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Map Source: Parliament of Georgia

Population: 407,200

Size: 6,600 sq km

Main Town: Kutaisi (pop: 241,100)

Average salary: 94.7 GEL ($52) per month

Principal economic activities: Vehicle manufacturing, metal processing, wood processing, mineral processing, textiles, agriculture

Minorities: Predominantly ethnic Georgian. Fewer than 2 percent are ethnic Armenian and Russian.

Birth Rate: 9.2 per 1,000 people (2003)

Death Rate: 11.8 per 1,000 people (2003)

Nutshell History: Once part of the ancient kingdom of Colchis – think Jason and his Argonauts – Imereti has long been at the nerve center of Georgian history. From 978 until 1122, Kutaisi, Imereti’s regional seat, served as the capital of a united Georgian kingdom, After that kingdom collapsed, the region, a frequent battle zone, eventually came under Turkish control in the early 1500s, a state of affairs that would last for over 200 years. In 1804 King Solomon of Imereti finally placed the region under Russian suzerainty. Since then, its center, Kutaisi, has served as the de facto capital of western Georgia.

Claim to Fame: In the Soviet period, Imereti was considered an industrial powerhouse. A song portrayed Kutaisi as the main “builder of Georgian industry.” Among other industrial units, the Zestaphoni ferro-alloy plant and the Kutaisi Automobile Factory are considered strategic economic assets. But Imereti is also rich in historical sites: from Kutaisi’s Bagrati Cathedral, to the monastery of Gelati and the site of Vani, a main Colchis town and perhaps home to King Aeetes, owner of the Golden Fleece.

Statistics Source: State Department for Statistics of Georgia

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