Shida Kartli is a region in Georgia. It consists of the following districts: Gori, Kaspi, Kareli, Java, Khashuri.
The northern part of the region, namely Java, and northern territories of Kareli and Gori, (total area of 1,393 km²) is controlled by the authorities of the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia since 1992.
Gori is a city in eastern Georgia, which serves as the regional capital of Shida Kartli and the centre of the eponymous administrative district. The name is from Georgian gora , that is, "heap", or "hill". As of 2002, it had a population of 49,500.
Gori was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages and maintains a strategic importance due to its location on the principal highway connecting eastern and western parts of Georgia. In the course of its history, Gori has been invaded by the armies of regional powers several times. The city was occupied by Russian troops during the 2008 South Ossetian War. Gori is also known as the birthplace of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
The territory of Gori has been populated since the early Bronze Age. According to the medieval Georgian chronicles, the town of Gori was founded by King David IV (r. 1089-1125) who settled there the refugees from Armenia. However, the fortress of Gori (Goris-Tsikhe), appears to have been in use already in the 7th century, and archaeological evidence indicates the existence of an urban community in Classical Antiquity. In 1299, Gori was captured by the Alan tribesmen fleeing the Mongol conquest of their original homeland in the North Caucasus. The Georgian king George V recovered the town in 1320, pushing the Alans back over the Caucasus mountains.
With the downfall of the medieval Georgian kingdom, Gori – strategically located at the crossroads of major transit routes – was frequently targeted by foreign invaders, and changed its masters on several occasions. It was first taken and sacked by Uzun Hassan of the Ak Koyunlu in 1477, followed by Tahmasp I of Persia in the mid-16th century. By the end of that century, Gori passed to the Ottomans and became their major outpost in Georgia until being recovered by the Georgians under Simon I of Kartli after heavy fighting in 1599. The town was once again garrisoned by the Persians under Shah Abbas I in 1614.
Following successive occupations by the Ottomans (1723-35) and Persians (1735-40s), Gori returned to the Georgian control under the kings Teimuraz II and Erekle II whose efforts helped to advance economy and culture in the town. Following the Russian annexation of Georgia, Gori was granted the status of a town within the Tiflis Governorate in 1801. It grew in size and population throughout the 19th century, but was destroyed in the 1920 earthquake. An important industrial center in Soviet times, Gori suffered from an economic collapse and the outflow of population during the years of a post-Soviet crisis of the 1990s.