The Info List - Georgians

The Georgians
or Kartvelians (Georgian: ქართველები, translit.: kartvelebi, pronounced [kʰɑrtʰvɛlɛbi]) are a nation and Caucasian ethnic group native to Georgia. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Ukraine, United States, and to a lesser extent throughout the European Union. Georgians
arose from the ancient Colchian and Iberian civilizations. After Christianization of Iberia
Christianization of Iberia
by Saint Nino
Saint Nino
they became one of the first who embraced the faith of Jesus in the early 4th century and now the majority of Georgians
are Eastern Orthodox Christians and most follow their national autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church. There are also small Georgian Catholic and Muslim communities in Tbilisi
and Adjara, as well as a significant number of irreligious Georgians. A complex process of nation formation has resulted in a diverse set of geographic subgroups of Georgians, each with its characteristic traditions, manners, dialects and, in the case of Svans
and Mingrelians, own regional languages. The Georgian language, with its own unique writing system and extensive written tradition, which goes back to the 5th century, is the official language of Georgia as well as the language of education of all Georgians
living in the country. Located in the Caucasus, on the crossroads of predominantly Christian Europe and Muslim Western Asia, Georgian people have maintained their Christian identity in the face of great pressure from neighboring Muslim empires. By the early 11th century they formed a unified Kingdom of Georgia
Kingdom of Georgia
and inaugurated the Georgian Golden Age, a height of political and cultural power of the nation. This lasted until being weakened by Mongol invasions, as well as internal divisions following the death of George V the Brilliant, the last of the great kings of Georgia. Thereafter and throughout the early modern period, Georgians became politically fractured and were dominated by the Ottoman Empire and successive dynasties of Iran. To ensure the survival of his polity, in 1783, Heraclius II of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli- Kakheti
forged an alliance with the Russian Empire. The Russo-Georgian alliance, however, backfired as Russia
was unwilling to fulfill the terms of the treaty, proceeding to annex the troubled kingdom in 1801, as well as the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti
in 1810. Russian rule over Georgia was eventually acknowledged in various peace treaties with Iran
and the Ottomans, and the remaining Georgian territories were absorbed by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
in a piecemeal fashion in the course of the 19th century. Georgians
briefly reasserted their independence from Russia
under the First Georgian Republic from 1918 to 1921, and finally, in 1991 from the Soviet Union.


1 Etymology 2 Origins 3 Genetics 4 Culture

4.1 Language and linguistic subdivisions 4.2 Religion 4.3 Cuisine

5 Geographic subdivisions and subethnic groups

5.1 Geographical subdivisions

5.1.1 Outside modern Georgia 5.1.2 Extinct Georgian Subdivisions

6 See also 7 References

Etymology[edit] Further information: Name of Georgia (country) 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
Kartvelian people
was Kartlos, the great-grandson of the Biblical
Japheth. However, scholars agree that the word is derived from the Karts, the latter being one of the proto-Georgian tribes that emerged as a dominant group in ancient times.[12] Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greeks
(Homer, Herodotus, Strabo, Plutarch
etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to western Georgians
as Colchians
and eastern Georgians
as Iberians.[13] The term "Georgians" is derived from the country of Georgia. In the past, lore based theories were given by the traveller Jacques de Vitry, who explained the name's origin by the popularity of St. George amongst Georgians,[14] while traveller Jean Chardin
Jean Chardin
thought that "Georgia" came from Greek γεωργός ("tiller of the land"), as when the Greeks
came into the region (in Colchis[12]) they encountered a developed agricultural society.[12] However, as Prof. Alexander Mikaberidze adds, these explanations for the word Georgians/Georgia are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian word gurğ/gurğān ("wolf"[15]) as the root of the word.[16] Starting with the Persian word gurğ/gurğān, the word was later adopted in numerous other languages, including Slavic and West European languages.[12][17] This term itself might have been established through the ancient Iranian appellation of the near-Caspian region, which was referred to as Gorgan ("land of the wolves"[18]).[12] Origins[edit] 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.[19] Scholars usually refer to them as Proto-Kartvelian (Proto- Georgians
such as Colchians
and Iberians) tribes.[20] The Georgian people in antiquity have been known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Colchians
and Iberians.[21][22] 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.[23] 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.[24] The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus
mentions Georgians
as Iberes who were also called Thobel (Tubal).[25] 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. Modern Georgians
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.[26] Colchians
in the ancient western Georgian Kingdom of Colchis
were another proto-Georgian tribe. They are first mentioned in the Assyrian annals of Tiglath-Pileser I
Tiglath-Pileser I
and in the annals of Urartian king Sarduri II, and are also included western Georgian tribe of the Meskhetians.[23][27] Iberians, also known as Tiberians or Tiberanians, lived in the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia.[23] Both Colchians
and Iberians played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the modern Georgian nation.[28][29] According to the scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff:

