Armenia, also known as the Republic of Armenia, or even Hayastan, is located in the highlands surrounding the mountains of Ararat. Armenia is currently landlocked with Turkey, Iran, Georgia, the Nargorno-Karabakh Republic, and the Azerbaijan bordering it. It is a mountainous country and was once part of the Soviet Union until the independent Republic of Armenia was formed on September 23rd, 1991. The current president (as of 2008) is Serzh Sarkisyan and the prime minister is Tigran Sarkisyan. The 2010 estimated population of Armenia is about 2,966,802. The capital of Armenia is Yerevan (founded in 782 B.C. by King Argishti I) and the monetary unit is called a Dram.
Throughout the years, Armenia has been controlled by more than just the USSR. Archaelogical findings such as a leather shoe, skirt, and a wine-producing service have proved that a civilization thrived here as early as 4000 B.C. And throughout the Bronze Age, others have occupied parts of Greater Armenia:
- Hittite Empire
- Hayasa-Azzi (1500-1200 B.C.)
- Nairi people (12th-9th century)
- Kingdom of Urartu (1000-600 B.C.)
- Orontid Dynasty (600 B.C. thru 66 B.C.)
And consequentially through the years, Armenia has known autonomy and has been conquered by many other peoples such as the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines, Persians, Mongols, Turks, and the Russians.
Originally Armenia was known for its Zoroastrian worship of Mihr. Christianity spread throughout the country in 40 A.D. with the resurrection of Jesus from Nazareth and in 301 A.D. it became the first state to declare Chistianity as a state religion by King Tiridates III. Between 428 A.D. and 451 A.D. the marzpanate period brought in Christian persecution. This stopped as Armenia gained a few years of autonomy by what is known as the Armenian rebellion in 451 A.D. when religious freedom was once again maintained. Currently over 93% of Armenians are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church with its Oriental Orthodox traditions.
Armenian culture is profound and unique. The music is a mixture of pop, contemporary Christian, and folk. Well known Armenians instruments are the duduk, dhol, zurna, and the kanun. The most popular and traditional sounds of Armenia is the Armenian chant. They are religious in origin and consist of many different forms.
Art is Armenia is quite a sight to see. The community surrounding the art market is remarkable. Within the capital city of Yerevan there is what is known as the Yerevan Vernisage which rivals many ethnic arts and crafts markets in the world. With thousands and thousands of people visiting the hundreds of vendors on weekends and Wednesdays the market produces wonderful pieces of woodcarvings, antiques, fine lace projects, and wool carpets.
Armenia has been a country with much turmoil being the center of many warring countries, but it has known its peace and freedom. Armenia is also known for its rich religious heritage within Orthodox Christianity and rivals other countries with its abundant culture and tradition. The arts and crafts market is well worth a trip to the capital city any time of year. And the beauty of the Ararat Mountains will leave you with an assortment of pictures and memories of the abundance of historical grandeur.