Includes Georgians, Mingrelians, Imeretians, Lazes and Svanetians.
The population is about 6000, comprising descendants of some Georgians introduced by Shah Abbas I.
This conjoint valley of the Rion-Kura was in remote antiquity the site of several Greek colonial settlements, later the seat of successive kingdoms of the Georgians, and for centuries it has formed a bulwark against hostile invasions from the south and east.
It is still inhabited chiefly by Georgian tribesGurians, Imeretians, Mingrelians, Svanetians - in the basin of the Rion, and by Georgians intermingled with Armenians in the valley of the Kura, while the steppes that stretch away from the lower course of the latter river are ranged over by Turko-Tatars.
Religion.-Most of the Russians and the Georgians belong to the Orthodox Greek Church (over 4,000,000 in all); but considerable numbers (estimated at nearly 122,000, though in reality probably a good many more) are Nonconformists of different denominations.