|Armenia||Introduction||Back to Top|
Armenia, republic in the Transcaucasia region of western Asia, bordered by Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Turkey to the west and south, and Iran to the south. The Azerbaijani enclave of Naxcivan (Nakhichevan) also forms part of its southern boundary. Formerly a republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Armenia is an extremely mountainous country with a limited amount of arable land. Population is concentrated in river valleys, especially along the River Hrazdan, where Yerevan, the capital and largest city, is located.Official Name -Republic of Armenia
|Armenia||Provinces||Back to Top|
10 provinces (marzer, singular - marz) and 1 city* (k'aghak'ner, singular - k'aghak'); Aragatsotn, Ararat, Armavir, Geghark'unik', Kotayk', Lorri, Shirak, Syunik', Tavush, Vayots' Dzor, Yerevan*
|Armenia||People||Back to Top|
The population of Armenia is 3,336,100 (2001 estimate), giving the country’s land area a population density of 112 persons per sq km (290 per sq mi). Armenia is highly urbanized, with 70 percent of all residents living in cities or towns. Population is concentrated in river valleys, especially along the Hrazdan River, where Yerevan, the capital and largest city, is located. Armenia’s second-largest city is Gyumri (formerly Leninakan), the site of a devastating earthquake in 1988.
Armenians constitute nearly all of the country's population; they speak Armenian, a distinct branch of the Indo-European language family. The remainder include Kurds, Russians, and small numbers of Ukrainians, Assyrians, and other groups. Most of Armenia's Azerbaijani population fled or was expelled after the escalation of the conflict between the two countries. More than 3 million Armenians live abroad, including about 1.5 million in the states of the former Soviet Union and about 1 million in the United States. The Armenians were converted to Christianity about AD 300 and have an ancient and rich liturgical and Christian literary tradition. Believing Armenians today belong mainly to the Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) church or the Armenian Catholic church, in communion with Rome.
|Armenia||History||Back to Top|
The modern republic of Armenia covers only the northeastern portion of an area historically inhabited by Armenians, whose ancestors settled in the area of Mount Ararat, in present-day Turkey, in the late 3000s bc. In the early 1st century bc Armenian king Tigranes the Great formed an empire—the most extensive Armenian realm in history—that stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and included parts of Georgia and Syria. Tigranes’ empire came under the control of the Roman Empire before the end of the 1st century, however, and Armenia became a buffer zone—and often a battleground—in Rome’s campaigns against the Parthians, who ruled over Persia.
In the 1st century ad a Parthian-Roman treaty installed the Parthian Arsacid dynasty as rulers of Armenia. The treaty required the dynasty to act in allegiance with Rome. In Persia, the Arsacid dynasty fell to the Sassanids in the early 3rd century. The Sassanids initially seized Armenia, but the Roman Empire wrested control of Armenia later that century and then restored the Arsacids to power, crowning Tiridates III as Armenian king. Tiridates converted to Christianity in the early 4th century and established a state church. His conversion predated that of Constantine the Great of the Byzantine Empire (the eastern portion of the Roman Empire), making Armenia the first state to officially adopt Christianity. The Byzantine and Persian empires divided Armenia in the late 4th century, with Persia taking the larger eastern section, but in the early 7th century all of Armenia came under Byzantine rule. In 653 the Byzantine Empire ceded Armenia to the Arabs, who had already conquered Persia. Armenia was granted virtual autonomy under Arab suzerainty.
The Armenians, an Indo-European people, first appear in history shortly after the end of the 7th century BC. Driving some of the ancient population to the east of Mount Ararat, where they were known to the Greeks as Alarodioi (“Araratians”; i.e., Urartians), the invaders imposed their leadership over regions which, although suffering much from Scythian and Cimmerian depredations, must still have retained elements of a high degree of civilization (e.g., walled towns, irrigation works, and arable fields) upon which the less advanced newcomers might build. The Hayk, as the Armenians name themselves (the term Armenian is probably the result of an Iranian or Greek confusion of them with the Aramaeans), were not able to achieve the power and independence of their predecessors and were first rapidly incorporated by Cyaxares into the Median empire and then annexed with Media by Cyrus II the Great to form part of the Achaemenian Empire of Persia (c. 550 BC). The country is mentioned as Armina and Armaniya in the Bisitun inscription of Darius I the Great (ruled 522–486 BC) and, according to the 5th-century Greek historian Herodotus, formed part of the 13th satrapy (province) of Persia
|Armenia||Culture||Back to Top|
Armenian written literature began in the 5th century AD, and monasteries became the principal centres of intellectual life. The earliest works were historical, such as Moses of Khoren's History of Armenia. The masterpiece of classical Armenian is Eznik Koghbatsi's Eghts aghandots (Refutation of the Sects). The first great Armenian poet (10th century) was St. Gregory Narekatzi, renowned for his mystical poems and hymns. During the 16th to 18th century, popular bards, or troubadours, called ashugh, arose; outstanding among them were Nahapet Kuchak and, especially, Aruthin Sayadian, called Sayat-Nova (d. 1795), whose love songs are still popular. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Hakob Paronian and Ervand Otian were notable satirical novelists, and Grigor Zohrab wrote realist short stories. Paronian was also a comic playwright, whose plays still entertain Armenian audiences. The most celebrated novelist was Hakob Meliq-Hakobian, called Raffi, and perhaps the best dramatist of recent times was Gabriel Sundukian.
