Armenia is a country in Western Asia, one of the centers of ancient civilization, which shaped the history of the Armenian people and created its continuing history. With the territory it coinsides with Armenian Plateau.
Historical Armenia was divided into two parts. Greater Armenia i.e Armenia Major and Armenia Minor i.e Lesser Armenia. During Arsacid times Greater Armenia was divided into 15 provinces, which were separate historical, economical units with their customs, armenian dresses (taraz) and dialects.
Lesser Armenia stretches from Euphrates to west till Anti Taurus mountain range. During Byzantine dominion Lesser Armenia was divided into 3 administrative regions – First Armenia (Hayq), Second Armenia (Hayq) and Third Armenia (Hayq).
Foreigners the country call Armenia (except georgians and kurdish people). The earliest notes from VI c. BC, confirm the existence of Armenia. Persian King Darius the First in his Behistun inscription mention “Urartu” in Akkadian language, “Armina” in Persian and “Harminuya” in Elamite. Approximately from these times Greeks mention Armenia as “Arminia”.
Armenians belong to Eurasian (Europoid) anthropological type of Armenoid race.
They are considered native people of Armenian Highland. As well as they form the major population of the Republic of Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and Javakhk(region in Georgia). Armenian diaspora is also very big.
Overall number of Armenians in the world is around 13 million.
Armenian Highland is located in eastern part of Asia Minor and spreads among the Black Sea, South Caucasus and Upper Mesopotamia plains, Iranian and Asia Minor Plateaus. The area is about 400.000 sq km, the average height is 1700 m, the height of separate peaks reach to 4000-5000 metres, and the maximum height is 5165 metres ( Mt. Ararat).
In the east it borders on Iranian Plateau, in the west on Asia Minor peninsula, in the north it borders on Caucasus Mountains and in the south on Mesopotamia. Occupies about 350.000 sq km area, altitude above sea level is 1500- 1800 and it is higher than neighbor countries, that’s why it is called “Mountain Island”.
The Mountain chains of Armenian Highland are from north-west-Eastern Pontus, from north Lesser Caucasus, from south- Armenian Taurus. In the east it spreads till the Lake Urmia and Kara Dag (Armenian) Mountains, in the west it borders on Anti- Taurus and Anti Pontus mountains.
Mountain range Haykakan Par divides Armenian Highland from east to west and creates northern and southern parts. Haykakan Par mountain chain starts from Mt. Masis (Ararat-5165 metres) strecthes to Western Euphrates. After Masis comes Mt. Sipan (4434 metres, on the northern shore of Lake Van) and Aragats, which is the highest mountain in the Republic of Armenia (4090 meters high). (See more: The Armenian plateau. Relief)
Armenian Highland is in seismic zone and because of this frequent shocks occur. Armenian Highland is distinguished with its richness of water resources. It is the main water distributor in Near East. From here Euphrates, Tigris, Yeraskh, Halis, Gaylget, Kur, Chorokh outflow. The lakes of Armenian Highland has tectonic( Urmia, Tsovk), volcano tectonic (Van, Sevan, Arpi, Gaylatu),volcanic( Khanchal, Parvana), crater (Nemrut, Azhdahak), glacial ( Al, Black,Kari), landslide( Parz) origin.
Armenian Highland has rich mining resources. From the ancient times there were copper, lead, silver and gold mines, and Second Millenium BC there were iron mines as well. Gold was produced in Sper, Armenian Taurus and everywhere, silver- in Tsopk, copper in Gugark, Aghdznik, Syunik (Kapan) and everywhere, lead -in southern parts of Lake Van. From the ancient times the salt mines of Koghb,Nakhchivan and Kaghzvan were quite popular.
In Armenian Highland there are endless range of non-metal mines. There are tufa, basalt (quartz), volcanic clays, granite, marble and other mines. According to “Ashkharatsuyc” there were black and white oil in Turuberan. In the Republic of Armenia Jajur’s and Jermanis’s coal mines are popular.
Armenian Highland is a rich depository of different building materials. Tufa stone(pink, black, white etc) is widely used. The most popular tufa mine is in Artik. There are also marble, basalt, granite, pumice,clay, limestone amd other mines.There are many coal mines in Taik’s Olti village, in Shirak (Jajur), in Tavush (Ijevan) and in Ararat (Jermanis).
