Samtredia (Georgian: სამტრედია) is a town in Imereti, Georgia, lying in a lowland between the rivers Rioni and Tskhenis-Tsqali, 244 km (152 mi) west of the capital Tbilisi, and 27 km (17 mi) west of Georgia's second largest city Kutaisi. Georgia’s most important roads and railways converge there, making Samtredia the country’s vital transport hub. The Kopitnari Airport is also located in 10 km (6 mi) from Samtredia. The town's population is 29,694 as of the 2002 all-Georgia census. The climate is humid subtropical, with mild and warm winters and hot summers. Samtredia evolved from a crucial railway junction in the 1870s and acquired town status in 1921. Under Soviet rule, the local economy diversified from transportation to food and wood production. Due to its strategic location, Samtredia played a prominent role in the civil unrest early in the 1990s when anti-Soviet opposition groups blocked the Samtredia junction from July 26 to 31 1990 in order to force the Soviet Georgian leadership to adopt a liberal election code. The junction was again blocked in March–April 1991, this time by the new government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, in an attempt to exert pressure on the central Soviet authorities. This blockade, however, inflicted heavy damage not only to the economy of Georgia but to the neighbouring Republic of Armenia, which was largely dependent on Georgia’s railways. In 1993, Samtredia became one of the major battlegrounds in the Georgian Civil War in which the forces loyal to the ousted President Gamsakhurdia confronted the post-coup government troops, and briefly controlled the town from October 17 to October 23, 1993, putting all communications to Tbilisi under threat. Although Samtredia has been stable ever since, the post-Soviet crisis resulted in a significant economic decline that have since only been partially reversed.