Armenian geography is very diverse despite its small area. It offers a lot to explore and admire even during a short visit. Discover the natural splendor of Armenia.
The territory of Armenia can be described as a unique geological museum with its rolling mountains, hilly terrain, woodland, steppe, dry steppe, scenic canyons, waterfalls, mineral springs and extinct volcanos.
Due to its hilly terrain, Armenia is known to be the Rooftop of Asia Minor. Scroll down to learn the “nicknames” Armenia got because of its complex and diverse geography.
Today, we’ll discover the features of Armenian geography, including climate, relief, land area, water area, and also the pros and cons of those features.
But most importantly, after reading this article travel to Armenia and you’ll see that Armenian geography is really blessed with numerous natural treasures.
Armenian Geography Feature #1 | Where is Armenia?
If you hear about Armenia for the very first time, you are probably trying to find this country on the Google map. If you are, then don’t forget to zoom in a lot.
Once you find tiny Armenia, you will notice more than just a landlocked country in South-Western Asia, in the heart of southern Transcaucasia.
You will also see a beautiful woman’s face with wide forehead, little nose, mouth, and curly hair.
When it comes to “size”, mountainous Armenia is usually compared to Belgium. The total area of Armenia is about 29.74 thousand square kilometers while Belgium has a total area of 30,528 square kilometers.
Did you know?
Now what we call “The Republic of Armenia” is only a small part of the ancient Armenia, one of the world’s oldest centers of civilization.
At its height, Armenia extended from the south-central Black Sea coast to the Caspian Sea and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Lake Urmia in present day Iran.
Thus, it’s not accidental that the phrase “sea to sea Armenia” is still a popular expression used by Armenians to refer to the kingdom which extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea (95-66 B.C.).
Anyway, during Armenia’s long historical way, Armenia was invaded and controlled by different empires, such as Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman.
These invasions had detrimental impact on Armenia which has lost a huge part of its territory.
Armenian Geography Feature #2 | Why is Armenia’s Geographical Location So Unique?
Armenia is located exactly in the crossroads of Europe and Asia, always attracting the attention of the powerful countries surrounding it.
This is the very fact that makes Armenia’s geographical location so unique. Thanks to its favorable geographical location, Armenia was considered to be a trade center between two continents for many centuries.
Abundant of overnight inns were built in the country, just like Orbelian’s Caravanserai (1331) to accommodate weary travelers and their caravan-pulling animals.
Because of Armenia’s complicated geographical position, it’s always difficult to answer one of the most debated questions: “Is Armenia in Europe or Asia?”
So, some Armenians consider Armenia as part of “Western Asia”, while some others think it’s more in European continent. The third group of Armenians doesn’t see their country as a part of either Europe or Asia.
We think that situated in South Caucasus region, Armenia is a country where Europe, Asia and the Middle East meet. Thus, Armenia has always been a kind of a crossroad between them, both geographically and culturally.
Armenian Geography Feature #3 | Relief
Armenia’s relief is basically mountainous and consists of,
- Numerous high mountain ridges (about 47 % of the territory)
- Intermountain hollows
- Extinct volcanic mountains
- Plateau and plains
- There are no lowlands: half the territory lies at altitudes of 3,300 to 6,600 feet.
- The northwestern part of the Armenian Highland, where Mount Aragats, the highest peak is located (13,418 feet, or 4,090 meters), is a combination of lofty mountain ranges, deep river valleys, and lava plateaus dotted with extinct volcanoes.
- The country’s southwest is occupied by rather flat Ararat Valley (average height – 850-1000 m) in which the majority of large settlements of the country is concentrated. By the way, Ararat plain is the most fertile piece of land in the Armenian Republic.
- Southeastern part of the country is beautiful with magnificent mountain landscapes. Mountain valleys and plateaus, narrow gorges, rapid rivers, small lakes and the picturesque villages, which are literally stuck to the hillsides are the main attractions there.
- Woods occupy about 12% of the area of the country and are in the northeast and southeast.
