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Posted by bender 02/26/2009 @ 19:00

Tags : armenia, asia, world

News headlines
Armenia Should Stop 'Roadmap' Talks - Asbarez News
A resolution to the Karabakh conflict, the establishment of a “historic commission” and Armenia's recognition of the current Turkish borders have always in, one way or another, been party's of Turkey's approach to this matter. Armenia should not fall...
Iran Starts Pumping Gas to Armenia - Asbarez News
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Iran has started supplying natural gas to Armenia through a recently built pipeline, according to top energy officials in Tehran and Yerevan. Energy Minister Armen Movsisian told the Arminfo news agency that the long-awaited supplies...
Russia's Superjet to undergo flight tests in Armenia in July - RIA Novosti
YEREVAN, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - Two Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional passenger aircraft are due to undergo flight tests in mountainous conditions in Armenia, a Russian deputy prime minister said on Saturday during a two-day visit in Yerevan....
Russia to help Armenia liquidate chemical plant emergency effects - Manufacturing Business Technology
Russia is ready to provide assistance to Armenia in the elimination of the aftermath of an emergency at the Yerevan Chemical Plant, RF Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan on Friday....
Edward Nalbandian: Regional security a priority for Armenia - Public Radio of Armenia
Speaking at the conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian expressed hope that the discussions held at the Conference would be useful in generating innovative ideas that would help evaluate and repel efficiently security...
What Armenian Americans Think about Obama - Armenian Weekly
“We American Armenians need to stop blaming Obama's administration,” said another, “and shift our attention to Armenia and its government. To gain credibility, respect, and monetary help, change Armenia's mafia government....
Orhan Pamuk's novel in Armenia - Hürriyet
ISTANBUL - Nobel laureate Turkish author Orhan Pamuk is introduced to his readers in Armenia. Pamuk's first novel 'Kar' (Snow) has become the first novel to be translated into Armenian in the history of Armenian Republic....
Next provocation of Armenians to be eliminated at the Eurovision ... - Today.Az
Az, the video material preceding the presentation of Armenia in the first semifinal at the Eurovision 2009 contest, the monument "We - our mountains", which is not in Armenia, as noted in the videotape but in Nagorno-Karabakh, which, of course,...
Washington briefing : Members of Congress react to ... - Armenian Reporter
"We are confident that as the [Fiscal Year 2010] appropriations process moves forward, Congress will increase economic assistance to Armenia beyond the Administration's budget proposal and will provide aid to Nagorno Karabakh," Reps....


Coat of arms of Armenia

Armenia /ɑrˈmiːniə/ (help·info) (Armenian: Հայաստան, transliterated: Hayastan, Armenian pronunciation: ), officially the Republic of Armenia (Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն, Hayastani Hanrapetut῾yun, ), is a landlocked mountainous country in South Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Located at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it borders Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan to the south.

A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia is a unitary, multiparty, democratic nation-state with an ancient and historic cultural heritage. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its religion in the early years of the 4th century (the traditional date is 301). The modern Republic of Armenia recognizes the exclusive historical mission of the Armenian Apostolic Church as a national church, although the modern Republic of Armenia has separation of church and state.

Armenia is a member of more than 40 international organisations, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the World Trade Organization, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and La Francophonie. It is a member of the CSTO military alliance, and also participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. In 2004 its forces joined KFOR, a NATO-led international force in Kosovo. It is also an observer member of the Eurasian Economic Community and the Non-Aligned Movement.

The country is an emerging democracy and, because of its strategic location, lies among both the Russian and Western spheres of influence.

The native Armenian name for the country is Hayk‘. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Hayastan, by addition of the Iranian suffix -stan (land). The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk (Հայկ), the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who according to Moses of Chorene defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC, and established his nation in the Ararat region. The further origin of the name is uncertain.

The exonym Armenia is first attested in the Old Persian Behistun inscription (515 BC) as Armina. Greek Ἀρμένιοι "Armenians" is attested from about the same time, perhaps the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC). Herodotus (440 BC) has Ἀρμένιοι δὲ κατά περ Φρύγες ἐσεσάχατο, ἐόντες Φρυγῶν ἄποικοι. "the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists" (7.73). Some decades later, Xenophon, a Greek general waging war against the Persians, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians. According to the histories of both Moses of Chorene and Michael Chamich, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk, son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful, who ruled around 900 BC and became widely acclaimed by the peoples of the region for his exploits.

Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which, according to Judeo-Christian history, Noah's Ark came to rest after the flood. (Gen. 8:4). In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1500-1200 BC). Then, the Nairi people (twelfth to ninth centuries BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (1000-600 BC) successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland. Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, was founded in 782 BC by the Urartian king Argishti I.

Around 600 BC, the Kingdom of Armenia was established under the Orontid Dynasty. The kingdom reached its height between 95 - 66 BC under Tigranes the Great, becoming one of the most powerful kingdoms of its time within the region. Throughout its history, the kingdom of Armenia enjoyed periods of independence intermitted with periods of autonomy subject to contemporary empires. Armenia's strategic location between two continents has subjected it to invasions by many peoples, including the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, Persians, Ottoman Turks and Russians.

In 301, Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its official state religion, while a number of Christian communities have been established in Armenia since 40 AD. There had been various pagan communities before Christianity, but they were converted by an influx of Christian missionaries. Tiridates III (238-314 AD) was the first ruler to officially Christianise his people, his conversion occurring ten years before the Roman Empire granted Christianity an official toleration under Galerius, and 36 years before Constantine the Great was baptised.

After the fall of the Armenian kingdom in 428 AD, most of Armenia was incorporated as a marzpanate within the Sassanid Empire. Following an Armenian rebellion in 451 AD, Christian Armenians maintained their religious freedom, while Armenia gained autonomy.

After the Marzpanate period (428-636), Armenia emerged as the Emirate of Armenia, an autonomous principality within the Arabic Empire, reuniting Armenian lands previously taken by the Byzantine Empire as well. The principality was ruled by the Prince of Armenia, recognised by the Caliph and the Byzantine Emperor. It was part of the administrative division/emirate Arminiyya created by the Arabs, which also included parts of Georgia and Caucasian Albania, and had its center in the Armenian city Dvin. The Principality of Armenia lasted until 884, when it regained its independence from the weakened Arabic Empire.

The re-emergent Armenian kingdom was ruled by the Bagratuni dynasty, and lasted until 1045. In time, several areas of the Bagratid Armenia separated as independent kingdoms and principalities such as the Kingdom of Vaspurakan ruled by the House of Artsruni, while still recognizing the supremacy of the Bagratid kings.

In 1045, the Byzantine Empire conquered Bagratid Armenia. Soon, the other Armenian states fell under Byzantine control as well. The Byzantine rule was short lived, as in 1071 Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines and conquered Armenia at the Battle of Manzikert, establishing the Seljuk Empire. To escape death or servitude at the hands of those who had assassinated his relative, Gagik II, King of Ani, an Armenian named Roupen went with some of his countrymen into the gorges of the Taurus Mountains and then into Tarsus of Cilicia. The Byzantine governor of the palace gave them shelter where the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was eventually established.

The Seljuk Empire soon started to collapse. In the early 1100s, Armenian princes of the Zakarid noble family established a semi-independent Armenian principality in Northern and Eastern Armenia, known as Zakarid Armenia, lasted under patronages of Seljuks, Georgian Kingdom, Atabegs of Azerbaijan and Khwarezmid Empire. The noble family of Orbelians shared control with the Zakarids in various parts of the country, especially in Syunik and Vayots Dzor.

During the 1230s, the Mongol Empire conquered the Zakaryan Principality, as well as the rest of Armenia. Armenian soldiers formed an important part of the military of the Ilkhanate. The Mongolian invasions were soon followed by those of other Central Asian tribes (Kara Koyunlu, Timurid and Ak Koyunlu), which continued from the 1200s until the 1400s. After incessant invasions, each bringing destruction to the country, Armenia in time became weakened. During the 1500s, the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia divided Armenia among themselves. The Russian Empire later incorporated Eastern Armenia (consisting of the Erivan and Karabakh khanates within Persia) in 1813 and 1828.

Under Ottoman rule, the Armenians were granted considerable autonomy within their own enclaves and lived in relative harmony with other groups in the empire (including the ruling Turks). However, as Christians under a strict Muslim social system, Armenians faced pervasive discrimination. When they began pushing for more rights within the Ottoman Empire, Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid II, in response, organised state-sponsored massacres against the Armenians between 1894 and 1896, resulting in an estimated death toll of 80,000 to 300,000 people. The Hamidian massacres, as they came to be known, gave Hamid international infamy as the "Red Sultan" or "Bloody Sultan".

As the Ottoman Empire began to collapse, the Young Turk Revolution (1908) overthrew the government of Sultan Hamid. Armenians living in the empire hoped that the Committee of Union and Progress would change their second-class status. Armenian reform package (1914) was presented as a solution by appointing an inspector general over Armenian issues.

When World War I broke out leading to confrontation of the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire in the Caucasus and Persian Campaigns, the new government in Constantinople began to look on the Armenians with distrust and suspicion. This was due to the fact that the Russian army contained a contingent of Armenian volunteers. On April 24, 1915, Armenian intellectuals were arrested by Ottoman authorities and, with the Tehcir Law (29 May 1915), eventually a large proportion of Armenians living in Anatolia perished in what has become known as the Armenian Genocide. There was local Armenian resistance in the region, developed against the activities of the Ottoman Empire. The events of 1915 to 1917 are regarded by Armenians and the vast majority of Western historians to have been state-sponsored mass killings, or genocide. However as Turkey is an ally of the West and holds a strategic position near to the Middle East, both the United States and the United Kingdom governments continue to maintain that there is a lack of unequivocal evidence to categorise the events as genocide. Turkish authorities maintain that the deaths were the result of a civil war coupled with disease and famine, with casualties incurred by both sides. Most estimates for the number of Armenians killed range from 650,000 to 1.5 million. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora have been campaigning for official recognition of the events as genocide for over 30 years. These events are traditionally commemorated yearly on April 24, the Armenian Martyr Day, or the Day of the Armenian Genocide.

