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(ärmē`nēə), Armenian Hayastan, officially Republic of Armenia, republic (2015 est. pop. 2,917,000), 11,500 sq mi (29,785 sq km), in the S Caucasus. Armenia is bounded by Turkey on the west, Azerbaijan on the east (the Nakhchivan Autonomous RepublicNakhchivan Autonomous Republic
or Naxçivan Autonomous Republic
, autonomous republic (1990 est. pop. 310,000), 2,124 sq mi (5,501 sq km), an exclave of Azerbaijan, bordered on the south by Iran and Turkey and on the north by Armenia, which separates Nakhchivan
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 of Azerbaijan is on its southwestern border), Iran on the southwest, and Georgia on the north. YerevanYerevan
, Rus. Erivan, city (1989 pop. 1,201,539), capital of Armenia, on the Razdan River. A leading industrial, cultural, and scientific center, Yerevan is also a rail junction and carries on a brisk trade in agricultural products.
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 is the capital.

Land and People

The landlocked country, a region of extinct volcanoes and rugged mountains, has an average altitude of 5,900 ft (1,800 m). Many peaks exceed 10,000 ft (3,048 m); perpetually snowcapped Mt. Aragats (13,432 ft/4,094 m) is the highest point in Armenia. The climate is continental, with cold, dry winters and scorching, dusty summers. The chief rivers are the Aras (Araks) and its tributary, the Razdan, which provide hydroelectricity and irrigation water. Lake Sevan supports the important fishing industry and is another source of hydroelectric power.

The country's main cities are Yerevan, KumayriKumayri
or Gyumri
, formerly Leninakan
, city (1989 pop. 122,587), in Armenia, near the Turkish border. It has varied light manufactures. The old craft of rug making is practiced. Kumayri is the most important Armenian industrial center after Yerevan.
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 (formerly Leninakan), Vanadzor (formerly Kirovakan), and Yejmiadzin (seat of the Armenian Church). Ethnic Armenians make up the bulk of the people in this densely populated republic. In addition, there are Kurdish, Russian, and Azeri minorities. The official language is Armenian; Russian and various other tongues are spoken by a small minority. The Armenian ChurchArmenian Church,
autonomous Christian church, sometimes also called the Gregorian Church. Its head, a primate of honor only, is the catholicos of Yejmiadzin, Armenia; Karekin II became catholicos in 1999.
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 is predominant, and there are Russian Orthodox, Yazidi, Protestant, and Muslim minorities.


Agriculture holds a significant place in Armenia's economy, employing almost half of its population. Wine grapes, citrus fruits, vegetables, and livestock are the main agricultural products; fishing is also important. Armenia has deposits of copper, gold, molybdenum, bauxite, and zinc, which provide the basis for a chemical industry. Salts and other minerals have enabled health resorts to thrive. Diamond processing, nonferrous metallurgy, microelectronics, food processing, and the manufacture of electrical equipment, machinery, textiles, and the famous Armenian brandies and wines are also among the republic's industries. The annual value of Armenia's imports is much greater than that of its exports. The main trading partners are Russia, Germany, Belgium, the United States, and Israel.


Armenia is governed under the constitution of 1995 as amended. The largely ceremonial head of state is the president, elected by parliament to seven-year term (since 2018). The prime minister is the head of government. There is a popularly elected 131-member unicameral national assembly, with some members elected directly and others proportionally. Administratively, Armenia is divided into 11 provinces.


