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Georgia, country, Asia
Georgia (jôrˈjə), Georgian Sakartvelo, Rus. Gruziya, officially Republic of Georgia, republic (2015 est. pop. 3,952,000), c.26,900 sq mi (69,700 sq km), in W Transcaucasia. Georgia borders on the Black Sea in the west, on Turkey and Armenia in the south, on Azerbaijan in the east, and on Russia in the north. Tbilisi is the capital and by far the largest city; Kutaisi, the second largest city, was the legislative capital from 2012 through 2018.
Land and People
Situated on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus and in the Lesser Caucasus, Georgia is largely ruggedly mountainous. The Suram Mts. separate the Rion (Rioni) and Kura river valleys. The perpetually snowcapped Mt. Kazbek, the tallest peak within Georgia, rises to 16,541 ft (5,042 m). The climate is humid subtropical in the Black Sea lowland of Mingrelia, alpine in the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, and dry in the Kura steppes in the east. Included in Georgia are Abkhazia, the Adjarian Autonomous Republic (Adjaria), and South Ossetia (see Ossetia); all three have had separatist movements, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia have had de facto independence since the 1990s. In addition to Tbilisi, other important cities are Rustavi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Sukhumi (in Abkhazia), and Poti.
More than 80% of the population are Georgians—a people who speak a language related to the Ibero-Caucasian family of languages. Azeris, Armenians, and Russians are the other major ethnic groups, with Ossetians, Abkhazians, and Adjars in smaller numbers. The Georgian church, to which most of the ethnic Georgians belong, is an independent Orthodox Eastern congregation. About 10% of the people are Muslims. Georgian is the official language. There has been a standard Georgian literary language since about the 5th cent. (see Georgian literature). Russian is also widely spoken.
Agriculture is an important occupation in Georgia, whose warmer districts produce large quantities of citrus fruits and tea; wine grapes, hazelnuts, tobacco, rice, and mulberry trees (for silk) are also grown. Sheep, pigs, and poultry are raised. Georgia is rich in minerals, notably manganese (mined mostly at Chiatura and in Imeritia) and copper; iron ore, coal, tungsten, barites, molybdenum, oil, and peat are also found. There are sizable deposits of marble, dolomite, talc, and clays for use in construction.
As part of the Soviet Union, Georgia had a large and varied industrial sector. Many industries collapsed after independence, and economic redevelopment has been hindered by warfare, corruption, and the effects of Russia's economic troubles. Today, there is food and beverage processing and the manufacture of steel, aircraft, machine tools, electrical appliances, chemicals, and wood products. The Black Sea shore is dotted with resorts and spas that attract numerous tourists, and tourism has become one of the most significant sectors of Georgia's economy. The construction of oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea through Tbilisi to E Turkey have brought foreign investment and job opportunities. The Black Sea coast railway, the line from Batumi through Tbilisi to Bakı; the Georgian Military Road; and the Ossetian Military Road are the country's main transportation arteries. Georgia's sizable hydropower capacity is underdeveloped and it must import the bulk of its fuel. The chief exports are scrap metal, machinery, chemicals, fuel reexports, citrus fruits, tea, and wine. The main imports are fuels, machinery, transportation equipment, grain and other foods, and pharmaceuticals. The chief trade partners are Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
Early History through Soviet Rule
Georgia developed as a kingdom about the 4th cent. B.C. Mtskheta was its earliest capital; coastal Georgia was the Colchis of the ancient Greeks. The Persian Sassanids, who ruled the country from the 3d cent. A.D., were expelled c.400. In the 4th cent. Christianity was introduced in Georgia. In the 9th cent. the rule of the Bagrationi family began. Alp Arslan held the region in the 11th cent., but King David IV (or David II, known as David the Builder) expelled the Seljuk Turks, united the Georgians, and reestablished their independence.
In the 12th and 13th cent. Georgia under Queen Thamar (1184–1213) reached its greatest expansion (it then included the whole of Transcaucasia and part of what is now neighboring Turkey) and cultural flowering. From that period dates the national poem, The Man in the Panther's Skin, by Shota Rustaveli. Ravaged (13th cent.) by the Mongols, Georgia revived but was again sacked by Timur (c.1386–1403). In the 15th cent. King Alexander I divided Georgia into three kingdoms (Imertia, Kakhetia, and Karthlia) among his sons, and the period of decline set in.
