Armenia is one of the ancient countries in the world with 3000 years of history, rich culture and distinctive traditions. It is located in the South Caucasus region and shares the borders with Georgia from the north, Turkey from the west, Iran from the south and Azerbaijan from the east. Area of the country is 29,743 square kilometres with a population of 2,986,100. Beautiful landscape of Armenia consists of many high mountain ridges, forests, dormant volcanic mountains, open valleys, etc. It preserves collections of medieval monasteries and other ancient architectural monuments.
The state language of the country is Armenian. It has its own writing system, the Armenian alphabet, introduced in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.
Ethnic Armenians make up 98.1% of the country’s population. Yazidis make up 1.2% and Russians 0.4%. Other minorities include Assyrians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Kurds, Georgians, Belarusians and Jews.
Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, the event traditionally dated to AD 301. The official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental Orthodoxy. The majority of the population profess a Christian and over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Nowadays, there are several churches and monasteries in Armenia that are included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. The cathedral of Echmiadzin, constructed in the VI century, is considered as one of the first official Christian Churches in the world.
Alongside ancient history, Armenian culture also became very rich and unique throughout the ages. Important part of this culture is Armenian dance and music, being very rich and one of the oldest and varied in the Near East. Armenian dance comes from 5-3 millennium B.C – the scenes of dancing can be found on the rock paintings in the mountainous regions of Armenia. Armenian music is also unique and distinctive. It has a special melody and rich sounding. Many songs were created by the people about their everyday life and were sung by folk singers – Gusans.
Armenian Carpet weaving is no less important part of the culture. Since II – I millennium B.C. this activity appeared in everyday life of Armenians and became an inseparable part of the national arts. Using natural dyes and materials such as wool, silk and cotton, Armenians were creating unique ornaments. Today, tourists are able to see or learn more about carpet weaving at “Mgeryan Carpet Factory”.
Another unique element of Armenian Culture, which later became a symbol of the whole country, is “Khachkar”, also known as an Armenian cross stone. These outdoor steles carved from a stone were used as memorial stones and relics facilitating communication between the secular and divine. In 2010, “Khachkars” were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Armenian cuisine, with a very rich and various flavors, is as ancient as its history. It offers many vegetarian or meat dishes made with a lot of herbs and spices. In general, food is a large part of the Armenian culture. It is a way to spend time socializing with family, friends or even strangers. Armenians are always prepared to set a table within seconds, even for unexpected guests. The must-try dishes when traveling to Armenia are Spas, Khash, Khorovats, Dolma, Tjvjik, Sevan Trout called Ishxan and of course, famous Armenian flatbread – Lavash. As for the desserts, Armenia has something special to offer: Armenian Gata, Honey Baklava, Sweet Sudjukh, dried Peaches and Alani.