The official name of this region is Adjara Autonomous Republic. Alternatively, people refer to it as Adjara, which can also be spelt--although less commonly--Achara.
Adjara is where the mountains come crashing into the Black Sea. Its people are an eclectic mix, being ethnically Georgian, but having many cultural undertones from Turkey. As such, many of Georgia’s Muslims live in Adjara. The region boasts vibrant colors, a relaxing lifestyle, and rich food.
Located where the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, the Kolkheti Dabloba and the Black Sea meet, Guria has a unique topography that is sure to impress. Shekvetili and Ureki are two of Georgia’s premiere beach destinations. Unlike Batumi and Kobuleti (located down the beach in Adjara), Guria’s Shekvetili and Ureki are quiet and generally void of foreign tourists, giving beachgoers a peaceful and relaxing experience. The village of Bakhmaro is located in Guria’s inland among the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. This town is known for being above the clouds, giving its visitors starry nights and unimpeded views of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
Imereti is the ancient heart of Georgia. Located in west-central Georgia, Imereti is where the Greeks believed that Prometheus was chained to his mountain and where Jason and the Agronauts discovered the land of the Golden Fleece with its ruler King Aeetes and the sorceress-princess Medea. The civilization proceeding the modern Georgian people—the Colchis Kingdom—inhabited Imereti, with their capital in modern-day Kutaisi.
Geographically, Imereti is as complex as its history. Its center lies in Kolkheti Dabloba (Colchian Lowland) with its northern, eastern, and southern peripheries lying in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, Likhi Range, and the foothills of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, respectively. Due to Imereti’s geography, it holds some of Georgia’s best geographic anomalies, such as the Katskhi Pillar (a 40 meter tall rock pillar with a one-room monastery on top), Sataplia and Prometheus Caves, Okatse and Martvili Canyons, and the mineral springs of Tsqaltubo.
Imereti’s unique topography, with its combination of rugged foothills and flat plains, hasallowed it to become one of Georgia’s top destinations for ecotourism. Martvili and Okatse Canyons are located about 40 minutes northwest of Kutaisi and are excellent locations to go hiking through the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains or to go canoeing/kayaking through the streams of the canyons. Sataplia and Prometheus Caves offer guests a magnificent show of some of Earth’s most beautiful natural sculptures. Okatse Canyon and Sataplia Managed Reserve have the most well-developed trail systems and tourist infrastructure of the nature reserves in Imereti.
Kakheti is the entire area of Georgia east of Tbilisi. The region has two primary geographic regions: the Alazani Valley, which is known for its wine and viticulture, and the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The region as a whole tends to be relatively dry, with the southern and eastern portions bordering on being a desert.
Kvemo Kartli is located in south-central Georgia. The eastern third of Kvemo Kartli is relatively flat and has a savannah-like ecosystem whereas the rest of the region is mostly rugged uplands. As such, only the eastern third of the region is heavily populated, with ther est of the region being populated by small villages. The city of Rustavi is the main city in the region and is the fourth most populated city in Georgia. The city was built along the Mtkvari River during the Soviet-era as a factory city. Life here was based around the Rustavi Metalurgical Factory. Rustavi is divided into two parts--Old and New Rustavi. Old Rustavi is a typical Stalin-era planned city and is home to the city hall, Liberty Square, and a large park with a lake. New Rustavi is mostly Khrushchev-era apartment blocks. The city is approximately equidistant between Tbilisi and the Georgia-Azerbaijan border. The town of Marneuli, in east-central Kvemo Kartli, is home to most of Georgia’s Azeri citizens. Despite the fact that Kvemo Kartli’s main cities are located in its eastern third, it is in the mountainous parts where the main sights are.
Mtskheta-Mtianeti is located in east-central Georgia, north of Tbilisi. This region is sparsely populated due to its extremely mountainous geography--most of the region lies in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Despite this, this region maintains a critical role in Georgia’s history and economy.
Racha is Georgia’s version of the Swiss Alps--full of lush forested mountains with flowery meadows, clear streams, high alpine lakes, and snow-capped mountains. The best way to experience the region is either in the town of Ambrolauri or in the villages of Oni and Nikortsminda. The region is probably the least developed in Georgia and generally lacks adequate tourist infrastructure, however, it competes with Svaneti in being considered the most beautiful region in the country by many Georgians.
This region is composed of two historical regions of Georgia: Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti. Samegrelo comes from the Georgian word megreli which is the term for the the Megrelian (sometimes called Mingrelians) people, a subset of Georgian people. Megrelians have a language that is distantly related to Georgian. The administrative capital and largest city of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti along with Samegrelo’s historical capital is Zugdidi, home to the Dadiani Palace and adjacent botanical gardens. The Dadiani Palace was built in the nineteenth century for the royal family of Samegrelo, and today, it serves as a museum.
Zemo Svaneti means “Upper Svaneti” in Georgian, with Svaneti as a whole spanning two administrative regions. The Svanetians have a language that is also distantly related to the Georgian language. This historical region’s primary settlement is Mestia, which is accessible only by a single road from Zugdidi. Svaneti lies in the heart of the Greater Caucasus Mountains and is home to Georgia’s tallest mountain, Skhara (5,200 m/17,00 ft), and the twin-peaked mountain, Ushba (4,690 m/ 15,400 ft). Svaneti is frequently called the most beautiful of Georgia’s regions due to its dramatic scenery, thousand-year-old villages with stone watchtowers, and untouched nature.
Samtskhe-Javakheti is located in southwest Georgia, next to Adjara Autonomous Republic and Turkey. Samtskhe-Javakheti is a sparsely populated region that is full of history and natural beauty. The region lies where the Armenian Plateau meets the Trialeti Range. This region is home to karst uplands, heavily forested mountains, and jagged river valleys. Georgia’s largest, and perhaps most well-known, national park is located here. Aside from the region’s geography, Samtskhe-Javakheti is most notable for its Armenian population, especially in the towns of Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda, where there are more Armenians living than Georgians.
Shida Kartli is in the heart of Georgia and is home to the country’s central valley, which is one of a few stretches of flat, arable land in an otherwise mountainous country. The northern portion of the region is in the Greater Caucasus mountains and is occupied by South Ossetia, one of Georgia’s two occupied territories.