Thursday, April 4, 2013

Republic of Armenia

Armenia, Հայաստան, is a landlocked country in the Caucasus.  It is a little smaller than Maryland and has almost 3 million people.  Armenia borders Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan.  However, the border with Azerbaijan is closed because of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Turkish border is closed because the two countries still don't have diplomatic relations.  Armenia is one of the few countries in the world that has positive relations with the USA, Russia, Iran and Israel...all at the same time.  It's just its neighbors that they seem to have difficulties with.  Yerevan is the country's capital.

In 301 AD, the Kingdom of Armenia became the world's first Christian state.  The country lies in the highlands of Mount Ararat (now in Turkey) which is where Noah's Ark landed after the flood.  Today the Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest national church.

Armenia was part of the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian and Ottoman Empires.  During WWI there was heavy fighting between the Ottoman and Russian Empires.  The Russian army had a contingent of Armenian volunteers so the Turks didn't trust them.  From 1915 to 1917, more than 1 million Armenians were killed in what is known as the Armenian Genocide.  Turkey refuses to acknowledge this.  Here's a video I found out on YouTube that gives sheds more light on this.


Eastern Armenia was eventually annexed by the Soviet Union and became the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.  Western Armenia was given to Turkey, when Lenin thought that Atatürk would make Turkey a communist country.  He never did and Turkey kept the western Armenian land.

In the 1920s, Moscow assigned the mostly Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region to Soviet Azerbaijan as an autonomous region.  In 1988, the two Soviet republics began fighting over this area.  In 1990, Armenia declared independence from the USSR.  It became official in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved.  All out war broke out in the region.  Not only did the Armenians take Nagorno-Karabakh but a total of 16% of Azeri land.  In 1994, a Russian brokered cease-fire was put in place but the borders are still closed and the countries are still technically at war.  The only way in to Nagorno-Karabkh is via Armenia.  Armenia says it liberated the people.  Azerbaijan says that Armenia is occupying its territory.

$1 = 416 Armenian Dram.  €1 = 537 Dram.
The Republic of Armenia is a multi-party democratic country.  It has been negotiating with the EU to become an associate member.  However, the country is heavily dependent on Russia for energy and trade.  So who knows if Armenia will try to eventually join the EU or remain dependent on Russia.  

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