Her Glorious Past and Hopeful Future
Georgia, an exquisitely beautiful country of 5.5 million people, is ringed by the Caucasus Mountains and set at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It lies between the Black and Caspian Seas and borders on Turkey, Russia and Armenia, along the Silk Road of ancient times. Since recorded time, Georgians have been famous for their hospitality to strangers. The visiting ancient Greeks knew Georgia as the land of the Golden Fleece. It was a woman, St. Nino, who brought Christianity to Georgia in 330 A.D. Georgian wine has been produced for over 3,000 years and Georgian literature dates back to the fifth century A.D. Scholars have compared the 12th century Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli to Dante and Shakespeare.
In May 1991, Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union. The government, suffering from a weak economy and corruption, made little progress until the Rose Revolution in 2003. The new Georgian Government under President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was elected in January 2004, has been successful in fighting corruption and made great strides in restoring the Georgian economy. Roads are much improved and there are wonderful hotels and restaurants to attract tourists. Much progress has been made in the area of tourism with investments in Black Sea and winter sports resorts, which is attracting positive international attention. The government has been successful in restoring electricity and gas to the public and has made important improvements in the school system. Georgia continues to have one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
In spite of these successes, many Georgians struggle to pay for electricity and gas services as well as critically needed medical care. Although increased by the government, pensions are still too small for survival without additional support. There continue to be many vulnerable Georgians including street children, single mothers and elderly ill people who need help.