Getting settled in georgia

Georgia: key facts
area 69,700 sq. km
Land borders 1,814 km
bordering countries armenia (219 km)
azerbaijan (428 km)
turkey (273 km)
russia (894 km)
Coastline 310 km
Population 3,729,500 (as of Jan 1, 2015)
ethnic composition (2002 census data) Georgian 83.8%
azerbaijani 6.5%
armenian 5.7%
russian 1.5%
other 2.5%
Capital tbilisi
Population of the capital 1,118,300 (as of Jan 1, 2015)
State languages Georgian, abkhaz (in the autonomous republic of abkhazia)
Population growth rate - 0.11% (2014 data)
urban population 57.4% (as of Jan 1, 2015)

Georgia (“Sakartvelo”, „საქართველო“) is a transcontinental country situated at the crossroad connecting eastern Europe with Western asia (For additional information please visit Georgian National Tourism Administration web-page: www.gnta.ge.

Given its strategically important location, Georgia often found itself in the centre of dramatic historic developments in the region. as a result, the history of Georgia is rich with facts about numerous battles, victories, and survivals. Georgia is one of the oldest states in the region. it became an especially important strategic actor in the 11th and 12th centuries during the reigns of King David the Builder and Queen Tamar who succeeded in uniting Georgia and transforming it into a powerful state. in subsequent centuries, however, wars against invasions of Mongols, and later against Persian and Ottoman empires, extremely weakened the Georgian state. in the end of the 19th century, Georgia was fully annexed by the russian empire. in 1918, Georgia succeeded in regaining independence for a short period of time, but in 1921 it was again occupied by the Bolshevik Russia and incorporated into the USSR. Having regained its independence when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Georgia, like many Post-Soviet Republics, had to confront economic hardship and civil conflicts. these processes led to de facto separation of Georgia’s two regions – abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region (the so-called South Ossetia). the latest blow sustained by the country was the 2008 war with Russian Federation, which ended up with the occupation of the two separatist regions by the Russian army

Political system and the form of government

Georgia is a democratic republic. The head of state and the commander-in-chief is the President of Georgia who is elected by general elections for five years. The government of Georgia led by the Prime Minister is in charge of the executive branch and oversees domestic and foreign affairs of the country. Parliament of Georgia is the legislative branch; it is the supreme representative body elected for four years. Independent courts represent the third, judicial branch of the government. Authority and responsibilities of the local self-governance bodies have expanded significantly as a result of the recent self-governance reform package.

Georgia’s economy and taxes

The key goal of the economic policy of the Georgian government is to enhance the welfare of the population through sustainable and inclusive economic growth; to create the environment, where each resident benefits from the economic development of the country, and where all residents have an access to and an opportunity to get engaged in the economic processes. The economic policy of the Georgian government is based upon the principles and values of the free market.

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat), Georgia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeded USD 16.5 billion in 2014, whilst GDP per capita comprised USD 3,689. Over the past decade, Georgian economy has experienced a stable growth, and the subsequent growth is projected in the following years. An upward trend has also been observed in the external trade turnover, facilitated by the liberal trade policy and the preferential foreign trade regimes granted to the country. It is noteworthy that on 27th June 2014, Georgia signed the Association Agreement with the European Union, which includes the agreement on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The DCFTA has already been ratified by the Parliament of Georgia and came into force in September 2014.

Key economic reforms were and are being implemented to contribute to a business-friendly and favourable investment environment, the positive effects of which are widely recognized in international surveys and indices. For example, Georgia is ranked 15th in the 2015 World Bank Doing Business Index. Procedures for starting a business, registering property, and obtaining various permissions and licenses have been significantly simplified in Georgia. In particular, according to the Index, Georgia is among top fifteen countries in the world by the following indicators: property registration (1st place), 7 dealing with construction permits (3rd place), getting credit (7th place), and starting a business (5th place). Additional information on the rules and requirements of registering and starting a business in Georgia is available on the websites of the National Agency of Public Registry (www.napr.gov.ge), the Public Service Hall (www.psh.gov.ge), and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia (www.economy.ge).

Georgia has improved its position in the World Economic Forum’s 2014-2015 Global Competitiveness Index by 19 steps compared to 2011-2012 (88th place) and by three steps compared to 2013-2014 (72nd place) and shifted to the 69th place among 144 countries. Georgia’s positions improved in the areas such as institutional development, macroeconomic environment, business environment, and judiciary. World Economic Forum’s Index is based on surveys and interviews conducted among the representatives of the private sector and entrepreneurs.