In the 16th cent. Georgia became an object of struggle between Turkey and Persia. In 1555, W Georgia passed under Turkish suzerainty and E Georgia (Kakhetia and Karthlia) under Persian rule. In the 18th cent. kings of Kakhetia tried to unite Georgia, but, pressed by the Turks and the Persians, accepted (1783) vassalage to Russia in exchange for assistance. The last king, George XIII, threatened by Persia, abdicated (1801) in favor of the czar and ceded Kakhetia and Karthlia to Russia. Between 1803 and 1829 Russia also acquired from Turkey the western parts of Georgia (Abkhazia, Mingrelia, Imeritia, and Guria).
After the Russian Revolution (1917), the Georgian Menshevik party (see Bolshevism and Menshevism) proclaimed (May, 1918) Georgia's independence, and the country enjoyed a brief period as a democratic socialist republic. The Soviet government in Moscow recognized (May, 1920) the independence, but in 1921 the Red Army invaded Georgia, and in Feb., 1921, it was proclaimed a Soviet republic. It was joined the USSR in 1922 as a member of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic; in 1936 it became a separate union republic. Parts of Georgia were held by the Germans during World War II. After the war, Stalin, who was himself a Georgian, ordered the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Georgians as suspected collaborators. In Apr., 1989, a protest against Soviet rule in Georgia led Soviet troops to fire on demonstrators, killing 20 and injuring hundreds.
A New Nation
Georgia declared its independence in Apr., 1991, but was not generally recognized as an independent state until the USSR disintegrated in Dec., 1991. Once it achieved independence, Georgia, which had prospered economically as part of the USSR, struggled with social and economic disintegration.
In Jan., 1992, a rebellion against the increasingly dictatorial regime of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia led to his ouster. He escaped to W Georgia and instigated a counterrebellion. Forces in the South Ossetian Autonomous Republic and Abkhazian Autonomous Republic also revolted, the former demanding union with Russia's North Ossetia and the latter demanding independence. A cease-fire with the Ossetians was signed in July, 1992; it left much of the area under rebel control.
In Oct., 1992, Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister and leader of the Democratic Reform movement, was elected speaker of parliament, a position tantamount to president. He faced civil war and a deteriorating economy. In 1993, Georgia reluctantly joined the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States. Georgian military forces, with Russian help, ultimately prevailed against the rebels led by Gamsakhurdia, who died in 1993. Also in 1993, separatists won control of the Abkhazian capital, Sukhumi, and within Abkhazia they conducted a campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” driving out ethnic Georgians; a cease-fire was negotiated in 1994, but peace talks stalled and fighting has erupted periodically.
In Dec., 1995, Shevardnadze easily won election as president under a new constitution; he was the target of assassination attempts in 1995 and 1998. Pope John Paul II made a visit to Georgia in Nov., 1999, but received a cool reception from its Orthodox hierarchy. President Shevardnadze was reelected as expected in Apr., 2000, but by a lopsided margin that led foreign observers to accuse the government of vote tampering. Corruption hindered economic recovery and strapped government finances, all of which led to unhappiness with Shevardnadze's rule.
Parliamentary elections early in Nov., 2003, were regarded as seriously flawed by most observers and sparked opposition demonstrations that forced the president's resignation before the end of the month. Nino Burjanadze, the parliament speaker, became interim president. Presidential elections in Jan., 2004, resulted in a landslide for the main opposition candidate, Mikheil Saakashvili, a former justice minister under Shevardnadze. Constitutional changes in February strengthened the president's powers, and in March, prior to new parliamentary elections, Saakashvili sparked a confrontation with the autonomous region of Adjaria that led in May to the reestablishment there of the central government's authority, which had weakened under Shevardnadze. In the elections, Saakashvili's coalition won two thirds of the vote and 90% of the seats.
There was a subsequent increase in tension with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, In the former, fighting erupted for several weeks during the summer and also strained relations with Russia; in the latter disputes late in 2004 over election results further aggravated Russian relations. Since 2004 there has also been an increase in tensions between ethnic Armenians in Georgia and the central government over perceived discrimination against Armenian speakers.
