Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստան Hayastan, Hayq) is a landlocked country in southern Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan in the east and Iran and the Naxçıvan exclave of Azerbaijan in the south. Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States and for centuries has been on the crossroads between West and East. The country is formally named the Republic of Armenia.
|National motto: none|
40°16′ N 44°34′ E
|Head of State:||Robert Kocharian, President|
|Head of Government:||Andranik Markaryan, Prime minister|
– % water:
| Ranked 138th|
| Population: |
| Ranked 128th |
3,326,448 (2003 est)
| From Soviet Union |
September 21, 1991
|Currency:||Dram (AMD) = 100 louma|
|Time zone:||UTC +4 (DST +5)|
|National anthem:|| Mer Hayrenik|
(Armenian: Our Fatherland)
Table of contents
Origin and history of the name
The original Armenian name for the country was Hayq, later – Hayastan, translates as the land of Haik, consisting of the name Haik and the Persian suffix stan (land). According to the legend, Haik was a great-great-grandson of Noah (son of Togarmah, who was a son of Gomer, a son of Noah's son, Yafet) and according to Christian tradition, a forefather of all Armenians. He is said to have settled below Mount Ararat, traveled to assist in building the Tower of Babel, and, after his return, defeated the Assyrian king Nimrod near Lake Van in present-day Turkey.
Hayastan was given the name Armenia by its neighbors as it was the name of the strongest tribe living in the historic Armenian lands, who called themselves Armens. It traditionally derives from either Armenak or Aram (the great-grandson of Haik's great-grandson, and another Armenian leader from rich Armenian legend, who is also according to traditional accounts the ancestor of all Armenians). Pre-Christian accounts suggest it as having derived from Nairi, which means land of rivers, and is the ancient name for the country's mountainous region, the name first used by Greek historians around 1,000 BC (???), while the first recorded inscription bearing the name, namely the Behistun Inscription in Iran dates from BC 521.
Main article: History of Armenia
Armenia was a regional empire with a rich culture in the years leading up to the 1st Century, spanning from the shores of the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea during the rule of Tigranes the Great. In 301, Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its official state religion, twelve years before Rome. It also changed between various dynasties. But after Parthian (Iranian), Roman, Arab, Mongol and Persian occupation, Armenia was substantially weakened. In 1454, the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia divided Armenia among themselves.
In 1813 and 1828, present-day Armenia (consisting of the Erivan and Karabakh khanates) was temporarily incorporated into the Russian Empire. After briefly existing as an independent state, in 1920 Armenia was incorporated into the USSR as the Armenian SSR.
During the final years of the Ottoman Empire (1915-1923), a great number of Armenians in eastern Anatolia (known to Armenians as Western Armenia) were killed in a series of events now known as the Armenian Genocide, officially recognized by some countries as the first genocide of the 20th Century. Between 750,000 and 1,000,000 Armenians died in the events. The Turkish government continues to deny that these deaths resulted from mass deportation and eradication efforts by the Ottoman State, and therefore claims that they did not amount to 'genocide'. Instead, it maintains that they resulted from self-defense as most Armenians allied with Russia during the war, civil war, disease and famine, with casualties to both sides. Turkey has asked the Armenian government to create a commission to investigate both claims but the Armenian diaspora is currently blocking the process. The deaths are commemorated by Armenians worldwide on April 24th.
Armenian diaspora is lobbying strongly to compare the Armenian Massacre to the Jewish Holocaust which followed two decades later. Some reflect on whether later genocides such as the Holocaust and the genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur (Sudan) may have been limited or prevented if the the global community had attempted to stop the Armenian Massacre on time.
Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by a long conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave that Stalin had placed in Soviet Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the enclave in 1988 and the struggle escalated after both countries gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, ethnic Armenian forces controlled not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also part of Azerbaijan proper. The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution and by mutual economic blockades.
Main article: Politics of Armenia
The Government of Armenia's stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy as the basis of its form of government. However, international observers have questioned the inherent fairness of Armenia's parliamentary and presidential elections and constitutional referenda since 1995, citing polling deficiencies, lack of cooperation by the electoral commission, and poor maintenance of electoral lists and polling places. For the most part however, Armenia is considered one of the most pro-democratic nations in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The unicameral parliament (also called the National Assembly) is controlled by a coalition of three political parties: the conservative Republican party , the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and the Country of Law party. The main opposition is comprised by several smaller parties joined in the Justice Bloc.
Armenians voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum. Levon Ter-Petrossian was president until January 1998, when public demonstrations against his increasingly authoritarian regime and his domestic and foreign policies forced his resignation. In 1999, the assassination of Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian, and six other officials led to a period of political instability. President Robert Kocharian was successful in riding out the unrest, and currently rules with the support of the parliamentary coalition.
Armenia is divided into 11 provinces (marzer, singular – marz):
- Aragatsotn (Արագածոտնի մարզ)
- Ararat (Արարատի մարզ)
- Armavir (Արմավիրի մարզ)
- Geghark'unik' (Գեղարքունիքի մարզ)
- Kotayk' (Կոտայքի մարզ)
- Lorri (Լոռու մարզ)
- Shirak (Շիրակի մարզ)
- Syunik' (Սյունիքի մարզ)
- Tavush (Տավուշի մարզ)
- Vayots' Dzor (Վայոց Ձորի մարզ)
- Yerevan (Երևան)
Main article: Geography of Armenia
Armenia is a landlocked country in Asia Minor, between the Black and the Caspian Seas, bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey.
