Svaneti

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Svaneti
სვანეთი
Flag of Svaneti Seal of Svaneti
Flag Seal
Motto: სიბრძნე, სამართლიანობა, სიმამაცე, თავშეკავებისკენ
"Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, Restraint"
Anthem: "თავისუფლება"
"Freedom"
Location of Svaneti in Adonia
Capital
and largest city
Adygekale
Official languages West Svanetian
East Svanetian
Recognised regional languages Ashakarran
Demonym Svanetian
Government Single-party Kalandist constitutional
presidential unitary republic
 -  President Pizhina Anzour
 -  Vice-President Kuba Shaaban
 -  President of the National Assembly Kusha Seteney
Legislature National Assembly
Constitutional history
 -  Independence from Varkana 1944 
Area
 -  Total 76,695 km2TEMP STAT
29,612 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.5%
Population
 -  2016 estimate 2,262,503
 -  2016 census 2,262,503
 -  Density 29.5/km2
76.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total ₭14.516 billion
 -  Per capita ₭6,416
Gini (2014)12.0
low · ??th
HDI (2014).768
high · ??th
QLI (2014)6.39 medium
IEF (2014)13.5 Repressed
Currency TBD (X) (SV?)
Time zone ACT+2 (TUC+2)
Date format dd.mm.yyyy CE
Drives on the right
Calling code +43
Internet TLD .sv, .სვ

Svaneti (West and East Svanetian: სვანეთი) is a landlocked country in Illypnia at the meeting of the Dalian and Apennine mountains. It is bordered to the north by Varkana, to the west by Echia, to the south by Kastruneto and to the east by Ashakarra.

Svaneti is a unitary, single-party, socialist nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. Dominated for most of its history since Antiquity by northern neighbor Varkana, the country gained independence in 1944, following terms of the Treaty of Klow, ending the Great Adonian War for Varkana. As a result, Svaneti is an Armazist nation and uses the Varkan script. Since 1944, the country has been governed by the Communist Party of Svaneti, formally a regional faction of the Communist Party of Varkana, but remains politically isolated.

As well as being a member of the Adonian Community, Svaneti is a founding member of the Energy Standard Organization. The official languages, West Svanetian and East Svanetian, are closely related to each other, although Varkan remains widely spoken as a second language, a legacy of historical Varkan rule.

History

Antiquity

During the Antiquity, Svanetian tribes populated the area then known as Svanetia by the Mesogean League. The region was under Kaspia rule, a Kaspian kingdom and client-state of Ancient Aetolia. By the late Antiquity, Kaspia (including Svanetia) was conquered by neighboring Kartli, to create the Kingdom of Varkana.

Varkan Svaneti

During most of Varkan rule, the region was administered by Varkan speaking people, and Armazism imposed. Svanetian paganism was successfully syncretized within the Dinaric religion, and the Svanetian culture relatively preserved.

Svaneti was an important region for the Kingdom of Varkana, as it was the location of several passages in the Dalian Mountains towards southern Christian kingdoms. The Svanetian population retained a degree of autonomy, acting as the political authority of the region, while the royally appointed Varkan officials held administrative and military power. In that context, Svaneti was more of an early protectorate than an integral part of Varkana. If the population ever came into conflict with the Varkan officials, the latter had the authority to send royal troops into the region. This, however, never occurred.

After the Varkan union with Aetolia, Svaneti became an integral part of the Kingdom of Varkana, the Hand sent resident commissioners called Kephale (Aetolian: κεφαλή, "head") to Adygekale. In 1440 the Kephales and the majority of the Varkans living in Adygekale were killed in a riot, and Dinaric troops arrived quickly and suppressed the rebels in the next year. The Dinarides exerted military and administrative control of the region, while the Varkan government granted Svaneti a degree of political autonomy. The Varkan commander publicly executed a number of supporters of the rebels and, as in 1443 and 1448, made changes in the political structure and drew up a formal organization plan. The Varkans installed a Svanetian as ruler, leading a governing council, but elevated the role of Kephales to include more direct involvement in Svanetian internal affairs. At the same time the Varkans took steps to counterbalance the power of the aristocracy by adding officials recruited from Armazist bishops to key posts.

These measures stabilized the region, and while several religious minorities, mainly Magdalenans, fled Central Illypnia during the Two Centuries War, Svaneti remained homogeneous and Armazist. However, in the 18th century the situation in Svaneti grew more tenuous. Tension between Varkans and Aetolians led to the Varkan Restoration War in 1758. Svaneti remained a constituent region of the state of Varkana. Small rebellions by Svanetians were quickly crushed by the First Republic of Varkana, and Svaneti was given an autonomous status as part of the Republic.

After the January Revolution, where several Svanetian partisans illustrated themselves, the region was once again integrated in Varkana, in the newly formed Socialist Republic of Varkana. Svaneti was divided in seven communes, and the population favored the new Kalandist government. During the 1880s, Svaneti developed considerably in cultural, educational and social life. Literacy was greatly improved, and a standard literary language was introduced by making West Svanetian the official languages of five communes, with the two others choosing East Svanetian. Economic and social development also was notable. Many aspects of Svanetian national culture were retained despite the suppression of nationalist activity under Levan Gotua, who controlled Varkana from 1922 until 1943.