Although the Russian army succeeded in gaining most of Ottoman Armenia during World War I, their gains were lost with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. At the time, Russian-controlled Eastern Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan attempted to bond together in the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. This federation, however, only lasted from February to May 1918, when all three parties decided to dissolve it. As a result, Eastern Armenia became independent as the Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) on May 28.

Unfortunately, the DRA's short-lived independence was fraught with war, territorial disputes, a mass influx of refugees from Ottoman Armenia, spreading disease, and starvation. Still, the Entente Powers, appalled by the actions of the Ottoman government, sought to help the newly-found Armenian state through relief funds and other forms of support.

At the end of the war, the victorious Entente powers sought to divide up the Ottoman Empire. Signed between the Allied and Associated Powers and Ottoman Empire at Sèvres on August 10, 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres promised to maintain the existence of the DRA and to attach the former territories of Ottoman Armenia to it. Because the new borders of Armenia were to be drawn by United States President Woodrow Wilson, Ottoman Armenia is also referred to as "Wilsonian Armenia." There was even consideration of possibly making Armenia a mandate under the protection of the United States. The treaty, however, was rejected by the Turkish National Movement, and never came into effect. The movement, under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, used the treaty as the occasion to declare itself the rightful government of Turkey, replacing the monarchy based in Istanbul with a republic based in Ankara.

In 1920, Turkish nationalist forces invaded the fledgling Armenian republic from the east and the Turkish-Armenian War began. Turkish forces under the command of Kazım Karabekir captured Armenian territories that Russia annexed in the aftermath of the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War and occupied the old city of Alexandropol (present-day Gyumri). The violent conflict finally concluded with the Treaty of Alexandropol (December 2, 1920). The treaty forced Armenia to disarm most of its military forces, cede more than 50% of its pre-war territory, and to give up all the "Wilsonian Armenia" granted to it at the Sèvres treaty. Simultaneously, the Soviet Eleventh Army under the command of Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze, invaded Armenia at Karavansarai (present-day Ijevan) on November 29. By December 4, Ordzhonikidze's forces entered Yerevan and the short-lived Armenian republic collapsed.

Armenia was annexed by Bolshevist Russia and along with Georgia and Azerbaijan, it was incorporated into the Soviet Union as part of the Transcaucasian SFSR on March 4, 1922. With this annexation, the Treaty of Alexandropol was superseded by the Turkish-Soviet Treaty of Kars. In the agreement, Turkey allowed the Soviet Union to assume control over Adjara with the port city of Batumi in return for sovereignty over the cities of Kars, Ardahan, and Iğdır, all of which were part of Russian Armenia.

The TSFR existed from 1922 to 1936, when it was divided up into three separate entities (Armenian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, and Georgian SSR). Armenians enjoyed a period of relative stability under Soviet rule. They received medicine, food, and other provisions from Moscow, and communist rule proved to be a soothing balm in contrast to the turbulent final years of the Ottoman Empire. The situation was difficult for the church, which struggled under Soviet rule. After the death of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin took the reins of power and began an era of renewed fear and terror for Armenians. As with various other ethnic minorities who lived in the Soviet Union during Stalin's Great Purge, tens of thousands of Armenians were either executed or deported.

Fears decreased when Stalin died in 1953 and Nikita Khruschev emerged as the Soviet Union's new leader. Soon, life in Soviet Armenia began to see rapid improvement. The church which suffered greatly under Stalin was revived when Catholicos Vazgen I assumed the duties of his office in 1955. In 1967, a memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide was built at the Tsitsernakaberd hill above the Hrazdan gorge in Yerevan. This occurred after mass demonstrations took place on the tragic event's fiftieth anniversary in 1965.

During the Gorbachev era of the 1980s with the reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika, Armenians began to demand better environmental care for their country, opposing the pollution that Soviet-built factories brought. Tensions also developed between Soviet Azerbaijan and its autonomous district of Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority-Armenian region separated by Stalin from Armenia in 1923. The Armenians of Karabakh demanded unification with Soviet Armenia. Peaceful protests in Yerevan supporting the Karabakh Armenians were met with anti-Armenian pogroms in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. Compounding Armenia's problems was a devastating earthquake in 1988 with a moment magnitude of 7.2.

Gorbachev's inability to solve Armenia's problems (especially Karabakh) created disillusionment among the Armenians and only fed a growing hunger for independence. In May 1990, the New Armenian Army (NAA) was established, serving as a defence force separate from the Soviet Red Army. Clashes soon broke out between the NAA and Soviet Internal Security Forces (MVD) troops based in Yerevan when Armenians decided to commemorate the establishment of the 1918 Democratic Republic of Armenia. The violence resulted in the deaths of five Armenians killed in a shootout with the MVD at the railway station. Witnesses there claimed that the MVD used excessive force and that they had instigated the fighting. Further firefights between Armenian militiamen and Soviet troops occurred in Sovetashen, near the capital and resulted in the deaths of over 26 people, mostly Armenians. On March 17, 1991, Armenia, along with the Baltic states, Georgia and Moldova, boycotted a union-wide referendum in which 78% of all voters voted for the retention of the Soviet Union in a reformed form.

In 1991, the Soviet Union broke apart and Armenia re-established its independence. Declaring independence on August 23, it was the first non-Baltic republic to secede. However, the initial post-Soviet years were marred by economic difficulties as well as the break-out of a full-scale armed confrontation between the Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijan. The economic problems had their roots early in the Karabakh conflict when the Azerbaijani Popular Front managed to pressure the Azerbaijan SSR to instigate a railway and air blockade against Armenia. This move effectively crippled Armenia's economy as 85% of its cargo and goods arrived through rail traffic. In 1993, Turkey joined the blockade against Armenia in support of Azerbaijan.

The Karabakh war ended after a Russian-brokered cease-fire was put in place in 1994. The war was a success for the Karabakh Armenian forces who managed to secure 14% of Azerbaijan's internationally recognised territory including Nagorno-Karabakh itself. Since then, Armenia and Azerbaijan have held peace talks, mediated by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The status over Karabakh has yet to be determined. The economies of both countries have been hurt in the absence of a complete resolution and Armenia's borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan remain closed.

As it enters the twenty-first century, Armenia faces many hardships. Still, it has managed to make some improvements. It has made a full switch to a market economy and as of 2008, is the 28th most economically free nation in the world. Its relations with Europe, the Middle East, and the Commonwealth of Independent States have allowed Armenia to increase trade. Gas, oil, and other supplies come through two vital routes: Iran and Georgia. Armenia maintains cordial relations with both countries.

Politics of Armenia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic. According to the Constitution of Armenia, the President is the head of government and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The unicameral parliament (also called the Azgayin Zhoghov or National Assembly) is controlled by a coalition of four political parties: the conservative Republican party, the Prosperous Armenia party, the Rule of Law party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The main opposition party is Raffi Hovannisian's Heritage party, which favors eventual Armenian membership in the European Union and NATO.

The Armenian government's stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy as the basis of its form of government. It has universal suffrage above the age of eighteen.

International observers of Council of Europe and U.S. Department of State have questioned the fairness of Armenia's parliamentary and presidential elections and constitutional referendum since 1995, citing polling deficiencies, lack of cooperation by the Electoral Commission, and poor maintenance of electoral lists and polling places. Freedom House categorized Armenia in its 2008 report as a "Semi-consolidated Authoritarian Regime" (along with Moldova, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia) and ranked Armenia 20th among 29 nations in transition, with a Democracy Score of 5.21 out of 7 (7 represents the lowest democratic progress). Since 1999, Freedom House's Democracy Score for Armenia has been steadily on the decline (from 4.79 to 5.21). Furthermore, Freedom House ranked Armenia as "partly free" in its 2007 report, though it did not categorise Armenia as an "electoral democracy", indicating an absence of relatively free and competitive elections. However, significant progress seems to have been made and the 2008 Armenian presidential election was hailed as largely democratic by OSCE and Western monitors.

Armenia presently maintains good relations with almost every country in the world, with two major exceptions being its immediate neighbours, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Tensions were running high between Armenians and Azerbaijanis during the final years of the Soviet Union. The Nagorno-Karabakh War dominated the region's politics throughout the 1990s. The border between the two rival countries remains closed up to this day, and a permanent solution for the conflict has not been reached despite the mediation provided by organisations such as the OSCE.

Turkey also has a long history of poor relations with Armenia over its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The Karabakh conflict became an excuse for Turkey to close its land border with Armenia in 1993. It has not lifted its blockade despite pressure from the powerful Turkish business lobby interested in Armenian markets. Since 2001, however, the Armenian airline company Armavia regularly flies between the Zvartnots International Airport of Yerevan and Atatürk International Airport of Istanbul.

Due to its position between two unfriendly neighbours, Armenia has close security ties with Russia. At the request of the Armenian government, Russia maintains a military base in the northwestern Armenian city of Gyumri as a deterrent against Turkey. Despite this, Armenia has also been looking toward Euro-Atlantic structures in recent years. It maintains good relations with the United States especially through its Armenian diaspora. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 427,822 Armenians living in the country.

Armenia is also a member of the Council of Europe, maintaining friendly relations with the European Union, especially with its member states such as France and Greece. A 2005 survey reported that 64% of Armenia's population would be in favor of joining the EU. Several Armenian officials have also expressed the desire for their country to eventually become an EU member state, some predicting that it will make an official bid for membership in a few years.

