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 and ballistic missile designer Alexander Nadiradze. Gori is located 76 kilometres (47Â mi) west of Georgia's capital Tbilisi, at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Greater Liakhvi, 588 metres (1,929Â ft) above sea level. The climate is transitional from moderately warm steppe to moderately humid. Summer is usually hot. The average annual temperature is 10.9 Â°C (51.6Â Â°F), minimal in January (1.2Â Â°C/29.8Â Â°F) and maximal in August (22.5Â Â°C/72.5Â Â°F). The maximum precipitation falls in May (76Â mm/3.0Â in) and minimum in August (34Â mm/1.3Â in) and January (30Â mm/1.2Â in).