Wedged between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the Republic of Georgia is bordered by Russia to the east, Azerbaijan to the southeast, Turkey and Armenia to the south, and the Black Sea to the west. This developing country has an area of 69,700 square kilometers and is home to a population of about 4 million people.
Georgia embraces a fusion of the Iberian and Colchian civilizations and a culture influenced by the Roman Empire, Classical Greece, the Byzantine Empire, as well as Iranian empires. The country had long been a producer of vintage wines. In fact, its national identity encompasses traditions that have something to do with wine.
In the 19th century, the country became a part of the Russian Empire. It gained its independence in 1918 after the Russian revolution. During that period, the Georgian maneti was introduced and was used as the national currency, replacing the Transcaucasian ruble. Maneti banknotes featured the designs by Dimitri Shevardnadze, Joseph Sharleman, and an unknown engraver. These banknotes depicted Saint George on horseback beneath the moon, stars, and sun.
Before the country was forced to join the USSR, Georgia incorporated with Armenia and Azerbaijan in forming the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic. The Transcaucasian ruble was reintroduced, replacing the maneti. The Transcaucasian ruble was then replaced with the Soviet ruble in 1924 and had been the nation’s currency until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Although Georgia regained its independence in 1991, the country was still using the Russian ruble until June 11, 1993. Coupons were also circulating in the country until they were replaced with the Georgian Lari banknotes that feature Georgian prominent personalities.
Recent banknotes of the Georgian Lari bear all-new designs, colors, and dimensions. These notes were designed by Bacha Malazoni and printed by De La Rue, Giesecke & Dievrent, and Oberthur Fiduciaire. These paper bills carry iridescent stripes, enhanced watermarks and windowed security thread with demetalized text, and holographic stripes.
Since its independence, market reforms and democratization have been implemented. However, Russian support to the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have made the progress complicated. In November 2003, Eduard Shevardnadze stepped off from the presidency due to widespread protests over corruption and ineffective government services under his regime. The protest which was known as the “Rose Revolution” swept Mikheil Saakashvili into power in the 2004 elections.
In August 2008, a five-day conflict between Russia and Georgia rose until Russia granted the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In 2011, billionaire philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili entered into politics that united the opposition together under the Georgian Dream coalition.