Georgia is bounded by the Black Sea to the west and by Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It occupies the western part of Transcaucasia covering an area of 26,900 sq. mi. (69,700 sq. km.) and a population of 5.42 million. Capital: Tbilisi. Hydro-electricity, minerals, forestry and agriculture are the chief industries. ,The Georgian dynasty first emerged after the Macedonian victory over the Achaemenid Persian empire in the 4th century B.C. Roman ?friendship? was imposed in 65 B.C. after Ptolemy?s victory over Mithradates. The Georgians embraced Christianity in the 4th century A.D. During the next three centuries Georgia was involved in the ongoing conflicts between the Byzantine and Persian empires. The latter developed control until Georgia regained its independence in 450-503 A.D. but then it reverted to a Persian province in 533 A.D., then restored as a kingdom by the Byzantine and Persian empires. The latter established as an Arab emirate in the 8th century. Over the following centuries Turkish and Persian rivalries along with civil strife, divided the area under the two influences.,, ,Russian interests increased and a treaty of alliance was signed on July 24, 1773, whereby Russia guaranteed Georgian independence while it acknowledged Russian suzerainty. Persia invaded again in 1795. Russia slowly took over annexing piece by piece and soon developed total domination. After the Russian Revolution, the Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis formed the short-lived Transcaucasian Federal Republic on Sept. 20, 1917, which broke up into three independent republics on May 26, 1918. Germano-Georgian treaty was signed on May 28, 1918, followed by a Turko-Georgian peace treaty on June 4. The end of World War I and the collapse of the central powers allowed free elections. ,On May 20, 1920, Soviet Russia concluded a peace treaty recognizing its independence, but later invaded on Feb. 11, 1921 and a soviet republic was proclaimed. On March 12, 1922 Stalin included Georgia in a newly formed Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. On Dec. 5, 1936, the T.S.F.S.R. was discovered and Georgia became a direct member of the U.S.S.R. The collapse of the U.S.S.R. allowed full transition to independence and on April 9, 1991, the republic, as an independent state, based in its original treaty of independence of May 1918 was declared. Monetary System:, ,1 Lari = 1,000,000 ?old? Laris, 1995- ,1 Lari = 100 Thetri to 1995 ,The Gambia was once part of the great empires of Ghana and Songhay. When Portuguese gold seekers and slave traders visited the Gambia in the 15th century, it was part of the Kingdom of Mali. In 1588 the territory became, through purchase, the first British colony in Africa. English slavers established Fort James, the first settlement, on a small island a dozen miles up the Gambia River in 1664. After alternate periods of union with Sierra Leone and existence as a separate colony, the Gambia became a British colony in 1888. On February 18, 1965, the Gambia achieved independence as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations, with Elizabeth II as Head of State as Queen of the Gambia. It became a republic on April 24, 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth, but with the president as Chief of state and Head of Government. Rulers:, ,British to 1970 Monetary System:, ,1 Shilling = 12 Pence ,1 Pound = 20 Shillings to 1970 ,1 Dalasi = 100 Bututs 1970- Rulers:, ,British to 1970 Monetary System:, ,1 Shilling = 12 Pence ,1 Pound = 20 Shillings to 1970 ,1 Dalasi = 100 Bututs 1970- ,Gabon was first visited by Portuguese navigator Diego Cam in the 15th century. Dutch, French, and British traders, lured by the rich stands of hard woods and oil palms, quickly followed. The French founded their first settlement on the left bank of the Gabon River in 1839 and established their presence by signing treaties within the tribal chiefs. After gradually extending their influence into the interior during the last half of the 19th century, France occupied Gabon in 1885 and, in 1910, organized it as one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa. It became an autonomous republic within the French Union in 1946, and on August 17, 1960, became a completely independent republic within the new French Community. ,Note: For related currency, see the Equatorial African States. Monetary System:, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes ,Prior to the mid-19th century, France, as the other European states, maintained establishments on the west coast of Africa for the purpose of trading in slaves and gum, but made no serious attempt to colonization. From 1854 onward, the coastal acquisition ended and organization and development began. French West Africa was formed in 1895 by grouping the several colonies under one administration (Dakar) while retaining a large measure of autonomy to each of the constituent territories. The inhabitants of French West Africa were formed in 1946. With the exception of French Guiana, all the colonies voted in 1958 to become the fully independent Republic of Guinea. The present-day independent states are members of the ?Union Monetaire Quest-Aficaine.? ,Also see West African States. Monetary System:, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes ,1 Unit = 5 Francs