Armenia is situated in the border between Southern Caucasus and Western Asia occupying the northern-eastern part of the Armenian highland. The highest peak in the Armenian highland is Mount Ararat with an elevation of 5165 m. The Republic of Armenia occupies a territory of 29 740 square kilometers and is bordered by Georgia to the North, with Azerbaijan to the East, with Turkey to the West and Iran to the South. Average attitude above sea level is 1800 meters. Highest mountain peak is Mount Aragats with elevation of 4090 m. The lowest point is Debed River Gorge-380 meters. Climate is dry and continental.
Armenia is a Republic. The highest judicial body is the National Assembly (Parliament). The main executive body is the Government. The capital of Armenia is Yerevan. Its administrative-territorial division consists of 11 regions (including Yerevan). The state language is Armenian. National Currency is Dram (AMD)
Armenia is the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301(That has already been spread within the country for about 250 years). The rest of the religions had been prohibited. The name of Armenian church is Armenian Apostolic Church. Christianity was preached in Armenia by holy Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew. Both of them have finished their mission in Armenia. Thaddeus was tortured: he was crucified and pierced by arrows on the very spot where the monastery of St. Thaddeus, or, in Armenian: “Surb Tadevi Vank” is currently located. The relics of St.Thaddeus is kept in Etchmiadzin. Bartholomew brought to Armenia the man-made face of the Virgin and built a church dedicated to her. It is worth mentioning that the Armenian Church originates from the apostles. Therefore, it is called the “Apostolic”. The head of the church is the Catholicos of all Armenians.
Short historical overview
Armenian nation is one of the oldest nations in the world. It has come from the depth of the centuries, when modern European nations had not yet emerged, not to mention the ancient nations of Romans and Hellens. The historical motherland of Armenian nation is the Armenian highland. Together with the territories of Asia Minor and Iranian highland it is considered to be the ancestral motherland of indoeuropean nations. The name of Armenians-“hay” comes from the name of their country –“Hayastan”, the country Hayasa with the same name is mentioned on the clay table in Hittite language which had been found during the escavations of the capital of the Hittite state dating back to the second millennium B.C.
In the first century, the state of Urartu,covering the entire territory of Armenian highland is being mentioned in the Assyrian cuneiform records. The state of Urartu (9th-6th century BC) is believed to have the most possible developed civilization. It has left behind a rich cultural heritage after it. The construction of the fortress Erebuni(782 BC) dates back to this period. It was one of the myriad fortifications of the ancient kingdom that gave a name to the modern capital of Armenia-Yerevan. After Urartu, the Armenian kingdom led by the dynasty of Ervantids, appeared and picked up the baton of history. Later, as a subsequence, it fell into vassal dependence on Achaemenid Persia(Behistun inscription).
As a result of the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, Armenia became part of single hellinsitic world. In the second century BC the strengthened local ruler, Artashes declared himself an independent king of Armenia and unitied the lands of Great and Small Armenia and established new Armenian dynasty, the Artaxiad. The great Armenia reached to the peak of its power during the reign of Tigran the Great in the first century BC. The immemse empire of Tigran the Great extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean from the interfluve of rivers Tigris and Euphrates, to the foothills of the Greater Caucasus. This was the classical state of Hellenistic era,with rapid constructions of new cities, development of crafts, trade and art.
By this time the formation of Armenian language as well as ethnic developments of Armenian nation had been completed. The Greek historian Strabo(1st century BC) testifies that the whole nation, inhabited in the Armenian highland, spoke the same language-Armenian.
Another antique author Plutarch calls Artashat, capital of Armenia-“Armenian Carthage” and writes about the beauty and glory of that city, located on the Silk Road which has served as a trade bridge between East and West during ancient times. First centuries of a new era were marked with constant wars between the Roman Empire and growing Persian kingdom. Armenia, being a battlefield between two great powers, was divided among them in the 5th century. Long before that, during the reign of Arshakids dynasty who came into power and took Armenian throne in the first century of a new era, an important event took place in the lives of the Armenian people which determined Armenia’s entire subsequent history.
In 301 Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. After a hundered years another major even took place in the lives of Armenians, a scholar named Mesrop Mashtots created the letters of Armenian alphabet in 405, that faithfully served Armenians for 16 centuries, protecting people from foreign enslavements better than any weapon. Armenia remained divided between Byzantium and Persia until the triumphal march of a new religion-Islam.The creation of a powerful Arab caliphate became a historical reality that many ancient nations and rulers were forced to reckon with. After repeated uprisings against caliphate’s power, Armenian princely family Bagratids managed to obtain title of rulers of Armenia in the 8th century. Ashot, from Bagratid clan was given the title of the king of Armenia after another hundred years, and had been recognized by both Byzantium and Caliphate. The era of Bagratids in Armenia reached its highest peak from 10th-11th centuries. At this time, the capital of Medieval Armenia, Ani, acquired its final design and form. Its cathedral still admires architects and connoisseurs of all that is beautiful. The invasion of Seljuk Turks combined with the feuds between Byzantium and Persia, renewed after the attenuation of Caliphate, led Armenia to the loss of state independence and decline. Defeat of the country was completed by the invasion of Tatar-Mongol in the 13th century. Armenian princes, running from the raids of the enemy of the Byzantine rulers to the south-westen coasts of the Meditteranean Sea, managed to create an independent principality here in the 11th century. Levon from Rubenid clan ascended the throne of the Cilician Kingdom a hundred years later, which lasted until the 14th century. For three centuries Armenians had the opportunity to develop their culture and science in the relatively calm conditions. The last independent Armenian kingdom that served as an outpost of Christianity during the Crusades, was crushed by Egyptian Mameluks.
With the advent of Ottoman turks in the historical arena, which defeated Byzantian Empire and seized its entire territory, the darkest period in the centuries-old history of Armenians began. Throughout 15th-17th centuries the territory of Armenia again became a battlefield of constant wars, this time between Ottoman Empire and Persia, that divided Armenia between each other in 1639. Turkish and Persian domination brought a break on the cultural progress of Armenia and hold back the developing life of the people for several centuries. Armenians managed to maintain semi-independent principalities only in the inaccessible mountainous regions of Syunik and Artsakh(Nagorno-Karaakh).
Russian campaigns in the Caucasus began from the 17th century. As a result of Russian-Persian war in 1828 Eastern Armenia was annexed to the territory of Russia. Meanwhile, the lives of Armenians in Western Armenia, under Turkish rule, were in constant danger.
Armenian people were on the verge of physical death . Turkey’s anti-Armenian policy culminated in World War 1. From 1915 to 1918, succeeding Turkish rules carried out the mass destruction and deportation of the Armenian population of Western Armenia.The terrible outcome of Armenian genocide was the death of a more than one and a half million people. Most of the part of historical Armenia lost its indigenous population. An independent Armenian republic was proclaimed in the territory of Eastern Armenia in May 1918, where Soviet power was established in Novemer 1920. The September 21,1991, is the date of formation of the modern Republic of Armenia.