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Armenia Information - Page 2
Armenia's Ararat Valley has been inhabited since the Stone Age and is one of the world's oldest settled regions.

From early times Armenia suffered invasion by numerous armies including Assyrian, Persian, Alexandrian, Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Seljuk Turk, Mongol, Ottoman and Russian. Over the centuries many Armenians have left their homeland to avoid wars and persecution.

In the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century the Ottoman Turks and the Russian Empire fought over Armenia. During this time many Armenians were killed.

The Armenian Autonomous Republic was formed in 1918. However problems continued with the Ottoman Empire and Turkey gained much of Armenia's Caucasian territory.

In 1922 Armenia became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, joining Azerbaijan and Georgia to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Reorganisation within the USSR in 1936 led to Armenia becoming the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. (Members of the former USSR were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia - from WW2, Latvia - from WW2, Lithuania - from WW2 and Moldova - from WW2).

Following the Second World War, a "Cold War" existed between the USSR and the West. This situation continued until Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 introducing extensive political and economic reforms (Perestroika) and calling for a greater openness (Glasnost) between nations.

Towards the end of 1991 the USSR was dissolved and Armenia became independent joining the Commonwealth of Independent States (a federation of former Soviet Union republics).

At the end of the 1980s Armenians campaigned for the unification of Nagorno-Karabakh, in Azerbaijan, with Armenia. (In 1924 the USSR created the Autonomous Province of Nagorno-Karabakh - with a mainly Armenian population - within Azerbaijan) Conflict started in 1989 and continued for five years. In 1994 a ceasefire was signed, followed by an uneasy truce.

As a result of the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia suffered economic blockade by Azerbaijan and its supporters. War, blockade and civil war in neighbouring Georgia, had an adverse effect on Armenia's economy.

Armenia's labour force also suffered from the migration of many young Armenians. However, remittances from abroad have been an important contribution to the economy.

Out of the total number available for work, the largest percentage is employed in agriculture. A significant part of this sector is devoted to the production of grapes. Other agricultural products are apricots, figs, peaches, pomegranates, potatoes, sugar beets and livestock.

Industries include machine tools, trucks, electric motors, microelectronics, chemicals, software, gem cutting, jewellery, shoes, textiles, food processing and beverages.

Tourism has been identified as a top priority for the country's economic development. Armenia is keen to promote its history, culture and natural springs. (2008)

Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion in the early fourth century. Consequently Armenia has a wealth of religious art such as illumination and decoration of text. The monastery of Sanahin is particularly well known for its illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy. These are preserved in the Matenadaran museum in Yerevan.

Khatchkars are an interesting form of art. These are individually decorated stone crosses that can be seen throughout the Armenian countryside.

The Church has also played a part in Armenia's music, often performed by the Komitas Chamber Choir of Armenia (named after one of Armenia's most well known composers). Traditional Armenian music and modern music is performed by the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia.

Armenia takes part in the Olympic Games in boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, judo, gymnastics, track and field, diving, swimming and sharp shooting.

Popular sports in Armenia include football, basketball, volleyball and hockey. Tennis is played at international level.

The mountainous terrain provides opportunities for a variety of sports such as climbing and skiing; sailing and water sports take place on the lakes.

Holidays and commemoration days include New Year (1-2 January), the Armenian Orthodox Christmas (6 January), Commemoration Day - St. Vardan Mamikonyan (11 February), Memorial Day for Victims of 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey (24 April), Easter, Victory Day - World War II (9 May), Constitution Day (5 July), Independence Day - from USSR (21 September), Memorial Day for the victims of the 1988 Earthquake (7 December).

News is available from Newslink.

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