An national energy crisis occurred in Jan., 2006, when a gas pipeline explosion in North Ossetia, Russia, curtailed natural gas supplies in Georgia, with some Georgians believing that it had been engineered by Russia. In Feb., 2006, Georgia's parliament called for Russian peacekeepers to be removed from South Ossetia and replaced by an international force; the call was repeated later in the year and extended to Abkhazia. A Russian ban (Apr., 2006) on the importation of Georgian (and Moldovan) wines and brandies, ostensibly for sanitary reasons, was similarly regarded with suspicion.
Relations with Russia have been strained since independence. Russia has been supportive of South Ossetian and Abkhazian separatists, and a 1999 agreement called for closing two of four Russian bases in 2001. A new agreement in 2005 called for Russia to withdraw from its two other remaining bases by 2008. Russia withdrew from its base in Batumi in 2007, saying it had quit its last Georgian base, but Georgia asserted Russia continued to maintain a base at Gudauta, Abkhazia. Russia insisted the force there consisted of peacekeepers. Georgia was accused by Russia of sheltering Chechen insurgents (particularly in the Pankisi Gorge near Chechnya) and providing them with support, and Russia threatened unilateral military strikes in areas bordering Chechnya. In Oct., 2002, however, Georgia and Russia agreed to establish joint patrols to prevent border crossings by Chechens.
Tensions with Abkhazia rose again in July, 2006, when Georgia forcibly disarmed the militia that had controlled the Kodori Gorge, part of Abkhazia still aligned with Georgia. In Sept., 2006, a number of opposition politicians were arrested and charged with plotting a coup, and later in the month several Russian officials and Georgians were arrested on charges of spying. Those arrests turned the sour Russian-Georgian relations into a bitter confrontation as Russia halted all transport and postal links with Georgia and subsequently expelled several hundred Georgians as illegal immigrants. The sharp escalation in rhetoric was particularly pronounced on Russia's side; the arrested Russians were subsequently expelled.
In the Oct., 2006, local elections the president's National Movement party won a solid victory. In December, tensions with Russia continued as the Russian Duma expressed support for Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists, and the Russian energy giant Gazprom increased the price Georgia paid for gas, leading Georgia to seek alternative suppliers. The same month, Georgia's parliament passed constitutional amendments that would, in 2008, lengthen legislators' terms and shorten the president's term so that all would be elected at the same time. The tense relations with Russia moderated somewhat in early 2007, but the apparent incursion of one plane (and perhaps two) from Russian airspace in Aug., 2007, further heightened tensions; the first plane apparently fired a missile. Russia accused Georgia of fabricating the incident, but two international panels lent credence to Georgia's charge that Russia had violated its airspace.
In September, Irakly Okruashvili, the former defense minister accused Saakashvili of corruption and ordering the killing of his opponent; the defense minister was then arrested on abuse of power and corruption charges. Saakashvili denied the charges; in custody his accuser recanted and pleaded guilty to the charges against him, raising suspicions among the president's opponents. Okruashvili subsequently was released and left Georgia; in Mar. 2008 he was convicted in absentia of bribery. He returned to Georgia in Nov., 2012, and was arrested; some of the charges against subsequently were dropped.
In Nov., 2007, following large antigovernment demonstrations, Saakashvili declared a state of emergency, which lasted nine days, and suppressed the largely peaceful demonstrations; he also called an early presidential election. He was reelected in Jan., 2008, with more than 51% of the vote, but the campaign, while generally approved of by international observers, was marred by intimidation and pressure, and opposition groups accused the government of ballot fraud.
Following Kosovo's declaration of independence, the Russian State Duma called on Russia to consider recognizing Abkazia and South Ossetia as sovereign nations, especially if Georgia joined NATO. The nonbinding move was an additional irritant in Georgian-Russian relations, and Russia subsequently announced that it would increase ties with the two regions, where many inhabitants have acquired Russian citizenship.
In April, NATO declined to offer Georgia a long-term plan for joining the alliance, as Georgia wished, although NATO did say it would eventually admit Georgia as a member. That same month a Georgian drone was shot down over Abkhazia; a UN report in May called a Russian jet the most likely attacker, and noted that, while the drone's flight was a violation of the peace agreement, the attack called into question Russia's role as a peacekeeper. Russian actions with respect to Georgia in subsequent months continued to be provocative.
