Svaneti - is a historic province in Georgia, in the northwestern part of the country. It is inhabited by the Svans, a geographic subgroup of the Georgians.
Surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Four of the 10 highest peaks of the Caucasus are located in the region.
The highest mountain in Georgia, Mount Shkhara at 5,201 meters (17,059 feet), is located in the province. Prominent peaks include Tetnuldi (4,974m./16,319ft.), Shota Rustaveli (4,960m./16,273ft.), Mt. Ushba (4,710m./15,453ft.), Ailama (4,525m./14,842ft.), as well as Lalveri, Latsgaand others.
The climate of Svaneti is humid and is influenced by the air masses coming in from the Black Sea throughout the year. Average temperatures and precipitation vary considerably with elevation. Annual precipitation ranges between 1000 and 3200mm (39 and 126 inches). The highest amount of precipitation falls on the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The region is characterized by very heavy snowfall in the winter and avalanches are a frequent occurrence. Snow cover may reach 5 meters (16.4 feet) in some areas.
The Svans, the indigenous population of Svanetia, are ethnic subgroup of the Georgians. Until the 1930s,Mingrelians and Svans had their own census grouping, but were classified under the broader category of Georgian thereafter. They are Georgian Orthodox Christians, and were Christianized in the 4th-6th centuries. However, some remnants of old paganism have been maintained. Saint George (known as Jgëræg to the locals), a patron saint of Georgia, is the most respected saint. The Svans have retained many of their old traditions, including blood revenge. Their families are small, and the husband is the head of his family. The Svan really respect the older women in families.
Typically bilingual, they use both Georgian and their own, unwritten Svan language, which together with the Georgian, Mingrelian, and Laz languages constitute the South Caucasian or Kartvelian language family. The Svan language is being largely replaced by the Georgian proper.
Svanetia is known for their architectural treasures and picturesque landscapes. The Botany of Svanetia is legendary among travelers. The famous Svanetian towers erected mainly in the 9th-12th centuries, make the region’s villages more attractive. In the province are dozens of Georgian Orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. Architectural monuments of Upper Svanetia are included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Svan culture survives most wonderfully in its songs and dances. Svanetia boasts the most complex form of Georgian polyphonic singing, traditional to Georgian vocal music.