Early History

The region and former kingdom of Asia Minor that was Greater Armenia lay east of the Euphrates River; Little, or Lesser, Armenia was west of the river. Armenia is generally understood to have included NE TurkeyTurkey,
Turk. Türkiye , officially Republic of Turkey, republic (2015 est. pop. 78,271,000), 301,380 sq mi (780,574 sq km), SW Asia and SE Europe. It borders on Iraq (SE), Syria and the Mediterranean Sea (S), the Aegean Sea (W), Greece and Bulgaria (NW), on the Black
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, the area covered by the modern republic of Armenia (the eastern part of ancient Armenia), and parts of Iranian AzerbaijanAzerbaijan
, Iran. Azarbayejan, region, c.34,280 sq mi (88,785 sq km), NW Iran, divided into the provinces of East Azerbaijan (1996 pop. 3,325,540), West Azerbaijan (1996 pop. 2,496,320), and Ardabil (1996 pop. 1,168,011).
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According to tradition, the kingdom was founded in the region of Lake VanVan
, city (1990 pop. 153,525), capital of Van prov., E Turkey, near the eastern shore of Lake Van, at an altitude of 5,659 ft (1,725 m). It is the trade center for a fruit- and grain-growing region.
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 by Hayk, or Hayg, a descendant of Noah, in 2492 B.C. Modern scholars, however, believe that the Armenians crossed the Euphrates and came into Asia Minor in the 8th cent. B.C. Invading the country called Urartu by the Assyrians, they intermarried with the indigenous peoples there and formed a homogeneous nation by the 6th cent. B.C. This state was a Persian satrapy from the late 6th cent. B.C. to the late 4th cent. B.C.

Conquered (330 B.C.) by Alexander the Great, it became after his death part of the Syrian kingdom of Seleucus ISeleucus I
(Seleucus Nicator) , d. 280 B.C., king of ancient Syria. An able general of Alexander the Great, he played a leading part in the wars of the Diadochi. In the new partition of the empire in 312 B.C. he received Babylonia.
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 and his descendants. After the Roman victory over the Seleucids at Magnesia in 190 B.C., the Armenians declared (189 B.C.) their independence under a native dynasty, the Artashesids. The imperialistic ambitions of King TigranesTigranes
, c.140 B.C.–55 B.C., king of Armenia (c.96 B.C.–55 B.C.), called also Tigranes I and Tigranes the Great. By an alliance with his father-in-law, Mithradates VI of Pontus, he was able to extend his conquests across Asia Minor.
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 led to war with Rome; defeated Armenia became tributary to the republic after the campaigns of LucullusLucullus
(Lucius Licinius Lucullus Ponticus) , c.110 B.C.–56 B.C., Roman general. He served in the Social War under Sulla, who made him his favorite. He fought in the East (87 B.C.–85 B.C.), always loyal to Sulla, who made him curule aedile (79 B.C.
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 (69 B.C.) and PompeyPompey
(Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus) , 106 B.C.–48 B.C., Roman general, the rival of Julius Caesar. Sometimes called Pompey the Great, he was the son of Cnaeus Pompeius Strabo (consul in 89 B.C.), a commander of equivocal reputation.
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 (67 B.C.). The Romans distinguished between Greater Armenia and Lesser Armenia, respectively east and west of the Euphrates. TiridatesTiridates,
fl. c.A.D. 63, king of Armenia. He was put on the throne by his brother Vologeses I, king of Parthia, and he was driven from it when the Romans under Corbulo won (A.D. 59) the Parthian campaign. Later he went to Rome and had his crown restored (A.D. 66) by Nero.
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, a Parthian prince, was confirmed as king of Armenia by Nero in A.D. 66. Christianity was introduced early; Armenia is reckoned the oldest Christian state.

In the 3d cent. A.D., Ardashir IArdashir I
[another form of Artaxerxes], d. 240, king of Persia (226?–240). He overthrew the last Parthian king, Artabanus IV, entered Ctesiphon, and reunited Persia out of the confusion of Seleucid decline.
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, founder of the SassanidSassanid,
, or Sassanian
, last dynasty of native rulers to reign in Persia before the Arab conquest. The period of their dominion extended from c.A.D. 224, when the Parthians were overthrown and the capital, Ctesiphon, was taken, until c.
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, came to power in Persia and overran Armenia. The persecution of Christians created innumerable martyrs and kindled nationalism among the Armenians, particularly after the partition (387) of the kingdom between Persia and Rome. Attempts at independence were short-lived, as Armenia was the constant prey of Persians, Byzantines, White Huns, Khazars, and Arabs. From 886 to 1046 the kingdom enjoyed autonomy under native rulers, the Bagratids; it was then reconquered by the Byzantines, who promptly lost it to the Seljuk Turks following the Byzantine defeat at the battle of Manzikert in 1071.