In Armenian Highland almost everywhere there were cold and hot springs, which were known as “Jermuks”. From ancient times Vayots Dzor’s Jermuk, Egheghik-Egheghin in Karin, Vagharshak’s springs in Tsaghkotn, Jermajur’s healing waters had been popular. Bjni, Arzni, Dilijan, Ararat, Gavar were also popular with their cold and hot springs.
Armenian Highland has very rich and unique vegetation: landschafts are changed according to the upward zones. 4000 plants are growing here from which 200(Ararat wheat,armenian rowan,nairi almond etc) are indegenous. There are also very rare plants like Periploca graeca, Salvinia molesta, Caucasian rhododendron as well as thousands of plants from different corners of the world. Essential oil plants and medical herbs are widely spread.
There are apricot, peach, pear, apple, cherry and many fruit trees as well.
Especially fauna is also diverse. Wild sheep (mouflon), bezoar goat, jackal live in the mountains, desert cat, white-hedgehog, small or south mole, small hare, snakes (like viper, cobra) live in plains an deserts. Common birds are black trush, hen harrier, red-footed falcon, grey partridge, eurasian skylark, wheatear,circus aeruginosus, sparrowhawk. There are many insects, grassoppers, spiders and lycosas. Capreolus, boar, bear, squirrel live in the forests. The rivers and lakes are rich with fishes, among them Sevan trout, Van tarekh, trout are popular. Grape cultivation is developed. Wheat, barley, millet, rye are also cultivated.
From the ancient times Armenia is considered as a big center of horse breeding. As Greek geographer Strabo states, during the Achaemenid domination, Armenia provided 20.000 colt for the celebrations of Mithra God.
Artsakh was known for its horse breeding. Pig breeding was widely spread in ancient times.
Armenian Highland has a special type of cat – Vana cat.
Armenian is the official language of the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Armenian language is spoken in Diaspora and Javakh. Armenian is one of the ancient languages of the world.
Armenian belongs to Indo- European language family and it is separate branch.
It was spread after 5th century, just after the invention of Armenian alphabet.
A rmenian culture acted like a sophisticated and flexible system: permanentely being under the interactions of various nations, but at the same time it could keep its originality and uniqueness. Armenian culture is remarkable from the point of global culture, as Armenian nation has its invest in the cultural treasury of the world’s people by carefully preserving and enriching its own culture.
Armenian architecture, especially church constructing, has a number of pecularities. These are ridged dome which is made from stone, interesting harmony of light and shadow. Sculpture is on the highest level, which examples we see all over the country.
Literature has played an important role in Armenia’s cultural life and national identity. Christian culture and Armenian language perfectly reflecting and not changed, the invention of Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots, stimulated the development of unique customs. After the invention of Armenian alphabet armenian ancient manuscripts appeared. Most of the manuscripts are the researches of ancient scholars. These are from theology, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, geography, history, medicine, poetry and music spheres.
Armenian miniature is known for its diverse colors and style. Its ancient samples have been preserved since VI century. Armenian art has formed since XIX century, on the base of ancient miniature, sculpture and fresco.
Caucasus region and particularly Armenia are considered cradle of carpet and rug making. Armenian theatre (with Greek and Roman theatre) is among the oldest theatres of the world.
The Armenian cuisine is over three thousand years old. It has developed and accomplished during many years, and is distinguished by specific features such as the ability of following traditions and taking new ones. It’s expressed both by favorite dishes and their preparation ways.
Armenian music and dance and national costumes differ from the others. Armenian cuisine has several features according to different historical, geographical, climatic and political-historical factors.
Armenian Statehood has history of five thousand years. In ancient times borders of the state coincided with the borders of Armenian Highland. Armenian Statehood reached to its peak in I BC century. Because of the geopolitical developments Armenians lost their statehood in 428.
Due to liberation struggle in V century Armenia’s Statehood was restored. Armenian independent statehood was again restored in IX – XI centuries in Armenian Highland.
Armenian Statehood was established also outside of Armenian Highland in Cilicia in XI century.
By the collapse of capital Sis in 1375, Armenian Statehood stopped existing for 500 years.
Armenian Statehood restored in 1918 as a republic.
Today, in Armenian Highland there are 2 Armenian states, which together occupy 1/10 part of the main homeland.