About Svaneti

Upper Svaneti, one of the provinces of Georgia, is located in the valley of the Enguri River. The main range of the Caucasus boarders it from the north and separates Svaneti from Kabardo-Balkaria and Karachi-Cherkessiaof the Russian Federation. The following provinces of Georgia surround the Upper Svaneti: the Lower Svaneti and Racha from the east, Lechkhumi and Samegrelo from the south and Abkhazia from the west. The Southern borderline of the Upper Svaneti is made of the Svaneti Range, which starts from the Khoruldashi Mountain at the merge of the rivers Enguri and Tskhenistkali and stretches till Samegrelo.

The overall area of the territory is 3,044 sq. km. Major part of the landscape is a high mountainous valley. Its length is 120 km and the width – 20-25 km.

Landscape

The following five main landscape types can be isolated in Upper Svaneti:

  • Mountain- Forest Zone: between 500-1,500 meters above the sea. Characterized by cold, wet winter and mild warm summer. The landscape consists of steep plateaus, deep valleys and watershed ranges.
  • Sub-alpine Zone: between 1,200- 1,900 meters above the sea. characterized by mild landscape, cold, wet winter and mildly hot long summer.
  • Alpine Zone between 1,900- 3,300 meters above the sea. Characterized by cold, wet climate, short chilly summer and long winter
  • Sub ulpic zone: between 3,000 – 3,300 meters above the sae. Consists of the continuum of Caucasus, Svaneti and Kuruldashi Ranges, characterized mostly by the landscape and the tough climate.
  • Noval Zone (from the 3,300 meters and above: consists of the Caucasus, Svaneti and Other ranges. Characterized by the forms, tough climate. The main part of the territory is covered with snow all year long.

Population

Svans, the indigenous population of Svaneti, live here from the ancient times. They have own spoken language, which together with another spoken language of Samegrelo make up the family of Georgian languages. Main town of Upper Svaneti is mestia. The total population of Upper Svaneti is approximately 14 thousand people. Most of Svan last names can easily be identified by their endings “-iani”, “-ani”. This ethnic group with its own language, dress style (one attribute of which – the Svan hat- is still part of everyday life), architecture and cuisine forms unique culture you want to be exposed to.

Places of Historic significance

The oldest place of historic significance found in Svaneti is dated back to Stone Age and is located in Lengeri village at 1,600 meters above the see, on the western plateau of the Hastvali Range, that separates the Mestia Chala and the Enguri rivers. There are more then 190 churches, 200 towers and 5 museums in Svaneti

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