With the Mongol invasion of the mid-11th cent., a number of Armenians, led by Prince Reuben, were pushed westward. In 1080 they established in CiliciaCilicia
, ancient region of SE Asia Minor, in present S Turkey, between the Mediterranean and the Taurus range. It included a high and barren plateau, Cilicia Trachia or Cilicia Tracheia, and a fertile plain, Cilicia Pedias.
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 the kingdom of Little Armenia, which lasted until its conquest by the Mamluks in 1375. Shortly afterward (1386–94) the Mongol conqueror Timur seized Greater Armenia and massacred a large part of the population. After Timur's death (1405) the Ottoman Turks, whom Timur had defeated in 1402, invaded Armenia and by the 16th cent. held all of it. Under Ottoman rule the Armenians, although often persecuted and always discriminated against because of their religion, nevertheless acquired a vital economic role. Constantinople and all other large cities of the Ottoman Empire had colonies of Armenian merchants and financiers. Eastern Armenia was chronically disputed between Turkey and Persia.

Modern History

Russia acquired Armenia from Persia in 1828 and made it into a province. The Congress of Berlin (1878; see Berlin, Congress ofBerlin, Congress of,
1878, called by the signers of the Treaty of Paris of 1856 (see Paris, Congress of) to reconsider the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano, which Russia had forced on the Ottoman Empire earlier in 1878.
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) also assigned the Kars, Ardahan, and Batumi districts to Russia, which restored Kars and Ardahan to Turkey in 1921. The Armenian people, whose 19th-century population in the Ottoman Empire was approximately two million, underwent one of the worst trials in their history between 1894 and 1915. Their attempted extermination was put into action under Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid II and was sporadically but regularly resumed. At the beginning of the genocide of 1915 the Armenians were accused of aiding the Russian invaders during World War I. Subsequently, more than 600,000 Armenians were killed by Turkish soldiers or died of starvation during their forced deportation to Syria and Mesopotamia. The Armenians rose in revolt at Van, which they held until relieved by Russian troops.

After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Russian Armenia joined Azerbaijan and Georgia to form the anti-Bolshevik Transcaucasian Federation, which, however, was dissolved in 1918. That same year the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between Soviet Russia and Germany made Russian Armenia an independent republic under German auspices. It was superseded by the Treaty of Sèvres (see Sèvres, Treaty ofSèvres, Treaty of,
1920, peace treaty concluded after World War I at Sèvres, France, between the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), on the one hand, and the Allies (excluding Russia and the United States) on the other.
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; 1920), which created an independent Greater Armenia, comprising both the Turkish and the Soviet Russian parts.

In the same year, however, the Communists gained control of Russian Armenia and proclaimed it a Soviet republic. In 1921 a Russo-Turkish Treaty established those countries' common boundary, thus ending Armenian independence. From 1922 to 1936, Armenia was combined with Azerbaijan and Georgia to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, after which it became a separate constituent republic of the USSR. Until the late 20th cent. its fortunes remained tied to those of the Soviet Union.

A devastating earthquake struck Armenia in 1988, killing thousands of people and destroying most of the republic's infrastructure. Armenia had been relatively stable as a republic of the Soviet Union, but the dissolution of the USSR allowed nationalism and historical conflicts to rekindle. In mid-1988, fighting broke out between ethnic Armenians and Azeris in the Armenian-dominated Nagorno-KarabakhNagorno-Karabakh
, region (1990 pop. 192,000), 1,699 sq mi (4,400 sq km), SE Azerbaijan, between the Caucasus and the Karabakh range. Khankendi or Stepanakert (the capital) and Shusha or Shushi are the chief towns.
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 region of neighboring Azerbaijan, leading to Armenian demands that Azerbaijan cede the region to Armenia. Armenia declared itself independent of the USSR in Aug., 1991, and Levon Ter-PetrossianTer-Petrossian, Levon,
1945–, Armenian political leader, president of Armenia (1991–98), b. Aleppo, Syria, grad. Yerevan State Univ. (1971), Leningrad Oriental Studies Institute (Ph.D., 1987).
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 was elected as first president of the republic. Armenia then joined the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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; since the breakup of the USSR, Armenia has had close relations with Russia.

Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh led to war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1992, with heavy casualties. A blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan, the country through which most of Armenia's supply routes run, caused economic hardship. By early 1994, Armenian forces had gained control of the enclave and adjoining Azerbaijani territory to the region's south and west. A cease-fire negotiated with Russian mediation in May, 1994, was generally observed by both sides in subsequent decades, but border clashes, sometimes intense, occurred at times. Attempts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh situation proved difficult, and Armenia's economy was hurt by Turkish and Azerbaijaini blockades, making the nation somewhat dependent on Russia.

In 1995 voters approved a new constitution that strengthened the president's powers; that year Armenia signed an agreement with Russia that granted Russia a 25-year lease on the military base at Kumayri. Ter-Petrossian was reelected in 1996 but resigned in 1998, and Robert KocharianKocharian or Kocharyan, Robert Sedraki,
1954–, Armenian political leader. He served (1972–74) in the Soviet army and worked as a mechanical engineer (1977–81) before graduating (1982) from the Yerevan
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 was elected president. In Oct., 1999, terrorists stormed the parliament in an apparent coup attempt, killing the prime minister and other officials before being apprehended.

Kocharian was reelected in Mar., 2003, after a runoff election that foreign election observers said was marked by widespread fraud. Inspired by the demonstrations in Georgia that led to a change in government there, Armenian opposition leaders called for united protests against Kocharian in Apr., 2004. Accusing the opposition of attempting to destabilize the country, the government responded with arrests and legal actions against them, as well as the use of thugs to break up opposition rallies. Large demonstrations (April–June) failed, however, to martial sufficient pressure against the president. Opposition parties continued to boycott parliament, albeit on a selective basis after Sept., 2005. A referendum in Nov., 2005, that was boycotted by the opposition approved constitutional amendments that diminished the president's powers and expanded civil rights, but European observers and the opposition both questioned the reported results, saying there was ballot fraud.

A prosecutor-general's investigation of government privatizations in 2001–4 criticized many for involving noncompetitive, arbitrary sales that cost the country revenue, but despite the release of the report in Apr., 2006, the practice continued. Tensions between Georgia and Russia in 2006 adversely affected some Armenian businesses when Russia closed its transport links with Georgia, which are also used for Armenian trade with Russia. Parliamentary elections in May, 2007, resulted in a majority for the parties aligned with the president; a three-party legislative coalition was established the following month. Despite opposition claims of electoral fraud, European observers called the balloting as an improvement over the 2003 elections.

In the Feb., 2008, presidential election, Prime Minister Serzh SargsyanSargsyan or Sarkisyan, Serzh,
1954–, Armenian political leader, president (2008–18) and prime minister (2007–8, 2018) of Armenia, b. Nagorno-Karabakh.
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 defeated former president Ter-Petrossian, but Ter-Petrossian denounced the result as rigged. European observers initially said that the elections generally followed democratic standards, but a second assessment three weeks later documented significant failings in the election. The election led to opposition protests in the capital, deadly clashes between security forces and demonstrators on Mar. 1–2, arrests of Ter-Petrossian supporters, and a three-week state of emergency in March.

In Sept., 2008, there was a warming in relations with Turkey when Turkish President Abdullah Gül visited Armenia; in Apr., 2009, the two nations agreed in principle to normalize relations, and protocols calling for normalizing relations were signed in Oct., 2009. The protocols, however, were not ratified by either nation. Turkish legislators resisted approving them without progress toward a settlement in Armenia's conflict with Azerbaijan, and Armenia suspended its ratification process in 2010; Armenia annulled the protocols in 2018.

Meanwhile, the parliament approved (June, 2009) a limited amnesty affecting many who were convicted as a result of the events of Mar., 2008. In Aug., 2010, the lease on Russia's military base at Kumayri was extended until 2044. The May, 2012, parliamentary elections resulted in a win for the president's Republican party, which secured a majority; international observers again noted problems with campaign violations and interference by poltical parties. In Feb., 2013, Sargsyan was reelected, defeating Raffi Hovhannisyan, a former foreign minister, and other candidates, but some major opposition parties, fearing fraud, did not field candidates. Hovhannisyan accused Sargsyan of fraud and irregularities were reported, but the vote for the president paralleled the results of polling. Later that year, under Russian pressure, Sargsyan abandoned a proposed free-trade agreement with the European Union (EU).

