Karl Kautsky


Chapter I
Natural Conditions

WHAT we learn to know when visiting a country are its forms and colours, and the character of its landscape.

At a first glance Georgia is bewitching, and this impression deepens as the endless variety of its pictures disclose themselves to our view. From a sea coast, with sub-tropical vegetation, the Caucasus rises to a height of more than fifteen thousand feet. The German explorer, Merzbacher, relates in his book, “The Caucasian Highlands,” that from the summit of Elbrus (18,000 feet), he enjoyed a view which made such a powerful impression that compared with it the peaks of the Central Alps only left a feeble remembrance.

He also declares that the Via Mala, the Tamina, the Liechtenstein Gorge, and other renowned places, were left far behind by the wild, rocky scenery of the Tchegen, or of the Alasan and Korsuf rivers. Neither the Bernese; Oberland nor Engadine, neither Judikarien nor Cortina came near to equalling the Swanetnian landscape in the grandeur of its proportions, in the harmony of its parts, in the wealth of its vegetation, or in the splendour of its colours.

I have quoted the testimony of the classic explorer of the mountains and peoples of the Caucasus, as I was prevented from enjoying its beauties on the spot.

Merzbacher was as well acquainted with the Alps as with the Caucasus, and others, who know both mountain ranges, consider the beauty and dimensions of the Caucasus to be superior to those of the Alps. If the reader will imagine the Bay of Naples to be a part of Switzerland, he will get an idea of the variety and perfection of nature to be found in Georgia.

Georgia not only combines sub-tropical coasts and glaciers, but also contains a great fulness of vegetation, produced by the tropical heat and great humidity, and close to this are and desert regions. There is also a surprising number of medicinal springs of various kinds, which burst out of the volcanic soil.

Georgia has much to offer to invalids as well as to nature lovers and artists. Before the war, tourists and invalids, both from Russia and from Western Europe, had begun to visit the wonderful country whose attractions were heightened by the fact that, unlike Switzerland and Italy, they were in many respects as yet untried. In the Caucasus there are virgin forests and remote valleys which no stranger has hitherto trodden. An evidence of the primitive character of the country is furnished by the circumstance that large beasts of prey are constantly met with there, as well as other kinds of wild animals. Bear’s flesh comes into the market at Tiflis for sale, like beef with us, and at no higher price. On one occasion when, out of curiosity, I bought some bear’s flesh, I asked where the bear had been shot, and was informed fifty miles from Tiflis – quite near the capital, and not in some remote Caucasian valley.

But Georgia is not only a veritable paradise for tourists, sportsmen and invalids. Nature, also, felt obliged to please the economists. Natural beauty and richness of soil, which are so seldom, found together, are combined in Georgia to an extraordinary degree. The soil is extremely fruitful and capable of bearing rich harvests of southern and northern products, according to the position of the land. Oranges, figs, olives and tea flourish on the coast of the Black Sea, and cotton is cultivated towards Azerbaijan. Maize, wheat or barley are sown almost everywhere. Georgia is particularly rich in excellent wine, and seems to be the home of the grape, which grows wild in the woods. Tobacco also thrives very well, and, in quality, seems to be better than that of Trebizond. Nowhere have I seen such abundance of fruit as in Georgia, and in this respect it can only he compared with California. The Georgian mountains, especially the Caucasus, are infinitely rich in valuable woods. In minerals, too, Georgia conceals great treasures, of which the most important is the manganese of Tchiaturi, which ranks as the richest in the world. The three most considerable deposits of manganese are to be found in Brazil, India and Georgia. In 1913 these countries exported:



tons of manganese.





Rich seams of coal are found in Georgia in at least two places, and, in addition, iron, copper, lead, zinc, etc.

In antiquity the country was famed for its gold (whence the legend of the Golden Fleece), but no gold mines are worked to-day. In many copper and zinc mines small admixtures of gold are found in the ore.


Last updated on 28.2.2017