A Brief History of Remittances and Immigration in Georgia
A gateway between Europe and Asia, Georgia has seen it all. From Roman invasions to the Russian Empire, the land of the Colchians has been exposed to many cultures, languages and traditions.
Georgia’s rich history has paved the way for a delectable local cuisine and mesmerizing architecture, but political unrest caused by shifts in government, among other reasons, have led many citizens to migrate.
However, thousands of people from neighboring countries have filled the gap left behind by migrating Georgians, a curious fact we will explore more in depth below.
Georgia’s relationship with immigration
According to Geostat, the National Statistics Office, nearly 99,000 Georgians have left their native country as of this year.
Over 70% have done so to find better job opportunities, while another 15% have moved abroad to study, reunite with family or marry.
The top destinations for Georgian migrants are Russia, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany and the United States. That being said, migration to Russia is mostly male while migration to Turkey, Greece and Italy is primarily female.
On the other hand, more than 88,000 immigrants currently live in Georgia. Most of them come from Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia seeking job opportunities. A breakdown of the positions held by migrant workers in Georgia can be found below.
The “2017 Migration Profile of Georgia” published by the State Commission on Migration Issues stated that foreign citizens registered 35,533 Ltds, foreign company branches, joint stock companies and own businesses between 2012 and 2016.
The impact of remittances in Georgia
Based on World Bank estimates, remittances represent over 12% of Georgia’s GDP. In 2018, the country received around US$2 billion.
The biggest contributions come from Russia (US$1 billion), Ukraine (US$145 million) and Greece (US$94 million), with these funds mostly being used to pay for food, communal fees, clothing and healthcare.
On a macroeconomic level, remittances help foreign exchange inflow and reserves, allowing Georgia to repay its foreign debt and as trading leverage to purchase imported goods.
In short, remittances continue to positively impact the country while Georgia’s economy develops and stabilizes.