The country has a total area of approximately 25,900 square miles (69,700 km²), and a population (as of 2014[update]) of 3.7 million people. They speak Ossetic, an Eastern Iranian (Alanic) language of the Indo-European language family, with most also fluent in Russian as a second language. Apart from the Georgian Orthodox Church, Christianity in Georgia is represented by followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, and a Georgian Catholic Church which mostly follows either the Latin Rite or the Armenian rite. Some ancient ethnic religion (paganism) is still practiced as a separate religion or herewith other religions. Citizens generally do not interfere with traditional religious groups; however, there have been reports of violence and discrimination against nontraditional religious groups. Miniature empires: a historical dictionary of the newly independent states. Judaism, which has been present since ancient times, is practiced in a number of communities throughout the country, especially in the largest cities, Tbilisi and Kutaisi. [15] During the period of Soviet policy of religious oppression, the Baháʼís in the Soviet Republics lost contact with the Baháʼís elsewhere. As the Ossetians lacked any single inclusive name for themselves in their native language, these terms were accepted by the Ossetians themselves already before their integration into the Russian Empire. 1997, Hedwig Lohm, "Dukhobors in Georgia: A Study of the Issue of Land Ownership and Inter-Ethnic Relations in, A history of the Georgian people, By William Edward David Allen, p. 153, Religion and education in Europe: developments, contexts and debates, By Robert Jackson, pg.67, "საქართველოს მოსახლეობის საყოველთაო აღწერის საბოლოო შედეგები", "GEORGIA iii. A 2015 study estimates some 1,300 Christian believers from a Muslim background in the country, most of them belonging to some form of Protestantism.[11]. Sometimes referred as a god of the gods. The wide variety of peoples inhabiting Georgia has meant a correspondingly rich array of active religions. A large Ossetian diaspora lives in Turkey, and Ossetians have also settled in Belgium, France, Sweden, Syria, the United States (primarily New York City, Florida and California), Canada (Toronto), Australia (Sydney), and other countries all around the world. Especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union, almost all of the country's Jews have left, mainly to Israel. – Ирон) in North and South Ossetia; and Digorian[32] (os. As was true elsewhere, the Christian church in Georgia was crucial to the development of a written language, and most of the earliest written works were religious texts. [28], The folk beliefs of the Ossetian people are rooted in their Sarmatian origin and Christian religion, with the pagan gods having been converted into Christian saints. The Georgian Orthodox Church, originally part of the Church of Antioch, gained its autocephaly and developed its doctrinal specificity progressively between the 5th and 10th centuries. Because the size of the community is now so small, and for economic reasons, the two congregations are now housed on two storeys of one of the formerly separate synagogues. Today most of the population in Georgia practices Orthodox Christianity, primarily in the Georgian Orthodox Church whose faithful make up 82.4% of the population. [31], The Ossetians descend from the Alans,[32] a Sarmatian tribe (Scythian subgroup of the Iranian ethnolinguistic group). In 1703, Vakhtang VI became the ruler of the kingdom of Kartli and he embraced Islam. Историческая ретроспектива", "Официальный сайт Постоянного представительства Республики Северная Осетия-Алания при Президенте РФ. Russian missionaries were not sent, as this would have been regarded by the Ossetians as too intrusive. Only a few countries--most notably Russia, which maintains a military presence in South Ossetia--recognize its independence. [32] Assianism (Uatsdin or Assdin in Ossetian), the Ossetian ethnic religion, is also widespread among Ossetians, with ritual traditions like animal sacrifices, holy shrines, non-Christian saints, etc.

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