Eduard Nalbandyan currently serves as the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Armenian Army, Air Force, Air Defence, and Border Guard comprise the four branches of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia. The Armenian military was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and with the establishment of the Ministry of Defence in 1992. The Commander-in-Chief of the military is the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan. The Ministry of Defence is in charge of political leadership, currently headed by Colonel-General Mikael Harutyunyan, while military command remains in the hands of the General Staff, headed by the Chief of Staff, who is currently Lieutenant-General Seyran Ohanian.

Active forces now number about 60,000 soldiers, with an additional reserve of 32,000, and a "reserve of the reserve" of 350,000 troops. Armenian border guards are in charge of patrolling the country's borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan, while Russian troops continue to monitor its borders with Iran and Turkey. In the case of an attack, Armenia is able to mobilise every able-bodied man between the age of 15 and 59, with military preparedness.

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of military equipment, was ratified by the Armenian parliament in July 1992. In March 1993, Armenia signed the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls for the eventual elimination of chemical weapons. Armenia acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state in July 1993. Armenia is member of Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) along with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PiP) program and is in a NATO organisation called Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Armenia has engaged in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo as part of non-NATO KFOR troops under Greek command. Armenia also had 46 members of its military peacekeeping forces as a part of the Coalition Forces in Iraq War until October 2008.

Armenia is divided into ten provinces (marzer, singular marz), with the city (kaghak) of Yerevan (Երևան) having special administrative status as the country's capital. The chief executive in each of then ten provinces is the marzpet (marz governor), appointed by the government of Armenia. In Yerevan, the chief executive is the mayor, appointed by the president.

Within each province are communities (hamaynkner, singular hamaynk). Each community is self-governing and consists of one or more settlements (bnakavayrer, singular bnakavayr). Settlements are classified as either towns (kaghakner, singular kaghak) or villages (gyugher, singular gyugh). As of 2007, Armenia includes 915 communities, of which 49 are considered urban and 866 are considered rural. The capital, Yerevan, also has the status of a community. Additionally, Yerevan is divided into twelve semi-autonomous districts.

Armenia is landlocked in the southern 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 30 000 square kilometres (11,600 sq. mi), is located in the north-east of the Armenian Highland (covering 400 000 km² or 154,000 sq. mi), otherwise known as historical Armenia and considered as the original homeland of Armenians. 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 4090 metres (13,420 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/71-97 °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/14-23 °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, 1,900 metres above sea level.

The Armenian economy heavily relies on investment and support from Armenians abroad. Before independence, Armenia's economy was largely industry-based – chemicals, electronics, machinery, processed food, synthetic rubber, and textile – and highly dependent on outside resources. The republic had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. Agriculture accounted for less than 20% of both net material product and total employment before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. After independence, the importance of agriculture in the economy increased markedly, its share at the end of the 1990s rising to more than 30% of GDP and more than 40% of total employment. This increase in agriculture's share was attributable to food security needs of the population in the face of uncertainty during the first phases of transition and the collapse of the non-agricultural sectors of the economy in the early 1990s. As the economic situation stabilized and growth resumed, the share of agriculture in GDP dropped to slightly over 20% (2006 data), although the share of agriculture in employment remained more than 40%.

Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold, and lead. The vast majority of energy is produced with fuel imported from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel (for its one nuclear power plant); the main domestic energy source is hydroelectric. Small amounts of coal, gas, and petroleum have not yet been developed.

Like other newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, Armenia's economy suffers from the legacy of a centrally planned economy and the breakdown of former Soviet trading patterns. Soviet investment in and support of Armenian industry has virtually disappeared, so that few major enterprises are still able to function. In addition, the effects of the 1988 Spitak Earthquake, which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt. The conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved. The closure of Azerbaijani and Turkish borders has devastated the economy, because Armenia depends on outside supplies of energy and most raw materials. Land routes through Georgia and Iran are inadequate or unreliable. GDP fell nearly 60% from 1989 until 1993, and then resumed its robust growth. The national currency, the dram, suffered hyperinflation for the first years after its introduction in 1993.

Nevertheless, the government was able to make wide-ranging economic reforms that paid off in dramatically lower inflation and steady growth. The 1994 cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also helped the economy. Armenia has had strong economic growth since 1995, building on the turnaround that began the previous year, and inflation has been negligible for the past several years. New sectors, such as precious stone processing and jewellery making, information and communication technology, and even tourism are beginning to supplement more traditional sectors in the economy, such as agriculture.

This steady economic progress has earned Armenia increasing support from international institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and other international financial institutions (IFIs) and foreign countries are extending considerable grants and loans. Loans to Armenia since 1993 exceed $1.1 billion. These loans are targeted at reducing the budget deficit, stabilizing the currency; developing private businesses; energy; the agriculture, food processing, transportation, and health and education sectors; and ongoing rehabilitation in the earthquake zone. The government joined the World Trade Organization on February 5, 2003. But one of the main sources of foreign direct investments remains the Armenian diaspora, which finances major parts of the reconstruction of infrastructure and other public projects. Being a growing democratic state, Armenia also hopes to get more financial aid from the Western World.

A liberal foreign investment law was approved in June 1994, and a Law on Privatisation was adopted in 1997, as well as a program on state property privatisation. Continued progress will depend on the ability of the government to strengthen its macroeconomic management, including increasing revenue collection, improving the investment climate, and making strides against corruption. However unemployment still remains a major problem due to the influx of thousands of refugees from the Karabakh conflict, which currently stands at around 15%.

Armenia ranked 83rd on the 2007 UNDP Human Development Index, the highest among the Transcaucasian republics. In the 2007 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Armenia ranked 99 of 179 countries. In the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, Armenia ranked 28th, ahead of countries like Austria, France, Portugal and Italy.

Armenia has a population of 3,215,800 (April 2006 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. The rates of emigration and population decline, however, have decreased drastically in the recent years, and a moderate influx of Armenians returning to Armenia have been the main reasons for the trend, which is expected to continue. In fact Armenia is expected to resume its positive population growth by 2010.

Ethnic Armenians make up 97.9% of the population. Yazidis make up 1.3%, and Russians 0.5%. Other minorities include Assyrians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Kurds, Georgians, and Belarusians. There are also smaller communities of Vlachs, Mordvins, Ossetians, Udis, and Tats. Minorities of Poles and Caucasus Germans also exist though they are heavily Russified. During the Soviet era, Azerbaijanis were historically the second largest population in the country (forming about 2.5% in 1989). However, due to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh virtually all of them emigrated from Armenia to Azerbaijan. Conversely, Armenia received a large influx of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan, thus giving Armenia a more homogeneous character.

Armenia has a relatively large diaspora (8 million by some estimates, greatly exceeding the 3 million population of Armenia itself), with communities existing across the globe. The largest Armenian communities outside of Armenia can be found in Russia, France, Iran, the United States, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Poland and Ukraine. 40,000 to 70,000 Armenians still live in Turkey (mostly in and around Istanbul). Also, about 1,000 Armenians reside in the Armenian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel, a remnant of a once-larger community. Italy is home to the San Lazzaro degli Armeni, an island located in the Venetian Lagoon, which is completely occupied by a monastery run by the Mechitarists, an Armenian Catholic congregation. In addition, approximately 139,000 Armenians live in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh where they form a majority.

The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity. The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the first century. According to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus' twelve apostles -- Thaddaeus and Bartholomew -- who preached Christianity in Armenia between 40-60 AD. Because of these two founding apostles, the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to 301 A.D. 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. Armenia also has a population of Catholics (both Roman and Mekhitarist - Armenian Uniate (180,000)), evangelical Protestants and followers of the Armenian traditional religion. The Yazidi Kurds, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. The Armenian Catholic Church is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon. The non-Yazidi Kurds practice Sunni Islam. The Jewish community in Armenia has diminished to 750 persons since independence due to Armenia's economic difficulties, with most emigrants leaving for Israel. There are currently two synagogues operating in Armenia - in the capital, Yerevan, and in the city of Sevan located near Lake Sevan. Intermarriage with Christian Armenians is frequent. Still, despite these difficulties, a lot of enthusiasm exists to help the community meet its needs.

Armenians have their own distinctive alphabet and language. The alphabet was invented in 405 AD by Saint Mesrob Mashtots and consists of thirty-eight letters, two of which were added during the Cilician period. 96% of the people in the country speak Armenian, while 75.8% of the population additionally speaks Russian although English is becoming increasingly popular.

The National Art Gallery in Yerevan has more than 16,000 works that date back to the Middle Ages. The Modern Art Museum, the Children’s Picture Gallery, and the Martiros Saryan Museum are only a few of the other noteworthy collections. Moreover, many private galleries are in operation, with many more opening each year. They feature rotating exhibitions and sales.

The Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the refurbished city Opera House. In addition, several chamber ensembles are highly regarded for their musicianship, including the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia and the Serenade Orchestra. Classical music can also be heard at one of several smaller venues, including the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and the Chamber Orchestra Hall. Jazz is popular, especially in the summer when live performances are a regular occurrence at one of the city’s many outdoor cafés.

Yerevan's Vernisage (arts and crafts market), close to Republic Square, bustles with hundreds of vendors selling a variety of crafts on weekends and Wednesdays (though the selection is much reduced mid-week). The market offers woodcarving, antiques, fine lace, and the hand-knotted wool carpets and kilims that are a Caucasus specialty. Obsidian, which is found locally, is crafted into assortment of jewellery and ornamental objects. Armenian gold smithery enjoys a long tradition, populating one corner of the market with a selection of gold items. Soviet relics and souvenirs of recent Russian manufacture—nesting dolls, watches, enamel boxes and so on, are also available at the Vernisage. Across from the Opera House, a popular art market fills another city park on the weekends. Armenia’s long history as a crossroads of the ancient world has resulted in a landscape with innumerable fascinating archaeological sites to explore. Medieval, Iron Age, Bronze Age and even Stone Age sites are all within a few hours drive from the city. All but the most spectacular remain virtually undiscovered, allowing visitors to view churches and fortresses in their original settings.

