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ARMENIA

HISTORY

Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world with a recorded history of about 3500 years. Urartu was established in 860 BC and by the 6th century BC it was replaced by the Satrapy of Armenia. The Kingdom of Armenia reached its height under Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC and became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the late 3rd or early 4th century AD. The ancient Armenian kingdom was split between the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires around the early 5th century. Under the Bagratuni dynasty, the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia was restored in the 9th century. Declining due to the wars against the Byzantines, the kingdom fell in 1045 and Armenia was soon after invaded by the Seljuk Turks. An Armenian principality and later a kingdom Cilician Armenia was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between the 11th and 14th centuries.

Between the 16th century and 19th century, the traditional Armenian homeland composed of Eastern Armenia and Western Armeniacame under the rule of the Ottoman and Iranian empires, repeatedly ruled by either of the two over the centuries. By the 19th century, Eastern Armenia had been conquered by the Russian Empire, while most of the western parts of the traditional Armenian homeland remained under Ottoman rule. During World War I, Armenians living in their ancestral lands in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. In 1918, following the Russian Revolution, all non-Russian countries declared their independence after the Russian Empire ceased to exist, leading to the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia. By 1920, the state was incorporated into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, and in 1922 became a founding member of the Soviet Union. In 1936, the Transcaucasian state was dissolved, transforming its constituent states, including the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, into full Union republics. The modern Republic of Armenia became independent in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Council of Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia supports the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh, which was proclaimed in 1991.

NATURE

About 90% of the territory of Armenia lies on mountains at the height of 1000 m above sea level and higher, that are part of the Armenian Plateau. Mountains of

Armenia meet the Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the north of the country. Armenia is a country of mountain peaks: Mountains of Aragats, Kaputjugh, Azhdahak, Vardenis and Mets Ishkhanasar have a height of more than 3500m above sea level. The highest of them is mountain Aragats at 4090m. mountain Ararat which is one of the most significant symbols of Armenia is currently in modern day Turkey. Mountains of Armenia form several large mountain ranges which include those of Pambak, Zangezur, Meghri and Vayots Dzor. Armenia is located in a seismically active zone. Volcanic activity stopped here few centuries ago and left Armenia with vast volcanic uplands. Only 12% of the territory is covered with forests. Most of them are concentrated in the northern regions of Lori and Tavush. Some of them can also be found in the southern regions of Syunik and Vayots Dzor. The network of rivers is very large, but not suitable for navigation. All rivers belong to basins of Araks and Kura. Armenia has a few alpine lakes, the largest of which is Lake Sevan – one of the largest fresh water highland lakes in the world. Here summers are hot, and winters are rather cold. In woody areas of the country the climate is moderately warm and humid with mild summers and winters. Mountain regions of Armenia are characterized by moderately cold climate with rather harsh winters and cool summers. Precipitations are mostly observed in spring and beginning of summer.

RELIGION

Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301. About 94 percent of Armenians consider themselves to be Armenian Christians, having derived their faith directly from Christs apostles. As Armenians began to practice Christianity, many churches and monasteries were erected, some on the foundations of pagan temples. Armenias innovative architectural traditions can be seen in the church complexes as precursors to the Gothic form.Traditionally, the Armenian Church recognizes the Catholicos of All Armenians as its leader. He resides in Holy Ejmiadzin, where St. Gregory the Illuminator established the Armenian Church in 301.

The Mother See of Holy Ejmiadzin is the pre-eminent center of authority in the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church. It is composed of the Mother Cathedral of the entire Armenian Church; a monastery and monastic brotherhood; (c) the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians; and various religious and cultural institutions, such as the Kevorkian Theological Seminary and a museum.

GOVERNMENT OF ARMENIA

Politics of Armenia takes place in a framework of semi-presidential representative democratic republic. According to the Constitution of Armenia, the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the President and the Government. Legislative power is vested in both the Government and the Parliament. The unicameral parliament (also called the Azgayin Zhoghov or National Assembly) is controlled by a coalition of four political parties: the conservative Republican party, the Prosperous Armenia party, the Rule of Law party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

CLIMATE

Climate of Armenia is very different. The country is located in the subtropical zone, among ridges of the central part of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. But despite this the subtropical climate is observed only in the southern part of Armenia (Megri region). It is an area of such subtropical plants as oranges, lemons, olives and other plants.

Climate of Armenia in other regions is markedly continental. Summer is dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September. Winter is short and quite cold with plenty of snow. In the mountains the average summer temperature ranges between +10 and +22°C, and in the winter temperatures range between +2 and -14 °C. In plain lands the average January temperature is -5 °C, and July temperature is +25 °C.

In autumn and spring frosts are frequently strong, and the soil temperature can fall to –28 °C at that. Heat distribution in Armenia depends on the height of the place. Even within a city the temperature between two neighboring districts can differ by 2-3 °C.

More than 90% of Armenia lies on the height of 1000 meters above sea level. This fact forms these features of the climate. Therefore, the average temperature in Armenia, as in other mountainous countries, falls by one degree at every 200 meters of ascent.

First rainy season in Armenia lasts from spring to early summer while the months of October and November experience the second spell of rain. In the winter mountain areas receive a lot of snowfall (up to 100-150 mm), which lies on the slopes until March-April and all year round on the tops of the mountains.

Autumn and mid-spring are the best seasons to visit Armenia. Springs are short, while falls are long. Armenian fall is noted for mild and sunny weather, bright colors of landscapes and abundance of autumn fruits.