In the parliamentary elections of May, 2008, Saakashvili's United National Movement won nearly 60% of the vote. The main opposition grouping denounced the vote as rigged, but observers, while criticizing aspects of the campaign and balloting, said that they marked an improvement over the presidential election. Tensions with South Ossetia led to fighting between Georgian and South Ossetian forces in early July; Russia accused Georgia of planning to invade and said it had overflown the region (a violation of Georgian sovereignty) in an effort to stop the invasion.
In Aug., 2008, amid rising tensions and escalating attacks involving Georgian and South Ossetian forces, Georgia, reportedly believing that Russian forces were about to seize South Ossetia, sent its own forces into South Ossetia. Russia intervened in the conflict on the side of the South Ossetians, and soon routed the Georgians from South Ossetia, including areas previously under Georgian control. Russia also mounted air attacks against Georgia, invaded Georgia from Abkhazia (where Abkhazian separatists seized the Kodori Gorge, which had been controlled by Georgia since 2006), and occupied areas of Georgia bordering South Ossetia. Tens of thousands of South Ossetians and Georgians fled the fighting, which resulted in significant damage to Tskhinvali and Gori and the destruction of Georgian military bases and installations by Russia.
A cease-fire was negotiated after several days of fighting, and later in the month Russia began withdrawing its forces from areas of Georgia outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but areas previously under Georgian control in the two regions were not returned to Georgia despite the cease-fre terms. Russia subsequently recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, and in 2009 signed defense pacts with them and agreed to establish bases in the two regions. Russia also refused to extend any international observer mission inside the two regions that could be seen as recognizing Georgia's sovereignty over them, leading to the removal of UN and OSCE observers. Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia and withdrew from the Commonwealth of Independent States (finalized Aug., 2009). A European Union report (Sept., 2009) on the conflict rejected Georgia's justifications for sending troops into South Ossetia, but found both sides bore responsibility for the war. Subsequently, the EU was increasingly critical of what it regarded as undemocratic actions on the part of the Georgian government.
Constitutional amendments adopted in Oct., 2010, and effective in 2013 increased the prime minister and parliament's powers but also left some important powers with the president. The changes were regarded by many as being designed to allow Saakashvili to continue play a significant governmental role after his second (and final) term as president. In the Oct., 2012, parliamentary elections, however, the Georgian Dream opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist who was relatively new to politics, won a majority, and Ivanishvili became prime minister.
The subsequent months were marked by tensions between the president and prime minister, with the new government arresting on various charges former officials allied with Saakashvili and seeking to accelerate the constitutional changes transferring power from the president to prime minister. The new government also sought improved relations with Russia; in June, 2013, shipments of Georgian wine to Russia resumed. Giorgi Margvelashvili, a former deputy prime minister and the Georgian Dream candidate, handily won election as president in Oct., 2013. The following month Ivanishvili stepped down as prime minister, and Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili succeeded him; Ivanishvili, however, continued to be regarded as the real power behind the government.
Georgia signed a partnership agreement with the European Union in June, 2014; the move was strongly opposed by Russia. In Nov., 2014, tensions within the government, ostensibly over progress toward Western integration, led to the withdrawal of one of the parties in the coalition, leaving Georgian Dream with a minority government. In 2014 and 2015 Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively, signed treaties with Russia that called for integrating the regions' militaries and economies with Russia's. Garibashvili's government was re-formed in May, 2015, after several ministers resigned. In December the prime minister resigned and was replaced by Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the foreign minister.
Parliamentary elections in Oct., 2016, resulted in a sizable majority for Georgian Dream. The party subsequently (2017) amended the constitution to end direct election of the president, reduce the president's powers, and switch entirely to proportional representation in parliament. Antigovernment protests that began in May, 2018, preceded the prime minister's resignation in June, though he said he had resigned due to disagreements with Ivanishvili, who had again become (2018–21) Georgian Dream's leader. Mamuka Bakhtadze, the finance minister, was named to succeed Kvirikashvili. Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born former foreign minister backed by Georgian Dream, was elected president (to a six-year term as a transition to the new constitution) after a runoff in Nov., 2018.
In June, 2019, the presence of a Russian lawmaker in the Georgian parliament's speaker's chair during an international conference sparked a series of antigovernment and anti-Russian protests, the first of which became a bloody clash with police, and the speaker resigned. Russia, in response, imposed a ban on air travel to Georgia, hurting the country's tourist industry. In September, Bakhtadze resigned; Giorgi Gakharia, a former interior and economy minister, succeeded him as prime minister. In November, a constitutional amendment establishing proportional representation in parliament was rejected by the parliament; a proportional system had been one of the demands of antigovernment demonstrators in the summer.