The country boasts a State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, several drama theatres, theatres for children, orchestras, a national dance company, and the Yerevan film studios, which produce feature, documentary, and science films. The traditional folk arts, especially singing, dancing, and artistic crafts, are popular. The 20th-century Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian achieved worldwide renown. The public libraries include the A.F. Myasnikyan State Public Library and the Matenadaran archives in Yerevan, which contain 10,000 Armenian manuscripts, the largest collection in the world. There are also a number of museums, including the State Historical Museum of Armenia.
Armenian science, like its culture, has its roots in antiquity, but research institutions are a 20th-century development. The Armenian Academy of Sciences is composed of a number of institutes engaged in research problems in natural and social sciences. The radio broadcasting system has been operating since 1926, and the Yerevan television centre since 1956. Broadcasts and telecasts are conducted in Armenian, Russian, Azerbaijani, and Kurdish. Many newspapers and periodicals are published in Armenia, most of them in the Armenian language.
|Armenia||Life||Back to Top|
Armenians typically maintain close family ties and pride themselves on their distinctive cultural traditions. Armenian music and cuisine are similar to those of the Middle Eastern countries. On festive occasions, Armenians enjoy traditional folk music and circle dances. Spectator sports such as basketball, soccer, and tennis are popular, and in international competitions Armenians have excelled in wrestling, boxing, and gymnastics. Armenians also like to play chess and backgammon in their leisure time. Most city-dwellers live in apartment buildings that were built during the Soviet period; many of these are now dilapidated. Rural residents live mostly in single-family houses, and many members of an extended family often live together. Family and friends are the center of social life, and respect for elders links generations.
|Armenia||Land||Back to Top|
Armenia is a mountainous country characterized by a great variety of scenery and geologic instability. The average altitude is 5,900 feet (1,800 metres) above sea level. There are no lowlands: half the territory lies at altitudes of 3,300 to 6,600 feet; only about one-tenth lies below the 3,300-foot mark. The northwestern part of the Armenian Highland—containing Mount Aragats (Alaghez), the highest peak (13,418 feet, or 4,090 metres) in the country—is a combination of lofty mountain ranges, deep river valleys, and lava plateaus dotted with extinct volcanoes. To the north and east, the 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.
|Armenia||Plants and Animal||Back to Top|
Armenia’s plant life is diverse. In the semidesert regions, which occupy the lowest elevations, drought-resistant plants such as sagebrush, juniper, and honeysuckle are common. Grasses predominate in the steppes, which are higher in elevation and constitute most of Armenia’s terrain. Beech and oak trees are found in the forest zones of the extreme northeast and southeast. Animal life in Armenia includes wild boars, jackals, lynx, and Syrian bears.
|Armenia||Economy||Back to Top|
Armenia is slowly recovering from natural and human-caused calamities that beset it during the late 1980s and early 1990s. An earthquake in 1988 severely damaged its infrastructure. A prolonged war in Nagorno-Karabakh, which involved Armenia, led to blockades of the country’s chief trade routes. Two unusually harsh winters, combined with a lack of heating fuels because of the blockades, resulted in deaths and near-famine conditions. Armenia was less economically prepared for independence than most of the former republics of the Soviet Union. Years of Soviet central planning had developed an industrial base in Armenia that was highly dependent upon trade with other Soviet states. Those industries also were largely dependent on imported fuels. Blockades by Turkey and Azerbaijan and political instability in Georgia effectively isolated Armenia from world markets. A lack of fuels and the inability to sell products forced most factories to close. The gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the value of goods and services produced in the country, fell by 60 percent between 1991 and 1993.
Under Soviet rule the Armenian economy was transformed from agricultural to primarily industrial; agriculture, however, remains important, accounting for about two-fifths of the gross domestic product and employing one-fifth of the labour force. Industry is heavily dependent on imports of energy and raw materials. The massive earthquake of 1988 destroyed nearly one-third of Armenia's industrial capacity, seriously weakening the economy. In 1989 the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh led Azerbaijan to impose a blockade, closing a vital natural gas pipeline to Armenia. The subsequent severe energy shortage—combined with the disruption of key trade routes due to civil unrest in Georgia—caused a sharp drop in industrial production, further devastating the economy. Most of the population of Armenia thus experienced severe economic hardship during the 1990s.
Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. Since the implosion of the USSR in December 1991, Armenia has switched to small-scale agriculture away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. The agricultural sector has long-term needs for more investment and updated technology. The privatization of industry has been at a slower pace, but has been given renewed emphasis by the current administration. Armenia is a food importer, and its mineral deposits (gold, bauxite) are small. The ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the breakup of the centrally directed economic system of the former Soviet Union contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s. By 1994, however, the Armenian Government had launched an ambitious IMF-sponsored economic program that has resulted in positive growth rates in 1995-2000. Armenia also managed to slash inflation and to privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. The chronic energy shortages Armenia suffered in recent years have been largely offset by the energy supplied by one of its nuclear power plants at Metsamor. Armenia's severe trade imbalance, importing three times its exports, has been offset somewhat by international aid, domestic restructuring of the economy, and foreign direct investment.
|Armenia||Communications||Back to Top|
system inadequate; now 90% privately owned and undergoing modernization and expansion domestic: the majority of subscribers and the most modern equipment are in Yerevan (this includes paging and mobile cellular service) international: Yerevan is connected to the Trans-Asia-Europe fiber-optic cable through Iran; additional international service is available by microwave radio relay and landline connections to the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and through the Moscow international switch and by satellite to the rest of the world; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat
|Armenia||Languages||Back to Top|
Armenia’s official state language is Armenian, an Indo-European language with no surviving close relatives. It has a unique 38-letter alphabet that dates from the early 5th century. Of its many spoken dialects, the most important are Eastern or Yerevan Armenian (the official language) and Western or Turkish Armenian (see Armenian Language). Armenia’s ethnic minorities also speak their own native languages, mainly Russian and Kurdish.
|Armenia||Politics||Back to Top|
Armenia Party [Myasnik ALKHASYAN]; Armenian Communist Party or ACP [Vladimir DARBINYAN]; Armenian Revolutionary Federation ("Dashnak" Party) or ARF [Hrant MARKARYAN]; Christian Democratic Union or CDU [Azat ARSHAKYN, chairman]; Democratic Liberal Party [Ramkavar AZATAKAN, chairman]; Free Armenian's Mission [Ruben MNATSANIAN, chairman]; Law and Unity Party [Artashes GEGAMIAN, chairman]; Law-Governed Party [Artur BAGDASARIAN, chairman]; Mission Party [Artush PAPOIAN, chairman]; National Democratic Union or NDU [Vazgen MANUKIAN]; National State Party [Samvel SHAGINIAN]; Pan-Armenian National Movement or PANM [Vano SIRADEGHYAN]; People's Party of Armenia [Stepan DEMIRCHYAN]; Republican Party or RPA [Andranik MARKARYAN]; Shamiram Women's Movement or SWM [Gayane SARUKHYAN]; Social Democratic (Hnchakian) Party [Ernst SOGOMONYAN]; Stability Group [Vartan AYVAZIAN, chairman]; Union of National Self-Determination or NSDU [Paruir HAIRIKIAN, chairman]; Unity Bloc [Stepan DEMIRCHIAN and Andranik MARKARYAN] (a coalition of the Republican Party and People's Party of Armenia)
|Armenia||Government||Back to Top|
Armenia’s constitution was approved by referendum in July 1995, replacing the 1978 constitution of the Soviet period. It declares Armenia to be an independent democratic state and guarantees the protection of basic human rights and freedoms. All citizens age 18 and older may vote. The new constitution gave the president, who is head of state, broad executive powers. He or she is elected by direct vote for a term of five years and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. The president appoints the prime minister, who presides over the council of ministers. The council’s members are appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the prime minister.
|Armenia||Legal||Back to Top|
Legal system: based on civil law system Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal Executive branch: chief of state: President Robert KOCHARIAN (since 30 March 1998) head of government: Prime Minister Andranik MARKARYAN (since 12 May 2000) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; special election last held 30 March 1998 (next to be held NA March 2003); prime minister appointed by the president election results: Robert KOCHARIAN elected president; percent of vote - Robert KOCHARIAN 59.5%, Karen DEMIRCHYAN 40.5% Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (Parliament) or Azgayin Zhoghov (131 seats; members serve four-year terms) elections: last held 30 May 1999 (next to be held in the spring of 2003) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - unity bloc 61 (Republican Party 41, People's Party of Armenia 20), Stability Group (independent Armenian deputies who have formed a bloc) 21, ACP 10, ARF (Dashnak) 8, Law and Unity Party 7, NDU 6, Law-Governed Party 6, independents 10, unfilled 2; note - seats by party change frequently Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court
|Armenia||organization||Back to Top|
BSEC, CCC, CE, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
|Armenia||Education||Back to Top|
Soviet government’s emphasis on free and universal education, nearly all adults in Armenia can read and write. During the Soviet period, the educational system was controlled by the central government in Moscow, and schools were required to promote Soviet Communist ideals. In the early 1990s, after achieving independence, Armenia made substantial changes to its educational system. Most notably, curricula began to emphasize Armenian history and culture, and Armenian replaced Russian as the dominant language of instruction. Today, primary and secondary levels of instruction are compulsory and available free of charge. The country’s largest university is Yerevan State University, founded in 1919 in Yerevan. Other institutes of higher education offer specialized instruction in engineering, agriculture, architecture, fine arts, and theater arts.
|Armenia||Defence||Back to Top|
Military branches: Army, Air Force and Air Defense Aviation, Air Defense Force, Security Forces (internal and border troops)
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 905,154 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 715,734 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 34,998 (2001 est.)
|Armenia||International Disputes||Back to Top|
Armenia supports ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in the longstanding, separatist conflict against the Azerbaijani Government; traditional demands regarding former Armenian lands in Turkey have subsided
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