Rustavi, on the Kura river in southeast Georgia, is the largest city in the Kvemo Kartili region and the third largest in the country. Around 40 km. southeast of Tblisi, on the site of an ancient city, the modern town was developed by Soviet authorities in the second half of the twentieth century to be an industrial powerhouse.
The ancient town of Rustavi, home to the famous twelfth–thirteenth century poet Rustaveli, was destroyed by the Mongol Timur at the end of the fourteenth century. When iron ore was discovered in the vicinity in the 1940s, Stalin directed that the town should be developed to exploit it. An ironworks, steelworks, chemical plants and a major railway station on the Tbilisi-Baku line were erected. The city suffers severe pollution as a result of rapid industrialization.
Poor infrastructure and high unemployment have led to high rates of crime and poverty. The chemical and metalworks are still the primary source of employment. The Rustavi TV company has had several run-ins with the government.
Places of Interest
The area west of the city produces wine and Rustavi vodka.