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Armenia - Land of Noah

Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a landlocked, mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. The Kingdom of Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its religion, in the early years of the 4th century (the traditional date is 301 AD). The modern Republic of Armenia recognizes the Armenian Apostolic Church, the world's oldest national church, as the country's primary religious establishment. Armenians have their own unique alphabet invented by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD.

A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia is an emerging democracy and as of 2011 was negotiating with the European Union to become an associate member. It has the right to be an EU member provided it meets necessary standards and criteria. The Government of Armenia holds European integration as a key priority in its foreign policy.


Armenia is landlocked in the South Caucasus. Located between the Black and Caspian Seas, the country is bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan, and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey.


The Republic of Armenia, covering an area of 29,743 square kilometres (11,484 sq mi), is located in the north-east of the Armenian Highland. The terrain is mostly mountainous, with fast flowing rivers and few forests. The climate is highland continental, which means that the country is subjected to hot summers and cold winters. The land rises to 4,090 metres (13,419 ft) above sea-level at Mount Aragats, and no point is below 390 metres (1,280 ft) above sea level.

Mount Ararat, which was historically part of Armenia, is the highest mountain in the region. Now located in Turkey, but clearly visible in Armenia, it is regarded by the Armenians as a symbol of their land. Because of this, the mountain is present on the Armenian national emblem today.

Armenia has established a Ministry of Nature Protection and introduced taxes for air and water pollution and solid-waste disposal, whose revenues are used for environmental protection activities. Waste management in Armenia is underdeveloped, as no waste sorting or recycling takes place at Armenia's 60 landfills.

Despite the availability of abundant renewable energy sources in Armenia (especially hydroelectric and wind power), the Armenian Government is working toward building a new Nuclear Power Plant at Medzamor near Yerevan.

The climate in Armenia is markedly continental. Summers are dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September. The temperature fluctuates between 22 and 36 °C (72 and 97 °F). However, the low humidity level mitigates the effect of high temperatures. Evening breezes blowing down the mountains provide a welcome refreshing and cooling effect. Springs are short, while falls are long. Autumns are known for their vibrant and colorful foliage.

Winters are quite cold with plenty of snow, with temperatures ranging between -10 and -5 °C (14 and 23 °F). Winter sports enthusiasts enjoy skiing down the hills of Tsakhkadzor, located thirty minutes outside Yerevan. Lake Sevan, nestled up in the Armenian highlands, is the second largest lake in the world relative to its altitude, at 1,900 metres (6,234 ft) above sea level.


Armenia has a population of 3,238,000 (2008 est.) and is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet republics. There has been a problem of population decline due to elevated levels of emigration after the break-up of the USSR. However, in the past years, the emigration levels have levelled and there is steady population growth.


Armenian is the only official language even though Russian is widely used, especially in education, and could be considered as de facto "second language". 94% of adult Armenians consider it important that their children learn Russian.


The 7th century Khor Virap monastery in the shadow of Mount Ararat, the peak on which Noah's Ark is said to have landed during the biblical flood. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301.

The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity. The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the 1st century. According to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus' twelve apostles – Thaddaeus and Bartholomew – who preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40–60. Because of these two founding apostles, the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church.

Over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syriac churches. Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion only with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy. Other religious denominations in Armenia are the Baptists and Presbyterians.

Catholics also exist in Armenia, both Latin rite and Mekhitarist Catholics. The Mechitarists (also spelled "Mekhitarists" Armenian: Մխիթարեան), are a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church founded in 1712 by Mekhitar of Sebaste. They are best known for their series of scholarly publications of ancient Armenian versions of otherwise lost ancient Greek texts. The Armenian Catholic denomination is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon.

The Yazidi Kurds, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. There are also non-Yazidi Kurds who practice Sunni Islam. There is a Jewish community in Armenia diminished to 750 persons since independence with most emigrants leaving for Israel. There are currently two synagogues in Armenia – in the capital, Yerevan, and in the city of Sevan located near Lake Sevan.


In its first years of independence, Armenia made uneven progress in establishing systems to meet its national requirements in social services. Education, held in particular esteem in Armenian culture, changed fastest of the social services, while health and welfare services attempted to maintain the basic state-planned structure of the Soviet era.

A literacy rate of 100% was reported as early as 1960. In the communist era, Armenian education followed the standard Soviet model of complete state control (from Moscow) of curricula and teaching methods and close integration of education activities with other aspects of society, such as politics, culture, and the economy. As in the Soviet period, primary and secondary education in Armenia is free, and completion of secondary school is compulsory.

In the 1988–89 school year, 301 students per 10,000 population were in specialized secondary or higher education, a figure slightly lower than the Soviet average. In 1989 some 58% of Armenians over age fifteen had completed their secondary education, and 14% had a higher education. In the 1990–91 school year, the estimated 1,307 primary and secondary schools were attended by 608,800 students. Another seventy specialized secondary institutions had 45,900 students, and 68,400 students were enrolled in a total of ten postsecondary institutions that included universities. In addition, 35% of eligible children attended preschools. In 1992 Armenia's largest institution of higher learning, Yerevan State University, had eighteen departments, including ones for social sciences, sciences, and law. Its faculty numbered about 1,300 teachers and its student population about 10,000 students. The Yerevan Architecture and Civil Engineering Institute was founded in 1989.

In the early 1990s, Armenia made substantial changes to the centralized and regimented Soviet system. Because at least 98% of students in higher education were Armenian, curricula began to emphasize Armenian history and culture. Armenian became the dominant language of instruction, and many schools that had taught in Russian closed by the end of 1991. Russian was still widely taught, however, as a second language. 

On the basis of the expansion and development of Yerevan State University a number of higher educational independent Institutions were formed including Medical Institute separated in 1930 which was set up on the basis of medical faculty. In 1980 Yerevan State Medical University was awarded one of the main rewards of the former USSR – the Order of Labor red Banner for training qualified specialists in health care and valuable service in the development of Medical Science. In 1995 YSMI was renamed to YSMU and since 1989 it has been named after Mkhitar Heratsi, the famous medieval doctor. Mkhitar Heratsi was the founder of Armenian Medical school in Cilician Armenia. The great doctor played the same role in Armenian Medical Science as Hippocrates in Western, Galen in Roman, Ibn Sīnā in Arabic medicine.

Foreign students' department for Armenian diaspora established in 1957 later was enlarged and the enrollment of foreign students began. Nowadays the YSMU is a Medical Institution corresponding to international requirements, trains medical staff for not only Armenia and neighbor countries, i.e. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, but also many other leading countries all over the world. A great number of foreign students from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the USA and Russian Federation study together with Armenian students. Nowadays the university is ranked among famous higher Medical Institutions and takes its honorable place in the World Directory of Medical Schools published by the WHO.

Other schools in Armenia include the American University of Armenia and the QSI International School of Yerevan. The American University of Armenia has graduate programs in Business and Law, among others. The institution owes its existence to the combined efforts of the Government of Armenia, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the University of California. The extension programs and the library at AUA form a new focal point for English-language intellectual life in the city.

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