Electoral reform ultimately passed in June, 2020. The number of legislators elected proportionally was increased from 77 to 120, and a mechanism for preventing a party with less than 40% support from forming a government unilaterally was also established. In the Oct. elections, Georgian Dream won 63 seats and 48% of the vote, all but guaranteeing the party a majority. The opposition parties denounced the results as rigged, and boycotted the November runoffs, in which Georgian Dream won the remaining 17 seats. Opposition lawmakers subsequently boycotted the new parliament; Gakharia continued as prime minister.
See D. M. Lang, The Last Years of the Georgian Monarchy, 1658–1832 (1957) and A Modern History of Soviet Georgia (1962); W. E. Allen, A History of the Georgian People (repr. 1978); R. G. Suny, Sakartvelo (1987); D. Rayfield, Edge of Empires (2012); E. Lee, The Experiment: Georgia's Forgotten Revolution 1918–1921 (2017).
Georgia, state, United States
Georgia (jôrˈjə), state in the SE United States, the last of the Thirteen Colonies to be founded. It is bordered by Florida (S), Alabama (W), Tennessee and North Carolina (N), and South Carolina (across the Savannah River) and the Atlantic Ocean (E).
Facts and Figures
Georgia is the largest state E of the Mississippi River and has three main topographical areas. Extending inland from the coast is a low coastal plain that covers the southern half of the state. In mountainous N Georgia are the Appalachian Plateau, the valley and ridge province, and the Blue Ridge province. Bridging these two sections and embracing about one third of the state is the Piedmont foothill region in central Georgia. A number of islands, part of the Sea Islands chain, lie off Georgia's coastline.
The state is well drained by many rivers, including the Savannah, which forms the boundary with South Carolina; the Ocmulgee and the Oconee, which merge in the southeast to form the Altamaha; the Chattahoochee, which forms part of the Alabama boundary and joins with the Flint in the extreme southwest corner of the state to form the Apalachicola; and the Saint Marys, which rises in the large Okefenokee Swamp and forms part of the Georgia-Florida line. The most important cities are Atlanta, Columbus, Savannah, Macon, and Albany.
Although the trade and service sectors supply the majority of jobs in Georgia, manufacturing and agriculture remain important to the state's economy. In addition, federal facilities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, near Atlanta; Fort Benning, near Columbus; and the Kings Bay naval base, contribute to the economy.
Cotton, once Georgia's most valuable crop, has declined in importance; in the 1990s it was rivaled by peanuts, tobacco, and corn. Georgia is easily the nation's largest producer of peanuts. Tobacco is the principal crop in the central and southern sections of the state, peanuts in the southwest. Livestock and poultry raising account for the largest share of farm income; broilers, eggs, and cattle are major products.
The manufacture of textiles and textile products has long been Georgia's leading industry, centering mainly around Columbus, Augusta, Macon, and Rome. Other major manufactures include transportation equipment, foods, paper products, and chemicals. Automobile manufacturing is important around Atlanta. Much of Georgia is heavily forested with pine, and the state is a leading producer of lumber and pulpwood. Although the state is rich in minerals, mining is not as important as manufacturing and agriculture. The most valuable minerals produced are clays, stone, kaolin, iron ore, sand, and gravel. Georgia is famous for its fine marble.
With its moderate winter climate and its Southern charm and beauty, the state is a popular vacation area. The Sea Islands are especially noted for their scenery and resorts. Warm Springs, established with the help of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the treatment of poliomyelitis, is now a historical landmark. Georgia's other attractions include Okefenokee Swamp, a large wilderness area; Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests, with facilities for hunting and fishing; Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park; Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table); and Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, on which is carved a Confederate memorial.
Government, Politics, and Higher Education
Georgia's constitution provides for an elected governor who serves for a term of four years. The legislature, called the general assembly, is made up of a senate with 56 members and a house of representatives with 180 members. Members of both houses are elected to terms of two years. Georgia sends 14 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 16 electoral votes. From 1872-2003, Democrats held the governor's seat in Georgia and dominated local politics; over the past two decades, Republicans have held power but the state is trending "blue," narrowly electing the Democratic candidate for president in 2020.
