Geography Located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, Tusheti is bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan to the north and east, respectively; and by the Georgian historic provinces Kakheti and Pshav-Khevsureti to the south and west, respectively. The population of the area is mainly ethnic Georgians called Tushs or Tushetians (Georgian: tushebi). Historically, Tusheti comprised four mountain communities of the Alazani Valley. These are Tsova, Gometzari, Chaghma and the Piriq’iti Tusheti (formerly known as Pharsman's Tusheti). Included in the present day Akhmeta raioni, Kakheti region, Georgia, the area comprises ten villages with Omalo being the largest.
History The first who inhabited the province were the pagan Georgians from Pkhovi who took refuge in the uninhabited mountains during their rebellion against Christianization implemented by the Iberian king Mirian III in the 330s. Subsequently, they were forcibly converted to Christianity and subdued by the Georgian kings. After the collapse of the unified Georgian monarchy, Tusheti came under the rule of Kakhetian kings in the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century, the North Caucasian Bats people (relatives of the Chechens and Ingushes) began settling in the Tsova Gorge of Tusheti. King Levan of Kakheti (1520-1574) granted them the lands in the Alvani Valley in exchange for their military service. Known to the local Georgians as the Tsova-Tushs, they have a high degree of assimilation and are typically bilingual using both Georgian and their own Bats languages. Nowadays, the latter is spoken only in a village Zemo Alvani.
During the German invasion of Soviet Union, a minor anti-Soviet revolt took place in the area in 1942-1943, seemingly linked to the similar but more large-scale events in the neighboring Ingushetia.
Culture Traditionally, the Tushs are sheep herders. Tushetian Gouda (cheese) cheese and high quality wool was famous and was exported to Europe and Russia. Even today sheep and cattle breeding is the leading branch of the economy of highland Tusheti. The local shepherds spend the summer months in the highland areas of Tusheti but live in the lowland villages of Zemo Alvani and Kvemo Alvani in wintertime. Their customs and traditions are similar to those of other eastern Georgian mountaineers (see Khevsureti). One of the most ecologically unspoiled regions in the Caucasus, Tusheti is a popular mountain-trekking venue.