SYMBOLS

Flag

The flag of Armenia has gone through many transformations over its time in existence. There is a theory that the flag of the Republic of Armenia is based on the design by priest Ghevond Alishan, who developed a prototype in the 19th century. The current flag is a direct adoption of the flag of the First Republic of 1918-1921. The three colors – red, blue, and orange – represent, according to the government of Armenia:

The Red emblematizes the Armenian Highland, the Armenian people's continued struggle for survival, maintenance of the Christian faith, Armenia's independence and freedom. The Blue emblematizes the will of the people of Armenia to live beneath peaceful skies. The Orange emblematizes the creative talent and hard-working nature of the people of Armenia.

Coat of arms

The eagle and the lion of the coat of arms have appeared on the standards of Armenian dynasties and other cultural markers for thousands of years. They are joined by a crest, which depicts the symbols of four of those dynasties, with Ararat at the center. They are supported by five elements: a sword, a broken chain, a bundle of wheat, a ribbon and feathers. They represent strength, independence, industriousness and intellect.

ARMENIAN CURRENCY

The national currency of Armenia, dram was issued on November 22, 1993. 1 dram is equal to 100 lum. In translation from Greek dram means money. The first record of the name was found in the XII th century, silver coins had a name like that. On the banknote are famous Armenian scientists, artists, as well as cultural and historical and cultural monuments. As of 1998 new banknotes were issued, and the old ones were removed from monetary circulation.

MONUMENTS

It is one of the most famous monuments in the capital. Stone structure, set in 1959, was created by a talented sculptor Yervand Kochar. The sculpture depicts a hero of medieval Armenian epos, preparing to attack enemy. The monument is included in UNESCO heritage list. This is one of the majestic symbols of the city.

Aram Khachaturian Monument

Aram Khachaturian is a famous Armenian composer of the XX century, well-honored not only at home, but also in many countries of the world. One of his most popular pieces is “Sabre Dance”. The sculpture depicting the composer is located in front of the Opera and Ballet building.

Alexander Tamanyan Monument

The greatest architect of Armenia is Alexander Tamanian. It was he who drew up a plan of modern Yerevan and developed plans of Echmiadzin, Gyumri and other cities of the country. He is famous not only in Armenia, his works can also be seen in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The monument in honour of the architect was built in the centre of the city in 1974.

HOLIDAYS IN ARMENIA

Winter Holidays 6 January: Christmas 21 January: St. Sarkis Day 28 January: Army Day 14 February: Terendez 15 February: Vardanank 19 February: Day of gift of books Spring Holidays

8 March: International Woman’s Day 7 April: The holiday of Maternity and Beauty 24 Apri: lMemory Day of Victims of Genocide 1 May: Labor Day 8 May: Yerkap Day 9 May: The Holiday of Victory and Peace 28 May: The Day of FirstRepublic Summer Holidays

The Holiday of Holy Etchmiazdin 5 July: Constitution Day 11 August: Nawasard Autumn Holidays

21 September: Independence Day 11 October: YerevanCity Day 7 November: National Holiday of Wine Winter Holidays

31 December: New Year’s Day

ARMENIAN CUISINE

Armenian cuisine is as ancient as its history, as the land it is standing on. Armenian culinary traditions are over 2000 years old. The abundance of meat on Armenian tables is the result of the most ancient development of cattle breeding in Armenian uplands which led to such a variety of livestock and poultry. Cattle breeding was also the source of various dairy products – basically brine-ripened cheeses as well as sour-milk products which serve as the basis for traditional Armenian dishes and beverages.

Early beginning of agriculture in the fertile valleys of Armenia caused the application of various cereals in Armenian cuisine - spelt, millet, barley, wheat, rice; beans - string beans, beans, lentil, mountain peas to say nothing of great variety of vegetables and greens which are a must of Armenian feast.

THEATRES

The Armenian Theatre has its roots in the theatre of Ancient Greece, and it was a natural development of ancient religious rituals, when hired professional gusans (troubadours), sang the praises of the nobleman's ancestors in lengthy verses. Singers of lamentations or tragedians were known as voghbergus, and those participating in festive ceremonies were called katakagusan (Comedians).

The history of the Armenian Real Theater begins at about 70 BC.

«Art Center of Aesthetics» Small Theatre Agulis Theatre Atchemyan State Drama Theater G. Sundukian National Academic Theatre

H. Ghaplanyan Drama Theatre H. Paronyan State Theatre of Musical Comedy H. Tumanyan State Puppet Theatre Hamazgayin Theatre Henrik Malian Theatre of ArmenFilm Studio K. Stanislavski State Russian Drama Theatre Metro Theatre Mher Mkrtchyan Artistic Theatre State Marionette Theatre State Musical Chamber Theatre

State Song Theatre of Armenia State Youth Theater Yerevan Chamber Theatre Yerevan State Circus Yerevan State Theatre of the Young Spectator

MUSEUMS

There are huge numbers of museums in the center of Yerevan, but some parts of them are remains in the suburbs. Most visited of them is Matenadaran, an ancient manuscript of books which has been reconstructed in 2012. The second most visited museum is National Art Gallery which is situated in the heart of the city.

Aram Khachaturian Museum (Yerevan)

Armenian Craft (Folk Art) Museum (Yerevan) Cafesjian Museum of Contemporary Art (Yerevan) Children's Art Gallery (Yerevan)

Contemporary Art Museum (Yerevan)

Erebuni Fortress Museum (Yerevan)

Genocide Museum (Yerevan)

Matenadaran (Yerevan)

Minas Avetisyan Museum (Yerevan) National Gallery of Armenia (Yerevan)

National History Museum (Yerevan)

Sardarapat Ethnographic Museum (Armavir) Yeghishe Charents House-Museum (Yerevan)