultural integration with the national Orthodox majority, and strong missionary efforts by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Islam remains a dominant identity only in the eastern, rural parts of the Republic. In the early modern period, converted Georgian recruits were often used by the Persian and Ottoman Empires for elite military units such as the Mameluks and Kizilbash. The small Georgian minority in Turkey is also Sunni Muslim.
The Georgian cuisine is specific to the country, but also contains some influences from other European culinary traditions, as well as those from the surrounding Western Asia. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, such as Megrelian, Kakhetian, and Imeretian cuisines. In addition to various meat dishes, Georgian cuisine also offers a variety of vegetarian meals.
The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a Caucasian feast, or supra, when a huge assortment of dishes is prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine, and dinner can last for hours. In a Georgian feast, the role of the tamada (toastmaster) is an important and honoured position.
In countries of the former Soviet Union, Georgian food is popular due to the immigration of Georgians to other Soviet republics, in particular Russia. In Russia all major cities have many Georgian restaurants and Russian restaurants often feature Georgian food items on their menu.
Geographic subdivisions and subethnic groups 
Geographical subdivisions 
The Georgians have historically been classified into various subgroups based on the geographic region which their ancestors traditionally inhabited.
Even if a member of any of these subgroups moves to a different region, they will still be known by the name of their ancestral region. For example, if a Gurian moves to Tbilisi (part of the Kartli region) he will not automatically identify himself as Kartlian despite actually living in Kartli. This may, however, change if substantial amount of time passes. For example, there are some Mingrelians who have lived in the Imereti region for centuries and are now identified as Imeretian or Imeretian-Mingrelians.
Last names from mountainous eastern Georgian provinces (such as Kakheti, etc.) can be distinguished by the suffix –uri (ური), or –uli (ული). Most Svan last names typically end in –ani (ანი), Mingrelian in –ia (ია), -ua (უა), or -ava (ავა), and Laz in –shi (ში).
|Name||Name in Georgian||Geographical region||Dialect or Language|
|Imeretians||იმერელი imereli||Imereti||Imeretian dialect|
|Kartlians||ქართლელი kartleli||Kartli||Kartlian dialect|
|Megrelians||მეგრელი megreli||Samegrelo||Megrelian language|
|Svans||სვანი svani||Svaneti||Svan language|
|Gurians||გურული guruli||Guria||Gurian dialect|
|Adjarians||აჭარელი achareli||Adjara||Adjarian dialect|
|Meskhetians||მესხი meskhi||Meskheti (Samtskhe)||Meskhian dialect|
|Lechkhumeli||ლეჩხუმელი lechkhumeli||Lechkhumi||Lechkhumian dialcet|
|Rachveli||რაჭველი rachveli||Racha||Rachian dialect|
|Kakhetians||კახელი kakheti||Kakheti||Kakhetian dialcet|
|Khevsurians||ხევსური khevsuri||Khevsureti||Khevsurian dialect|
|Tushi||თუში tushi||Tusheti||Tushetian dialect|
|Pshaveli||ფშაველი pshaveli||Pshavi||Pshavian dialect|
|Mokhevians||მოხევე mokheve||Khevi||Mokhevian dialect|
|Javakhians||ჯავახი javakhi||Javakheti||Javakhian dialect|
The 1897 Russian census (which accounted people by language), had Imeretian, Mingrelian and Svan languages separate from Georgian. During the 1926 Soviet census, Mengrelians and Svans were accounted separately from Georgian. Mingrelian and Svan languages are both Kartvelian languages and are closely related to the national Georgian language.
Outside of modern Georgia 
Laz people also may be considered Georgian based on their geographic location and religion. According to the London School of Economics' anthropologist Mathijs Pelkmans, Lazs residing in Georgia frequently identify themselves as "first-class Georgians" to show pride, while considering their Muslim counterparts in Turkey as "Turkified Lazs".
