Station: [54] Georgia: Bridge between Europe and Asia

Even during the Palaeolithic, Georgia served as a link between Europe and Asia. The oldest hominids outside of Africa, representatives of Homo erectus, were found in Dmanisi in eastern Georgia. They remains are estimated to be 1.85 million years old.

Throughout history, many of the peoples and cultures that have shaped Europe and the Middle East have also left their mark on Georgia: 

Greek colonies were established on the Black Sea coast in Georgia, and the Achaemenid Persians invaded from the east.

The Romans occupied the west and built fortresses along the Black Sea coast.

In late antiquity, while Byzantines and Persians were at war in Georgia as elsewhere, Christianity was spreading. Local rulers switched alliances depending on the current military situation.

During the tumultuous Arab conquests, parts of Georgia were occupied, and the Emirate of Tbilisi was founded.

While the great powers waged war during the First Crusade, Georgia was briefly able to unify and become a kingdom. With diplomatic and military skill, the country even managed to extend its borders into present-day Turkey.

About a hundred years later, the kingdom collapsed under the onslaught of the Mongols.

The following centuries were marked by the attempts of the Ottoman and New Persian Empires to bring the Caucasus under their rule.

Depending on the military situation, local rulers found themselves obliged to join one side or the other while trying to gain independence: usually in vain!

The Georgians attempted to win over Russia as an ally against the Muslim occupiers. However, in 1801, Tsar Paul the First unilaterally proclaimed Georgia's incorporation into the Russian empire.

Except for briefly gaining independence from 1918 to 1921, the country remained Russian for almost 200 years.

In 1991, Georgia once again became an independent state. Since then, the country has been seeking closer relations with the European Union.