About Armenia [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Armenia; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Southwestern Asia, east of Turkey

Climate

Highland continental, hot summers, cold winters

Terrain

Armenian Highland with mountains; little forest land; fast flowing rivers; good soil in Aras River valley

Elevation

lowest point: Debed River 400 m
highest point: Aragats Lerrnagagat' 4,090 m

Geo Notes

Landlocked in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains; Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) is the largest lake in this mountain range

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Republic of Armenia
conventional short form: Armenia
local long form: Hayastani Hanrapetut'yun
local short form: Hayastan
former: Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, Armenian Republic

Capital City

name: Yerevan
geographic coordinates: 40 10 N, 44 30 E
time difference: UTC+4
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative Divisions

11 provinces (marzer, singular - marz); Aragatsotn, Ararat, Armavir, Geghark'unik', Kotayk', Lorri, Shirak, Syunik', Tavush, Vayots' Dzor, Yerevan

Natuaral Hazards

Occasionally severe earthquakes; droughts

Environmental Issues

Soil pollution from toxic chemicals such as DDT; the energy crisis of the 1990s led to deforestation when citizens scavenged for firewood; pollution of Hrazdan (Razdan) and Aras Rivers; the draining of Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan), a result of its use as a source for hydropower, threatens drinking water supplies; restart of Metsamor nuclear power plant in spite of its location in a seismically active zone

Life Expectancy

total population: 72.96 years
male: 69.33 years
female: 77.07 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.133 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.89 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

Armenian (official) 97.7%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4% (2001 census)

Religions Practiced

Armenian Apostolic 94.7%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi (monotheist with elements of nature worship) 1.3%

Legal System

Based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National Holiday

Independence Day, 21 September (1991)

Illicit Drugs

Illicit cultivation of small amount of cannabis for domestic consumption; minor transit point for illicit drugs - mostly opium and hashish - moving from Southwest Asia to Russia and to a lesser extent the rest of Europe

Telephone System

general assessment: telecommunications investments have made major inroads in modernizing and upgrading the outdated telecommunications network inherited from the Soviet era; now 100% privately owned and undergoing modernization and expansion; mobile-cellular services monopoly terminated in late 2004 and a second provider began operations in mid-2005
domestic: reliable modern fixed-line and mobile-cellular services are available across Yerevan in major cities and towns; significant but ever-shrinking gaps remain in mobile-cellular coverage in rural areas
international: country code - 374; Yerevan is connected to the Trans-Asia-Europe fiber-optic cable through Iran; additional international service is available by microwave radio relay and landline connections to the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, through the Moscow international switch, and by satellite to the rest of the world; satellite earth stations - 3 (2008)

Broadcast Media

2 public television networks operating alongside more than 40 privately-owned television stations that provide local to near nationwide coverage; major Russian broadcast stations are widely available; subscription cable TV services are available in most regions; Public Radio of Armenia is a national, state-run broadcast network that operates alongside about 20 privately-owned radio stations; several major international broadcasters are available (2008)

Background

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. During World War I in the western portion of Armenia, Ottoman Turkey instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in an estimated 1 million Armenian deaths. The eastern area of Armenia was ceded by the Ottomans to Russia in 1828; this portion declared its independence in 1918, but was conquered by the Soviet Red Army in 1920. Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with 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, ethnic 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 closed the common border with Armenia in 1994 because of the Armenian separatists' control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, further hampering Armenian economic growth. In 2009, senior Armenian leaders began pursuing rapprochement with Turkey, aiming to secure an opening of the border; this process is currently dormant.

Economy Overview

After several years of double-digit economic growth, Armenia is facing a severe economic recession with GDP declining at least 15% in 2009, despite large loans from multilateral institutions. Sharp declines in the construction sector and workers' remittances, particularly from Russia, are the main reasons for the downturn. Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics, in exchange for raw materials and energy. Armenia has since switched to small-scale agriculture and away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. Armenia has managed to reduce poverty, slash inflation, stabilize its currency, and privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia had made progress in implementing some economic reforms, including privatization, price reforms, and prudent fiscal policies, but geographic isolation, a narrow export base, and pervasive monopolies in important business sectors have made Armenia particularly vulnerable to the sharp deterioration in the global economy and the economic downturn in Russia. The conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s and Armenia's borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan remain closed. Armenia is particularly dependent on Russian commercial and governmental support and most key Armenian infrastructure is Russian-owned and/or managed, especially in the energy sector. The electricity distribution system was privatized in 2002 and bought by Russia's RAO-UES in 2005. Construction of a pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Armenia was completed in December 2008 but it is unlikely significant quantities of gas will flow through it until the Yerevan Thermal Power Plant renovation is completed in 2010. Armenia has some mineral deposits (copper, gold, bauxite). Pig iron, unwrought copper, and other nonferrous metals are Armenia's highest valued exports. Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by international aid, remittances from Armenians working abroad, and foreign direct investment. Armenia joined the WTO in January 2003. The government made some improvements in tax and customs administration in recent years, but anti-corruption measures have been ineffective and the current economic downturn has led to a sharp drop in tax revenue and forced the government to accept large loan packages from Russia, the IMF, and other international financial institutions. Armenia will need to pursue additional economic reforms in order to regain economic growth and improve economic competitiveness and employment opportunities, especially given its economic isolation from two of its nearest neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

National Anthem

name: "Mer Hayrenik""(Our Fatherland)
lyrics/music: Mikael NALBANDIAN/Barsegh KANACHYAN
note: adopted 1991; based on the anthem of the Democratic Republic of Armenia (1918-1922) but with different lyrics

Armenia location map
Size

total: 29,743 sq km
land: 28,203 sq km
water: 1,540 sq km

Armenia flag
Population

2,966,802 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Armenian(s)
adjective: Armenian

Ethnic Groups

Armenian 97.9%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.3%, Russian 0.5%, other 0.3% (2001 census)

HIV/AIDS Rate

0.1% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

21 September 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

Government Type

Republic

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

191,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

65,279 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.am

Refugees & IDPs

refugees (country of origin): 113,295 (Azerbaijan)
IDPs: 8,400 (conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, majority have returned home since 1994 ceasefire) (2007)

Number Airports

11 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 10
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)

Railways

total: 845 km
broad gauge: 845 km 1.520-m gauge (818 km electrified)
note: some lines are out of service (2008)

Roadways

total: 8,888 km
paved: 7,079 km (includes 1,561 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,809 km (2008)

National Budget

revenues: $1.881 billion
expenditures: $2.553 billion (2009 est.)

Account Balance

-$1.326 billion (2009 est.)
-$1.355 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

drams (AMD) per US dollar - 360.07 (2009), 303.93 (2008), 344.06 (2007), 414.69 (2006), 457.69 (2005)

Inflation Rate

3.4% (2009 est.)
9% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Diamond-processing, metal-cutting machine tools, forging-pressing machines, electric motors, tires, knitted wear, hosiery, shoes, silk fabric, chemicals, trucks, instruments, microelectronics, jewelry manufacturing, software development, food processing, brandy

Agricultural Products

Fruit (especially grapes), vegetables; livestock

Labor Force

1.481 million (2007 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 46.2%
industry: 15.6%
services: 38.2% (2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate

7.1% (2007 est.)

GDP (USD Parity)

$16.25 billion (2009 est.)
$18.94 billion (2008 est.)
$17.72 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$5,500 (2009 est.)
$6,400 (2008 est.)
$6,000 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 41.3% (2004)

Family Income Gini

37 (2006)
44.4 (1996)

Below Poverty

26.5% (2006 est.)