GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES OF GEORGIA
Georgia is located in the Central and western part of the South Caucasus. Total length of the border of Georgia is 2 148 kilometres, out of these 1 839 kilometres on land. To the west Georgia is bounded by the Black Sea – between the estuary of the river Psou and village Sarpi, to the north – by the Russian Federation, to the east – by Azerbaijan, to the south – by Armenia, and to the south west , and¢ and 46°44¢- by Turkey. The extreme west and east borders go through eastern latitude 40°05 .¢ and 43°35¢north and south borders – through north longitude 41°07 The territory of Georgia is spread up vertically to 5 068.8 m from sea level (peak Shkhara).
Georgia is distinguished with complexity of relief – about 2/3 of its territory is mountainous. Along the north border, more than 1/3 of the country area is occupied by the Caucasus Mountain System. The relief of Georgia is represented by high, medium and low mountains, uplands and plains. There are following principal orographic units in Georgia: the Caucasus Mountains, the intermountain plains divided by Likhi Ridge into Kolkheti and Iveria Valleys and Trialeti Ridges (part of the Small Caucasus Mountain System). Some of the peaks of the main watershed ridge of the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia are higher than 5 000 m.
Georgia is characterized by almost every climate zone existing on the earth, from humid sub tropical climate to eternal snow and glaciers zone. Diversity of the climate in Georgia is determined by its location on the northern border of the subtropical zone between the Black and the Caspian Seas on the one hand and by complexity of its relief on the other hand. Average temperature in January is +3°C (on Kolkheti Valley), and in August – +23°C - +26°C.
The ridges of various direction and height play an important role in climate formation. A local climate is determined by the Caucasus Mountains which protects Georgia from cold air masses incursion and by the Black Sea which makes the temperature moderate and facilitates to greater precipitation, especially in western Georgia, where annual amount of precipitation is 2 800 mm, while in eastern Georgia it is only 300 mm.
Due to its location on a relatively lower longitude and temperate cloudiness, Georgia receives a significant warmth form the sun. Average annual sunshine is 1 350 – 2 520 hours.
There are plenty of mineral resources available in Georgia; out of them the following have industrial importance: oil, coal, non ferrous and rare metals, mining and chemical raw materials, inert materials and other mines. Ground waters have a great importance in the mineral treasure of Georgia.
They are very important for development of national economy of the country is highly dependent on the ground water. Georgia is also rich in thermal waters that can have a wide range of use in agriculture and energy sector. There is a big amount of fresh ground water resources in Georgia. Its distribution is very unequal – it increases from the east to the west.
River network in Georgia is unequally distributed; out of 26 060 rivers with total length of about 60 000 km, 18 109 rivers are in western Georgia, and 7 951 rivers – in eastern Georgia. Length of 25 923 rivers is less than 25 km, of 121 rivers – about 25-100 km, and of 16 rivers – 100 -500 km. The rivers of Georgia belong to the Black and the Caspian Sea basins. Almost all rivers of eastern Georgia form the entire system of Mtkvari and flow into the Caspian Sea, while the rivers of western Georgia independently join the Black Sea. The biggest river of Georgia (as well as of the South Caucasus) is Mtkvari.
Only its middle part (400 km) is on the territory of Georgia, its origin is in Turkey and flows into the Caspian Sea, on the territory of Azerbaijan. The rivers of Georgia are fed by glaciers, snow, rain and ground waters. Water resources of Georgia are not equally distributed. Run-off of the rivers of western Georgia (together with transit) compiles 49.8 cubic kilometres, and run-off of eastern Georgia – 16.5 cubic kilometres. The most voluminous river is Rioni; Mtkvari is much less voluminous, its run-off near GeorgianAzerbaijan border is 8.3 cubic kilometres. The following rivers - Enguri, Kodori, Bzipi, Tskhenistskali, Kvirila, Liakhvi, Aragvi, Ktsia-Khrami, and Alazani - are worth mentioning as well.
There are about 860 lakes in Georgia. Most of them are very small; therefore a total area of the lakes does not exceed 170 square kilometres (0.24% of the country territory). The lakes of Georgia are remarkable with their diverse origins. The majority of lakes in Georgia are fresh water, and part of them contains very little salt. The largest lake in area in Georgia is Lake Paravani, in volume – Lake Tabatskuri, in depth – Lake Ritza, that it is the deepest lake in the South Caucasus. There are 44 reservoirs on the territory of Georgia, their total area is 163 square kilometres, and the total volume of water is 3 315 million cubic metres. There are 734 glaciers in Georgia and they all are located in the Caucasus Mountains. Their cumulative area is 511 square kilometres that is 0.7 % of the country territory. Wetlands in Georgia are located on the Kolkheti Valley and its total area is 627 square kilometres. Georgia is bounded to the west by the Black Sea. The length of the coastline is 330 km. Within the territory of Georgia the following rivers flow into the Black Sea: Rioni, Bzipi, Kodori, Enguri and Chorokhi. Winter is mild and warm on the coast of the Black Sea. An average temperature in January is + 4-7°C.
The amount of precipitation is large during all seasons; South part of Kolkheti is especially rainy, where the annual precipitation is more than 2 500 mm. An average value of surface layer salinity of water in an open sea fluctuates from 17.80/00 (in spring) to 18.30/00 (in winter). From the surface to the depth of 200 metres the salinity increases up to 21.30/00. Rivers of Georgia make the sea significantly fresher near the coast, especially in spring and in the first half of summer. However, water stays salty beyond 2-4 miles from the coast. Due to diversity of physical-geographic and climatic conditions, the flora of Georgia is very rich and miscelanous. Diversification of relief and complex condfiguration of mountain ringes caused geographic and ecological isolation of ecosystems in Georgia and high level of local endemism. There are preserved some species in Georgian flora that became extinct in west Eurasia million years ago.
There is a rich and diverse fauna in Georgia, mainly represented by the elements of sub district of Mediterranean Sea of Pale arctic district, but in north part of the country the representatives of European and Siberian sub districts are also frequently met, while in south east district – species of Central Asian sub district fauna or others similar to them.
There are around 100 mammal species, more than 330 bird species, about 48 reptile species, 11 amphibian species, and 160 fish species known in Georgia. Thousands of invertebrate species are met, but an exact number is not determined yet. Animals are distributed by zones, but the species with a great ecologic valence inhabit in several zones. The idea about necessity of protecting the nature in Georgia was formed in ancient past followed by a gradual development of legal norms. Old Georgian sources provide interesting information concerning a legal protection of single objects of nature.
“The forest guards” are mentioned in the Book of King Tamar, dated 1189, and “the senior guardians” are mentioned even earlier in 1078. Norms regulating the use of water and pastures are provided in the document of the XVIII century (“Dasturmali”). One of the articles of this document protects hawks’ and peregrines’ nests. King Vakhtang’s Book of Laws also takes into account protecting water, forest and pastures. In Ioane Bagrationi’s Book of Laws (the project of public reforms in Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom) the following is mentioned: “there should be a person responsible for hunting forests and fields; nobody can hunt in the royal hunting lands without their permission”. Hunting was prohibited in a reproduction period of birds and animals.