Georgian is the prevalent and official language in Georgia. It is a Caucasian tongue which is not even remotely related to any other language in the world. It is distinctive for its unusual use of consonants (many words start with a string of two to eight sounds). Many locals also understand Russian (especially the older generation) which was compulsory during the hostile Soviet years. The young generation prefers to study English, making it a fast-growing second language throughout the country. A phrasebook is a must for any visit, especially since signs are rarely bilingual (except in metropolitan Tbilisi). However, most of the road signs use both Latin and Georgian scripts.
Georgia uses the lari (GEL) as its official currency. GEL 1 is equivalent to 100 tetri, and notes come in denominations of GEL 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 2. ATMs are common as is the use of credit cards. Travelers’ checks are also accepted. Import and export of foreign and local currency is not restricted although amounts exceeding GEL 30,000 and its equivalent must be declared. Money may be exchanged in banks and at offices and shops throughout Tbilisi.
Electrical supply is distributed at 220 V, as opposed to 110-120 V in the US/Canada. European type plugs are used, so bring an appropriate adapter and voltage converter for your gadgets. You should also be advised that electrical supply may be intermittent during the months of November through March.
Communication is reliable throughout Georgia, with companies offering good phone lines and cell coverage. The country code for Georgia is +995, followed by a two- or three-digit area code (32 for Tbilisi) and a six- to seven-digit phone number. Internet access is available from providers like Caucasus Online and United Georgian Telecom. Major hotels offer Wi-Fi, while internet cafés are abundant and cheap.
You may import up to 200 cigarettes, three liters of wine or 10 liters of beer and personal goods not exceeding 100 kg into Georgia without incurring customs duty. Prohibited items include military weapons, drug paraphernalia, narcotics, loose pearls and pornography. Exporting antiques and art is also subject to licensing and permission from the Ministry of Culture.
Department of Tourism and Resorts: +995-32-226-125 or www.georgia.travel
Consulates in Georgia
American Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-227-7000
Armenian Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-951-723
Azerbaijan Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-282-639
Belgian Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-465-200
Finnish Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-473-555
French Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-999-976
German Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-447-300
Russian Consulate, Tbilisi: +995-32-912-406
Gas leaks: 114
Property Security Police: 125