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.[30]


Georgian peasant in Mestia, c. 1888

A study of human genetics by Battaglia, Fornarino, al-Zahery, et al. (2009) suggests that Georgians
have the highest percentage of Haplogroup G (30.3%) among the general population recorded in any country. Georgians' Y-DNA also belongs to Haplogroup J2 (31.8%), Haplogroup R1a
Haplogroup R1a
(10.6%), and Haplogroup R1b (9.1%).[31] Culture[edit] Main article: Culture of Georgia (country) Language and linguistic subdivisions[edit] Georgian is the primary language for Georgians
of all provenance, including those who speak other Kartvelian languages: Svans, Mingrelians
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 CE. 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 Kingdom of Georgia
Kingdom of Georgia
emerged. Their decline is largely due to the capital of the unified kingdom, Tbilisi, being in the eastern part of the country known as Kingdom of Iberia
Kingdom of Iberia
effectively making the language of the east an official language of the Georgian monarch. All of these languages comprise the Kartvelian language family along with the related language of the Laz people, which has speakers in both Turkey
and Georgia. Georgian dialects 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 and Javakhetian dialect. Religion[edit] Main articles: Religion in Georgia (country)
Georgia (country)
and Secularism and irreligion in Georgia

The Bagrati Cathedral, The Cathedral of the Dormition, built during the reign of King Bagrat III, one of Georgia's most significant medieval religious buildings returned to its original state in 2012.

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.[32][33] At the same time, in the first centuries C.E., the cult of Mithras, pagan beliefs, and Zoroastrianism
were commonly practiced in Georgia.[34] The conversion of Kartli
to Christianity is credited to St. Nino
St. Nino
of Cappadocia. Christianity gradually replaced all the former religions except Zoroastrianism, which become a second established religion in Iberia after the Peace of Acilisene
Peace of Acilisene
in 378.[35] The conversion to Christianity eventually placed the Georgians
permanently on the front line of conflict between the Islamic and Christian world, while allying themselves permanently with the Eastern Roman Empire. Georgians
remained mostly Christian despite repeated invasions by Muslim powers, and long episodes of foreign domination. 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
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, follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity.[36] A sizable Georgian Muslim population exists in Adjara. This autonomous Republic borders Turkey, and was part of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
for a longer amount of time than other parts of the country. Those Georgian Muslims practice the Sunni
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.[37] 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, Qizilbash, and ghulams. The Georgians
in Iran
are all reportedly Shia Muslims today, while the Georgian minority in Turkey are mostly Sunni
Muslim. There is also a small number of Georgian Jews, tracing their ancestors to the Babylonian captivity. In addition to traditional religious confessions, Georgia retains irreligious segments of society, as well as a significant portion of nominally religious individuals who do not actively practice their faith.[38] Cuisine[edit]

having a feast at Supra and Tamada
making a toast. Painting by Niko Pirosmani.

