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Map Source: Parliament of Georgia

Population: 447,900

Size: 11,340 sq. km

Main Town: Telavi (pop: 26,008)

Average salary: GEL 74.8 (about $41) per month

Principal economic activities: Grapes, agricultural products, scrap metal

Minorities: While most of Kakheti’s residents are ethnic Georgians and members of the Georgian Orthodox church, Azerbaijanis in the region account for roughly 7 percent of the total population. A small number of Russians and Armenians are also scattered throughout the area. A small community of Kists and Chechen refugees reside in the region’s Pankisi Gorge area, along the border with Chechnya.

Birth Rate: 8.2 per 1,000

Death Rate: 10.9 per 1,000

Nutshell History: Kakheti has existed on and off as an autonomous region throughout its turbulent history, spending a great deal of time as part of the Persian, Ottoman and Russian Empires. Along with the neighboring region of Kartli, Kakheti was one of the building blocks of East Georgia’s Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti. Kakheti lost its royal rulers in 1801 when Russia annexed East Georgia and abolished the monarchy. As part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, Kakheti served as the Soviet Union’s biggest wine producing region. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, though, the region has suffered severe economic hardships, as wine production has slumped, forcing many of the region’s farmers to farm only for subsistence living.

Claim to Fame: In addition to its reputation for wine, Kakheti is second only to neighboring Kartli in the number of architectural monuments under state protection. Among these 5,000 monuments are the monastery cave complex of David Garaja, the Cathedral of Alaverdi, and the house museum of Alexander Chavchavadze, the 19th century Georgian poet and intellectual.

Statistics Source: UNICEF; USAID; CIA World Fact Book, State Department for Statistics of Georgia

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