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General

Country name
The Republic of Armenia
Government type Presidential republic
Capital city Yerevan
Currency Armenian Dram (exchange rates)
Weather  

Geography

Location
Western Asia , east of Turkey
Area 29,800 sq km or 11,490 sq miles
Boundaries total - 1,254 km (Azerbaijan 787 km, Turkey 268 km, Georgia 164 km, Iran 35 km)
Climate continental, hot summers, cold winters
Terrain high mountainous Armenian Plateau (average height 1000m); forest lands; fast flowing rivers; good-soil valleys
Lowest point Debed River 400 m
Highest point Aragats Mountain 4,090 m
Population 3.8 million inhabitants
Ethnic groups Armenian 95%, Russian 2%, other (mostly Yezidi Kurds, Greeks) 3%
Religion Armenian Apostolic Church
Language Armenian, a branch of Indo-European languages

Administrative divisions - 11 provinces (marzes); Aragatsotn, Ararat, Armavir, Gegharkunik, Kotayk, Lori, Shirak, Syunik, Tavush, Vayots Dzor, Yerevan

HISTORY OVERVIEW

By "Armenia" one implies the area where the Armenian people was shaped as a nation, lived and made its history. Greek historians called this country Armenia about 3.000 years ago and the geographical country can be traced back to over four thousand years, when the legendary archer Haik defeated the Assyrian King Belus and became the first King. Armenia was counted among the great powers of the Ancient world, with a story dating back to the times of ancient Babylon.
The first indications of Armenia can be traced in Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions dating back to the III millennium B.C. In the Bible, Armenia is called the Ararat Kingdom (Urartu) and archaeological excavations have revealed a highly developed civilization. Part of this civilization can be seen in the remains and museum of the fortress of Erebuni founded in 782 B.C., on the edge of the present city of Yerevan.
The first century BC was Armenia 's "renaissance" when trade, art, literature flourished, and the ancient city of Artashat became an important regional center, which bridged the trade routes between East and West. Plutarch calls Artashat the Armenian Carthagena and mentions that Euripides's Bacchae was performed in Artashat in 53 B.C. Unfortunately, the success and prosperity of being central to one of the great Silk Roads caused Armenians to suffer many invasions from competing nations over the following centuries.
By the second half of the first century AD Rome had spread its tentacles to influence Armenia and the neighboring Parthian state. Eventually the Armenian King Trdat 1 was crowned by Rome in 66 AD and a period of peace and revival resulted in the construction of many castles and towns.

In 301 Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state-religion and Ejmiatsin became the cradle of the church with Saint Gregory becoming its first Catholikos.
Over the following centuries, Armenia was almost always being invaded and occupied, wholly or partially by its powerful neighbors and was ruled by Persians, Arabs and Turks at different times. However, during this period rich cultural heritage of architecture and literature evolved and many manuscripts emerging often from many hidden monasteries remain to this day.
By the midst of 17th century Armenia was divided between Turkey and Persia and this status remained until the 19th century wars fought by Russia against Persia and Turkey . In 1828 Armenia was finally united again as one nation but under the rule of Russia.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Ottoman government of Turkey began planned and systematic extermination of its ethnic Armenian population. This resulted in the massacre of about one and a half million people in 1915 and the exodus of those remaining to all parts of the globe.
At the end of the First World War in 1918 Eastern Armenia declared its independence but this was short lived state and in 1920 it became absorbed into the Soviet Union as a republic.
In 1991 once again Armenia regained its sovereignty and today it is a flourishing independent republic with a democratic form of Presidential government.

