Your comprehensive travel guide to Armenia - All in one place!
Armenia is becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction, with a small but charming nation boasting a rich history. Armenia, which was the first country to declare Christianity as its state religion, boasts some of Europe’s most stunning views, with the peak of Mount Ararat dominating the country’s skyline. The mountain is Armenian’s national symbol despite its peak lying just over the Turkish border and Ararat is considered holy by locals due to its mention in the Bible-it is where Noah’s Ark landed. Armenia is home to countless beautiful monasteries and they are often found in areas of truly outstanding natural beauty. Armenian’s capital, Yerevan, is one of the most rapidly developing cities in the whole of Europe as the nation continues to embrace tourism.
History and Government
One of the world's oldest civilizations, Armenia once included Mount Ararat, which biblical tradition identifies as the mountain that Noah's ark rested on after the flood. It was the first country in the world to officially adopt Christianity as its religion (A.D. 301).
Throughout most of its long history, however, Armenia has been invaded by a succession of empires. Over the centuries Armenia was conquered by Greeks, Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Mongols, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and Russians. Under constant threat of domination by foreign forces, Armenians became both cosmopolitan as well as fierce protectors of their culture and tradition.
The most horrific genocide took place in April 1915 during World War I, when the Turks ordered the deportation of the Armenian population to the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia. According to the majority of historians, 1.5 million Armenians were murdered or died of starvation. Turkey denies that genocide took place and claims that a much smaller number died in a civil war.
After the Turkish defeat in World War I, the independent Republic of Armenia was established on May 28, 1918, but survived only until Nov. 29, 1920, when it was annexed by the Soviet army. Armenia declared its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union on Sept. 23, 1991.
An Armenian Diaspora has existed throughout the nation's history, and Armenian emigration has been particularly heavy since independence from the Soviet Union. An estimated 60% of the total 8 million Armenians worldwide live outside the country, with 1 million each in the United States and Russia. Other significant Armenian communities are located in Georgia, France, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Argentina, and Canada.
Geography and Environment
Armenia is located in the Southwest Caucasus region, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It is a landlocked country bordered by Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Iran to the south, and Turkey to the west.
Armenia’s land area is 29,800 square kilometers, and the population is 3.3 million. The maximum distance from north to south is 360 kilometers, and from east to west 200 kilometers. About five percent of the country’s territory is covered by lakes, the biggest of which is Lake Sevan. The tallest peak and biblical symbol is the mountain Ararat which lies on the territory of Turkey and dominates the national landscape. Mount Aragats, the highest point within the Republics boundaries (4090 meters at its summit) is accessible to most mountain climbers and naturalists wanting to explore its four peaks. Lake Sevan is by far the largest body of water in Armenia, accounting for 5% of the country's land area. This is a magic lake with which you can communicate, which relaxes and cleanses. It generously grants you a feeling of harmony, esthetics and excitement, thanks to its unique sights.
The population of Armenia in 2019 is estimated at 2.96 million people. The country’s population ranking is 137th in the world. The country has a population density of 101 people per square kilometer.
The ethnic tapestry of Armenia is 98% ethnic Armenians, while the rest are primarily Yazidis, with some Russian ethnicity present.
Armenia has a large diaspora, with about 8 million Armenians living throughout the world. The largest communities outside of Armenia are in Russia, Iran, France, the U.S., Canada, Syria, and Lebanon.
Armenia is situated in the unique crossroad of Europe and Asia. So, you might find a lot of cultural elements that have found their unique reflection in Armenian culture as well. However, there are some cultural elements that you’ll hardly meet in any other culture. Khachkars are one of them. The name “khachkar” is translated as “cross-stone”. Khachkars are typically Armenian, identifying Christian culture in Armenia. The main topic of khachkars is carved crosses on the rock, though you rarely you may meet khachkars with other images. Armenia is known for its oldest churches. The first church is Etchmiadzin Cathedral which is built in the 4th century. The inseparable part of Armenian culture is Armenian traditional clothing called “taraz”.
Armenian dances like Armenian culture comes from ancient times. It’s essential to point, that the distinctive feature of Armenian traditional dances is their group nature.
Embracing more than 13 centuries, the architecture and miniature painting have dominated Armenian artistic production, showing consistent development. Remarkable Armenian painters that greatly introduced such painting genres as still life, landscape and historical composition in the second half of the 19th century are Hovhannes Ayvazovski; the most interesting phenomenon that gained international fame at the age of 25, Gevorg Bashinjaghyan; founder of national realistic landscape painting and Vardges Surenyants who is a specialist of Armenian theory of arts.
Food and Drink
Armenia is a country of the hot summer sun, mountain rivers and rocky soils. Maybe this is the exact secret combination of factors that makes everything growing in this land so delicious and full of life. The country truly boasts not only rich culture and hospitable people but also authentic cuisine with an abundant choice of delicacies for every taste, such as Dolma, Khashlama, Khorovats (barbeque), Kebab, Khash, Harissa and Ghapama.
Armenia is full of amazing, colorful, and interesting festivals that take place every year in the high season so that both tourists and locals can enjoy them. Festivals in Armenia vary a lot, from film festival to cultural festivals, from wine festival to sheep shearing festival. If you would like to participate in cuisine festivals, you shouldn’t miss Dolma Festival, Barbecue Festival, Festival of Honey and Berry and, of course, Wine Festival. Dolma has Armenian origin and this dish always decorates Armenian tables. Armenian Wine Festival is usually held from September to October, during which you can taste different kinds of wine.
Best Time to Visit
The best time for enjoying Armenian beauty is early autumn. In September, the weather in the country is quite comfortable and warm, there are still no strong winds. Many people say that Nature in Armenia is most beautiful particularly in this period when all the green landscape is gradually replaced by golden ones. Also, you can visit Armenia in spring; from the end of March up until the middle of May. During this period, the air temperature is also quite comfortable for walking. But unfortunately, the weather is too unsettled and the bright sun can be replaced by a cold downpour in a matter of minutes.
Tourists most often visit Yerevan in summer. At this time, a simply unimaginable number of local colorful shops open here where you can buy national products including the famous cognac “Ararat”. From the beginning of June, various hikes to the mountains are organized for fans of active recreation. The beach season on Lake Sevan begins from the end of June and lasts until mid-September. July is the hottest month in the country. Therefore, if you do not like exhausting heat, then it is best to visit the country at the end of August or in June.
The national currency of Armenia is dram. Both banknotes and coins are called so. If you run out of local currency, you can pay in dollars in some stores.
The most popular mean of public transport is a shuttle bus. There are lots of them connecting different areas. You can also use the subway in Yerevan.
Tap water in Armenia can be safely consumed without additional treatment. Free drinking water is available to travelers in special fountains on the streets.