Leading educational institutions include the Univ. of Georgia, at Athens; Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State Univ., Emory Univ., Clark College, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Morris Brown College, all at Atlanta; Agnes Scott College, at Decatur; and Mercer Univ. and Wesleyan College, at Macon.
Early Exploration and Conflicting Claims
In June, 1732, the English philanthropist James E. Oglethorpe received a charter from George II (for whom the colony was named) to settle the colony of Georgia and form a board of trustees to manage it. Oglethorpe planned to settle Georgia as a refuge for debtors in England. The first colonists, led by Oglethorpe, reached the mouth of the Savannah River in Feb., 1733. On a bluff c.18 mi (29 km) upstream, the colonists laid out the first town, Savannah. In 1739 war broke out between Spain and England. Fighting occurred in Georgia, and in 1742, near Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish in the battle of Bloody Marsh, thereby effectively ending Spain's claim to the land N of the St. Marys River.
Georgia's early settlers included English, Welsh, Scots Highlanders, Germans, Italians, Piedmontese, and Swiss. Jews, Catholics, and settlers from other American colonies were at first barred. Immigrants fell generally into two groups: charity settlers, who were financed by the trustees, and adventurers, who paid their own way and came to receive the best land grants. The trustees had hoped that the colony would produce silk to send back to England, and early colonists were required to plant a specific number of mulberry trees for the cultivation of silkworms. The scheme, however, came to nothing. At first slavery was prohibited, but this and other restrictions impeded the colony's growth, and by the time Georgia became a royal colony in 1754, most of the restrictions had been abolished.
Georgia flourished as a royal colony. It fitted well into the British mercantile system, exporting rice, indigo, deerskins, lumber, naval stores, beef, and pork to England and buying there the manufactured articles it needed. Georgia's citizens were slower to resent those acts of the crown that exasperated the other colonies, but by June, 1775, Georgian patriots had begun to organize, and the following month delegates were elected to the Second Continental Congress. Georgia's colonists were about equally divided into Loyalists and patriots during the American Revolution, but the patriots, exposed to Loyalist Florida on the south and Native American tribes on the west, fared badly. In Dec., 1778, the British captured Savannah, and by the end of 1779 they held every important town in Georgia.
After American independence had been won, Georgia was the first Southern state to ratify (1788) the Constitution. Georgia came into conflict with the federal government over states' rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), that an individual could sue a state, a decision equally distasteful to other states as well as to Georgia. (This decision was later nullified by the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)
Further difficulties with the federal government stemmed from the related issues of the removal of Native Americans and land speculation centering around the Yazoo land fraud. In the midst of the Yazoo controversy, Georgia ceded (1802) its western lands to the United States in return for $1,250,000 and a pledge that the Native Americans would be removed from Georgia lands. By 1826 the Creek had yielded their lands, but in 1827, the Cherokee set themselves up as an independent nation. The U.S. Supreme Court held (1832) that the state had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee, but President Jackson declined to support the chief justice, and in 1838 the Cherokee were forced to migrate west to government land in present day Oklahoma. The path of their journey is known as the Trail of Tears.
Cotton and the Confederacy
With the invention of the cotton gin (1793) by Eli Whitney, Georgia began to prosper as a cotton-growing state. Cotton was grown under the plantation system with labor supplied by slaves. By the 1840s a textile industry was established in the state. Although Georgia was committed to slavery before the Civil War, state leaders opposed secession. However, successive defeats on the national scene, culminating in the election of Lincoln as president, fostered separatist sentiment in the state.
On Jan. 19, 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union and shortly afterward joined the Confederacy. The coast was soon blockaded by the Union navy, and in Apr., 1862, Fort Pulaski (which had been seized by the state in Jan., 1861) was recaptured by Union forces. Georgia became a major Civil War battlefield when, in 1864, Union Gen. W. T. Sherman launched his successful Atlanta campaign. On Nov. 15, 1864, Sherman set fire to Atlanta, and his subsequent march through Georgia to the sea, culminating in the fall (Dec.) of Savannah, left in its path a scene of great destruction.
The Long Aftermath of the Civil War
During Reconstruction, Georgia at first refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and was consequently placed under military rule. During the period of military rule Rufus B. Bullock, a radical Republican, was elected governor. Corruption prevailed during Bullock's administration (1868–71), but after the legislature approved the Fifteenth Amendment (the Thirteenth and Fourteenth having been ratified earlier), Georgia was readmitted (1870) to the Union, and Bullock resigned. Georgia's Democratic party has dominated the state's politics since the end of Reconstruction.
