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Georgia: The people

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Updated: 14.11.2003

The likelihood is great that the Georgians (whose name for themselves is Kartveli; "Georgian" derived from the Persian name for them, Gorj) have always lived in this region, known to them as Sakartvelo.

Ethnically, contemporary Georgia is not homogeneous but reflects the intermixtures and successions of the Caucasus region. About seven-tenths of the people are Georgians; the rest consists of Armenians, Russians, Azerbaijanis, and smaller numbers of Ossetes, Greeks, Abkhazians, and other minor groups.

The Georgian language is a member of the Kartvelian (South Caucasian) family of languages. It has its own alphabet, which is thought to have evolved about the 5th century AD, and there are many dialects. A number of other Caucasian languages are spoken by minority groups; many are unwritten.

Many Georgians are members of the Georgian Orthodox church, an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. In addition, there are Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Jewish communities.

The Georgians are a proud people with an ancient culture. They have through the ages been noted as warriors as well as for their hospitality, love of life, lively intelligence, sense of humour, and reputed longevity (although statistical data do not support this latter assertion).

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