Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometers (26,911 sq mi), and its population is almost 5 million. Georgia is a unitary, semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy.
Despite its small area, Georgia has one of the most varied topographies of the former Soviet republics. Georgia lies mostly in the Caucasus mountains, and its northern boundary is partly defined by the Greater Caucasus range. The Lesser Caucasus range, which runs parallel to the Turkish and Armenian borders, and the Surami and Imereti ranges, which connect the Greater Caucasus and the Lesser Caucasus, create natural barriers that are partly responsible for cultural and linguistic differences among regions. Because of their elevation and a poorly developed transportation infrastructure, many mountain villages are virtually isolated from the outside world during the winter. Earthquakes and landslides in mountainous areas present a significant threat to life and property.
Georgia's climate is affected by subtropical influences from the west and continental influences from the east. The Greater Caucasus range moderates local climate by serving as a barrier against cold air from the north. Warm, moist air from the Black Sea moves easily into the coastal lowlands from the west. Climatic zones are determined by distance from the Black Sea and by altitude. Along the Black Sea coast, from Abkhazia to the Turkish border, and in the region known as the Kolkhida Lowlands inland from the coast, the dominant subtropical climate features high humidity and heavy precipitation (1,000 to 2,000 mm or 39.4 to 78.7 in per year; the Black Sea port of Batumi receives 2,500 mm or 98.4 in per year). Several varieties of palm trees grow in these regions, where the midwinter average temperature is 5 °C (41 ) and the midsummer average is 22 °C (71.6 °F).
The plains of eastern Georgia are shielded from the influence of the Black Sea by mountains that provide a more continental climate. Summer temperatures average 20 °C (68 °F) to 24 °C (75.2 °F), winter temperatures 2 °C (35.6 °F) to 4 °C (39.2 °F). Humidity is lower, and rainfall averages 500 to 800 mm (19.7 to 31.5 in) per year. Alpine and highland regions in the east and west, as well as semi-arid region on the Iori Plateau to the southeast, have distinct micro climates.
At higher elevations, precipitation is sometimes twice as heavy as in the eastern plains. In the west, the climate is subtropical to about 650 m (2,133 ft); above that altitude (and to the north and east) is a band of moist and moderately warm weather, then a band of cool and wet conditions. Alpine conditions begin at about 2,100 m (6,890 ft), and above 3,600 m (11,811 ft) snow and ice are present year-round.