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.

Many famous names in the music world are of Armenian descent including classical composer Aram Khachaturian and French singer Charles Aznavour. The members of the alternative metal band System of a Down all have Armenian backgrounds as well, although only bassist Shavo Odadjian was born in the country.

Hospitality is well-known in Armenia and stems from ancient tradition. Social gatherings focused around sumptuous presentations of course after course of elaborately prepared and well-seasoned food. The hosts will often put morsels on a guest's plate whenever it is empty or fill his or her glass when it gets low. After a helping or two it is acceptable to refuse politely or, more simply, just leave a little uneaten food. Alcohol such as cognac, vodka, and red wine are usually served during meals and gatherings. It is rare and unusual for one to go inside an Armenian household and not be offered coffee, pastry, food, or even water.

The elaborate Armenian wedding process begins when the man and woman get engaged. The man's immediate family (parents, grandparents, and often uncles and aunts) go over to the woman's house to ask for permission from the woman's father for the relationship to continue and hopefully prosper. Once permission is granted by the father, the man gives the woman an engagement ring to make it official. To celebrate the mutual family agreement, the woman's family opens a bottle of Armenian cognac. After getting engaged, most families elect to have a semi-large engagement party as well. The girl's family is the one who plans, organizes and pays for the party. There is very little involvement by the man's family. At the party, a priest is summoned to pray for the soon-to-be husband and wife and give his blessings. Once the words of prayer have concluded, the couple slide wedding bands on each other's left hands (the ring is moved to the right hand once a formal marriage ceremony is conducted by the Armenian church). The customary time to wait for the marriage is about one year. Unlike other cultures, where bride's family pays for the wedding, in Armenia the man and his family pay for the wedding. The planning and organization process is usually done by the bride and groom to be.

Armenia is active in the international sporting community, with full membership in the International Olympic Committee, Union of European Football Associations and International Ice Hockey Federation.

1 Has part of its territory outside Europe.  2 Entirely in West Asia but having socio-political connections with Europe.  3 Has dependencies or similar territories outside Europe. 4 Name disputed by Greece; see Macedonia naming dispute. 5 Declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 and is recognised by 55 United Nations member states.

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History of Armenia

Coat of Arms of Armenia

The history of Armenia begins with Neolithic cultures of the South Caucasus, such as the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, followed by the Bronze Age Kura-Araxes and Trialeti cultures.

The Iron Age kingdom of Urartu (Assyrian for Ararat) lasted from the 9th century to 585 BC, when it was replaced by the Orontid dynasty. Following Persian and Macedonian rule, the Artaxiad dynasty from 190 BC gave rise to the Kingdom of Armenia which rose to the peak of its influence under Tigranes II before falling under Roman rule.

In 301, Arsacid Armenia was the first sovereign nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. The Armenian Apostolic Church later became a great defender of Armenian nationalism. The Armenians later fell under Byzantine, Persian, and Islamic hegemony, but reinstated their independence with the Bagratuni Dynasty kingdom of Armenia, rival to nearby Atropatene. After the fall of the kingdom in 1045, and the subsequent Seljuk conquest of Armenia in 1064, the Armenians established a kingdom in Cilicia, where they established cordial relations with the Europeans and prolonged their existence as an independent entity to 1375.

Greater Armenia was later divided between the Ottoman Empire and Russia. Armenians then suffered in the genocide that was inflicted on them by the Ottomans. As a result, 1.5 million Armenians were killed, and the rest of the Western Armenians were dispersed throughout the world via Syria and Lebanon. Armenia, from then on corresponding to much of Eastern Armenia, once again gained independence in 1918, with the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Armenia, and then in 1991, with the Republic of Armenia.

The Armenian Highland shows traces of settlement from the Neolithic era.

The Shulaveri-Shomu culture of the central Transcaucasus region is the earliest known prehistoric culture in the area, carbon-dated to roughly 6000 - 4000 BC.

An early Bronze Age culture in the area is the Kura-Araxes culture, assigned to the period of ca. 4000 - 2200 BC, succeeded by the Trialeti culture (ca. 2200 - 1500 BC). The earliest ethnonyms of the area are known from Hittite sources of the Late Bronze Age, such as the Hayasa-Azzi or the Mushki.

Between 1500 - 1200 BC, the Hayasa-Azzi existed in the western half of the Armenian Highland, often clashing with the Hittite Empire. Between 1200 - 800 BC, much of Armenia was united under a confederation of kingdoms, which Assyrian sources called Nairi ("Land of Rivers" in Assyrian").

The Kingdom of Urartu flourished in the Caucasus and eastern Asia Minor between the 9th century BC and 585 BC in the Armenian Highland. The founder of the Urartian Kingdom, Aramé, united all the principalities of the Armenian Highland and gave himself the title "King of Kings", the traditional title of Urartian Kings. The Urartians established their sovereignty over all of Taron and Vaspurakan. The main rival of Urartu was the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

During the reign of Sarduri I (834-828 BC), Urartu had become a strong and organized state, and imposed taxes to neighbouring tribes. Sarduri made Tushpa (modern Van) the capital of Urartu. His son, Ishpuinis, extended the borders of the state by conquering what would later be known as the Tigranocerta area and by reaching Urmia. Menuas (810-785 BC) extended the Urartian territory up north, by spreading towards the Araratian fields. He left more than 90 inscriptions by using the Mesopotamian cuneiform scriptures in the Urartian language. Argishtis I of Urartu conquered Latakia from the Hittites, and reached Byblos, Phoenicia, and he built Erebuni in 782 BC by using 6600 prisoners of war.

The Medes invaded Assyria later on in 612 BC, and then took over the Urartian capital of Van towards 585 BC, effectively ending the sovereignty of Urartu.

After the fall of Urartu around 585 BC, the Kingdom of Armenia was ruled by the Armenian Orontid Dynasty, which governed the state in 585 - 190 BC. Under Orontids, Armenia at times was an independent kingdom, and at other times a satrapy of the Persian Empire.

After the destruction of the Seleucid Empire, a Hellenistic Greek successor state of Alexander the Great's short-lived empire, a Hellenistic Armenian state was founded in 190 BC, with Artaxias becoming its first kings and the founder of the Artaxiad dynasty (190 BC - 1 AD). At the same time, a western portion of the kingdom split as a separate state under Zariadris, which became known as Lesser Armenia while the main kingdom acquired the name of Greater Armenia.

The new kings began a program of expansion which was to reach its zenith a century later. Their acquisitions are summarized by Strabo. Zariadris acquired Acilisene and the "country around the Antitaurus", possibly the district of Muzur or west of the Euphrates. Artaxias took lands from the Medes, Iberians, and Syrians. He then had confrontations with Pontus, Seleucid Syria and Cappadocia, and was included in the treaty which followed the victory of a group of Anatolian kings over Pharnaces of Pontus in 181 BC. Pharnaces thus abandoned all of his gains in the west. All of this goes to show that Artaxias was an ambitious monarch of international stature.

At its zenith, from 95 to 66 BC, Greater Armenia extended its rule over parts of the Caucasus and the area that is now eastern and central Turkey, northwestern Iran, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, forming the second Armenian empire. For a time, Armenia was one of the most powerful states in the Roman East. It eventually confronted the Roman Republic in a war, which it lost in 66 BC, but nonetheless preserved its sovereignty. Tigranes continued to rule Armenia as an ally of Rome until his death in 55 BCE. Later on, in 1 AD, Armenia came under Roman control until the establishment of the Armenian Arsacid dynasty. The Armenian people then adopted a Western political, philosophical, and religious orientation. According to Strabo, around this time everyone in Armenia spoke "the same language." (Strabo 11.14.4).

Armenia was often a focus of contention between Rome and Parthia. The Parthians forced Armenia into submission from 37 to 47, when the Romans retook control of the kingdom.

Under Nero, the Romans fought a campaign (55–63) against the Parthian Empire, which had invaded the kingdom of Armenia, allied to the Romans. After gaining (60) and losing (62) Armenia, the Romans under Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, legate of Syria entered (63) into an agreement of Vologases I of Parthia, which confirmed Tiridates I as king of Armenia, thus founding the Arshakuni Dynasty.

Another campaign was led by Emperor Lucius Verus in 162-165, after Vologases IV of Parthia had invaded Armenia and installed his chief general on its throne. To counter the Parthian threat, Verus set out for the east. His army won significant victories and retook the capital. Sohaemus, a Roman citizen of Armenian heritage, was installed as the new client king.

The Sassanid Persians occupied Armenia in 252 and held it until the Romans returned in 287. In 387 the kingdom was split between the Byzantine or East Roman Empire and the Persians. Western Armenia quickly became a province of the Roman Empire under the name of Armenia Minor; Eastern Armenia remained a kingdom within Persia until 428, when the local nobility overthrew the king, and the Sassanids installed a governor in his place.

According to tradition, the Armenian Apostolic Church was established by two of Jesus' twelve apostles--Thaddaeus and Bartholomew--who preached Christianity in Armenia in the 40's-60's AD. Between 1st and 4th centuries AD, the Armenian Church was headed by patriarchs.

In 301, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. It established a church that still exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, having become so in 451 after having rejected the Council of Chalcedon. The Armenian Apostolic Church is a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox communion. The first Catholicos of the Armenian church was Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Because of his beliefs, he was persecuted by the pagan king of Armenia, and was "punished" by being thrown in Khor Virap, in modern-day Armenia. He acquired the title of Illuminator, because he illuminated the spirits of Armenians by introducing Christianity to them.