|Subethnic groups||Georgian name||Settlement area||Language
(other than Georgian)
|Approximate number||Difference(s) from mainstream Georgians
(other than location)
|Shavshians||შავში shavshi||Shavsheti||Imerkhevian dialect|
|Klarjians||კლარჯი klarji||Klarjeti||Imerkhevian dialect|
|Lazs||ლაზი lazi||Chaneti (Lazistan)||Laz language||50,000 (1970 est.)||Religion: Muslim|
|Chveneburi||ჩვენებური chveneburi|| Black Sea coast,
|60,000 (1979)||Religion: Muslim|
|Ingilo||ინგილო ingilo||Saingilo||Ingiloan dialect||12,000||Religion: Muslim|
|Pereidneli (Fereydan Georgians)||ფერეიდნელი pereidneli||Pereidani|
Linguistic subdivisions 
The language known today as Georgian is a traditional language of the eastern part of the country which has spread to most of the present-day Georgia after the post-Christianization centralization in the first millennium AD — today Georgians regardless of their ancestral region use Georgian as their official language. The regional languages — Mingrelian and Svan — are languages of the west that were traditionally spoken in the pre-Christian Kingdom of Colchis, but later lost importance as the unified Georgian Kingdom emerged. Their decline is largely due to the capital of the unified kingdom, Tbilisi, being in the eastern part of the country — known as Iberia — effectively making the language of the east an official language of the Georgian monarch.
- Central Intelligence Agency of United States (May 17, 2011). "CIA World Factbook:Georgia". The World Factbook (CIA). Retrieved May 27, 2011.
- Russian Census 2010(Russian)
- The Ethnogenesis and Islamization of Fereydani Georgians
- Ethnic Groups of Israel
- Ethnologue: Georgian
- Ukrainian Census 2001
- 2001 Greek census
- Azerbaijan Census 1999
- Kazakhstan Census 2009
- (Latvian) Latvijas iedzīvotāju sadalījums pēc nacionālā sastāva un valstiskās piederības
- Braund, David. Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562, pp. 17-18
- The Georgians, David Marshal Lang, p 19
- The Georgians, David Marshal Lang, p 66
- Georgia A Sovereign Country of the Caucasus, Roger Rosen, p 18
- The Making of the Georgian Nation, Ronald Grigor Suny, p.4
- Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p 80
- Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p 58
- The Complete Works, Jewish Antiquities, Josephus, Book 1, p 57
- The Georgians, David Marshal Lang, p 58
- The Georgians, David Marshal Lang, p 59
- Charles Burney and David Marshal Lang, The Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus, p. 38
- Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p 57
- CToumanoff. Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p 69,84
- Blumenbach , De generis humani varietate nativa (3rd ed. 1795), trans. Bendyshe (1865). Quoted e.g. in Arthur Keith, Blumenbach's Centenary, Man, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1940).
- The New Book of Knowledge — Grolier, Encyclopedia G. Article: GEORGIA, Republic of, By Alec Rasizade
- Sajantila, Aantti "DNA Diversity in Europe" Department of Human Molecular Genetics, National Public Health Institute. Helsinki, Finland:2009
- Toumanoff, Cyril, "Iberia between Chosroid and Bagratid Rule", in Studies in Christian Caucasian History, Georgetown, 1963, pp. 374-377. Accessible online at 
- Rapp, Stephen H., Jr (2007). "7 - Georgian Christianity". The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity. John Wiley & Sons. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-4443-3361-9. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- 2002 census results - p. 132
- Thomas Liles, "Islam and religious transformation in Adjara", ECMI Working Paper, February 2012, , accessed June 4, 2012
- Mack, Glenn R.; Surina, Asele (2005). Food Culture In Russia And Central Asia. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-32773-4.
- (Russian) Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г.
- (Russian) ССР ГРУЗИЯ (1926 г.)
- Dr Mathijs Pelkmans
- Pelkmans,Mathijs. Defending the border: identity, religion, and modernity in the Republic of Georgia. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2006, pg. 80
- Hewsen, Robert H.. "Laz - Orientation". World Culture Encyclopedia. "The census of 1945 cited 46,987 Laz speakers but did not count Turkish-speaking Laz and is certainly an undercount. The Soviet census of 1926—the last one in which the Laz are mentioned—listed 643 ethnic Laz in Ajaria and 730 Laz speakers. Catford (1970) estimated the total number of Laz at about 50,000, but there is no question that they are gradually becoming assimilated to the Turkish population at large."
- Peter A. Andrews & Rüdiger Benninghaus (1989), Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, Vol. 1, p. 174. Reichert, ISBN 3-88226-418-7.
See also 
- Culture of Georgia
- Georgian language
- Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church
- History of Georgia
- Demographics of Georgia
- Peoples of the Caucasus
- European Americans
- List of Georgians
- Georgian Americans
- Georgians in Iran
- Chveneburi — Georgians in Turkey