- Somkhet, Bazum, Pambak, Areguni, Shakhdag, and Vardenis ranges of the Lesser Caucasus lie across the northern sector of Armenia.
- Elevated volcanic plateaus (Lory, Shirak, and others), cut by deep river valleys, lie amid these ranges.
- In the eastern part of Armenia, the Sevan Basin, containing Lake Sevan (525 square miles) and hemmed in by ranges soaring as high as 11,800 feet, lies at an altitude of about 6,200 feet.
- Now you understand why Armenia is called “Island of Mountains” and is almost always accompanied with adjectives “rocky” and “mountainous”.
Armenian Geography Feature #4 | Things Even Armenians Don’t Like There
As already mentioned, Armenia is a mountainous country with over 3,000 km of mountain ridges. This unique “Island of mountains” is characterized by a great variety of scenery and geologic instability as well.
The thing is that orogenic processes in this area are not finished yet. Therefore, Armenia is subject to damaging earthquakes.
The last and the strongest of them, Spitak earthquake occurred on December 7, 1988. The earthquake destroyed the northwestern town of Spitak and caused severe damage to Leninakan (now Gyumri), the second largest city in the republic. About 25,000 people died.
Armenian Geography #5 | Lakes and Rivers in Armenia
Once called “Sea to sea Armenia”, now the Republic of Armenia is a classic example of a landlocked country. This means Armenia is among the 44 countries that has no access to the oceans or ocean-accessible seas.
This very feature of course has several disadvantages including,
- lack of access to fishing and oceanic food sources
- high transportation and transit costs
- lack of access to ports and world shipping operations, etc.
On the other hand, Armenia is a country that is famous for having a great natural resource of water.
Though there are more than 100 small mountain lakes in Armenia, Armenians are specifically proud of Lake Sevan, the largest body of water in Armenia, accounting for 5% of the country’s land area.
Lake Sevan is also the largest lake in the Caucasus and a major tourist attraction of the whole country.
It has always been the main supplier of fresh fish and the biggest source of fresh water, thus playing a vital role not only in ecology, but in the economy of the country as well.
Armenia is also home to more than three hundred rivers of 10 km and longer.
The majority of rivers in Armenia are the inflows of the river Araks, one of the largest rivers in the Caucasus flowing across the entire Georgia and running into the river Kura on the territory of Azerbaijan.
The big inflows of Araks on the territory of Armenia are the Akhuryan, the Kasagh, the Razdan, the Arpa and the Vorotan.
The rivers Debed, Agstev and Akhum are the right inflows of the Kura running into the Caspian Sea. Some Armenian rivers belong to Lake Sevan basin.
Armenian Geography Feature #6 | What is the Best Time to Visit Armenia?
- Since Armenia is a highland with little forest-covered land and has fast flowing rivers, the climate here is rather dry with hot summers and cold winters.
- The weather in different areas of Armenia differs significantly however, in general we can say that summers are dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September.
- In the mountains, the average summer temperature ranges between +10 and +22°C. In summer, temperature sometimes rises to uncomfortable levels (from +37°C to +40°C).
- Winters are quite cold with plenty of snow. In winter mountain areas receive a lot of snowfall (up to 100-150 mm), which lies on the slopes until March-April and all year round on the tops of the mountains.
- Winter temperatures range between +2 and -14 °C. In plain lands, the average January temperature is -5 °C, and July temperature is +25 °C.
- Springs are short, while falls are long. Armenian fall is noted for mild and sunny weather, bright colors of landscapes and abundance of autumn fruits.
- Maximum amount of precipitations falls out in spring and the beginning of summer. First rainy season in Armenia lasts from spring to early summer, while the months of October and November experience the second spell of rain.
But anyway, what is the best time to visit Armenia?
First of all, it depends on what you’re into. If you’re into winter sports, you know when to come. If you like hot weather and want to swim in Sevan, then summer is waiting for you!
Read More to Learn More about Armenian Geography
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