The Georgians, or Kartvelians (; ka, ქართველები, tr, ), are a nation and indigenous Caucasian
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation ...
native to
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Wester ...
and the South Caucasus. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout
Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the world, covering and encompassing mo ...
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country lo ...
, Georgians in Greece, Greece, Iranian Georgians, Iran, Georgians in Ukraine, Ukraine, the Georgian Americans, United States and European Union. Georgians arose from Colchis, Colchian and Kingdom of Iberia (antiquity), Iberian civilizations of classical antiquity; Colchis was interconnected with the Ancient Greece, Hellenic world, whereas Iberia was influenced by the Achaemenid Empire until Alexander the Great annihilated it. In the 4th century, the Georgians became one of the first to Christianization of Iberia, embrace Christianity and now the majority of Georgians are Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christians, with most following their national autocephaly, autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church, although there are small Georgian Georgian Catholic Church, Catholic and Adjarians, Muslim communities as well as a significant number of Secularism and irreligion in Georgia (country), irreligious Georgians. Located in the Caucasus, on the Border between Europe and Asia, continental crossroads of Europe and Asia, the High Middle Ages saw Georgian people form a unified Kingdom of Georgia in 1008 AD, the pan-Caucasian empire, later inaugurating the Georgian Golden Age, a height of political and cultural power of the nation. This lasted until the Triarchy and collapse of the Kingdom of Georgia, kingdom was weakened and later disintegrated as the result of the 13th–15th-century invasions of the Mongol invasions of Georgia, Mongols and Timur's invasions of Georgia, Timur, the Black Death, the Fall of Constantinople, as well as internal divisions following the death of George V of Georgia, George V the Brilliant in 1346, 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 List of monarchs of Persia, dynasties of Iran. Georgians started looking for allies and found the Russians on the political horizon as a possible replacement for the lost Byzantine Empire, "for the sake of the Christian faith". The Georgian kings and List of Russian monarchs, Russian tsars exchanged no less than 17 embassies, which culminated in 1783, when Heraclius II of Georgia, Heraclius II of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti forged Treaty of Georgievsk, 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 Georgia within the Russian Empire, annex the troubled kingdom in 1801 as well as the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti in 1810. There were several uprisings and movements to restore the statehood, the most notable being the 1832 Georgian plot, 1832 plot, which collapsed in failure. Eventually, Russian rule over Georgia was acknowledged in various peace treaties with Iran and the Ottomans, and the remaining Georgian territories were absorbed by the Russian Empire in a piecemeal fashion through the course of the 19th century. Georgians briefly reasserted their independence from Russia under the Democratic Republic of Georgia, First Georgian Republic from 1918 to 1921 and finally Dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1991 from the Soviet Union. The Georgian nation was formed out of a diverse set of geographic subgroups, each with its characteristic traditions, manners, Georgian dialects, dialects and, in the case of Svans and Mingrelians, own regional languages. The Georgian language, with its Georgian script, 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. According to the State Ministry on Diaspora Issues of Georgia, unofficial statistics say that there are more than 5 million Georgians in the world.


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 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. ''Kart'' probably is cognate with Indo-European ''gard'' and denotes people who live in a "fortified citadel". Ancient Greeks (Homer, Herodotus, Strabo, Plutarch etc.) and Ancient Rome, Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to western Georgians as Colchians and eastern Georgians as Caucasian Iberians, Iberians. The term "Georgians" is derived from the country of Georgia. In the past, lore-based theories were given by the medieval French traveller Jacques de Vitry, who explained the name's origin by the popularity of Saint George, St. George amongst Georgians, while traveller Jean Chardin thought that "Georgia" came from Greek γεωργός ("tiller of the land"), as when the Greeks came into the region (in Colchis) they encountered a developed agricultural society. However, as Prof. Alexander Mikaberidze adds, these explanations for the word ''Georgians/Georgia'' are rejected by the scholarly community, who point to the Persian language, Persian word ''gurğ/gurğān'' ("wolf") as the root of the word. Starting with the Persian word ''gurğ/gurğān'', the word was later adopted in numerous other languages, including Slavic and West European languages. This term itself might have been established through the ancient Iranian appellation of the near-Caspian Sea, Caspian region, which was referred to as ''Hyrcania, Gorgan'' ("land of the wolves").


The eighteenth century German professor of medicine and member of the British Royal Society Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, widely regarded one of the founders of the discipline of anthropology, regarded Georgians the most beautiful race of people.


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. Scholars usually refer to them as Proto-Kartvelian (Proto-Georgians such as Colchians and Iberians) tribes. The Georgian people in antiquity have been known to the ancient Greeks and Ancient Rome, Romans as Colchians and Caucasian Iberians, Iberians. East Georgian tribes of Tibarenians-Iberians formed their kingdom in 7th century BCE. However, western Georgian tribes (Colchian tribes) established the first Georgian state of Colchis (circa 1350 BCE) before the foundation of the Kingdom of Iberia (antiquity), Iberian Kingdom in the east.Toumanoff, p. 80 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. According to the renowned scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff, the Moschians also were one of the early proto-Georgian tribes which were integrated into the first early Georgian state of Kingdom of Iberia (antiquity), Iberia. The ancient Jewish chronicle by Josephus mentions Georgians as Iberes who were also called Thobel (Tubal). David Marshall Lang argued that the root ''Tibar'' gave rise to the form ''Iber'' that made the Greeks pick up the name ''Iberian'' in the end for the designation of the eastern Georgians. 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. 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 and in the annals of Urartu, Urartian king Sarduri II, and are also included western Georgian tribe of the Meskhetians. Caucasian Iberians, Iberians, also known as Tiberians or Tiberanians, lived in the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia (antiquity), Kingdom of Iberia. Both Colchians and Iberians played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the modern Georgian nation. According to the scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff:


A study of human genetics by Battaglia, Fornarino, al-Zahery, et al. (2009) suggests that Georgians have the highest percentage of Haplogroup G (Y-DNA), Haplogroup G (30.3%) among the general population recorded in any country. Georgians' Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup, Y-DNA also belongs to haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA), Haplogroup J2 (31.8%), Haplogroup R1a (10.6%), and haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA), Haplogroup R1b (9.1%).


