Georgia is a nation in the Caucasus region, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is surrounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north and east by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The nation has a population of 3.7 million people and an area of 69,700 square kilometers (26,900 square miles) (excluding the Russian-occupied Georgian territories). Georgia is a unitary parliamentary country administered by a representative democracy. Tbilisi, Georgia's capital and biggest city, is home to nearly one-third of the country's population.
Several autonomous kingdoms, including Colchis and Iberia, were created in what is now Georgia throughout the classical period. Ethnic Georgians formally joined Christianity in the early fourth century, contributing to the spiritual and political union of the early Georgian republics. During the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar in the 12th and early 13th centuries, the United Kingdom of Georgia arose and attained its Golden Age. Following that, the kingdom weakened and finally crumbled under the dominion of other regional forces such as the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, and subsequent Persia dynasties. In 1783, one of the Georgian kingdoms formed an alliance with the Russian Empire, which continued to acquire modern Georgia gradually during the nineteenth century.
Georgia formed as an independent country under German protection during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Following World War I, the Soviet Union invaded and conquered Georgia in 1922, making it one of the Soviet Union's fifteen component republics. By the 1980s, an independence movement had arisen and rapidly expanded, eventually culminating to Georgia's separation from the Soviet Union in April 1991. Economic catastrophe, political instability, ethnic violence, and separatist conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia plagued post-Soviet Georgia throughout the majority of the next decade. Following the bloodless Rose Revolution in 2003, Georgia adopted a pro-Western foreign policy, instituting a series of political and economic reforms aimed at gaining membership in the European Union and NATO. The country's Western orientation eventually led to deteriorating ties with Russia, culminating in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War; Russia has subsequently occupied a section of Georgia.
Georgia is a developing nation with a Human Development Index score of "very high." Economic changes implemented since independence have resulted in increased economic freedom and ease of doing business, as well as decreases in corruption indices, poverty, and unemployment. It was one of the world's first nations to legalize cannabis, and the only former socialist state to do so. The country is a member of numerous international organizations in Europe and Asia, including the Council of Europe, the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Eurocontrol, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Association Trio, and the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development.