Ethnic Groups in the Country of Georgia

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The country of Georgia has a complex history. In this lesson, we'll be focusing on how that has impacted the ethnic composition of the nation, and see what that means for Georgia today.


The devil went down to Georgia, and immediately became pretty confused. Rather than seeing barbeque, sweet tea, and fiddle contests, he found golden Orthodox icons, a completely unique writing system, and hot tsitsila tapaka in a nice hazelnut sauce. What happened? Rather than the American state of Georgia, we're talking about the nation of Georgia, a country situated right at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and West Asia. It's actually sort of a mystery exactly why people in the English-speaking world call this nation Georgia; the people who live there call it Sakartvelo. Georgia is not a large nation, but it is a complex one with a complex history. The nation has recently developed a taste for state-of-the art architecture, which sometimes clashes with traditional cultures. They often claim to be either a part of Asia or of Europe, depending on the issue. One of their national heroes is Joseph Stalin, a Georgian-born dictator of the USSR who is primarily remembered here for his role in helping defeat the Nazis in WWII. But if you ask many Georgians what part of their culture they're most proud of, they're likely to respond with the nation's famed friendliness towards visitors, a primary cultural value. Hmm- Georgia, hospitality? Maybe the two Georgia's aren't so different after all.


Georgian Ethnicity

The complexities of Georgia are not lost on their ethnic composition. The nation does have a clear ethnic majority, around 84% of people are ethnically Georgian; but this group is pretty interesting. The nation of Georgia is located in a part of the world defined by some harsh climates, and many cultures that developed here did so in a fair amount of isolation. The Georgian ethnic group is a prime example. The Georgian ethnicity is related to others of the Caucus Mountains and Black Sea region, but developed some pretty unique traits. The best example of this is the Georgian language. Georgian is the official language of the nation, spoken by most of the people who live here, but even if you're familiar with other Eastern European languages, don't expect to understand a word anyone's saying. Georgian is the only prominent language of the Kartvelian language family, a group of languages in the area. The Kartvelian languages are not linguistically related to anything else in the world, making them a mystery and a rarity. They're not related to any other European languages, they're not related to any other Asian languages, they're completely alone, and Georgian is the only one spoken by a statistically significant number of people. This language has been around for a while, and in fact the oldest documents written in the Georgian language (and using the non-Latin traditional script) date back to roughly 430 CE.

Mosaic showing the oldest known example of the Georgian language and script

Ethnic Minorities in Georgia

Apart from the ethnic Georgians, the nation is home to a few notable ethnic minority groups. The largest are the Azeri, a Turkic ethnic group who make up the majority of Georgia's neighboring nation, Azerbaijan. About 6.5% of people in Georgia are ethnically Azeri. Another neighboring nation, Armenia, has also contributed to the Georgian population, with about 6% of the total population being Armenian. Both Azeri and Armenians tend to live in specific parts of the country, which historically have been less developed than the cities occupied by Georgians. The government recently has attempted to correct this, although strong complaints about prejudice against ethnic minorities still exists.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account