Countries that once belonged to the Soviet Union are rich in history. Most of these countries have different sets of cultures. One of these countries is Armenia – a country located in Western Asia. Armenia shares its borders with Turkey to its west, Azerbaijan to its east, Iran to its south, and Georgia to its north.
Armenia gained independence from the USSR on the 21st of September 1991. The country is well-known because of its beautiful churches and landscapes. It is also one of the most religious countries in the world, with its ties to Christianity existing as early as 300 AD.
With so much to learn, let’s look into the interesting facts that make Armenia a great country.
1. Traditional culture is still highly remembered
Even if Armenia belongs to the Asian continent, its culture and heritage have mostly followed that of their ancestors. Armenian culture focuses on Christianity and local tradition, with a little bit of influence of both Europe and Russia. Folklore, music, and literature were made as early as 400 AD and they have been preserved to date for people to remember.
2. The Velvet Revolution changed the government
In April 2018, the Armenians made a month-long protest against current Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan because he has been in power for three consecutive terms already. People protested because there has not been any improvement when it comes to their living conditions. Because the protests were non-violent, it was eventually named as the Armenian Velvet Revolution in reference to the other peaceful revolutions made by post-Soviet countries.
3. Christianity is officially named the state religion
The Armenian Apostolic Church is a branch of Christianity that has existed as early as 100 AD. It was named as Armenia’s religion in 301 AD when the country was still the Kingdom of Armenia. Even after being part of the Soviet Republic, Armenia still considered Christianity as its state religion, an interesting fact about Armenia. Several churches and monasteries can be found in Armenia due to its strong ties with Christianity.
4. It is believed that Noah’s Ark can be found in Mount Ararat
Mount Ararat, found between Armenia and Turkey, is said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark according to the Book of Genesis. Because of Armenia’s strong faith in Christianity, Mount Ararat is considered as a special place and is often mentioned in traditional literature. It is also found in the Coat of Arms of Armenia even when the country was part of Soviet Republic.
5. Some of the oldest churches are found in Armenia
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is one of the oldest churches around the world. It is considered as the main site for the Armenian Apostolic Church. Records show that the cathedral was built in 300 AD by their patron saint Gregory the Illuminator. The cathedral has survived the Persian invasion and the First World War, and it is now visited by many as a pilgrimage site. In 2000, UNESCO announced that the Etchmiadzin Cathedral will be listed as part of the World Heritage Sites.
6. The city of Yerevan is called the “Pink City”
Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, is often called by many as the “pink city” because of its pink-colored walls that have been built a long time ago. The tough material used for constructing these buildings was the pink tuff stone that came from volcanoes, an interesting Armenia fact. However, because of the 1988 earthquake, most of these buildings were damaged and had to be repaired.
7. Cars run on natural gas
A fun fact about Armenia is that it leads the way towards achieving 100% natural gas to reduce air pollution. In 2006, Armenia already had about 30% of their cars use natural gas. In 2015, the percentage increased to about 77% of the total population. Cars used by Armenia are converted so that engines can use natural gas instead of oil or diesel.
8. Many fled the country during World War I
Even with strong heritage and a deep tradition, many Armenians decided to leave the country during World War I. The 1915 Armenian Genocide caused about 1.5 million Armenias to die at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, now known as Turkey. Armenian adults were either forced into slavery or murdered, while women, elderly, and children were sent far away to the mountains. Those who were able to escape became refugees in other countries. As a result, there are plenty of overseas Armenian workers around the world.
9. A war is still being waged against Azerbaijan
Even if there is no ongoing battle, Armenia is technically still at war with Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh War happened in 1988 because ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh wanted to be separated from Azerbaijan. Small battles in the borders continue until the present day, even after a ceasefire was signed in 1994.
10. Some of the oldest wine is in Armenia
Agriculture is common in Armenia, and one of their well-known crops is the grape. Since Armenia has lots of grapes, it’s no wonder that they also have plenty of wine distilleries. However, they do not only produce plenty of wine but they also have some of the oldest wine in the world, an interesting fact about Armenia. Traditions for making wine were believed to have been present since 400 BC, and some of these very old wines were found in ruin excavations. Armenia also houses one of the oldest wine production sites in the Areni cave complex.
11. Chess is taken seriously.
Chess has always been popular in Armenia, particularly during the occupation of the Soviet Republic and the championship of Tigran Petrosian. But in 2011, all local schools were required to teach chess to elementary students. The new curriculum aims to develop how students think at a young age.
Armenia may be a small country, but it has a fascinating past due to its ties with Christianity and the former Soviet Union. What’s more amazing is that the Armenian culture and tradition remains present in their architecture and literature. Even after genocide was committed against their people, Armenia has managed to find a way to preserve its rich history for visitors to see and enjoy.
I hope that this article on Armenia facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!