Politically, Georgia is trapped between three giants: Russia, Turkey and Iran (Persia). To a large extent the history of Georgia has consisted of trying to play one invading giant off against another - with varying degrees of success. Georgia originally became a cohesive state around 400 BC, but subsequently became caught in a centuries long feud between Rome and Persia. The kingdom of Georgia finally achieved independence around 1100- AD under Queen Tamar (coincidentally the first female ruler). In many ways this was the zenith of early Georgian history. Interestingly there is no real word for "queen" in Georgian, it just means "wife of the king," so Tamar is often referred to as a king. (I'll write later about the Georgian language, but one feature is the lack of gender pronouns: he, she, it are all the same).
Tamar only ruled for 29 years and shortly after her death Georgia was invaded by the Mongols, followed by Persians and Ottomans for the next 500 years. Finally in the late 1700's Georgia signed a treaty with Russia basically making Georgia a protectorate. This ended up being a poor choice. When Iran invaded in 1795 Russia offered no assistance and the capital of Tbilisi was sacked. When Russia was finally moved to act it simply annexed all of Georgia and in 1802 Georgia was fully incorporated into the Russian empire. After the Russian revolution in 1917 Georgia declared independence and for about 2 years was an English protectorate, but then the country got steam-rolled by the Soviet Army in 1921 and that was that for awhile.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 Georgia declared independence - once again - and has remained mostly independent ever since. However two regions, South Ossetia and Ajaria, while technically part of Georgia, are ethnically distinct and have maintained their autonomy. This has led to simmering tensions and in 2008 things blew up. The Russian army came in once more and pretty much squashed the Georgian army, and then left. Since then Georgia has tried to join NATO (yet another "friendly" giant) but has thus far been denied, although technically Georgia is an "Independent Partner."
The upshot of all this history is that Georgia has an amazingly rich cultural heritage. While the Georgian language and ethnicity are truly unique, there are strong flavorings of Turkish, Persian and Russian culture here, not to mention Armenian and Azeri. The food, architecture, art and music are all influenced by Georgia's big neighbors, and yet Georgians are intensely proud of their own unique heritage and traditions. Georgia is at the crossroads between East and West. When you explore this small country you encounter centuries of diverse cultural history.