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 ongoing history. With the territory, it matches 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 the Euphrates to the west, up to the 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 call the country Armenia (except Georgians and Kurdish people). The earliest notes from VI c. BC, confirm the presence of Armenia. Persian King Darius, the first in his Behistun inscription, mentions “Urartu” in Akkadian language, “Armina” in Persian and “Harminuya” in Elamite. Approximately from these times, Greeks name Armenia as “Arminia”.
Armenian Highland is located in the 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 medium height is 1700 m, the height of separate peaks reach 4000-5000 meters, and the supreme height is 5165 meters (Mt. Ararat).
In the east, it borders on Iranian Plateau, in the west on Asia Minor peninsula, in the north on the Caucasus Mountains and the south on Mesopotamia. It occupies about 350.000 sq km area, the altitude above sea level is 1500- 1800 and it is higher than in neighboring countries, that’s why it’s 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, distributes Armenian Highland to east, to the west and creates northern and southern parts. Haykakan Par mountain chain starts from Mt. Masis (Ararat-5165 meters), stretches to Western Euphrates. Following Masis comes Mt. Sipan (4434 meters, 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 a seismic zone and because of this, frequent collapses 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 have tectonic (Urmia, Tsovk), volcano-tectonic (Van, Sevan, Arpi, Gaylatu), volcanic (Chanchal, Parvana), crater (Nemrut, Azhdahak), glacial (Al, Black, Kari), landslide( Parz) origin.
Armenian Highland has rich mining resources. From 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 throughout, lead in southern parts of Lake Van. From ancient times the salt mines of Koghb, Nakhchivan, and Kaghzvan were quite popular.
In Armenian Highland, there was an 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.
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 a very rich and unique nature: Landschaft is changed according to the upward zones. 4000 plants are growing here from which 200 (Ararat wheat, Armenian rowan,nairi almond, etc) are inherent.
There are also very rare plants here, 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.
Expressly fauna is diverse. Wild sheep (mouflon), bezoar goat, jackal live in the mountains, desert cat, white-hedgehog, small or south mole, small hare, snakes (like vipers, cobra) live in plains and deserts. Common birds are black trash, hen harrier, red-footed falcon, grey partridge, Eurasian skylark, wheatear, circus aeruginosus, sparrowhawk.
There are many insects, grasshoppers, spiders, and costs. Capreolus, boar, bear, squirrels live in the forests. The rivers and lakes are rich with fish, 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. Specially, 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.
Edited by Mariam Ispiryan