The Georgian cuisine
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
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.[39] Geographic subdivisions and subethnic groups[edit] Geographical subdivisions[edit] 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. Main article: Georgian surname 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

Adjarians აჭარელი achareli Adjara Adjarian dialect

Gurians გურული guruli Guria Gurian dialect

Imeretians იმერელი imereli Imereti Imeretian dialect

Javakhians ჯავახი javakhi Javakheti Javakhian dialect

Kakhetians კახელი kakheli Kakheti Kakhetian dialect

Kartlians ქართლელი kartleli Kartli Kartlian dialect

Khevsurians ხევსური khevsuri Khevsureti Khevsurian dialect

Lechkhumians ლეჩხუმელი lechkhumeli Lechkhumi Lechkhumian dialect

Megrelians მეგრელი megreli Samegrelo Megrelian language

Meskhetians მესხი meskhi Meskheti
(Samtskhe) Meskhian dialect

Mokhevians მოხევე mokheve Khevi Mokhevian dialect

Pshavians ფშაველი pshaveli Pshavi Pshavian dialect

Rachians რაჭველი rachveli Racha Rachian dialect

Svans სვანი svani Svaneti Svan language

Tushs (Chagma) თუში tushi Tusheti Tushetian dialect

The 1897 Russian census (which accounted people by language), had Imeretian, Svan and Mingrelian languages separate from Georgian.[40] During the 1926 Soviet census, Svans
and Mingrelians
were accounted separately from Georgian.[41] Svan and Mingrelian languages are both Kartvelian languages
Kartvelian languages
and are closely related to the national Georgian language. Outside modern Georgia[edit] Laz people
Laz people
also may be considered Georgian based on their geographic location and religion. According to the London School of Economics' anthropologist Mathijs Pelkmans,[42] Lazs residing in Georgia frequently identify themselves as "first-class Georgians" to show pride, while considering their Muslim counterparts in Turkey
as "Turkified Lazs".[43]

Subethnic groups Georgian name Settlement area Language (dialect) Number Difference(s) from mainstream Georgians (other than location)

Laz people ლაზი lazi Chaneti (Turkey) Laz language 1.6 million Religion: Muslim majority, Orthodox Minority

Fereydani ფერეიდანი Pereidani Fereydan
(Iran) Pereidnuli dialect 100,000 +[44] Religion: Muslim[44]

Chveneburi ჩვენებური chveneburi Black Sea Region
Black Sea Region
(Turkey) Georgian language 91,000[45]–1,000,000[46] Religion: Muslim[45]

Ingiloy people ინგილო ingilo Saingilo Hereti
Zaqatala District
Zaqatala District
(Azerbaijan) Ingiloan dialect 12,000 Religion: Muslim majority,[47] Orthodox minority[48]

Shavshians შავში shavshi Shavsheti
(Turkey) Imerkhevian dialect

Klarjians კლარჯი klarji Klarjeti
(Turkey) Imerkhevian dialect

Extinct Georgian Subdivisions[edit] Throughout history Georgia also has extinct Georgian subdivisions

Name Name in Georgian Geographical location Dialect or Language

Dvals დვალები dvalebi Russian Federation North Ossetia Dval dialect Ossetic dialect

See also[edit]

List of Georgians Demographics of Georgia (country) Georgian American Peoples of the Caucasus


^ Ethnic Georgians
form about 86.8 percent of Georgia's current population of 3,713,804 (2014 census). Data without occupied territories—Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.

