Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստան Hayastan) is a landlocked country in southern Transcaucasia, 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 Naxçivan exclave of Azerbaijan in the south. Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States and for centuries has been on the crossroads between East and West. The country is formally named the Republic of Armenia.
Origin and history of the name
The Armenian name for the country, Hayastan, translates as the land of Haik, consisting of the name Haik and the Persian suffix -stan (land). According to tradition, 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 the Christian tradition a forefather of all Armenians. He is said to have settled below Mount Ararat, travelled to assist in building the Tower of Babel, and after his return defeated the Assyrian king Nimrod near Lake Van in present-day Turkey.
The name Armenia was the name the Persians gave to this land. 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 acccounts 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 AD 521.
Main article: History of Armenia
Armenia was a rich empire and had a rich culture before the common era, at one period controlling all the land between the Black and Caspian Seas. In 301, Armenia was the first state to formally adopt Christianity as its official state religion, twelve years before Rome. It also changed between various dynasties. But after Parthian (Iranina), Roman, Mongol, Arab, Egyptian, and Persian occupation, Armenia weakened. In 1454, the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia divided Armenia among themselves.
In 1828, Persian Armenia was incorporated into the Russian Empire. This was repeated with the USSR in 1920, after briefly existing as an independent state. The Armenians living in the western part of Armenia (Ottoman Armenia) were subjected to the Armenian Genocide in 1915 during which 1.5 million Armenians were killed and most of the remaining were deported.
Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by a long conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated enclave of the Soviet Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the enclave in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, Armenian forces not only liberated Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant portion of Azerbaijan proper.
The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution as well as the Turkish economic blockade of Armenia.
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 Justic Bloc.
Armenians voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum. Levon Ter-Petrossian was president until January 1998, when public demonstrations against his policies on Nagorno-Karabakh 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, however. President Kocharian is a non-partisan (like many of the rulers of Soviet republics) and rules with the support of the parliamentary coalition
Main article: Provinces of Armenia
Armenia is divided into 11 provinces (marzer, singular - marz):
Main article: Geography of Armenia
Map of Armenia
Armenia is a landlocked country located in south-west Asia, east of 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 at Mount Aragats, and no point is below 400m above sea-level. Pollution from toxic chemicals such as DDT is not helping the already poor soil quality in many parts of the county. A Turkish energy blockade, the result of the conflict with Azerbaijan, has led to deforestation.
Main article: Economy of Armenia
Main article: Demographics of Armenia
Armenia is a primarily Oriental Orthodox country. Armenia is considered the first nation to adopt Christianity, tracing its church's roots back to the 3rd and 4th centuries. The country formally adopted the Christian faith in 301 A.D. Over 90% of Armenians 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 and Catholics. The Yazidi Kurds, who live in the western part of the country, practice Zoroastrianism or Shamanism. Any ethnic Azeris living in the country practice Islam, but most fled to Azerbaijan during the Karabagh War. Conversely, Armenia received a large influx of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan, where there were numerous pogroms against Armenians.
Main article: Culture of Armenia
External links and references
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