Geography in Georgia
Georgia is located in the Middle East on an area of a little less than 70,000 square kilometers. In the north and east the country borders on Russia and in the south on Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. Mountains and foothills cover 87 percent of the country. In the north lies the southern capping of the Greater Caucasus. In the south are the western ridges of the Lesser Caucasus and the edge of the volcanic Armenian highlands. The Colchian Plain (named after the ancient Colchis) stretches between the two high mountains in the west, and the Transcaucasian Depression in the east, which is divided into the Inner Carteli-, the Sub-Carteli- and the Alsasani Plains. West and East Georgia are separated by the Lichi Mountain Range, which extends north to south.
The highest mountain is the Shchara in the Greater Caucasus at 5201 meters. The longest river in Georgia is the 1364 km long Kura (Georgian Mtkvari), which crosses the country in its upper reaches from the small Caucasus in the south to the east for 351 km. Other rivers are the Alasani (351 km), the Rioni (333 km) and the Enguri (213 km). The largest lake is Parawani, at an altitude of 2073 meters, with an area of 37.5 square kilometers. The Werjowkina Cave is the deepest known cave in the world at 2212 meters.
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Flora and fauna in Georgia
Thanks to different climatic zones, Georgia has a high biodiversity of living things. Enclosed valleys favored the development of endemic plants and animal species. The WWF ranks Georgia among the 238 most important ecoregions in the world. The IUCN has named it as a global center of plant diversity and designated BirdLife International as a worldwide endemic bird area.
The country has around 4100 plant species, of which around 1000 are endemic in Georgia itself and another 1000 in the Caucasus. Around 400 tree and shrub species are at home in Georgia alone, of which 61 are endemic and 60 species are threatened with extinction worldwide.
44 percent of the country is covered with forest, five percent of which is primeval forest. 40 percent of the forests have been preserved in their original structure. In the lower mountain areas mainly deciduous forests (oaks, beeches) grow, in higher altitudes conifers (spruces and firs, including the Nordmann fir). Above the tree line, subalpine and alpine meadows spread out. The mountains in the south, the lowlands and the Transcaucasian Depression used to be steppes. Today they are mostly cultivated.
Georgia is home to hundreds of different species of vertebrates. These include around 322 species of birds, 84 species of fish, 52 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and around 105 species of mammals. The latter include predators such as brown bears, wolves, lynxes, golden jackals and the very rare Caucasian leopards; Asiatic lions and Caspian tigers have disappeared in historical times. Of the striped hyenas, which have become rare since the middle of the 20th century, one or two animals could still be detected on the Georgian side of the dry border area with Azerbaijan in the 1950s-1970s. Wetlands are home to the now rare otter. The Caucasus Black Grouse, endemic to the eponymous mountain range, has its largest population in Georgia. There are also several endemic species of lizards. The country is very species-rich in invertebrates. So far, 600 species of spiders have been identified.
National parks and nature conservation in Georgia
There are 11 state nature reserves in Georgia. The largest is the Borjomi Kharagauli National Park in the Lesser Caucasus. In 2001 it was established and opened with the help of a German foundation. The oldest national park is the Lagodechi National Park.