During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity.

In 405/406, Armenia's political future seemed to be uncertain. With the help of the King of Armenia, Mesrop Mashtots thus invented a unique alphabet to suit the people's needs. By doing so, he ushered a new Golden Age and strengthened the Armenian national identity and belongingness.

In the 5th century, the Sassanid Shah Yazdegerd II tried to tie his Christian Armenian subjects more closely to the Sassanid Empire by imposing the Zoroastrian religion. The Armenians greatly resented this, and as a result, a rebellion broke out with Vartan Mamikonian as the leader of the rebels. Yazdegerd thus massed his army and sent it to Armenia, where the Battle of Avarayr took place in 451. The 66,000 Armenian rebels, mostly peasants, lost their morale when Mamikonian himself died in the battlefield. They did not stand a chance against the 180,00-220,000-strong Persian army of Immortals and war elephants. Despite being a military defeat, the Battle of Avarayr and the subsequent guerrilla war in Armenia eventually resulted in the Treaty of Nvarsak (484), which guaranteed religious freedom to the Armenians.

In 591, the great Byzantine warrior and Emperor Maurice defeated the Persians and recovered much of the remaining territory of Armenia into the empire. The conquest was completed by the Emperor Heraclius in 629.

In 645, the Muslim Arab armies of the Caliphate had attacked the country, which fell before them. Armenia, which once had its own rulers and was at other times under Persian and Byzantine control, passed largely into the power of the Caliphs.

Nonetheless, there were still parts of Armenia held within the Empire, containing many Armenians. This population held tremendous power within the empire. The Emperor Heraclius (610-641) was of Armenian descent, as was the Emperor Philippicus (711-713). The Emperor Basil I, who took the Byzantine throne in 867, was the first of what is sometimes called the Armenian dynasty (see Macedonian Dynasty), reflecting the strong effect the Armenians had on the Eastern Roman State. Indeed, while there were many different racial and linguistic groups within the Byzantine Empire, only the Armenians were able and allowed to maintain a distinct culture.

Evolving as a feudal kingdom in the 9th century, the Bagratuni Dynasty led Armenia on a brief cultural, political, and economic renewal. Bagratid Armenia was eventually recognized as a sovereign kingdom by the two major powers in the region: Baghdad in 885, and Constantinople in 886. Ani, the new Armenian capital, was constructed at the Kingdom's apogee in 964. The royal capital at Ani held approximately 200,000 inhabitants and a reported "1001 churches". With the construction of Ani, Armenia became a populous and prosperous nation, exerting political and economic influence over surrounding states and nations. Yet, Armenia was still a weak state, perched precariously between the rival Byzantine Empire and the Abbassid Caliphate. Its existence depended on both of these states desiring the continuation of Bagratid Armenia as a buffer state, and Armenia itself being strong enough to maintain this status.

Although the native dynasty of the Bagratuni Dynasty was founded under favourable circumstances, the feudal system gradually weakened the country by eroding loyalty to the central government. Thus internally enfeebled, Armenia proved an easy victim for the Byzantines, who captured Ani in 1045. The Seljuk Turks under Alp Arslan in turn took the city in 1064. In 1071, after the defeat of the Byzantine forces by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert, the Turks captured the rest of Greater Armenia and much of Anatolia. So ended Christian leadership of Armenia for the next millennium with the exception of a period of the late 12th-early 13th centuries, when the Muslim power in Greater Armenia was seriously troubled by the resurgent Georgian monarchy. Many local nobles (nakharars) joined their efforts with the Georgians, leading to liberation of several areas in northern Armenia, which was ruled, under the authority of the Georgian crown, by the Zacharids/Mkhargrdzeli, a prominent Armeno-Georgian noble family.

To escape death or servitude at the hands of those who had assassinated his relative, Gagik II, King of Ani, an Armenian named Roupen with some of his countrymen went into the gorges of the Taurus Mountains and then into Tarsus of Cilicia. Here the Byzantine governor of the place gave them shelter. Thus, from around 1080 to 1375, the focus of Armenian nationalism moved south, as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.

After the members of the first Crusade appeared in Asia Minor, the Armenians developed close ties to European Crusader States, flourished in southeastern Asia Minor until it was conquered by Muslim states. Count Baldwin, who with the rest of the Crusaders was passing through Asia Minor bound for Jerusalem, left the Crusader army and was adopted by Thoros of Edessa, an Armenian ruler of Greek Orthodox faith. Hostile as they were to the Seljuks, and unfriendly to the Byzantines, the Armenians took kindly to the crusader count, and when Thoros was assassinated Baldwin was made ruler of the new crusader County of Edessa. It seems that the Armenians enjoyed the rule of Baldwin and the crusaders in general, and some number of them fought alongside the Christians of Europe. When Antioch had been taken (1097), Constantine, the son of Roupen, received from the crusaders the title of baron.

The failed Third Crusade and other events elsewhere left Cilicia as the sole substantial Christian presence in the Middle East. World powers, such as Byzantium, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy and even the Abbassid Caliph competed and vied for influence over the state and each raced to be the first to recognise Leo II, prince of Lesser Armenia, as the rightful king. As a result, he had been given a crown by both German and Byzantine emperors. Representatives from across Christendom and a number of Muslim states attended the coronation, thus highlighting the important stature that Cilicia had gained over time. The Armenian authority was often in touch with the crusaders. No doubt the Armenians aided in some of the other crusades. Cilicia flourished greatly under Armenian rule, as it became the last remnant of Medieval Armenian statehood. Cilcia acquired an Armenian identity, as the kings of Cilicia were called kings of Armenians, not of Cilicians. In Lesser Armenia, Armenian culture was intertwined with both the European culture of the Crusaders, and with the Hellenic culture of Cilicia. As the Catholic families extended their influence over Cilicia, the Pope wanted the Armenians to follow Catholicism. This situation divided the kingdom's inhabitants between pro-Catholic and pro-Apostolic camps. Armenian sovereignty lasted till 1375, when the Mamelukes of Egypt profited from the unstable situation of Lesser Armenia and destroyed it.

Due to its strategic significance, Armenia was constantly fought over and passed back and forth between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans. At the height of the Turkish-Persian wars, Yerevan changed hands fourteen times between 1513 and 1737.

In 1604, Shah Abbas I pursued a scorched-earth campaign against the Ottomans in the Ararat valley. The old Armenian town of Julfa in the province of Nakhichevan was taken early in the invasion. From there Abbas' army fanned out across the Araratian plain. The Shah pursued a careful strategy, advancing and retreating as the occasion demanded, determined not to risk his enterprise in a direct confrontation with stronger enemy forces.

Unable to maintain his army on the desolate plain, Sinan Pasha was forced to winter in Van. Armies sent in pursuit of the Shah in 1605 were defeated, and by 1606 Abbas had regained all of the territory lost to the Turks earlier in his reign. The scorched-earth tactic had worked, though at a terrible cost to the Armenian people. Of the 300,000 deported it is calculated that under half survived the march to Isfahan. In the conquered territories Abbas established the Erivan khanate, a Muslim principality under the dominion of the Safavid Empire. Armenians formed less than 20% of its population as a result of Shah Abbas I's deportation of much of the Armenian population from the Ararat valley and the surrounding region in 1605.

In the aftermath of the Russo-Persian War, 1826-1828, the parts of historic Armenia under Persian control, centering on Yerevan and Lake Sevan, were incorporated into Russia. Under Russian rule, the area corresponding approximately to modern-day Armenian territory was called "Province of Yerevan". The Armenian subjects of the Russian Empire lived in relative safety, compared to their Ottoman kin, albeit clashes with Tatars and Kurds were frequent in the early 20th century.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the ambitious Russians sought out to continue their expansion into Armenian land in order to reach the warm waters of the Mediterranean. This caused conflict between the Russian and Ottoman Empires eventually culminating in the Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829. In the aftermath of the war, the Ottoman Empire ceded a small part of the traditional Armenian homeland to the Russian Empire, known as Eastern Armenia following the while Western Armenia remained under Ottoman sovereignty.

Mehmed II conquered Constantinople from the Byzantines in 1453, and made it the Ottoman Empire's capital. Mehmed and his successors used the religious systems of their subject nationalities as a method of population control, and so Ottoman Sultans invited an Armenian archbishop to establish an Armenian patriarchate in Constantinople. The Armenians of Constantinople grew in numbers, and became respected, if not full, members of Ottoman society.

The Ottoman Empire ruled in accordance to Islamic law. As such, "non-believers" such as Christians and Jews had to pay extra taxes to fulfill their status as dhimmi. While the Armenians of Constantinople benefitted from the Sultan's support, the ones inhabiting Historic Armenia never did. They were mistreated by local pashas or beys and had to pay more taxes imposed by Kurdish tribes. Armenians, along with other Ottoman Christians, had to transfer to the Sultan's government some of their healthy male children, which converted them into Muslim Janissaries, fierce warriors used during the Ottoman Empire's campaigns in Europe.

The Armenian national liberation movement was the Armenian effort to free the historic Armenian homeland of eastern Asia Minor and Transcaucasus from Russian and Ottoman domination and re-establish the independent Armenian state. The national liberation movement of the Balkan peoples (see: national awakenings in Balkans) and the immediate involvement of the European powers in the Eastern question had a powerful effect on hitherto suppressed national movement among the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire - on the development of a national liberation ideology. The Armenian national movement, besides its individual heroes (see: national heros), was an organized activity represented around three parties of Armenian people, Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, Armenakan and Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which ARF was the largest and most influential among the three. Those Armenians who did not support national liberation aspirations or who were neutral were called chezoks.

