In the 2021 Gallup Law and Order Index, which is based on people’s perceptions of whether they feel safe where they live, Georgia scored 88 out of 100, placing it in the top 20 safest countries in the world. In comparison to Georgia USA, the official crime statistics shows that the country of Georgia has 4 times less violent crimes per capita.
Georgia the country has come a long way over the last two decades. It went through a difficult path to restore a sense of justice and safety, along with the rule of law.
This article will cover a short historical summary that will help you understand the magnitude of success that Georgia has had in the fight against crime in recent years and how it became one of the safest destinations to visit in the world. Furthermore, the article will provide a comparative analysis of the recent crime situation in the country of Georgia and the state of Georgia. Last but not least, it will provide useful tips on things to watch out for during your visit to the country.
What Does History Tell Us?
Georgia has had a rough post-soviet experience, disrupted by separatist conflicts in two territories, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, and torn apart by a civil war that left the center of the capital in ruins and the country divided.
Prevalent corruption and mismanagement encouraged political and economic instability until 2003, when a former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, led a revolt known as the Rose Revolution.
Widespread dissatisfaction with the corrupt post-soviet regime resulted in the 2004 election of Mikheil Saakashvili as president. He pushed Georgia towards the west, setting membership in the European Union and Nato as top foreign policy goals.
From the Soviet-era “militsiya” to “police”
The ’90s were a dark time for Georgians. The police – known as “militsiya”- were viewed as a uniformed criminal gang that extorted their income through bribes, bogus fines, and licensing fees.
After the Rose Revolution (November 2003), Georgia began to recover. The anti-corruption measures restored public trust in the police. In an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine, Mikheil Saakashvili (The 3rd President of Georgia) mentioned that The total number of Ministry of Internal Affairs employees decreased from around 56,000 to 33,000. Violent crimes declined by 66% after the system reorganization. Auto thefts and carjackings practically disappeared. As Mikheil Saakashvili stated, ‘the overall crime rate dropped by over 50%. Georgia hadn’t needed so many police. It only needed good police.”
In comparison to the past, the police perform their duties properly and deliver services with better effectiveness and efficiency.
Georgia (Country) vs Georgia (the State)
Georgia shares its Latin name with one of the states located in the United States of America. That is why it’s not rare for it to be mistaken for the American state, however, how does Georgia compare to Georgia (the state) in terms of safety?
In 2020, the state of Georgia reported 167,313 crimes, out of which 27,916 were categorized as violent crimes (namely murder, rape, robbery, and assault). The total crime rate per 100,000 was 1,564.1.
On the other hand, the country of Georgia has recorded 56,596 crimes in 2020, from which 2,458 were against human beings, which include various forms of murder (i.e murder attempts, murder under aggravating circumstances, etc.) The total crime rate per 100,000 was 1,534.3.
We could compare the total crimes per 100,000 people in both areas, however, that doesn’t give us the full picture of how truly safe both locations are. It is better to focus on the percentage of violent crimes. If we look at the American Georgia, we can see that violent crimes make up 16.68% of all the crimes in the state. On the other hand, 4.34% of crimes in the country Georgia are classified as violent. In conclusion, we can see that the risk of being involved in a violent crime is ~4 times lower in Georgia the country rather than in the state of Georgia.
The Current Crime Situation in Georgia
As we’ve seen earlier Georgia is safer than its American counterpart. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, 13.5 thousand crimes were recorded in the first quarter of 2022, of which 49.1% were solved. On average 4.5-5 thousand crimes are recorded per month. This data suggests that the crime rate is relatively stable and hasn’t changed much since 2020.
Most commonly occurring crimes:
- One of the most common crimes in Georgia is theft – about 4.3 thousand cases were registered in three months, of which 42.4% were solved;
- In the first quarter of 2022, the second most commonly occurring crimes were drug-related. About 1.1 thousand drug-related crimes were recorded during this period, of which 85.5% were solved.
- Family violence came in third. Between January and March, investigators recorded 983 such crimes. It was possible to open 72.7%
What Things Should You Look Out For During Your Visit to Georgia?
Like anywhere in the world tourists are an easy target for scammers to prey on. Lack of knowledge of the local practices and pricing can lead to some unfortunate outcomes. Here is a list of things you should watch out for when visiting Georgia:
Taxi meters are not a common feature in many taxis in Georgia, that is why it is easy for a tourist to fall for fake pricing. When you land in Georgia for the first time, outside of the airport, you will meet several taxi drivers that will offer you a ride into the city. The prices that will be offered to you will most likely be overpriced, this can be easily countered by downloading a taxi app called Bolt or Yandex. These apps will show you the final price for the ride to your destination and will be priced fairly.
Many travelers don’t like to miss out on bars when visiting a foreign place. Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, is known for its nightlife. Fabrika, Stamba, and Chacha Corner* are very well-known places, where international visitors can hang out at night, nonetheless, some places maliciously benefit on international visitors.
*Members of ExpatCard get a 15% discount at Chacha Corner and can also attend Chacha degustations.
An example of such a place would be Scarpa lounge bar, located on Agmashenebeli Avenue, one of the best tourist streets in Tbilisi. The owner of this bar has been arrested in 2021, due to malicious business practices. The bar sold cheap products that have been disguised as expensive to its customers.
When visiting a new place, it is quite hard to know how much is a reasonable charge for a couple of drinks. To decrease the chance of getting overcharged in bars, it is wise to check reviews of a place on Google or apps such as Tripadvisor.
Tips For Solo Female Travelers
Despite the fact that Tbilisi is considered to be safe and the crime rates are generally low, it is always smart to follow some rules as a solo female traveler. Even though it is not common practice for drinks to get spiked in Tbilisi, it is important to be aware of any offers of alcohol from strangers in bars and not to leave your drinks unattended. Generally, try not to walk around uninhabited or poorly lit areas at night, and be very careful with your personal belongings such as bags, wallets, mobile phones, etc. as tourists can become an easy target for thieves. In case you might feel unsafe, thanks to the large police presence in the city, it is very easy to seek help in case of need.
Conclusion: Is Georgia Safe?
Georgia has come a long way since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has successfully transformed from chaos into one of the safest places in the world.
Nonetheless, no country in the world has a crime rate of 0%. In fact, there will always be some factors that may affect your traveling process in Georgia, namely different types of scams, false pricing, etc. That is why you should always do your research before visiting a new country.
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