Georgian Americans

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Georgian Americans
ქართველი ამერიკელები
Total population
Regions with significant populations
New York City Metropolitan Area (including Northern New Jersey),[2][3][4][5] and other major U.S. metro areas[2]
Predominantly English and Georgian
Predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christian, with some Catholics and Jews

Georgian Americans (Georgian: ამერიკელი ქართველები, translit.: amerik'eli kartvelebi) are Americans of full or partial Georgian ancestry. They encompass ethnic Georgians who have immigrated to the U.S. from Georgia, as well as other areas with significant Georgian populations, such as Russia and across Eastern Europe.

The precise number of Americans of Georgian descent is unknown. This is due to the fact that 19th and 20th century U.S. immigration records often did not differentiate between various ethnic groups originating from the Russian Empire, of which Georgia was part until 1918.


George Balanchine, the "father of American ballet",[6] founder of the New York City Ballet

Early stages of immigration[edit]

The earliest recorded Georgian immigrants to the US were the Georgian horsemen. One group came in 1890 as part of a troupe of Cossack horsemen hired by Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild Congress of Rough Riders.

The number of Georgians coming to the U.S. saw an increase after political upheavals of the Russian Revolution forced the Georgian nobility and intellectuals, including those residing in other parts of the Russian Empire, to move to the U.S. In just several years, another wave of immigration of Georgians was triggered by the Red Army invasion of Georgia, which led to the exodus of intellectuals who were in fear of deportation and imminent death in the Russian Siberia. A notable example of pre-Soviet immigration of ethnic Georgians is that of George Balanchine, whose immediate family was split between U.S. and Soviet Georgia.

Immigration during and following the Soviet Union[edit]

Emigration from Georgia was brought to a halt in the 1920s and 1930s, when the Soviet Union put in place restrictions on travel, both in and out of the Union. Despite these restrictions, some Georgians managed to flee to the U.S. during World War II. These were primarily ethnic Georgians who lived in liberated parts of Eastern Europe, as well as members of the Georgian military who were stationed or otherwise resided abroad. Such was the case with John Shalikashvili, a son of a Georgian officer, who would rise to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander.

Following World War II, emigration from Soviet Georgia was virtually nonexistent until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, after which an estimated one-fifth of Georgia's population left due to economic hardships. Unlike the first half of the 20th century, this final wave of emigration was wide-reaching and not limited to intellectuals or military personnel.


Georgian-Americans created several organizations in order to maintain their culture. In 1924, organizations of Georgian-Americans were founded in the cities of San Francisco and New York. These organizations held cultural and social events, and has helped other immigrants. Between 1955 and 1975, the American press was very active in Georgia. Kartuli Azri (Georgian Opinion) was the most popular newspaper and its maintenance was based primarily on donations from Americans in Georgia. Although, over the years, Georgians have adapted to American culture, Georgian Americans still retain aspects of Georgian culture.

Some members of the Georgian-Jewish community in New York keep their ancestral Judeo-Georgian language.

Notable Georgian Americans[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Georgian) ქართული დიასპორა ამერიკის შეერთებულ შტატებში State Ministry on Diaspora Issues of Georgia
  2. ^ a b "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  3. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  4. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2010 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  5. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2009 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  6. ^ Life Magazine. Volume 7. New York, NY: Time, Incorporated, 1984, p 139.

External links[edit]