Situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia, Georgia has a unique and ancient cultural heritage, famous traditions of hospitality and cuisine and an alphabet which is entirely its own.
It also has a history of winemaking said to date back thousands of years.
Since independence, the people of Georgia have also endured periods of civil war and unrest as well as violence related to the independence aspirations of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both regions have close ties with Moscow. Russian peacekeepers have operated there since the early 1990s. They are regularly accused by Tbilisi of siding with the separatists. Tensions are never far from the surface.
Russia has had troops stationed in Georgia for over two centuries. After protracted discussions, it agreed in 2005 to withdraw from its two remaining bases, one in Ajaria and the other in southern Georgia, by the end of 2008. Their presence has been another source of tension between Tbilisi and the Kremlin.
Situated in the north-western corner of Georgia with the Black Sea to the south-west and the Caucasus mountains and Russia to the north-east, Abkhazia was once known as a prime holiday destination for the Soviet elite.
It was also an important tea, citrus fruit and tobacco growing area.
Abkhazia's battle for independence from Georgia since the collapse of the USSR has reduced the economy to ruins. The only things to thrive are the atmosphere of instability and Russo-Georgian rivalry for influence, although Russian tourists are beginning to return.
Abkhazia declared independence early in 1994. It has never been recognised by a single country and the price has been high indeed. An economic embargo remains in force and Abkhazia is isolated in just about every sense of the word except from Russia which maintains a border crossing and has re-opened the railway line to Sukhumi.
Moscow has further infuriated Tbilisi by making it easy for people in Abkhazia to gain Russian citizenship. Most now hold Russian passports.
Georgia insists, and many observers tend not to disagree, that Russia supported the campaign to expel Georgian forces in 1993. Incongruously, the Abkhaz forces also had help from Chechen fighters, their traditional Caucasus allies and at the same time the sworn enemies of Moscow.
Violence flared in 1993
The rivalries became still more complex in 2001 when the Kremlin accused Tbilisi of allowing Chechen fighters to take refuge from Russian forces in the Pankisi Gorge, home of their kinspeople, the Kists. Anyone criticised by Russia is likely to rise in Chechen estimation. The accusation forged a new Chechen bond with Georgia.
There were fears of renewed fighting and perhaps wider conflagration across the Caucasus in the autumn of 2001 when Georgian partisans and new allies from among the Chechen fighters were reported to have fought their way through Abkhaz lines.
Moscow agreed in 1999 to the closure of its base at Gudauta in the conflict zone, pledging that henceforth it would be for the sole use of peacekeepers. Georgia still alleges that it is used to offer military support to pro-independence forces and, because it says it has been unable to gain access to inspect it, still expresses doubts about whether the base is genuinely used purely for peacekeeping purposes.
The fragile peace is maintained by UN military observers and CIS, in effect Russian, peacekeepers. The UN patrols the buffer zone which keeps the Abkhaz and Georgian sides apart. There are sporadic shootings and kidnappings with the potential for violent explosion never far beneath the surface.
UN efforts to mediate have got nowhere. Abkhazia, turning increasingly towards Moscow, insists there can be no settlement until Georgia recognises its independence, something which Tbilisi has sworn it will never do. There is no sign that a way out of this volatile impasse will soon be found.
A mountainous semi-autonomous region of Georgia, Ajaria is situated on the Black Sea coast on Georgia's southwestern border with Turkey.
Its narrow band of coastal lowland has a lush sub-tropical climate while high in the mountains there can be snow for six months of the year.
The people of Ajaria are ethnically Georgian and the region also has a substantial Russian-speaking population. Under Ottoman rule from the 17th until the 19th century Islam predominated. The word Ajarian came to mean a Georgian Muslim.
Tensions erupt on the internal border between Georgia and Ajaria
In 1878 Ajaria was annexed by Russia and, following the Bolshevik revolution, incorporated into Georgia as an autonomous republic within the USSR. Under Stalin, Islam, like Christianity, was ruthlessly repressed. Nowadays about half the population professes the Islamic faith.
Unlike the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Ajaria has been spared major violence and ethnic unrest since Georgia became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The region was led between 1991 and May 2004 by Aslan Abashidze, who maintained close ties with Moscow. Election results gave him at least 90% of the vote every time and he ruled in what many observers described as an autocratic style.
Mountainous South Ossetia, which is in Georgia, is separated from North Ossetia, which is in Russia, by the border between the two countries running high in the Caucasus. Much of the region lies more than 1000 metres above sea level.
South Ossetia is inhabited mostly by ethnic Ossetians who speak a language remotely related to Farsi. Georgians account for less than one-third of the population.
Tbilisi is adamant that there can be no compromise over South Ossetia being part of Georgia. It firmly resists Ossetian separatism, shunning the use of the name South Ossetia which it sees as implying political bonds with North Ossetia, and therefore as a threat to Georgia's territorial integrity.
As far as Georgia is concerned, the use of the word "north" in the title North Ossetia is misleading. In Tbilisi's eyes, the region of Russia which bears that name is the only Ossetia. It prefers to call South Ossetia, which is part of the Georgian province of Shida Kartli, by the ancient name of Samachablo or, more recently, Tskhinvali region.
In the twilight of the Soviet Union, as Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia came to prominence in Tbilisi, South Ossetia too flexed its separatist muscles. Soviet forces were sent to keep the peace in late 1989 following violent clashes between Georgians and Ossetians in the capital, Tskhinvali. Violence flared again as South Ossetia declared its intention to secede from Georgia in 1990 and, the following year, effective independence.
Protesters rally against presence of Georgian troops near South Ossetia
The collapse of the USSR and Georgian independence in 1991 did nothing to dampen South Ossetia's determination to consolidate the break with Tbilisi. Sporadic violence involving Georgian irregular forces and Ossetian fighters continued until the summer of 1992 when agreement on the deployment of Georgian, Ossetian and Russian peacekeepers was reached. Hundreds died in the fighting.
There has been stalemate ever since. South Ossetia's independence remains unrecognised and separatist voices became less strident during President Shevardnadze's rule. South Ossetia, its economy and infrastructure a shambles and crime rife, faded from the headlines.
Mikhail Saakashvili takes reins in Tbilisi
When Mikhail Saakashvili was elected Georgian president, he was quick to spell out his intention to bring breakaway regions to heel. He has offered South Ossetia dialogue and autonomy within a single Georgian state. That falls far short of what separatists demand.
Tension rose in May 2004 when South Ossetia held parliamentary elections, unrecognised by Tbilisi - as elections there have been since the region broke away.
Soon afterwards, Georgia moved troops up to the South Ossetia border in what it described as an operation to combat smuggling, believed to be the mainstay of the local economy. Russia reacted by condemning Georgia for endangering a fragile peace.
In August 2004 fighting broke out between Georgian soldiers and South Ossetian separatist forces. Under an uneasy ceasefire accord, both sides agreed to buffer zones.
South Ossetia and Tbilisi accused each other of being responsible when shells were fired in Tskhinvali in September 2005 as the region marked the anniversary of its declaration of independence. Several people were wounded in the incident.
Separatists are hoping for support from Moscow. Russia still has peacekeeping forces there and, while it does not recognise South Ossetia's independence, it has close contacts with the leadership. Most South Ossetians have Russian passports and the Russian rouble is commonly used in trade.
This is all from the same source, BBC, so you can figure that you have to research this more. I just gave an introduction.