^ Total population by regions and ethnicity ^ "Итоги Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года в отношении демографических и социально-экономических характеристик отдельных национальностей". Retrieved 21 August 2015.  ^ Jump up to: a b Rezvani, Babak (Winter 2009). "The Fereydani Georgian Representation". Anthropology of the Middle East
Middle East
4 (2): 52–74. doi:10.3167/ame.2009.040205. ^ "Всеукраїнський перепис населення 2001 – English version – Results – Nationality and citizenship – The distribution of the population by nationality and mother tongue – Selection:". Retrieved 21 August 2015.  ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-03.  ^ ქართველები საბერძნეთში State Ministry on Diaspora Issues of Georgia ^ [1] ISTAT ^ http://pop-stat.mashke.org/azerbaijan-ethnic2009.htm ^ ^ [2] 2016 Canadiian Census ^ "საქართველოს მოსახლეობის საყოველთაო აღწერის საბოლოო შედეგები" (PDF). National Statistics Office of Georgia. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2016.  ^ a b c d e Mikaberidze, Alexander (2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 3. ISBN 978-1442241466.  ^ Braund, David. Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis
and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562, pp. 17–18 ^ Peradze, Gregory. "The Pilgrims' derivation of the name Georgia". Georgica, Autumn, 1937, nos. 4 & 5, 208–209 ^ Hock, Hans Henrich; Zgusta, Ladislav (1997). Historical, Indo-European, and Lexicographical Studies. Walter de Gruyter. p. 211. ISBN 978-3110128840.  ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 3. ISBN 978-1442241466. However, such explanations are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian gurğ/gurğān as the root of the word (...)  ^ Boeder; et al. (2002). Philology, typology and language structure. Peter Lang. p. 65. ISBN 978-0820459912. The Russian designation of Georgia (Gruziya) also derives from the Persian gurg.  ^ Rapp Jr., Stephen H. (2014). The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature. Ashgate Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-1472425522.  ^ 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 ^ a b c 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 ^ Battaglia V, Fornarino S, Al-Zahery N, et al. (June 2009). "Y-chromosomal evidence of the cultural diffusion of agriculture in southeast Europe". European Journal of Human Genetics. 17 (6): 820–30. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.249. PMC 2947100 . PMID 19107149.  ^ Toumanoff, Cyril, "Iberia between Chosroid and Bagratid Rule", in Studies in Christian Caucasian History, Georgetown, 1963, pp. 374–377. Accessible online at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-04.  ^ 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.  ^ "GEORGIA iii. Iranian elements in Georgian art and archeology". Retrieved 1 January 2015.  ^ "The Making of the Georgian Nation". Retrieved 2 January 2015.  ^ 2002 census results – p. 132 ^ Thomas Liles, " Islam
and religious transformation in Adjara", ECMI Working Paper, February 2012, [3], accessed 4 June 2012 ^ Caucasus
Analytical Digest No.20, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 11 October 2010 ^ Mack, Glenn R.; Surina, Asele (2005). Food Culture in Russia
And Central Asia. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-32773-4.  ^ (in Russian) Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г. ^ (in Russian) ССР ГРУЗИЯ (1926 г.) ^ "Dr Mathijs Pelkmans". Retrieved 21 August 2015.  ^ Pelkmans, Mathijs. Defending the border: identity, religion, and modernity in the Republic of Georgia. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2006, pg. 80 ^ a b Rezvani, Babak (Winter 2009). "The Fereydani Georgian Representation". Anthropology of the Middle East. 4 (2): 52–74. doi:10.3167/ame.2009.040205.  ^ a b "The Other Languages of Europe". Guus Extra & Durk Gorter. Google Books. Retrieved 26 May 2014. About 91,000 Muslim Georgians living in Turkey.  ^ "Türkiye'deki Yaşayan Etnik Gruplar Araştırıldı". Milliyet
(in Turkish). 6 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-07.  ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (1989). Religion and Nationalism in Soviet and East European Politics. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 187. ISBN 9780822308911.  ^ Friedrich, Paul (1994). Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia
and Eurasia, China (1. publ. ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall. p. 150. ISBN 9780816118106. A part of the Ingilo population still retains the (Orthodox) Christian faith, but another, larger segment adheres to the Sunni
sect of Islam. 

v t e

Ethnic groups in Georgia


Adjarians Lazs Mingrelians Svans Tushetians

Abkhazians Armenians Assyrians Azerbaijanis


Bats Germans Greeks

Pontic Greeks

Kists Kurds


Ossetians Russians

See Also: Ethnic minorities in Georgia

v t e

Kartvelians (Georgians)

Subethnic groups

Svans Zans

Megrelians Lazs



Byzeres Drilae Machelones Macrones Marres Mossynoeci Phasians Sanni Tibareni Zydretae


Gugars Saspers Taochoi

Kaskians Misimians

v t e

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Bats Chechens

including Kists



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including Lazs


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including Urums

Pontic Greeks





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Russians Ukrainians


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