The textile industry recovered from the effects of the war and was expanding by the 1880s. Atlanta, which had succeeded Milledgeville as the capital in 1868, grew into a thriving industrial city, largely due to its importance as the center of an expanding regional railroad network.
The effect of the war on agriculture—which had formerly been dependent on slave labor—was more serious. The breakup of large plantations resulted in the rise of tenant farming and sharecropping, systems often accompanied by poverty and abuse. After World War I agriculture suffered further setbacks as the boll weevil caused great destruction to cotton crops and the soil became exhausted through erosion and overuse. A farm depression began in Georgia long before the general depression of the 1930s. The state weathered the depression, but its subsequent history was marked by political and racial conflict.
The Struggle for Racial Equality
In 1941, Gov. Eugene Talmadge caused nationwide commotion by discharging three educators in the state university system alleged to have advocated racial equality in the schools. The state university system lost its accreditation for a time as a result of Talmadge's action. Talmadge was defeated in the 1942 Democratic primary by Ellis G. Arnall.
Under Arnall's administration, Georgia became the first state to grant the vote to 18-year-olds, and in 1946 (on the strength of a U.S. Supreme Court decision) blacks voted for the first time in the Georgia Democratic primary. Among Arnall's other administrative acts was the adoption of a new constitution in Aug., 1945. The 1945 constitution, which, in amended form, is still in effect in the state, contained a provision for Georgia's notorious county-unit system. This system for nominating state officials in Democratic primaries led to the political control of urban areas by sparsely populated rural areas.
The integration of public schools, following the 1954 Supreme Court decision, was strenuously opposed by many Georgians. However, in 1961 the legislature abandoned a “massive resistance” policy, and Georgia became the first state in the deep South to proceed with integration without a major curtailment of its public school system. Racial tensions persisted, however, and in May, 1970, racial disorders broke out in Augusta.
Georgia's county-unit system (held constitutional by the Supreme Court in Apr., 1950) was abolished by federal court order in 1962. In 1972, the Georgian Andrew Young became the first African American elected to the U.S. Congress; he later became mayor of Atlanta. Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and the 39th president of the United States (1977–81), had been governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975; his administration brought attention to the state, whose urban centers, especially Atlanta, were beginning to experience rapid growth. Today, roughly one half of the jobs in Georgia are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is sprawling into formerly rural districts, highlighting the cultural and economic gaps between Georgia's rural and urban areas.
Zell Miller, a conservative democrat, was elected governor in 1990 and reelected in 1994. Miller is best known for successfully advocating for the "two strikes and you're out" law leading to life imprisonment for certain classes of repeat offenders. Miller subsequently was appointed by his success, Roy E. Barnes (1999-2003), to the U.S. Senate (2000-05) and was subsequently elected to serve one term. Barnes lost his 2002 reelection bid to Republican Sonny Perdue, and Republicans have held the governorship since then. Brian Kemp, a conservative, was elected in 2018. Georgia was in the news following charges by Donald Trump and his allies of irregularities in its election tallies after Joseph Biden narrowly won the state's presidential election. Considerable pressure was placed on the state's attorney general, Brad Raffensperger, to overturn the results, and an audit and recount were held, but each validated the election's original results.
See H. E. Bolton, The Debatable Land (1968); R. H. Shyrock, Georgia and the Union in 1850 (1926, repr. 1968); R. M. Myers, ed., The Children of Pride (1972); J. Crutchfield, ed., Georgia Almanac, 1989–90 (1990); N. V. Bartley, The Creation of Modern Georgia (2d ed. 1990).
Georgia State Information
Area (sq mi):: 59424.77 (land 57906.14; water 1518.63) Population per square mile: 156.70
Population 2005: 9,072,576 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 10.80%; 1990-2000 26.40% Population 2000: 8,186,453 (White 62.60%; Black or African American 28.70%; Hispanic or Latino 5.30%; Asian 2.10%; Other 4.20%). Foreign born: 7.10%. Median age: 33.40
Income 2000: per capita $21,154; median household $42,433; Population below poverty level: 13.00% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $27,989-$29,000
Unemployment (2004): 4.80% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.30% Median travel time to work: 27.70 minutes Working outside county of residence: 41.50%
List of Georgia counties:
- US National Parks
- Urban Parks
- State Parks
- Parks and Conservation-Related Organizations - US
- National Wildlife Refuges
- National Scenic Byways
- National Heritage Areas
- National Forests
- Marine Sanctuaries
a state in the southeastern United States. Area, 152,500 sq km. Population (1970), 4,590,000, more than one-fourth of whom are Negroes; 60.3 percent of the population (1970) is urban. Capital and largest city, Atlanta.
