Official name: Republic of Armenia
Capital: Yerevan (about 1 million inhabitants)
Population: about 3 mln inhabitants
Climate: Continental, hot in summer, but low humidity
Area: 29,800 square meters
Religion: Armenian Apostolic
Official language: Armenian
Currency: Dram (AMD)
Time zone: GMT + 4
Present-day Armenia, situated between the Caucasus and Ararat, has a rich landscape of rich architectural landmarks and cultural assets and, despite its small size, has several distinct landscape types. Armenia, which its inhabitants call Hayastan , is a peculiar mountainous country, a “mountain island”, as the German geographer Karl Ritter called it.
The mountainous country in Transcaucasia is an ancient cultural land. Armenia is the first country in the world to recognize Christianity as a state religion as early as 301. Despite the persecution, the Armenian people have upheld the Christian faith and proudly call their church “Armenian Apostolic”. Christianity occupies a remarkable place in Armenia. For seventeen years, Armenian Christianity shaped the art of the people of Ararat. Many churches were built on the foundations of ancient temples. The isolated situation led early on to the development of an independent church art and architecture.
First, in the then capital of Armenia Vagharschapat (today’s UNESCO World Heritage Site Edshmiatsin) founded the Holy Cathedral. The cathedral was the first cross-domed church. The main walls date back to 303.
The typical Armenian church is closed to the outside and simply encased. The dome points with the pitched roof on the sky. It represents the church and God in sharp separation from the outside world. For the pre-Arab period, in which the Christian architecture was created, a general division into three main concepts is proposed: hall churches, basilicas, and central buildings.
A special independent form of Armenian sculpture is the cross-stones (khachkar), which were widely used in Armenia from the 9th century. A Khachkar is a stele, a monolith, with a cross engraved as the main theme. The cross-stones are memory monuments and artistic objects of a very special kind. At the center is the cross, the rest is completely covered with fine wattle, palm leaves, tendrils, grapes, animal patterns, ornaments with abstract knots and rosettes and in the lower half often with a sun disc decorated. The cross-stones are inseparable parts of the church. They are carved in countless variations in the church walls or designed as a relief. But few exceptions bear the image of the Crucified.
Geography and nature
Armenia lies at the transition between Asia Minor and Transcaucasia (so-called European) between 38 ° 51 ‘and 41 ° 16’ north latitude and 43 ° 29 ‘and 46 ° 37’ east longitude. Today’s state covers an area of 29,800 square kilometers in the northeast of the Armenian Highlands and on the southern edge of the Little Caucasus. Geographically, Armenia belongs to Asia, politically to Europe. It is bordered by Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Iran to the south, and Turkey to the west. Armenia is a very distinctive mountainous country as about 90% of the country is more than 1,000 meters above sea level, the average height is 1,800 meters. The foothills of the Little Caucasus stretch over 3,000 meters from the north. The area lies in a fold mountain range – it was created and changed by the collision of the Eurasian plate with the Arab plate.
The highest point is the extinct Aragats volcano (4,090 meters) (not far from Biblical Ararat), the lowest point is around 380 meters on the Debet river on the border with Georgia. Due to the mountain relief, Armenia has a varied landscape and different climate and vegetation zones. The flora is very diverse in Armenia. The northwestern part of Armenia is rich in forests. The main varieties of Armenian trees include oak, poplar, linden, willow, maple, walnut, apple, and pear. The Armenian wildlife includes the bears, wild boars, wolves, leopards, and other animals. The forests of Armenia inhabit 450 species of vertebrates and 1000 species of invertebrates. The Armenian highlands are home to 850 bird species. Many of these bird species (crane, swallow, pigeon) have been mentioned as rare ones.
Armenia is a country of ancient traditions. Viticulture and winemaking are among the oldest traditions of the Armenian people. Archaeological excavations on the hill Karmir Blur and in the fortress Erebuni (8th-7th century BC) are evidence of using irrigation in viticulture in ancient times. Armenians are known for their good wine and good beer. Archaeological discoveries testify that the brewing of beer was already known at Urartian time (861 BC).
The grapes “Kangu”, “Woskehat”, “Mskhali”, “Garan Dmak”, “Rkatsitseli” are used for the preparation of the Armenian brandy. Even Winston Churchill, who was a friend of whiskey and champagne, was not indifferent to Armenian cognac. Armenian cuisine is not only diverse but also healthy, bio, popular and extremely delicious. The Armenians have fun not only with food but also with preparing. In Armenia, there are excellent chefs whose talent is appreciated only by gourmets.
The typical components of Armenian cuisine are herbs, cheese, vegetables, meat and of course the traditional Armenian bread Lavash (thin, long flatbread). Lavash is baked according to ancient technology in the tandoor (Tonir in Armenian). Matsun, Armenian yogurt, is one of the dairy products in Armenian cuisine, which promotes digestion. The superbly refreshing Tan drink is made with Matsun and water. Barbecue is everywhere. It exists in many countries, under different names, but the Armenian khorovats, the Armenian BBQ has a special taste. The secret of the special taste is associated with marinating with various herbs. It is impossible to enumerate all Armenian dishes such as Dolma, Khashlama, Kyufta, Spas, and others. On the way to Armenia, you can enjoy delicious dishes, good wine, and pleasant conversation. Armenia is rich in fruits. Peach, pomegranate, fig, grapes, and many other fruits are grown in Armenia. The fact that the home of the apricot is Armenia is corroborated by its Latin name Prunus Armeniaca (Armenian plum). Apricot, the queen of fruits and the best remedy for the heart, is at home in Armenia. Here the apricot has its unsurpassed taste.