Cafesjian Center for the Arts, founded by Gerard Cafesjian, is a famous
Armenia and Armenians have been around for quite a long time. Knowing their history, where they come from, as well as their present state will definitely give you a much better understanding of Armenia in general and Armenians in particular.
Introduction to Armenia (Basic Information)
The Republic of Armenia is a state, located on the Armenian Highlands, in Western Asia. Bordering countries of Armenia are Turkey (to the west), Iran (to the south), Azerbaijan (to the east) and Georgia (to the north). The capital city of Armenia is Yerevan, with 1 044 000 population (as of 2015).
For centuries, Armenia has had periods of independence and autonomy. It has also been under the sway of such empires as Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Arab, Mongolian, Seljuk Turks, then the Ottoman and Russian empires.
Modern Armenia represents only 1/10th of the territory of the historical Armenia. Starting from 387, the country has been divided into two parts, which have always been under different empires’ rule.
Armenia is mostly known to the world as a state that was first to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301.
Armenians are also known as a nation who were victims of the Genocide (“Mets Yeghern” in Armenian) conducted by the Ottoman Empire toward Armenians of Western Armenia in 1915, during World War II.
More than 1.5 Armenians were killed and the rest, who survived, formed the present Armenian Diaspora and various communities to be found in many countries and corners of the world.
What Armenians are known for, is their unique alphabet that doesn’t look like any other alphabet in the world. Just like their language doesn’t sound like other language!
The country is very popular among tourists and has recently become a favorite destination for millions of travelers around the globe.
Armenia Map & City
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Armenian Food & Cuisine
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Location of Armenia
Armenia is located in South-Western Asia, in Armenian Highlands. The country is almost 2 km high above the sea level. The highest point in Armenia is the mountain Aragats (4090 m).
One important thing to know about Armenia is that Armenians living here don’t see their country as a part of either Europe or Asia.
Armenia is a landlocked country, a place where Europe, Asia, the Middle East meet. Armenia has always been kind of a crossroad between them, both geographically and culturally.
The total area of the Republic of Armenia is 29,743 sq. km (from which 28,203 sq. km is firm land).
The bordering countries of Armenia, as it was mentioned above, are Azerbaijan (borderline: 996 km), Georgia (219 km), Iran (44 km), Turkey (311 km).
Climate of Armenia
Since Armenia is a highland with little forest-covered land and has fast flowing rivers, Armenian climate is typically highland continental one. For the Armenian climate hot summers and cold winters are more typical.
Armenian People and Society
Population of Armenia is approximately 3 million, according to calculations of July, 2015.
Mono-ethnicity of Armenia
Armenia is known as a mono-ethnic country: more than 98 % of the population are Armenians, 1.1 % of the country’s population is made up by Yezidis and 0.7 % other ethnicity or nationalities (Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Greeks, Assyrians, and a few more ethnicity).
Languages in Armenia
The official language of the country is Armenian, which is spoken by 97.9% of the population. Then there comes Kurdish (spoken by Yezidi minority), 1%, and other languages, 1%.
Religions in Armenia
Most of Armenians are followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church (92.6%), 1 % are the followers of Evangelical Church. Other churches make up 2.4 %, and unspecified or none is 4 %.
Urbanization Level in Armenia
According to research conducted in 2015, urban population in Armenia makes up 62.7 % of total population. The rate of urbanization is 0.11 %.
Culture of Armenia
What is special about Armenian culture? If one is interested in Armenian history and culture, it is necessary to remember that Armenian culture consists of two very different compounds: Armenian culture of the Pagan period, and Christian Armenian culture.
Armenians of pagan period were initially known as nature worshipers. There was a pantheon of Armenian Pagan gods, like that of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome mythology (God of fire, God of water, God of war, etc).
The only difference in the Armenian mythology is in the names of those gods. For example, the Greek Zeus is the same Armenian Aramazd, Heracles was the same as Vahagn, Aphrodite in Greek mythology came as Astghik in Armenian, and Tir as Apollo.
How about Christian culture of Armenia? As already mentioned, Armenia is known as the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion.
Christian religion came to replace not only pagan gods and mythology, but also the architecture, art and customs specific for the pre-Christian period.
Armenians have very unique national songs, traditional dances of both periods, as well as modern dances and songs that truly characterize the Armenian nation.
If you want to better know Armenia and the Armenians, then their songs and dances will tell you more than any book or other source of information!
History of Armenia
Armenia has a history of thousands of years. There have been periods of independence. Unfortunately during their history the Armenians have had various tragic pages. The country has been under the sway of such empires, as Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Seljuk Turks, etc.
As mentioned above, the country was divided into two parts in 387. And these parts have always been under different empires’ rule.
In modern historical period, the eastern part of Armenia was under the rule of Persia, later, Russian Empire. The Western part was under the sway of Byzantium, later, Ottoman Empire.
Nowadays, the territory of the Western Armenia is in the territory of the modern Turkey. This territory is full of Armenian relics, such as churches, fortresses, other buildings and architectural complexes.
In the beginning of the 19th century, Eastern Armenia was ceded by the Persians to the Russian Empire.
This part of Armenia declared independence in 1918 but the sovereignty (the First Republic of Armenia) lasted only two years. The Red Army of the Soviets conquered the country in 1920.
Being under the Soviet rule for 70 years, Armenia restored its independence in 1991. Today’s Armenian state is considered the Third Republic of Armenia.
Economy of Armenia
When part of the USSR, Armenia was following its central planning system. The country developed a modern industrial sector, supplied machine tools, textiles, other manufactured goods to other USSR republics, in exchange for raw materials and energy.
But shortly after Armenia became independent again, it faced a lot of challenges (blockade, closed borders) to overcome all alone.
Currently, the Republic of Armenia has only two open borders for trade, with Iran and Georgia.The borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey have been closed since 1991 and 1993. This is a result of the ongoing modern historical conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh.
Now, Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (since January, 2015), together with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
The Republic of Armenia is also a member of the WTO (since January, 2003).
Main export commodities of Armenia are: pig iron, nonferrous metals, gold, diamonds, unwrought metals, copper, mineral products, energy, and foodstuffs. Export partners of Armenia are: Russia, Iran, Georgia, China and Germany.
Import commodities include: petroleum, natural gas, cars, pharmaceuticals. And the import partners are: Russia, Iran, Italy, Turkey. Although there are no diplomatic ties and official relations with Turkey, economic ties and trade is active on the level of private entrepreneurs.
Nowadays, the geographic isolation, existing monopolies of Armenia affect the country’s economy sharply, making it more vulnerable towards modern global economic processes and new trends.
Economic reforms, anti-corruption measures, the rule of law is what Armenian economy needs to regain growth and improve employment opportunities, competitiveness of the country in the global market.