Some key facts about Georgia

FACTBOX-Some key facts about Georgia

TBILISI, March 25 (Reuters) – Here are some basic facts about the
former Soviet republic of Georgia, which holds a parliamentary
election on Sunday:

POPULATION – Estimated at 4,489,000 as of January 2001 by the state
statistics department. According to Central Election Commission
estimates, there are more than 2.3 million eligible voters excluding
the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are
boycotting the poll.

BREAKAWAY REGIONS – Abkhazia and South Ossetia have long wanted full
independence from Georgia, while the Adzhara province has refused to
acknowledge Tbilisi’s authority for years. Abkhazia has run itself as
a de facto independent state since a 1992-93 war, which left thousands

ETHNIC COMPOSITION – As of 1997, 69 percent of the population is
Georgian, 9.0 percent Armenian, 7.4 percent Russian and five percent
Azeri. Other indigenous minorities, including Ossetians and Abkhazians
make up a small fraction of the population.

AREA – 69,700 square km (26,900 square miles). Georgia, occupying the
western part of the Caucasus mountains, borders Russia to the north,
Azerbaijan and Armenia to the east and southwest, and Turkey to the
south. Its western border runs along the Black Sea. Its frontier with
Russia includes a mountainous stretch bordering the rebel region of

RELIGION – Most Georgians belong to the Orthodox Church of Georgia,
dating back to the year 337. There are small communities of Muslims,
Catholics and other faiths.

ECONOMY – Traditionally agricultural, producing fruit, wine, oils,
tobacco and spices. Industries include manganese and coal mines, crude
oil and gas production and food processing.

Privatisation began after independence in 1991 and large-scale
sell-offs of communications and manufacturing enterprises are

The state statistics department says GDP per capita is $700. GDP
growth was 8.6 percent in 2003 and is projected to be 6.0 percent in

CURRENCY – Lari. The exchange rate was 2.0 lari to one U.S. dollar on
March 24.

GOVERNMENT – Georgia is defined as a democratic republic under the
1995 constitution. The president is directly elected for a five-year
term and cannot serve more than two terms.

03/25/04 07:27 ET