The terrain is mostly mountainous, with fast flowing rivers and few forests. The climate is highland continental: hot summers and cold winters. The land rises to 4,095 m above sea-level at Mount Aragats, and no point is below 400m.
Pollution from toxic chemicals such as DDT is not helping the already poor soil quality in many parts of the county. A Turkish communications blockade, due to the conflict with Azerbaijan, has led to deforestation.
Armenia is trying to address its environmental problems. It has established a Ministry of Nature Protection and introduced taxes for air and water pollution and solid waste disposal, whose revenues are used for environmental protection activities. Armenia is interested in cooperating with other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, a group of 12 former Soviet republics) and with members of the international community on environmental issues. The Armenian Government is working toward closing the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant as soon as alternative energy sources are identified.
Main article: Economy of Armenia
Until independence, Armenia's economy was largely industry-based — chemicals, electronics, machinery, processed food, synthetic rubber, and textile — and highly dependent on outside resources. Agriculture contributed only 20% of net material product and 10% of employment before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold, and lead. The vast majority of energy is produced with fuel imported from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel (for its one nuclear power plant); the main domestic energy source is hydroelectric. Small amounts of coal, gas, and petroleum have not yet been developed.
Like other New Independent States of the former Soviet Union, Armenia's economy suffers from the legacy of a centrally planned economy and the breakdown of former Soviet trading patterns. Soviet investment in and support of Armenian industry has virtually disappeared, so that few major enterprises are still able to function. In addition, the effects of the 1988 earthquake, which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt. The conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved. The closure of Azerbaijani and Turkish borders has devastated the economy, because Armenia depends on outside supplies of energy and most raw materials. Land routes through Georgia and Iran are inadequate or unreliable. GDP fell nearly 60% from 1989 till 1992-1993. The national currency, the dram, suffered hyperinflation for the first years after its introduction in 1993.
Nevertheless, the Government was able to make wide-ranging economic reforms that paid off in dramatically lower inflation and steady growth. The 1994 cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also helped the economy. Armenia has had strong economic growth since 1995, building on the turnaround that began the previous year, and inflation has been negligible for the past several years. New sectors, such as precious stone processing and jewelry making, information and communication technology, and even tourism are beginning to supplement more traditional sectors in the economy, such as agriculture.
This steady economic progress has earned Armenia increasing support from international institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and other international financial institutions (IFIs) and foreign countries are extending considerable grants and loans. Loans to Armenia since 1993 exceed $1.1 billion. These loans are targeted at reducing the budget deficit, stabilizing the currency; developing private businesses; energy; the agriculture, food processing, transportation, and health and education sectors; and ongoing rehabilitation in the earthquake zone. The government joined the World Trade Organization on February 5, 2003.
A liberal foreign investment law was approved in June 1994, and a Law on Privatization was adopted in 1997, as well as a program on state property privatization. Continued progress will depend on the ability of the government to strengthen its macroeconomic management, including increasing revenue collection, improving the investment climate, and making strides against corruption.
Main article: Demographics of Armenia
Armenia is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet republics.
Yet, it has a problem of population decline. Widespread emigration is one of the most serious problems Armenia has been facing since the break-up of the USSR. A drastically reduced birth rate is not nearly sufficient to keep the population from dropping in the long term. Some observers estimate that as many as one-third of Armenia's population lives in Russia illegally, and that Armenia has no more than about two million residents. This would appear to pose an existential threat to the Armenian nation, especially if Azerbaijan, which has had a much lesser problem with demographic decline, seeks to regain its lost territory.
Armenia is a primarily Oriental Christian Orthodox country. The roots of the Armenian Church trace back to the 3rd and 4th centuries. Armenia is considered the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, in 301 CE. Over 90% of Armenian believers belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syrian churches. Armenia also has a population of evangelical Protestants, Catholics and believers of the Armenian traditional religion. The Yazidi, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. The Armenian Catholic Church is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon.
Ethnic Kurds and Azeris who lived in the country before the Karabakh conflict practiced Islam, but most Azeris fled to Azerbaijan in 1988-1991 in the beginning of the conflict. During the same period, Armenia also received a large influx of Armenians fleeing Azerbaijan.
- Armenian People
- Communications in Armenia
- Foreign relations of Armenia
- List of Armenians
- List of sovereign states
- Military of Armenia
- Music of Armenia
- Public holidays in Armenia
- Transportation in Armenia
External Links and References
- Armenian Genocide
- PanARMENIAN Network: Armenian News (Armenian, Russian, English)
- All about Yerevan (Russian)
- Armenian literature and history
- The President of the Republic of Armenia
- The National Assembly (Parliment)of Armenia
- CIA – The World Factbook — Armenia
- Government of Armenia
- Armenian Portal in Europe (English & Deutsch)
- Armenian Business Portal
- Extensive Armenia info and links
- - Armeniapedia.org – the Armenian Wiki
- The History of the Ancient Near East
- Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Library of Congress Portals on the World – Armenia
- Armenia's brain drain
- Armenia Pictures
- Project Communis: blogging from Armenia
- Caucaz.com : Weekly online publishing articles and reports about Armenia and South Caucasus. Available in English and French
- Financial institutions in Armenia
- Artsakh Karabakh
- Armenian Genocide in Turkey
- Armenian nobility
- Atlas of Conflicts: Historical Maps of Armenia
- Blogrel: A Blog about Armenia
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