A large part of the territory of Georgia is a low coastal plain intersected by the navigable Savannah, Altamaha, and Flint rivers. To the north and northwest are the spurs and foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, intersected by the Chattahoochee River. The climate is moist subtropical; annual precipitation is 1,300-1,600 mm. The mountains have forests (for the most part secondary), consisting mostly of oak, pine, and beech.
Georgia is an industrial-agrarian state. Manufacturing industries employed 477,000 people in 1969. The state’s electric power plants in 1968 produced 5 million kilowatts, one-fifth of which was from hydroelectric power plants. Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, and other cities have significant textile, cellulose paper, and food industries. In Atlanta there are large aviation plants (the Lockheed Company), automobile assembly plants, and metal construction and chemical industries. Animal husbandry produces one-half the value of the marketable production of agriculture; poultry farming plays a large role (mainly the breeding of broiler chickens). In 1970 there were 1,889,000 head of cattle, and 1,780,000 swine. In terms of production value the main crops are peanuts, corn, tobacco, and cotton. There are orchards and truck farms. In 1968 there were 8,700 km of railway lines; Atlanta is an important transportation junction. The main seaport is Savannah; the state exports forest and agricultural products and imports oil.
M. E. POLOVITSKAIA
Georgia was one of the first 13 states of the United States. Until the War for Independence in North America (1775-83) it was an English colony (the first settlers from England arrived in Georgia in 1733). In 1776, Georgia and 12 other English colonies proclaimed their independence and formed the United States of America. During the Civil War in the United States (1861-65) the slaveowners in Georgia took an active part in the rebellion of the southern states. Georgia still has racial discrimination; the Ku Klux Klan is active.
Fourth state; adopted the U.S. Constitution on January 2, 1788 (seceded from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was readmitted on July 15, 1870)
State capital: Atlanta
Nicknames: The Empire State of the South; The Peach State; The Goober State; The Peachtree State
State motto: Wisdom, Justice, Moderation
State amphibian: green tree frog
State art museum: Georgia Museum of Art
State atlas: Atlas of Georgia
State ballet: Atlanta Ballet
State beef cook off: Shoot the Bull
State bird: Brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
State botanical garden: State Botanical Garden of Georgia
State butterfly: Tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
State creed: Georgian’s creed
State crop: Peanut
State fish: Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
State flower: Cherokee rose (Rosa laevigata); wildflower: Azalea (Rhododendron)
State folk dance: Square dance
State folk festival: Georgia Folk Festival
State folk life play: Swamp Gravy
State fossil: Shark tooth
State fruit: Peach
State game bird: Bobwhite quail
State gem: Quartz
State historic drama: The Reach of Song
State insect: Honeybee (Apis mellifera)
State marine mammal: Right whale (Baleana glacialin)
State mineral: Staurolite
State musical theater: Jekyll Island Musical Theater Festival
State peanut monument: Turner County Peanut Monument
State pork cook off: Slosheye Trail Big Pig Jig
State ‘possum: Pogo ‘possum
State poultry: “Poultry Capital of the World”
State prepared food: Grits
State railroad museum: Historic Railroad Shops
State reptile: Gopher tortoise
State seashell: Knobbed whelk (Busycon carica)
State school: Plains High School
State song: “Georgia on My Mind”
State tartan: Georgia tartan
State theater: Springer Opera House
State transportation history museum: Southeastern Railway Museum
State tree: Live oak (Quercus virginiana)
State vegetable: Vidalia sweet onion
State waltz: “Our Georgia”
More about state symbols at:
More about the state at:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 14
AnnivHol-2000, p. 3
State web site:
Office of the Governor
Atlanta, GA 30334
Secretary of State
Atlanta, GA 30334
Georgia Public Library Services
1800 Century Pl
Atlanta, GA 30345