Why is georgia called sakartvelo?

The native name is Sakartvelo (; “land of the Kartvelians”), derived from the central Georgian region of Kartli, registered in the 9th century and widely used to refer to the entire medieval Kingdom of Georgia before the 13th century. Georgia or Sakartvelo is rich both in its history and in its rich geography. The country has flourishing and fertile lands and is a pioneer in winemaking. Due to the many influences, one would think that the country could lose its main fabric, but they are wrong. The people of Georgia are proud to proclaim their heritage and want people to identify it in their cultural heritage.

So, the next time you hear the word Sakartvelo, don't get confused. Lithuania has officially decided to call Georgia Sakartvelo, since it used to be called Gruzija. Sakartvelo is the Georgian name for this small nation, and its inhabitants are proud that they call them Kartvelian. So when are you planning a vacation to Sakartvelo? Most Georgians prefer Georgia to Gruziya and, indeed, to Gurjistan (which evokes images of unequal battles with great Eastern empires and a conquered country).

However, both countries coexist in a neutral relationship, despite some disputes over Georgia's borders and autonomous regions. In addition, these names are also associated with Russian imperial attitudes and perceptions about Georgia and Georgians. The country of Georgia has a rich and somewhat complicated history, with different people from different regions who invaded and governed it in the past. From the beginning of the 21st century, the Georgian government began efforts to replace Gruziya with Georgia in many countries.

The 1995 constitution declared the nation's official name Sakartvelo, with the name Georgia as its English equivalent. Consequently, in parallel with language studies, Georgians (and others too) are under the impression that Georgia is a “Western name” for the country, while Gruziya is a “Russian” name and Soviet. Some say that due to the rise of Christianity and the conversion of the population, the name became associated with Saint George and became Georgia over time. In addition, Kartvelian languages have a great influence on languages such as Svan, Mingrelian, Laz and Georgian.

For us, sakartvelo is something truly special, a term with a unique and sweet sound; it's as if it were impossible for a person who doesn't know the Georgian language to fully understand it. Before this, there was a theory that the name Georgia came from “Georgios”, the god of agriculture in Greek mythology.

Amanda Klines
Amanda Klines

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