In 1839, the situation of the Ottoman Armenians slightly improved after Abdul Mejid I carried out reforms in its territories. However, later Sultans, such as Abdul Hamid II stopped the reforms and carried out massacres, now known as the Hamidian massacres of 1895-96.

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire systematically carried out the Armenian Genocide. This genocide was preceded by a wave of massacres in the years 1894 to 1896. In 1915, with World War I in progress, the Ottoman Turks accused the (Christian) Armenians as liable to ally with Russia, and treated the entire Armenian population as an enemy within their empire in a wave of ethnic cleansing.

The events of 1915 to 1923 are regarded by Armenians and the vast majority of Western historians to have been state-sponsored mass killings. Turkish authorities, however, maintain that the deaths were the result of a civil war coupled with disease and famine, with casualties incurred by both sides.

The exact numbers of deaths is hard to establish. It is estimated by many sources that close to a million Armenians perished in camps, which excludes Armenians who may have died in other ways. Most estimates place the total number of deaths between 800,000 and 1.5 million. These events are traditionally commemorated yearly on April 24, the Armenian Christian martyr day.

Between the 4th and 19th centuries, the traditional area of Armenia was conquered and ruled by Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, and Turks, among others. Historic Armenia remained under the Ottoman yoke from, until parts of Armenia gained independence from the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire after the collapse of these two empires in the wake of the First World War.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the takeover of the Bolsheviks, Stepan Shaumyan was placed in charge of Russian Armenia. In September 1917 the convention in Tiflis elected the Armenian National Council, the first sovereign political body of Armenians since the collapse of Lesser Armenia in 1375. Meanwhile, both the Ittihad (Unionist) and the Nationalists moved to win the friendship of the Bolsheviks. Mustafa Kemal sent several delegations to Moscow in an attempt to win some support for his own post-Ottoman movement in what he saw as a modernised ethno-nationalist Turkey. This alliance proved disastrous for the Armenians. The signing of the Ottoman-Russian friendship treaty (January 1, 1918), helped Vehib Pasha to attack the new Republic. Under heavy pressure from the combined forces of the Ottoman army and the Kurdish irregulars, the Republic was forced to withdraw from Erzincan to Erzurum. In the end, the Republic had to evacuate Erzurum as well.

Further southeast, in Van, the Armenians resisted the Turkish army until April 1918, but eventually were forced to evacuate it and withdraw to Persia. Conditions deteriorated when Azerbaijani Tatars sided with the Turks and seized the Armenian's lines of communication, thus cutting off the Armenian National Councils in Baku and Erevan from the National Council in Tiflis.

The Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) was established in Erevan on May 28, 1918.

In 1920, Armenian border troops skirmished with Muslim warlords in the former Georgian region of Oltu, on the border with the DRA. Turkish General Kazım Karabekir then led four Turkish battalions into the district on 3 September and drove the Armenians out. Karabekir then moved into the DRA on 20 September prompting the Armenian government to declare war on Turkey four days later, thus precipitating the Turkish-Armenian War.

The consequences of the DRA's war with Turkey were severe. In the Treaty of Alexandropol, the young Armenian republic was to disarm most of its military forces, cede more than 50% of its pre-war territory, and to give up all the territories granted to it at the Treaty of Sèvres. However, as the terms of defeat were being negotiated, Bolshevik Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze invaded the DRA from Azerbaijan in order to establish a new pro-Bolshevik government in the country. On November 29, the Soviet 11th Army invaded Armenia at Karavansarai (present-day Ijevan) and by November 29, 1920, the Soviet 11th Army marched into Yerevan.

Although the Bolsheviks succeeded in ousting the Turks from their positions in Armenia, they decided to establish peace with Turkey. In 1921, the Bolsheviks and the Turks signed the Treaty of Kars, in which Turkey ceded Adjara to the USSR in exchange for the Kars territory (today the Turkish provinces of Kars, Iğdır, and Ardahan). The land given to Turkey included the ancient city of Ani and Mount Ararat, the spiritual Armenian homeland. In 1922, Armenia became part of the Soviet Union as one of three republics comprising the Transcaucasian SFSR.

The Transcaucasian SFSR was dissolved in 1936 and as a result Armenia became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union as the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The transition to communism was difficult for Armenia, and for most of the other republics in the Soviet Union. The Soviet authorities placed Armenians under strict surveillance. There was almost no freedom of speech, even less so under Joseph Stalin. Any individual who was suspected of using or introducing nationalist rhetoric or elements in their works were labeled traitors or propangandists, and were sent to Siberia during Stalinist rule. Even Zabel Yessayan, a writer who was fortunate enough to escape from ethnic cleansing during the Armenian Genocide, was quickly exiled to Siberia after repatriating to Armenia from France.

Soviet Armenia participated in World War II by sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the frontline in order to defend the "Soviet motherland." Soviet rule also had some positive aspects. Armenia, a nation that was under foreign domination for hundreds of years, and was not ready for statehood in between hostile Turkish neighbors, was kept under control and put under Soviet protection from Kemalist Turkey, thanks to the Iron Curtain. Armenia also greatly benefitted from the Soviet economy, especially when it was at its apex. Provincial villages gradually became towns and towns gradually became cities. Peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan was reached, albeit temporarily. During this time, Armenia had a sizeable Azeri minority, mostly centred in Yerevan. Likewise, Azerbaijan had an Armenian minority, concentrated in Baku, Kirovabad, and Nagorno-Karabakh. This demographic would change dramatically during and after the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Many Armenians still had nationalist sentiments, although they would very seldomly express them publicly. On April 24, 1965, tens of thousands of Armenians flooded the streets of Yerevan to remind the world of the horrors that their parents and grandparents endured during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This was the first public demonstration of such high numbers in the USSR, which defended national interests rather than collective ones. In the late 1980s, Armenia was suffering from pollution. With Mikhail Gorbachev's introduction of glasnost and perestroika, public demonstrations became more common. Thousands of Armenians demonstrated in Yerevan because of the USSR's inability to address simple ecological concerns. Later on, with the conflict in Karabakh, the demonstrations obtained a more nationalistic flavour. Many Armenians began to demand statehood.

Armenia declared its sovereignty from the Soviet Union on August 23, 1990. In the wake of the August Coup, a referendum was held on the question of secession. Following an overwhelming vote in favor, full independence was declared on September 21, 1991. However, widespread recognition did not occur until the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

Armenia faced many challenges during its first years as a sovereign state. In 1988, the Spitak Earthquake killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed multiple towns in northern Armenia, such as Leninakan (modern-day Gyumri) and Spitak. Many families were left without electricity and running water. The harsh situation caused by the earthquake and subsequent events made many residents of Armenia leave and settle in North America, Western Europe or Australia.

On February 20, 1988, interethnic fighting between the ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijanis broke out shortly after the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous oblast in Azerbaijan, voted to unify the region with Armenia. The Nagorno-Karabakh war pitted Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, backed by Armenia, against the Army of Azerbaijan. Following the Armenian victory, both Azerbaijan and Turkey closed their borders and imposed a blockade which they retain to this day. These events severely affected the economy of the fledgling republic, and closed off its main routes to Europe.

On October 16, 1991, Armenians elected Levon Ter-Petrossian as their first president. Ter-Petrossian was faced with many difficulties, including economic difficulties caused mainly by the Turkish and Azeri blockade. His controversial banning of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, one of the main organized political entities in the Armenian diaspora, and his apathy toward the pursuit of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic made him unpopular with Armenian citizens and diasporan Armenians during his final years as president of Armenia. He was forced to resign in February 1998.

After Robert Kocharyan came to power in 1998, the difficult life conditions of Armenia gradually started to change. The Armenian diaspora, and especially the ARF, obtained more freedom to carry out economic projects in the fatherland.

In 2006, the Republic of Armenia celebrated its 15th anniversary of independence.

The legendary founder of Armenia was Haik, a chieftain who called on his kinsmen to unite into a single nation, thus forming Armenia. Ararat was the mountain around which was centered Urartu and subsequent kingdoms, and is still considered sacred by the Armenians.

The original Armenian name for the country was Hayq, later Hayastan, translated as the land of Haik, and consisting of the name Haik and the Iranian suffix '-stan' (land). According to legend, Haik was a great-great-grandson of Noah (son of Togarmah, who was a son of Gomer, a son of Noah's son, Yafet), and according to tradition, a forefather of all Armenians. Mount Ararat, a sacred mountain for the Armenian people, rising in the center of the Armenian Highland as its highest peak, is traditionally considered the landing place of Noah's Ark.

Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement: The Development of Armenian Political Parties Through the Nineteenth Century (1963).

This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

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Russian Armenia

Coat of Arms of Armenia

Russian Armenia (Armenian: Ռուսական Հայաստան) is the period of Armenia's history under Russian rule beginning from 1829, when Eastern Armenia became part of the Russian Empire to the declaration of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in 1918.

For hundreds of years, the inhabitants of Eastern Armenia lived under Ottoman or Safavid rule. Subsequent wars between the Ottoman and Safavid empires led to the destruction of many of the Armenian towns, and made Armenian life difficult. Added to this, the Armenians were Christian, while the Ottomans and Persians were both Muslims.

In 1678, the Armenian leadership secretly conducted a congress in Echmiadzin, and decided that Armenia had to be liberated from foreign domination. At this stage, the Armenians were unable to fight against two empires at once, so they searched for help from abroad. Israel Ori, an Armenian native of Karabagh, son of an Armenian melik or prince, searched for help in many of the European capitals. Israel Ori died in 1711, without seeing the Armenian Dream realized.

In 1722, the Tsar of Russia, Peter the Great, declared war against the Safavid Persians. Georgians and Karabagh's Armenians helped the Russians by rebelling against Safavid rule. David Bek commanded the rebellion for six years, until David Bek died in the battlefield.

