Armenia is a unitary, democratic nation-state in a landlocked mountainous country in the South Caucasus. Situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.
Contemporary Armenia is a fraction of the size of ancient Armenia. Once it was one of the major powers, the third largest state in the Near East, after the Roman Empire and Persia over 2000 years ago. Now Armenia is a modern country with, ancient history, thousands of historical monuments, rich culture, traditional hospitality, delicious and healthy food and beautiful nature.
|Official name||Republic of Armenia (RA), briefly – Armenia|
|Name in official language||Hayastani Hanrapetutyun, briefly – Hayastan|
|National flag||Rectangular panel with three equal horizontal stripes of red, blue, orange from top to bottom in the proportion 1:2|
|Head of the State||President|
|Legislative power||One-chamber National Assembly|
|Official language||Armenian (is part of Indo-European family of languages)|
|Administrative and territorial unit||Marz (11 Marzes in all including Yerevan city)|
|National currency||Dram (international currency code – AMD)|
Armenia boasts one of the world’s oldest civilizations with a recorded history of 3500 years. It once included Mt Ararat which biblical tradition identifies as the mountain that Noah’s ark rested on after the flood. Armenia was the first country in the world to officially embrace Christianity as its religion on AD 301.
The Armenian language is part of the Indo-European group and the alphabet was developed in 405 by the monk Mesrop Mashtots to enable the Bible to be translated into Armenian. Throughout most of its long history because of its situation on the Great Silk Road Armenia has been invaded by a succession of empires and as a result Armenians became both cosmopolitan as well as protectors of their faith, culture and traditions.
Under Tigrane the Great (fl. 95–55 B.C.) the Armenian empire reached its height and became one of the most powerful in Asia, stretching from the Caspian to the Mediterranean seas. Throughout most of its long history, however, Armenia has been invaded by a succession of empires. Under constant threat of domination by foreign forces, Armenians became both cosmopolitan as well as fierce protectors of their culture and tradition.
Over the centuries Armenia was conquered by Greeks, Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Mongols, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and Russians. From the 16th century through World War I, major portions of Armenia were controlled by their most brutal invader, the Ottoman Turks, under whom the Armenians experienced discrimination, religious persecution, heavy taxation, and armed attacks. In response to Armenian nationalist stirrings, the Turks massacred thousands of Armenians in 1894 and 1896. The most horrific massacre took place in April 1915 during World War I, when the Turks ordered the deportation of the Armenian population to the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia. According to the majority of historians, between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were murdered or died of starvation. The Armenian massacre is considered the first genocide of the 20th century.
After the Turkish defeat in World War I, the independent Republic of Armenia was established on May 28, 1918, but survived only until Nov. 29, 1920, when it was annexed by the Soviet army. On March 12, 1922, the Soviets joined Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became part of the USSR. In 1936, after a reorganization, Armenia became a separate constituent republic of the USSR. Armenia declared its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union on Sept. 23, 1991.
In 1988, Armenia became involved in a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh part of historical Armenian Artcakh province. The majority of the enclave consisted of Armenian Christians who wanted to secede from Azerbaijan and either become part of Armenia or gain full independence. War ensued between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region from 1992–1994, resulting in 30,000 casualties. Armenia effectively controls the region today, although no formal resolution exists.
An Armenian diaspora has existed throughout the nation’s history, and Armenian emigration has been particularly heavy since independence from the Soviet Union. An estimated 60% of the total 8 million Armenians worldwide live outside the country, with 1 million each in the United States and Russia. Other significant Armenian communities are located in Georgia, France, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Argentina, and Canada.
At present Armenia makes a wonderful tourist destination. Magnificent churches and monasteries in beautiful locations, diverse and wide examples of plant life due to the various microclimates and as it is on a major flyway for migrating birds it is a bird lovers’ paradise. For those who appreciate the arts top quality concerts and theatre are available at very reasonable prices. Above all else it is a safe country with a very welcoming and warm hearted population.
A tip…..if you ever come across someone with a surname ending in ‘yan’ or ‘ian’ check if they are Armenian as these endings in Armenian mean …son of…