Historically Georgia has found itself on the margins of great empires – its territory a desirable land of the great Asian empires, from the Arabs to Tamerlane, from the Mongols to the Ottomans from at least the 1st century B.C. through the 18th century. Despite numerous invasions and wars Georgia managed to unite during X-XII centuries. David Agmashenebeli (The Builder, 1089-1125), Georgia’s greatest and most prominent king, unified Georgia in the 12th century. This period of Georgia’s golden age – also the rule of Queen Tamar (1184-1213) – was a time of cultural renaissance, monastery building, fresco and ornament design. Richly decorated churches sprang up across the newly unified nation – some even high up in the mountains.
The last conqueror, Russia, started annexation of Georgia in 1801. Georgia spent almost 200 years of its recent history being part of the Russian empire; first at Russia’s province (guberniya), then as a Soviet republic. During this period Georgia managed to retain its language, culture and distinctive qualities. In 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the U.S.S.R. In 1992 Georgian became the 179th member of the UN various international and regional organizations.