Language and linguistic subdivisions

Georgian is the primary language for Georgians of all provenance, including those who speak other Kartvelian languages: Svan people, Svans, Mingrelians, Mingrelians and the Laz people, 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 language, Svan and Mingrelian language, Mingrelian are languages of the west that were traditionally spoken in the pre-Christian Colchis, Kingdom of Colchis, but later lost importance as the unified 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 (antiquity), Kingdom of Iberia effectively making the language of the east an official language of the Georgian monarch. All of these languages comprise the Kartvelian languages, 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 dialect, Adjarian, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Saingilo, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tusheti, Tush, Khevsureti, Khevsur, Khevi, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Iranian Georgians, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan, Mtiuletian, Meskhetian and Javakhetian dialect.


According to Orthodox tradition, Christianity in Georgia (country), Christianity was first preached in Georgia by the Apostles Simon and Andrew in the 1st century. It became the state religion of Kingdom of Iberia (antiquity), Kartli (Iberia) in 337.Cyril Toumanoff, Toumanoff, Cyril, "Iberia between Chosroid and Bagratid Rule", in ''Studies in Christian Caucasian History'', Georgetown, 1963, pp. 374–377. Accessible online at At the same time, in the first centuries C.E., the cult of Mithraism, Mithras, Georgian mythology, pagan beliefs, and Zoroastrianism were commonly practiced in Georgia. The conversion of Kartli to Christianity is credited to 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 in 378. The conversion to Christianity eventually placed the Georgians permanently on the front line of conflict between the Islamic and Christian world. 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 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 hagiography, hagiographies of Georgian saints. Today, 83.9% of the Georgian population, most of whom are ethnic Georgian, follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity. A sizable Georgian Islam in Georgia (country), Muslim population exists in Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Adjara. This autonomous Republic borders Turkey, and was part of the Ottoman Empire for a longer amount of time than other parts of the country. Those Georgian Muslims practice the Sunni Hanafi 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. 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 ghilman, ghulams. The Iranian Georgians, Georgians in Iran are all reportedly Shia Muslims today, while the Georgians in Turkey, 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 Secularism and irreligion in Georgia, irreligious segments of society, as well as a significant portion of nominally religious individuals who do not actively practice their faith.


The Georgian cuisine is specific to the country, but also contains some influences from other European cuisine, 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 also offers a variety of vegetarian meals. The importance of both food and drink to Culture of Georgia (country), Georgian culture is best observed during a Caucasian feast, or ''Keipi, 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.

Geographic subdivisions and subethnic groups

Geographical subdivisions

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. Last names from mountainous eastern Georgian provinces (such as Kakheti, etc.) can be distinguished by the suffix –''uri'' (ური), or –''uli'' (ული). Most Svans, Svan last names typically end in –''ani'' (ანი), Mingrelians, Mingrelian in –''ia'' (ია), -''ua'' (უა), or -''ava'' (ავა), and Laz people, Laz in –''shi'' (ში). The 1897 Russian census (which accounted people by language), had Imeretian, Svan language, Svan and Mingrelian language, Mingrelian languages separate from Georgian language, Georgian. During the 1926 Soviet census, Svans and Mingrelians were accounted separately from Georgian. Svan and Mingrelian languages are both Kartvelian languages and are closely related to the national Georgian language.

Outside modern Georgia

Laz people also may be considered Georgian based on their geographic location and religion. According to the London School of Economics' anthropologist Mathijs Pelkmans, Lazs residing in Georgia frequently identify themselves as "first-class Georgians" to show pride, while considering their Muslim counterparts in Turkey as "Turkified Lazs".Pelkmans, Mathijs. ''Defending the border: identity, religion, and modernity in the Republic of Georgia''. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2006, pg. 80

Extinct Georgian subdivisions

Throughout history Georgia also has extinct Georgian subdivisions

See also

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



*W.E.D. Allen (1970) Russian Embassies to the Georgian Kings, 1589–1605, Hakluyt Society, (hbk) *Eastmond, Anthony (2010), Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia, Penn State Press *Ronald Grigor Suny, Suny, R. G. (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation, Indiana University Press, *David Marshall Lang, Lang, D. M. (1966), The Georgians, Thames & Hudson *Donald Rayfield, Rayfield, D. (2013), Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia, Reaktion Books, *Rapp, S. H. Jr. (2016) The Sasanian World Through Georgian Eyes, Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature, Sam Houston State University, USA, Routledge *Cyril Toumanoff, Toumanoff, C. (1963) Studies in Christian Caucasian History, Georgetown University Press {{DEFAULTSORT:Georgian People Indigenous peoples of Europe Indigenous peoples of Western Asia Ancient peoples of Georgia (country) Ethnic groups in Azerbaijan Ethnic groups in Georgia (country) Ethnic groups in Iran Ethnic groups in Russia Ethnic groups in Turkey People from Georgia (country), Peoples of the Caucasus Society of Georgia (country)