Independence

The Treaty of Klow guaranteed independence to the Svanetian people, and the three communes voted to declare independence from the post-war Third Republic of Varkana on 12 March 1944 as the Republic of Svaneti. It gained full independence on the same date, recognized by Varkana and several other nations.

In June 1944, the leader of the Communist Party of Svaneti, Disha Natkho, ran unopposed and was elected president of the new independent Republic by direct ballot, receiving 95 percent of the votes cast. In 1948, Svaneti joined the Adonian Community. On 5 May 1949, the official name changed from the Republic of Svaneti to the Socialist Republic of Svaneti, ending its treaty-imposed multi-party system and establishing a single-party system under the Communist Party.

In 1949, with foreign threats more bold regarding Svaneti's communist government, after the end of the Great Adonian War, the country abandoned its conscripted military and only kept a national guard. Disha Natkho held talks with Varkan President Alexander Nadiradze, for a defense treaty between the two nations. A treaty was signed in Adygekale in February 1950, with Varkana guaranteeing the defense of Svaneti while respecting its territorial integrity, under the condition that Varkan troops could be stationed in the country and use the already existing military bases at will. Also included in the treaty was a joint partnership to train the Svaneti National Guard with the Varkan National Guard, as well as allowing military exercises in Svanetian territory.

Documents declassified in 2002 proved that both tactical and strategic chemical weapons have been maintained in Svaneti by the Varkan military. In 2002 and 2004, the Bechdvit reported speculation that not all weapons were removed from Svaneti.

Politics

Svaneti is a unitary Kalandist one-party socialist republic and the only communist state remaining in Illypnia. Although Svaneti remains officially committed to socialism as its defining creed, its economic policies have grown increasingly aristocratic communalistic in the last decades due to its unique relationship with Varkana. Under the constitution, the Communist Party of Svaneti asserts their role in all branches of politics and society in the country.

Foreign relations

Throughout its history, Svaneti's main foreign relationship has been with Varkana as a constituent region. Following independence in 1943, Svaneti started establishing its own foreign relations. Svaneti holds membership in ## international organizations, including the Adonian Community (AC), Mesogean Cooperation Organization (as an Observer), and the Energy Standard Organization. It also maintains relations with over 450 non-government organizations. As of 2016, Svaneti had established diplomatic relations with 178 countries.

Svaneti's current foreign policy is to consistently implement the policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, co-operation, and development, as well the openness and diversification/multilateralization of international relations, with the country further declaring itself as a friend and partner of all countries in the international community, regardless of their political affiliation, by actively taking part in international and regional cooperation, especially in country development. Svaneti has a privileged relationship with neighbor Varkana who is committed to defending the country, having military bases in Svaneti for partially that purpose.

Despite mild improvements in relations between the two countries, Breisland still holds a trade and arms embargo against Svaneti, making it illegal for Breislandic companies to do business in Svaneti.

Human rights

The Svanetian government has been accused of numerous human rights abuses including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials, and extrajudicial executions. Human Rights Watch has stated that the government "represses nearly all forms of political dissent" and that "Svanetians are systematically denied basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, privacy, movement, and due process of law".

The policy objectives of both the Svanetian communist government and international donors remain focused toward achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, but restrictions on freedom of expression and association are a source of concern. The barring of independent human rights monitors makes an exact appraisal of the situation impossible. The death penalty remains in force, although no executions have been reported since 1993.

Military

Svaneti has no standing army. The Varkan military maintains about 15,000 troops in the country's five military bases, including two air bases. Svaneti has a National Guard of about 10,000 volunteers and provisions under its constitution to form citizen militias if attacked and necessary.

It is generally agreed by historians that the Svanetian move to abolish its military was a solution to anti-communist threats by major powers in the region, notably Breisland, after the Great Adonian War. According to Varkan historian Kote Marjanishvili, "Svaneti remaining Communist was a blow to Breisland who had just removed Communists from Varkana and made Svaneti independent to weaken Varkana." To remain off the radar, "Svaneti then abolished its military so it wouldn't appear as a threat, as small as it would have been. A Communist nation without an army becomes completely irrelevant to a Capitalist power."

According to the 2014 Global Peace Index, Svaneti is one of Adonia's most peaceful countries.

Administrative divisions

Svaneti is divided into ten communes. U/C

Geography

The country is bordered by Echia to the west and north-west, Varkana to the north-east, Kastruneto to the south, and Ashakarra to the south-east. It covers 72,466 km² and is extremely mountainous, covering a significant part of the western Dalian Mountains and the eastern Apennines.

The majority of the Svanetian population live in the Mtkvari valley, where the capital Adygekale is located.