A turning-point came in 1801 when the Russians annexed the Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, giving them a foothold in Transcaucasia. Over the next three decades, Russia sought to expand its territory south of the Caucasus at the expense of the Ottomans and the Persians. The Russian campaigns found enthusiastic support amongst the Armenians, led by the Bishop of Tbilisi, Nerses Ashtaraketsi, who took part in the fighting in person. The Russo-Persian War of 1804 to 1813 saw the Russians conquer territory in eastern Armenia only to renounce most of it at the Treaty of Gulistan.

In 1827-1828, Tsar Nicholas I again declared war against the Qajarid Persians, and sought help from Armenians, promising that after the war, their lives would improve. In 1828, with the Treaty of Turkmenchay, Russia annexed Yerevan, Nakhichevan, and the surrounding countryside. Armenians still living under Persian rule were encouraged to emigrate to Russian Armenia and 30,000 followed the call. In 1828, the Russians declared war against the Ottoman Empire. They quickly conquered Kars, Akhalkalak, Akhaltsikhe, Bayazid, Alashkert, Erzerum, and reached Trabzon. However, in the peace treaty of 1829, Russians gave all of the newly captured Armenian territories back to the Ottoman Empire, keeping only Akhalkalak and Akhaltsikhe. There was another wave of immigration as 25,000 Ottoman Armenians moved to Russian Armenia. Tens of thousands of Muslims also left for Persia or the Ottoman Empire, ensuring Christians were once more the majority in eastern Armenia.

Armenian patriots such as Bishop Nerses had hoped for an autonomous Armenia within the Russian Empire, but they were to be severely disappointed by the new regime. Tsar Nicholas and his governor in Transcaucasia, Ivan Paskevich, had other plans. They wanted the Russian Empire to be a centralised, bureaucratic state and when Nerses complained he was soon sent to Bessarabia, far away from the Caucasus region.

In 1836 a regulation, the Polozhenie (Statute) was enacted by the Russian government that greatly reduced the political powers of the Armenian religious leadership, including that of the Catholicos, while preserving the autonomy of the Armenian Church. After 1836, in accordance with the new regulation, the Catholicos of Echmiadzin was to be elected in congresses in Echmiadzin, in which religious and non-religious dignitaries would participate. The Tsar would have a last word in the choice of the Catholicos. Armenians greatly profited from the fact that the Catholicosate retained the authority to open schools. Notable ones are Moscow's Lazarian Tiflis' Nersessian schools. Moreover, the Catholicosate opened printing houses and encouraged the publication of Armenian newspapers.

A significant number of Armenians were already living in the Russian Empire before the 1820s. After the destruction of the last remaining independent Armenian states in the Middle Ages, the nobility disintegrated, leaving Armenian society composed of a mass of peasants plus a middle class who were either craftsmen or merchants. Such Armenians were to be found in most towns of Transcaucasia; indeed, at the beginning of the 19th century they formed the majority of the population in cities such as Tbilisi. Armenian merchants conducted their trade across the world and many had set up base within Russia. In 1778, Catherine the Great invited Armenian merchants from the Crimea to Russia and they established a settlement at Nor Nakhichevan near Rostov-on-Don. The Russian ruling classes welcomed the Armenians' entrepreneurial skills as a boost to the economy, but they also regarded them with some suspicion. The image of the Armenian as a "wily merchant" was already widespread. Russian nobles derived their income from their estates worked by serfs and, with their aristocratic distaste for engaging in business, they had little understanding or sympathy for the way of life of mercantile Armenians.

Nevertheless, middle-class Armenians prospered under Russian rule and they were the first to seize the new opportunities and transform themselves into a prosperous bourgeoisie when capitalism and industrialisation came to Transcaucasia in the later half of the 19th century. The Armenians were much more skilled at adapting to the new economic circumstances than their neighbours in Transcaucasia, the Georgians and the Azeris. They became the most powerful element in the municipal life of Tbilisi, the city regarded by Georgians as their capital, and in the late 19th century they began to buy up the lands of the Georgian nobility, who had gone into decline after the emancipation of their serfs. Armenian entrepreneurs were quick to exploit the oil boom which began in Transcaucasia in the 1870s, having large investments in the oil-fields in Baku in Azerbaijan and the refineries of Batumi on the Black Sea coast. All this meant that the tensions between Armenians, Georgians and Azeris in Russian Transcaucasia were not simply ethnic or religious in nature but were due to social and economic factors too. Nevertheless, in spite of the popular image of the typical Armenian as a successful businessman, at the end of the 19th century 80 per cent of Russian Armenians were still peasants working the land.

Relations between the Russian authorities and their new Armenian subjects did not begin smoothly. Since Armenia was on Russia's frontline against the rival empires of the Ottomans and Persians, it was initially treated as a military zone. Until 1840, Russian Armenia was a separate administrative unit, the Armenian Oblast, but it was then merged into other Transcaucasian provinces with no regard to its national identity. Things improved when Nerses Ashtaraketsi was recalled from Bessarabia and made Catholicos of the Armenian Church in 1843. Moreover, Mikhail Vorontsov, who ruled Russian Armenia as Viceroy of the Caucasus between 1845 and 1854, was highly sympathetic to the Armenians.

As a consequence, by the mid-19th century, most of the Armenian intelligentsia had become highly Russophile. Armenian culture flourished in these years as the new unified province under Russian rule gave Armenians a sense of their shared identity once more. Being part of the Russian Empire also turned Armenia away from the Middle East and towards Europe and modern intellectual currents such as the Enlightenment and Romanticism. A wide array of Armenian newspapers were published and there was a literary revival headed by Mikael Nalbandian, who wanted to modernise the Armenian language, and the poet and novelist Raffi. The pro-Russian outlook of the Armenian intelligentsia continued under Tsar Alexander II, who was widely praised for his reforms.

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 marked a watershed in the relationship between the Russian authorities and their Armenian subjects. Armenians still living in western Armenia under the Ottoman Empire had grown increasingly discontented and looked towards Russia to free them from Turkish rule. In 1877, war broke out between the Russia and the Ottomans over the treatment of Christians in the Balkans. The Russians were keen to mobilise Armenian patriotism when they advanced on a second front against the Turks in the Caucasus, and many of the commanders they employed were of Armenian descent. The Russians made large territorial gains in western Armenia before an armistice was called in January, 1878.

The Treaty of San Stefano, signed in March, 1878, did not grant Russia the whole of western Armenia but it contained a special clause, Article 16, by which Russia guaranteed the rights of Armenians still under Ottoman rule against oppression. However, Russia's Great Power rivals, Great Britain and Austria, had been disturbed at the gains Russia had made at the expense of the Ottomans and pressed for a revision of the treaty. At the Congress of Berlin, amongst other territories, Russia was forced to give up all its Armenian gains except the regions of Kars and Ardahan and Article 16 was replaced by the "meaningless" Article 61, which stated that reforms need only be carried out in the Ottoman Armenian provinces after the Russian army had withdrawn.

After the assassination of the reform-minded Tsar Alexander II in 1881, the attitude of the Russian authorities towards the national minorities of the empire changed dramatically. The new tsar, Alexander III, was ultra-conservative in outlook and wanted to create a highly centralised, autocratic state. He viewed any expression of a desire for increased freedom and autonomy by his subjects as evidence of rebellion.

The last decades of the 19th century also saw a rise in Russian chauvinism with non-Russians described in increasingly racist terms. Armenians came in for particular abuse in ways which often resembled anti-Semitism. The first sign of this was the new regime's dismissal of Alexander II's leading minister, the Armenian Count Loris-Melikov. Loris-Melikov was viewed as too liberal but he was also labeled a "frenzied Asiatic" and "not a true Russian patriot". The Russian authorities also began to be suspicious of Armenian economic dominance in Transcaucasia. Ironically, such suspicions of the Armenians - who were among the most Russophile of the tsar's subjects - as an untrustworthy people prone to revolutionary conspiracy led the Russians to introduce policies which produced the very thing they were aimed at preventing, as Armenians turned more and more towards new nationalist movements.

Russification began in earnest in 1885, when the Viceroy of the Caucasus, Dondukov-Korsakov, ordered the closure of all Armenian parish schools and their replacement by Russian ones. Though the Armenian schools were reopened the following year, they were now subject to strict tsarist control and the use of the Armenian language was discouraged in favour of Russian. The Russians also began to persecute the Armenian Church, which had been separate from the Orthodox Church since the year 451. The Russian attitude to the Ottoman Empire also changed and by the 1890s, Russia and Britain had exchanged roles. Now it was Russia who supported the status quo in western Armenia, with the British urging improvement in conditions for Christians in the region. The Russian authorities were disturbed by revolutionary Armenian nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire and feared their links with eastern Armenians would increase subversion within Russian Transcaucasia too. The tsarist regime cracked down on any attempt by Russian Armenians to engage in action across the border, a leading example being the Gugunian Expedition of 1890.

Armenians played little role in the revolutionary movements of the Russian Empire until the 1880s. Until that point, the ideas of Grigor Artsruni, the editor of the Tbilisi-based newspaper Mshak ("The Cultivator"), enjoyed great popularity among the Armenian intelligentsia. Artsruni believed that life under the Russian Empire represented the "lesser evil" for his people. Russian Armenians were deeply concerned about the plight of their compatriots under the Persian and Ottoman Empires, especially the peasants of western Armenia who were mostly ignored by Ottoman Armenian intellectuals far away in Istanbul and Smyrna. Tbilisi and Yerevan were much more obvious choices for a base for promoting revolutionary activity among Armenians in the eastern Ottoman Empire. The importance of the unity of the Armenia, divided between three empires, ensured that Armenian political movements would have little in common with other political movements in the Russian Empire.

