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Armenia: Great Destination for travelers
Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity (early 4th century). Despite periods of autonomy, over the centuries Armenia came under the sway of various empires including the Roman , Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman. It was incorporated into Russia in 1828 and the USSR in 1920.
Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated region, assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s by Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the area in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, Armenian forces held not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant portion of Azerbaijan proper. The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution. Turkey imposed an economic blockade on Armenia and closed the common border because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.
Armenia is located in the southern Caucasus and is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. It is bounded by Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, Iran on the south, and Turkey on the west. Contemporary Armenia is a fraction of the size of ancient Armenia. A land of rugged mountains and extinct volcanoes, its highest point is Mount Aragats, 13,435 ft (4,095 m).
President: Robert Kocharian (1998)
Prime Minister: Andranik Markarian (2000)
Area: 11,506 sq mi (29,800 sq km)
Population (2004 est.): 2,991,360 (growth rate: –0.3%); (Armenian, 93%; others, Kurds, Ukrainians, and Russians); birth rate: 11.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 24.2/1000; life expectancy: 71.2; density per sq mi: 260
Capital and largest city: Yerevan, 1,462,700 (metro. area), 1,267,600 (city proper)
Other large cities: Vanadzor, 147,400; Gyumri (Leninakan), 125,300; Abovian, 59,300
Monetary unit: Dram
Language: Armenian 96%, Russian 2%, other 2%
Ethnicity/race: Armenian 93%, Russian 2%, Azeri 1%, other (mostly Yezidi Kurds) 4% (2002).
Religion: Armenian Apostolic 94%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi 2%
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