Ecology

Climate

Economy

The Svanetian economy depends heavily on investment and trade with its neighbors, Echia and especially in the north, Varkana. In 2016, Varkana was the biggest foreign investor in Svaneti's economy far surpassing any other investors. Aetolia was the second largest investor, and Echia ranked third.

Svaneti is rich in mineral resources and exports uranium. Metallurgy is an important industry, and the government has attracted foreign investment to develop the substantial deposits of uranium in the south of the country. Varkana's Saseko dominates the sector in joint ventures with Svanetian state-owned companies. In addition, the country's plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy. The government of Svaneti owns 10% of Erelko as part of the power contract between the two nations signed in 1964. The agreement made Erelko the sole electric generating and distributing state-owned company in Svaneti and guaranteed the construction and maintenance of generating stations and power lines to carry the power to markets. Additionally, all the electricity generated in Svaneti would first be made available for the Svanetian market, and the reminder would be exported to Varkana.

Tourism

The tourism sector has grown rapidly, from 300,000 international visitors in 1986, to 4.5 million in 2016. In 2016, one in every seven jobs was in the tourism sector. Export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods are expected to generate 20 percent of total exports or ?? million in 2016.

The main attractions for tourists include gastronomy and Armazist temples in the capital of Adygekale; backpacking and trekking in the Dalian Mountains and the Apennines; ancient and modern culture and history in the Mtkavari valley; skiing in the numerous ski resorts of the country; rafting or kayaking in the major rivers; and spotting wildlife in the various national parks. The Svanetian National Tourism Administration and related government agencies are working together to realize the vision put forth in the country's National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan. This includes decreasing the environmental and cultural impact of tourism; increasing awareness in the importance of biological diversity; providing a source of income to conserve, sustain and manage the Svanetian protected area network and cultural heritage sites; and emphasizing the need for tourism zoning and management plans for sites that will be developed as ecotourism destinations.

Most of foreign tourists to Svaneti come from the key Illypnian markets: Varkana, Aetolia, Volisania, Echia, Burawa, Orma, Kastruneto and Kalinova, followed by Bayara and Nabia. Illypnian tourists create more than 86% of Svaneti's tourist income. In 2016, Svaneti was declared Adonia's first green country by the Breislandic-based organization Grüne Reiseziel.

Most visitors arriving to Svaneti on short term basis are from the following countries of nationality:

Rank Country 2016 2017 2018
1  Varkana 2,750,027 3,134,836 3,462,712
2  Aetolia 471,581 534,453 741,089
3  Volisania 309,660 320,251 357,821
4  Echia 251,490 272,936 309,445
5  Burawa 102,552 135,664 163,766
6  Kastruneto 60,086 71,351 105,407
7  Orma 97,925 95,119 105,342
8  Kalinova 52,512 68,233 78,173
9  Bayara 36,770 42,708 56,559
10  Nabia 34,264 37,329 45,053

Demographics

The country has a population of 2,262,503 people according to the 2016 census. The population density in the region is low compared to neighboring countries. In 2016, it equaled to 29.5 inhabitants per km².

Ethnic groups

Languages

Population centers

Religion

Culture

Traditions

Public holidays

Tourism

Sports

Due to the mountainous terrain, alpine skiing is a prominent sport in Svaneti. Similar sports such as snowboarding or ski-jumping are also widely popular.

Education

Transport

Transport in Svaneti is severely constrained by the country's alpine topography. Roads have to snake up steep valleys, cross passes of 3,000 meters altitude and more, and are subject to frequent mud slides and snow avalanches. Winter travel is close to impossible in many of the more remote and high-altitude regions.

U/C

Airports

At the end of the Great Adonian War there were about 30 airports and airstrips in Svaneti, many of them built primarily to serve military purposes in this border region so close to Kastruneto. Only a few of them remain in service today. Avia Svaneti provides air transport to Varkana, Aetolia, and other local countries.

Railways

Svaneti has historically been the endpoint of Varkana's rail system in the south. Following the emergence of independent Svaneti, the rail lines have continued linking with Varkana's major cities along the Mtkvari valley.

In the 1980s, Varkana has invested in Svaneti with several government agreements to expand the Varkan high-speed rail network to Svaneti with the Naruja-Adygekale line opened in 1992. In the 2000s, negotiations with Svaneti, Ashakarra to link Tsqaltubo to Okumi were held, and a line was constructed during that period passing through the Svanetian commune of ???, and opened in 2016, MSR Okumi.

Rail links with adjacent countries

Highways

The road freight and passenger transport constitutes the largest part of transport in Svaneti. Currently there are two main motorways in Svaneti: the A1 and A2. The A1 motorway connects Adygekale to the Varkan border along the Mtkavari River. The A2 motorway connects Adygekale and Ashakarra. An additional motorway is currently under construction. The A3 motorway is going to connect the capital city Adygekale with Kastruneto, linking Svaneti with Central Illypnia to the south. Since the 2000s, main roadways have drastically improved, though lacking standards in design and road safety. At present, major communes are linked with either new single/dual carriageways or well maintained roads.