From stunning landscapes to sites of historical and cultural importance, monasteries provide a wealth of interest for the avid traveller. Here is our selection of the six best monasteries in Europe.Read more...
Armenia - At a glance
Armenia at a glance
Location A landlocked country in the southern Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea bordered by Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. The border with the self-declared Republic of Nagorno Karabagh is not recognised internationally. Yerevan, the capital, is on the same latitude as Naples, Madrid and New York. It is on the same longitude as Volgograd, Russia, Baghdad and Sana’a, Yemen. It is five hours’ flying time from London.
Area 29,800km² – similar to Belgium and the US state of Maryland. Note, however, that following the 1994 ceasefire the territory administered is 31,200km².
Status Presidential parliamentary republic with universal adult suffrage.
Population 3.02 million resident in the country at the date of census (October 2011); 97.9% are ethnic Armenians, 1.3% Yezidis, 0.5% Russians, 0.05% Kurds. The balance comprises a wide range of nationalities.
(Photo: Beautifully decorated wood detail on the Ejmiatsin Cathedral © Maria Oleinik)
Major cities Yerevan (the capital, population 1.1 million); Gyumri (146,500); Vanadzor (104,800). Note that the Yerevan population figure covers only those living within the city. Urban sprawl into the surrounding provinces results in a much larger figure for the Yerevan conurbation.
Administrative divisions The country is divided into the capital (Yerevan) and ten provinces (marz): Shirak, Lori, Tavush, Aragatsotn, Gegharkunik, Kotayk, Armavir, Ararat, Vayots Dzor and Syunik.
Language Armenian, an Indo-European language. Russian is also widely understood but western European languages are not, although English is becoming a little better known, mainly in the capital.
Alphabet The unique Armenian alphabet, currently with 39 letters, was devised around AD400.
Religion Very predominantly Armenian Apostolic. There are a few Roman Catholics, mostly in Shirak province, and there are several sects seeking converts. The Yezidis are Zoroastrian and the Kurds are Muslim.
Currency Dram (AMD) divided theoretically into 100 luma; for up-to-date rates, go to www.xe.com.
International telephone code +374.
Time GMT + 4 hours.
Electricity 220V AC; European two-pin plug.
Weights and measures Metric system.
National flag Three horizontal stripes: red, blue, orange.
National anthem ‘Land of Our Fathers, Free, Independent’ (Mer Hayreniq, azat, ankakh); words adapted from a poem by Mikayel Nalbandian (1829–66); music by Barsegh Kanachian (1885–1967).
Symbols of Armenia The classical symbol is the khachkar (‘cross stone’). The grape and pomegranate are also used as symbols as is the eagle which appears on the country’s coat of arms.