The growth of Armenian nationalism was given impetus by the Russian authorities' anti-Armenian measures of the 1880s. In 1889, Christapor Mikaelian founded the "Young Armenia" movement in Tbilisi. Its aims were carrying out reprisals against Kurds believed to be guilty of persecuting Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, as well as smuggling arms and encouraging guerrilla action. They also established links with a new Ottoman Armenian nationalist party, the Hunchaks. In 1890, Mikaelian and his colleague Simon Zavarian replaced Young Armenia with a new party: the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, usually known as the "Dashnaks". The Dashnaks tried to get the Hunchaks to join them but the two split in 1891 and rivalry between the parties would be a major feature of subsequent Armenian nationalism. Both parties were socialist in their economic programmes. The primary focus of the Dashnaks was nationalism, however, and their chief concern was the fate of the Ottoman Armenians. They soon had branches in Russia, Persia and Turkey and after the fragmentation of the Hunchaks in the mid-1890s, they became the dominant nationalist force in Russian Armenia.

Tsar Nicholas II, who came to the throne in 1894, continued his father's policy of Russification. Anti-Armenian feeling among the Georgians and Azeris of Transcaucasia was also on the rise, inflamed by the editor of the official newspaper Kavkaz ("Caucasus"), V.L. Velichko, who was an ardent Russian chauvinist.

In 1897, Tsar Nicholas appointed the Armenophobic Grigory Sergeyevich Golitsin as governor of Transcaucasia, and Armenian schools, cultural associations, newspapers and libraries were closed. Armenian nationalism as practised by the Dashnaks, with their penchant for revolutionary violence and socialist economic policies, had at first had little appeal for the Armenian bourgeoisie, but Russian cultural repression gained them more sympathy. Russified middle-class Armenians began changing their names back to their Armenian form (e.g. Mirzoev became Mirzoian) and engaged private tutors to teach their children the Armenian language.

The tsar's Russification programme reached its peak with the decree of June 12, 1903 ordering the confiscation of the properties of the Armenian Church. The Catholicos of Armenia begged the Russians to overturn the decree but when they refused he turned to the Dashnaks. The Armenian clergy had previously been very wary of the Dashnaks, condemning their socialism as anti-clerical, but now they saw them as their protectors. The Dashnaks formed a Central Committee for Self-Defence in the Caucasus and organised a series of protests among Armenians. At Gandzak the Russian army responded by firing into the crowd, killing ten, and further demonstrations were met with more bloodshed. The Dashnaks and Hunchaks began a campaign of assassinations against tsarist officials in Transcaucasia and they even succeeded in wounding Prince Golitsin. In 1904, the Dashnak congress specifically extended their programme to look after the rights of Armenians within the Russian Empire as well as Ottoman Turkey.

Unrest in Transcaucasia, which also included major strikes, reached a climax with the widespread uprisings throughout the Russian Empire known as the 1905 Revolution. 1905 saw a wave of mutinies, strikes and peasant uprisings across imperial Russia and events in Transcaucasia were particularly violent. In Baku, the centre of the Russian oil industry, class tensions mixed with ethnic rivalries. The city was almost wholly composed of Azeris and Armenians, but the Armenian middle-class tended to have a greater share in the ownership of the oil companies and Armenian workers generally had better salaries and working conditions than the Azeris. In December 1904, after a major strike was declared in Baku, the two communities began fighting each other on the streets and the violence spread to the countryside. By the time it was over, an estimated 1,500 Armenians and 700 Azeris were dead. The events of 1905 convinced Tsar Nicholas that he must reverse his policies. He replaced Golitsin with the Armenophile governor Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov and returned the property of the Armenian Church. Gradually order was restored and the Armenian bourgeoisie once more began to distance itself from the revolutionary nationalists.

In January 1912, a total of 159 Armenians were charged with membership of an anti-"Revolutionary" organization. During the revolution Armenian revolutionaries were split into "Old Dashnaks", allied with the Kadets and "Young Dashnaks" aligned with the SRs. To determine the position of Armenians all forms of Armenian national movement put into trial. The entire Armenian intelligentsia, including writers, physicians, lawyers, bankers, and even merchants" on trial. When the tribune finished its work, 64 charges were dropped and the rest were either imprisoned or exiled for varying periods.

The years between the 1905 Revolution and World War I saw a rapprochement between most Armenians and the Russian authorities. Russia became concerned when her enemy Germany began drawing closer to the Ottoman Empire, which led the Russians to take a renewed interest in the welfare of the Ottoman Armenians.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, the Russians sought to mobilise Armenian patriotic sentiment. Most Armenian troops were transferred to the European theatre of World War I (known as the Eastern Front). The Ottoman Empire did not join the world war until several months had passed and, as the possibility of a Caucasus Campaign come closer, in the summer of 1914, Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov consulted with the Mayor of Tbilisi Alexandre Khatsian, the primate of Tbilisi, Bishop Mesrop, and the prominent civic leader Dr. Hakob Zavriev about the creation of Armenian volunteer detachments. The volunteer units would be made up from Armenians who were not subjects of the empire or not obliged to serve in the army. These units would be employed on the Caucasus Campaign. Many of them were living in the Caucasus and many were impatient to take up arms to liberate their homeland. During the course of the war 150,000 Armenians fought in the Russian Army.

But the rapid Russian advance on the Caucasus Campaign, as early as April 1915 after the Van Resistance, prompted the Ottoman authorities to embark on the genocide of their Armenian subjects. An Armenian provisional government within the autonomous region was initially set up around Lake Van. The Armenian government in the war zone was briefly referred to as "Free Vaspurakan", and after an Ottoman advance in June 1915 it was reestablished as "Administration for Western Armenia". With the Ottoman advance in June 1915 250,000 Armenians from Van and the neighbouring region of Alashkerd retreated to the Russian frontier. Russian Transcaucasia was flooded with refugees from the massacres.

While it scored military successes against the Turks, the Russian war machine began to disintegrate on its front against Germany and in February 1917 the tsarist regime was overthrown by a revolution in Saint Petersburg.

Russian Armenians greeted the new government with enthusiasm, hoping it would secure Ottoman Armenia for them. The issue of the continuation of the war was a highly contentious one amongst the political parties of the new Russia, with most favouring a "democratic peace"; but since the provinces of Ottoman Armenia were under Russian military occupation at the time of the revolution, the Armenians believed that the government would agree to defend them. To help out, the Provisional Government began replacing Russian troops, whose commitment to continued fighting was in doubt, with Armenian ones on the Caucasian front. But as 1917 went on the Provisional Government lost support among Russian soldiers and workers and much of the army melted away from Transcaucasia.

The Bolshevik Revolution of October, 1917 forced the issue of independence for the peoples of Transcaucasia, since the Bolsheviks enjoyed little support in the region. In February, 1918, the Armenians, Georgians and Azeris formed their own Transcaucasian parliament. Armenians united under Armenian Congress of Eastern Armenians. On April 22, 1918 it voted for independence, declaring itself to be the Democratic Federative Republic of Transcaucasia. The federation dissolved when Georgia declared its independence on May 26. Armenian Congress of Eastern Armenians followed on May 28.

The Armenian Congress of Eastern Armenians devised policies to direct the war efforts and the relief and repatriation of refugees. The council passed a law to organise the defense of the Caucasus against the Ottoman Empire using the vast quantity of supplies and ammunition left over from the departure of the Russian army. The congress specifically devised a local control and administrative structure for Transcaucasia. Even if the Congress did not devise specific solutions for the soldiers left in Baku, Tbilisi, Kars, and other militias under the Administration for Western Armenia under the civil governor Hakob Zavriev, they did not resist the ongoing reality of these soldiers serving for the other forces. The Congress also selected a fifteen member permanent executive committee, known as the "Armenian National Council", whose leader was Avetis Aharonyan. This committee’s first task was to set the stage for the declaration of the "Democratic Republic of Armenia".

The major problem confronting the new state was the advancing Ottoman army, which by now had recaptured much of western Armenia, but the interests of the three peoples were very different. For obvious reasons, defence against the invading army was of paramount importance to the Armenians, while the Muslim Azeris were sympathetic to the Turks. The Georgians felt that their interests could best be guaranteed by coming to a deal with the Germans rather than the Turks and on May 26, 1918, at German prompting, Georgia declared its independence from the Transcaucasian Republic. This move was followed two days later by Azerbaijan. Reluctantly, the Dashnak leaders, who were the most powerful Armenian politicians in the region, declared the formation of a new independent state, the Democratic Republic of Armenia on May 28, 1918.

The Treaty of Batum was signed between the Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Ottoman Empire after the last battles of the Caucasus Campaign. The Ottoman Empire initially gained a considerable portion of the South Caucasus with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed with the Russian SFSR and then following Treaty of Batum with Armenia. Andranik Toros Ozanian rejected these new borders and proclaimed the new state, where his activities were concentrated at the link between the Ottoman Empire to the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic at Karabakh, Zanghezur and Nakhichevan. In January 1919, with Armenian troops advancing, the British forces (Lionel Dunsterville) ordered Andranik back to Zangezur, and gave him assurances that this conflict could be solved with the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The Paris Peace Conference proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Armenia an internationally recognized state and Republic of Mountainous Armenia dissolved.

The Centrocaspian Dictatorship was a British-backed anti-Soviet government founded in Baku on August 1, 1918. The government was composed by the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and the Armenian national movement which majority was from Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaks). British force the Dunsterforce occupied the city and helped the mainly Dashnak-Armenian forces to defend the capital during the Battle of Baku. However, Baku fell on September 15, 1918 and an Azeri-Ottoman army entered the capital, causing British forces and much of the Armenian population to flee. The Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros on November 30, 1918 and the British occupational force re-entered Baku.

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Source : Wikipedia