POLITICS, GOVERNEMENT

Armenia is a Republican Parliamentary state with a Presidential form of government under the constitution adopted in 1995. The President is elected democratically in national elections for a maximum of two five-years terms.
The President appoints the Prime Minister who in his turn appoints various Ministers and exercises the executive power.
The National Assembly, which is an elected body for four years, exercises the legislative power.
There is also an independent Constitutional Court to ensure that the decisions of the Government and National Assembly comply with the Constitution.
The country is divided into ten areas called Marzes plus the Capital City Yerevan. Local government officials in smaller cities, towns and villages are elected for three-year terms in local elections. Each Marz has a Governor appointed and responsible to the Central Government for carrying out the national policies in his region.
The incumbent President is Robert Kocharyan who is in his second term of office, having been first elected in March 1998.
Political parties cover a wide spectrum from Communists through Socialists, Liberals and Conservatives to Nationalists.
Generally speaking politics in Armenia is relatively low key in everyday life and usually well-disciplined political fervour and demonstrations are only shows during Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

RELIGION

Constitutionally Armenia allows the practice of most of the world's religions and Armenians in general are very tolerant of other faiths. The country was the first Christian kingdom, the religion being adopted by King Trdat III in 301 AD. Saint Gregory the Illuminator was the first Patriarch and Catholikos in 302 AD. The vast majority of Armenians is therefore Christians and belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church . Seventy years of communism in the Soviet Union did much damage to the Church but in recent years, a strong resurgence has benefited the community. In addition to the Apostolic Church there are minor Christian groups including, Russian & Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants. There are also small communities of Jews and Muslims.

LANGUAGE

Armenian is an ancient language from Indo-European branch created from Sanskrit and Zend. Its alphabet was created by Mesrob Mashtots in the fourth century and remains virtually unchanged to this day. It is the country's official language and is spoken by almost the entire population. As the country was previously one part of the Soviet Union most Armenians also speak Russian as a second language. English followed by French and German is now also being more widely learnt and used by Armenians, who have great language skills and are quick to learn to speak other languages. Western Armenian is spoken by most of the Diaspora from Europe, the Middle East and the US . It is the same language as Eastern Armenian only with differences in intonation and pronunciation of some letters.

POPULATION

Proceeding from the last National Census, which was held in 2002, the total registered population of Armenia was just over three million people. More than one third lives in and around the capital of Yerevan and in the main cities of Gyumri and Vanadzor. The remainder is in the small towns and many villages of the country. More than ninety five percent of the population is Armenian, two percent are Russians, the remainder are other ethnic groups, which include Kurds, Yesidi, Jews, Assyrians, Greeks and Gypsies. Life expectancy is 68 for men and 75 for women and the literacy rate is in excess of 99 percents.

CLIMATЕ

The climate of Armenia is alpine with relative extremes of hot and cold often depending on the region of the country and altitude.
Winter temperature can reach as low as minus 40C or lower around the upper reaches of Mount Aragats whereas in Yerevan, which is surrounded by mountains on the edge of the Ararat Valley, generally winter temperature does not drop below minus 10C. Conversely, the summer temperature in the Capital may sometimes reach 40C and the mountains temperature will then be a pleasant 20C. Summers are long, from the end of April until the end of October, slowly graduating into winter with most of the snow coming in the early months of the year followed by a short spring in April and May. The large variations in altitude allow the visitor to plan their outings and very often suiting their weather taste. When it is too hot in Yerevan in August, you can enjoy your rest on the beach of the Lake Sevan which is situated 1,000 meters higher than Yerevan and is only one hour away by car.

History, archeology, architecture, rich culture, impressive sites, diverse flora and fauna, various microclimates with sunburn deserts, rich forests and never melting snow on the mountains, national life style and modernity. All this one can find in Armenia . Promising some unforgettable days all this is waiting to be discovered by the visitors in Armenia .

Holidays and Memorial days:

January 1
New Year
March 8 International Women Day
April 7 Day of Maternity and Beauty
April 24 1915 Genocide Victims' Commemoration Day
May 1 International Labor Day
May 9 Victory and Peace Day
May 28 First Republic Day
July 5 Constitution Day
September 21 Independence Day
December 7 1988 Earthquake Victims' Commemoration Day

The main religious holidays:

January 6
The Christmas and Baptism
February 14 The Purification
April 7 Annunciation
April 12 Easter
August 16 Transfiguration of Christ Day
September 8 The Blessed Virgin birth
November 21 Epiphany of the Blessed Virgin

More about Armenia: http://www.virtualarmenia.am

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