Georgia

Why do the state and country have the same name?

By Deane Barker

This is probably just a coincidence.

The U.S. State of Georgia is very clearly named for King George the II. It became a colony in 1732 while King George was in power.

The country of Georgia is one of the former Soviet republics, located north of Armenia, between the Black and Caspian seas.

Where it got its name is the subject of debate –

  • There is a rumor that it was named for St. George, but this seems unlikely
  • It appears on a Italian map from the 1300s as “Gorgania”
  • The Persian name for the natives of the area was “gorgan”

So, it likely just grew out of the Persian name and was modified over the years by anglo speakers to be something that easily rolled off the tongue.

It’s also worth noting that the country of Georgia is only known that way externally. The internal name of the country is Sakartvelo, but since the rest of the world knows it as Georgia, that’s how residents often name it as well.

Why I Looked It Up

I never even knew the country existed until the opening scene of a Schwarzenegger movie called Red Heat. The hero arrests a criminal who says “You’re always harassing us Georgians.” I was 17 at the time, and I was confused because I only knew it as the state.

Over the years, I had kind of wondered about it. However, it came up again because a co-worker is from Georgia (the country). I had a call with her and got to talking about the country a bit, then I watched a lovely little video about Tbilisi, and I decided to find out where the name came from.

Postscript

Added on

This TikTok video reinforces the idea that it’s just a coincidence. It says that Georgia the State was clearly named after King George. There are multiple theories of where Georgia the Country got its name, and the most likely ones don’t involve the name “George” at all.

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