Georgia is a small nation inhabited with about 5.5 million people, with 1.5 million in its capital city of Tbilisi. Tbilisi, also known as Tiflis was founded as the capital of Georgia in the end of the Fourth Century by King Vakhtang. Before that the capital and the throne of the Georgian monarch was Mtskheta, which is about 20 km west of Tbilisi. The legend of Tbilisi’s foundation is that King Vakhtang was hunting with his falcon on the banks of the Mtkvari and discovered hot water springs – hence the name Tbilisi. Tbilisi literally means the Warm City.
The language of Georgia is Georgian. It is a language completely different from Russian or the other Slav languages of the former Soviet Union. Georgian does not use the Cyrillic alphabet, but an alphabet that has its roots in ancient Aramaic. The Georgian language itself is actually in a linguistic group of Kartvelian Languages, which is a subgroup of the Ibero-Caucasian Language group. It is different from Armenian, which is a Semitic language. Georgian is the only language in its group that is a written language. Other languages related to Georgian include Basque and Corsican in Western Europe. Minorities in Georgia and parts of Turkey also speak languages related to Georgian, yet their literary language is Georgian. The largest minority in Georgia is the Megrelians and their native language is Megrelian, also related to Georgian. The Megrelians live in the western Georgian provence of Samegrelo and in Abkhazia, one of the regions that wants to separate from Georgia. In fact, in Abkhazia other than Megrelian, Abkhazi is also spoken, however, the two languages are not related. The Megrelian people are also the most influential of all the minorities in Georgia. Stalin’s chief of the NKVD, Lavrenti Beria was a Megrelian. So was Georgia’s first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
Another minority found in the southern part of Georgia, is known as the Laz. The Laz are mostly in Turkey, but the Laz can be found in the Adjara region of Georgia south of Batumi in the border town Sarpi on the Turkish border. The Laz language is also related to Georgian with strong similarities to Megrelian. Another minority, which speaks a language related to Georgian is the Svans. The Svans live in a mountainous region known as Svaneti. Svaneti is famous for its towers.
Georgia’s major religion is Orthodox Christianity. Georgia has its own Orthodox Church with its own patriarch, who is recognized as canonical by the other Orthodox Churches, such as Russia, Serbia, Greece, etc. In fact Georgia was baptized long before Russia in the Fourth Century whereas Russia was baptized in 988. Georgia’s culture revolves heavily around the Orthodox Church, though other religions in Georgia are the Armenian Monophysite Christian Faith, Islam, and Judaism. Orthodox Christianity, however, is the majority religion and the Georgian people still practice it and live by it as they have done so for over a thousand years.
Rules and Regulations on Obtaining Georgian Dual Citizenship
Immigration laws in Georgia are relatively easy. Especially for citizens from the United States, EU, Switzerland and Israel. For example, for a citizen of the United States or the EU, a visa is not even required for a stay in Georgia for up to 90 days. Furthermore, from my own personal experience, it is very easy to buy property in Georgia. There is one caveat, however. Know who you are buying property from! There are many good people in Georgia, however, it is a poor country and there are always a few who will try to take advantage of you. I bought my home with the aid of a friend who is a classmate of another friend in Ukraine, who grew up in Georgia. I did not need any kind of special visa to buy property. I could just do it. No problem, but again, I can never stress enough to be cautious. A good site to research buying real estate in Georgia can be found at the official Georgian Embassy website for Georgia’s embassy in the United States. This website has many useful links ranging from news to consular information and doing business with Georgia.
One important thing to note is that Georgia is one of a few countries that allows for dual citizenship. In order to obtain dual citizenship you have to prove to be an asset to Georgia. Most Westerners usually have no problem getting dual citizenship and the process is rather quick. It takes about two months. The requirements for obtaining dual citizenship are that one has either to invest in Georgia, buy property in Georgia, marry a Georgian, or have a long-term job or found a business in Georgia. Also a notarized autobiography in Georgian, two passport photos and a filled and signed application is needed. More information on rules of dual citizenship can be found on http://www.president.gov.ge/?l=E . The document for dual citizenship is signed by the Office of the President of Georgia. There is a number of Americans and Europeans who have already relocated to Georgia.
My Personal Reasons for Relocating to Georgia
Though reasons for relocating to a given country may be different for different people, whether it being work-related, marriage, etc. My personal reasons for wanting to relocate to Georgia are mainly spiritual. I am a convert to Orthodox Christianity and have been wanting to relocate to an Orthodox country for a while now. I was baptized in Poltava, Ukraine 11 years ago and I was originally planning to relocate to either Russia or Ukraine first. Not until recently had it crossed my mind to relocate to Georgia, even though I have been traveling to Georgia ever since I was baptized. It wasn’t until after the Rose Revolution in 2003 has it been this easy to relocate to Georgia. For example, Ukraine does not allow for dual citizenship as Georgia does. The Ukrainian government after the Orange Revolution has been chaotic in the least, whereas in Georgia the Rose Revolution despite all its faults, which are many, has made it easier and more appealing for people to want to relocate to Georgia.
Culture and spirituality go hand-in-hand in Georgia. One of the things that attracts me to Georgia is the devout piety of the people. As an Orthodox Christian I find it increasingly difficult in the United States to practice my faith and I have always been longing to be with other Orthodox Christians. After researching relocating to Russia or Ukraine, I found that Georgia was the easiest to relocate to due to its relaxed immigration laws as well as very liberal real-estate laws. The only restriction I found in buying real estate in Georgia is that as a foreigner I do not have property rights in villages, but in cities or towns I do. Even in the cities and towns, a foreigner may buy a house or an apartment, but land is a different story. For example, my house in Dedoplistsqaro is legally mine. The yard, however, is considered land and in six months I have to sign the land over to a Georgian citizen yet the house still remains mine. This is why it is in my interest to apply and obtain dual citizenship.
Though I am one for the rural life or the village life, so to speak, I discovered Dedoplistsqaro in the eastern part of the Kakheti region of Georgia, near the Azerbaijani border, is classified as a city but with a population of 9,000 it has the village feel to it. Further more, the holy places in Kakheti are many. I found out about this area, surprisingly in Ukraine. As I was visiting a monastery in Kozelshchyna, Ukraine I was introduced to a woman who grew up in Dedoplistsqaro. As she found out that I was going to Georgia in 2007, she wanted me to bring her 80-year-old father a gift. She also gave me the phone number of her old class mate in Dedoplistsqaro. The first time I came to Dedoplistsqaro was in early March of 2007. I fell in love with this area at first sight. This was the catalyst for me to make my decision to relocate to Georgia. The following year I made the final decision to actually go for the plunge and buy a house. In doing so, I found that real estate in Georgia, except for Tbilisi, is rather cheap. I bought an old house built out of solid masonry for 7,500 US dollars. Tbilisi, like in most capital cities, real estate is much more expensive than in other outer towns.
As far as Dedoplistsqaro’s potential is concerned, it may not look like much is happening there now, the area has huge potential for tourism. Sighnaghi, which is near Dedoplistsqaro is already a tourist center and is the showcase city for the eastern Kakheti region for the current regime. Dedoplistsqaro is surrounded by many natural wonders. Eagle Canyon, Tamartsikhe, and the Vashlovani Nature Reserve spanning 6,000 hectares along the Alazani River, which makes the border with Azerbaijan. The Vashlovani Nature Reserve is also a sister park to the Bad Lands National Park in South Dakota.
On the whole, I intend to make a good home in Georgia. It is a country that I have come to love and I have acquired many friends, including family members of Georgia’s first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
I believe that anyone who will be relocating to Georgia will find the people friendly and hospitable.