Yet another noteworthy development is that in August 2014, Moody’s Investors Service changed the outlook on Georgia’s sovereign rating from “stable” to “positive.” Signing the Agreement on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) as well as improved institutional capacities and economic governance have incited this positive change.

The World Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the Frazer Institute also improved Georgia’s rating by 5 steps, shifting the country to the 16th place from the 21st among 152 states.

The tax system has been significantly simplified and a number of taxes were lifted. To register as a taxpayer and learn about taxes levied, please visit the website of the Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia - www.rs.ge.

The banking system is well developed in Georgia. Several large private banks, small microfinance organizations, and credit unions operate in the country. You can exchange foreign currency at the representatives of the large operators’ offices and smaller exchange bureaus in the streets.

Georgian national currency is Georgian Lari (GEL).

People and language

by tradition, Georgia is an orthodox Christian country. Christianity was spread as early as in the 4th century. despite this, Georgia has been a homeland to the representatives of muslim, Jewish, and other religious denominations for many centuries. Freedom of religion and other fundamental human rights are protected by the Constitution of Georgia.

State languages in Georgia are Georgian and abkhaz (in the autonomous republic of abkhazia). Georgian is written in its own unique writing system, the Georgian script, which is one of the world’s 14 unique alphabets. For additional information about the history, culture, and climate of Georgia please visit the website: www.government.gov.ge.

Safety: Should your safety and health be endangered, dial 112 to contact the emergency service. it combines fire and rescue brigades, emergency medical services, and patrol police. Police in Georgia enjoys a particularly high trust from the population.

Note: Get the contact information – address and hotline number of your country’s diplomatic mission and/or consular office and always have it with you. to receive a timely assistance from the diplomatic representation of your country, it is recommended to register with the consular service of your embassy upon arrival in a foreign country.

Education system

The education system in Georgia is divided into pre-school, general, higher and vocational education. a number of private and public educational institutions operate on each stage of education system. the majority of the curricula are in Georgian (state) language, although various private and public educational institutions also offer educational programmes in english, russian, and other languages.

General education consists of a primary school (from grade 1 to 6), a compulsory secondary school (grades 7 – 9) and a high school (grades 10 – 12). Children are enrolled in primary schools at the age of six. Students can either receive an incomplete general education certificate after the completion of a compulsory secondary school or continue with their studies in a high school or in a vocational school. after completing 12 years of study at school, students receive a general education certificate.

Vocational schools/colleges offer two- or three-year academic courses to students. Graduation diplomas received at these institutions allow the graduates to either start working by profession or continue their studies at higher educational institutions.

Higher education is also a three-tier education system consisting of a bachelor’s (ba), master’s (ma) and doctorate (Phd) degrees.

The system of enrolment to pre-school institutions and primary schools is centralized and is carried out in late spring or early summer. to have their children enrolled in kindergartens in the capital tbilisi, parents shall register them through a website www.kids.org.ge; the registration of children in primary schools across the country is carried out through the education management information system (www.emis.ge). Foreign citizens can also use these registration services. the registration in private kindergartens and schools is carried out on individual basis.

Admission of students to higher educational institutions is also a centralized process administered by the national examinations Centre (www.naec.ge). normally, foreign citizens are not required to sit the national exams. they are enrolled on the basis of applications and interviews. one of the necessary conditions is the availability of a relevant visa and/or residence permit.

A list of private and public universities and vocational schools with their corresponding websites is available on the website of the educational guide at: www.edu-guide.ge. a list of private schools can be viewed at: www.edu-child.ge.

Recognition of foreign educational diplomas. Georgia joined the Bologna Process in 2005 and became a full member of the european Higher education area in 2010. this means that a degree awarded by an accredited Georgian university is recognized across the europe and vice versa.

The recognition of diplomas issued by foreign educational institutions is the responsibility of the national Centre for educational Quality enhancement. main rules and requirements of recognition as well as contact information of the Centre are available at www.eqe.ge.

Healthcare

Healthcare system in Georgia is fully privatized. Private hospitals operate in all main regional centres thus making medical services accessible to the population countrywide. the information about health service providers can be found on the information web portal: http://cloud.moh.gov.ge. additional information on physicians, blood bank, and pharmacies can be accessed on the portal upon registering.

Healthcare: key Facts
Average life expectancy 75,2 years
Hospital bed density per 1000 population 11,6 (2013 data)
Physicians density per 1000 population 22,4 (2013 data)

Source: national Statistics office of Georgia. www.geostat.ge

Several large insurance companies operating in Georgia offer various health insurance coverage packages to consumers. the information about these companies is available on the website of Georgian Insurance Association: www.insurance.org.ge.

guidebook on legal emigration

Guidebook on legal immigration

Georgian glossary of migration