In Oct., 2014, Armenia signed an agreement with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to join the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015. Constitutional changes transferring presidential powers to the prime minister and parliament and reducing the presidency to a largely ceremonial post filled by vote in parliament (effective 2017–18) passed in a Dec., 2015, referendum but the vote was criticized for irregularities and for not reflecting the free will of the people by Council of Europe observers. Parliamentary elections in Apr., 2017, were won by the Republican party, which again secured a majority of the seats; OSCE again criticized the elections for a number of irregularities. The Republican party formed a coalition in May with the Armenian Revolutionary party. In November, Armenia signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement with EU.

Armen Sarkissian, a former prime minister, was elected president in Mar., 2018. Sargsyan then (April) became prime minister, despite having disavowed interest in the post; the move sparked recurring protests against Sargsyan, who soon resigned. In May, Nikol PashinyanPashinyan or Pashinian, Nikol Vovayi,
1975–, Armenian political leader. A journalist and member of the liberal Civil Contract party, he served two years in jail (2009–11) for organizing protests following
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, an opposition politician who had become the primary leader of the protests, was elected prime minister. The Republican party subsequently lost its parliamentary majority due to defections. Bouyed by the successes of his coalition in local elections, Pashinyan resigned in October in order to force new parliamentary elections. His My Step Alliance coalition won two thirds of the seats in the December voting, and he again became prime minister; the Republican party failed to win a seat.

In Sept., 2020, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh erupted again, as Azerbaijan attacked both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-held parts of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan recaptured significant territory in the south in six weeks before a cease-fire was negotiated by Russia. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan retained its gains and also regained areas of Azerbaijan held by Armenian forces since 1994; Armenian forces retained control of areas in Nagorno-Karabakh they still held. Armenia's swift defeat led to political recriminations, and protests against Pashinyan's government for agreeing to the terms of the truce.


See M. K. Matossian, The Impact of Soviet Policies on Armenia (1962); M. Khorenats'i, History of the Armenians (1978); T. J. Samuelian, Classical Armenian Culture (1982); R. G. Suny, Armenia in the Twentieth Century (1983); R. G. Hovannisian, ed., The Armenian Genocide in Perspective (1986); M. Chahin, The Kingdom of Armenia (1987); K. Maksoudian, A History of Armenia (1987); C. J. Walker, Armenia (1990); T. Akcam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (2006); L. Broers, Armenia and Azerbaijan: Anatomy of a Rivalry (2019).


(ärmā`nyä), city (1993 pop. 216,467), W central Colombia. It is located in a fertile agricultural region; coffee, silk, and sugarcane are produced. Armenia is an industrial and a transportation hub. It has a university. The city was devastated by an earthquake in 1999.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Armenia

Capital city: Yerevan

Internet country code: .am

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, and orange

National anthem: “Mer Hayrenik” (Our Fatherland), lyrics by Mikael Nalbandian

Geographical description: Southwestern Asia, east of Turkey

Total area: 11,500 sq. mi. (29,800 sq. km.)

Climate: Highland continental, hot summers, cold winters

Nationality: noun: Armenian(s); adjective: Armenian

Population: 2,971,650 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Armenian 97.9%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.3%, Russian 0.5%, other 0.3% (2001 census)

Languages spoken: Armenian 97.7%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4% (2001 census)

Religions: Armenian Apostolic Church 94.7%, other Chris­tian 4%, Yezidi 1.3%

Legal Holidays:

AmanorJan 1
Army DayJan 28
Constitution DayJul 5
First Republic DayMay 28
Genocide Memorial DayApr 24
Independence DaySep 21
International Women's DayMar 8
Labour DayMay 1
New Year's EveDec 31
Surb TsnundJan 6
Victory and Peace DayMay 9
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. a republic in NW Asia: originally part of the historic Armenian kingdom; acquired by Russia in 1828; became the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936; gained independence in 1991. It is mountainous, rising over 4000 m (13 000 ft.). Language: Armenian. Religion: Christian (Armenian Apostolic) majority. Currency: dram. Capital: Yerevan. Pop.: Pop.: 3 052 000 (2004 est.). Area: 29 800 sq. km (11 490 sq. miles)
2. a former kingdom in W Asia, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, south of Georgia
3. a town in central Colombia: centre of a coffee-growing district. Pop.: 349 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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