Armenia

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 3.219
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 64
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: -0.1
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 29,8


Population origin

Armenian 93.3%, Azeri 2.6%, Kurd 1.7%, Russian 1.6%, Other 0.8%



Main Cities Population
Yerevan 1 103 800
Gyumri 148 300
Vanadzor 105 500
Vagharshapat 56 700
Hrazdan 52 800
Kapan 45 600



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Yerevan (GMT+4 in winter, GMT+5 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Armenian (spoken by 97.8% of the population),Yezidi, Russian.

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Religion
Religious practises : Armenian Apostolic 95%, other Christian 4%(Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox), Yezidi (monotheist with elements of nature worship) 1%


Political context

Armenia is a Republic state based on parliamentary democracy where President enjoys considerable power. Armenia (official name: Republic of Armenia) declared its independence from the Soviet Union in September 1991 and is now an emerging democracy.
President is the chief of the state and holds the executive powers. President is elected by a popular vote for a five-year term. The head of the government is the Prime Minister who is appointed by the President and needs to be confirmed with the majority support of the National Assembly. Prime Minister appoints the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers must resign if the National Assembly refuses to accept their program.
The legislature in Armenia is unicameral. The members of the National Assembly are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms . The people of Armenia enjoy limited political rights. The presidential and parliamentary polls, in February-March and May 2003 respectively, were strongly criticized by international election monitors, who cited widespread fraud, particularly in the presidential vote.
The judiciary is not independent and is subject to political pressure from the executive branch. It also suffers from violations of due processes. The Constitution (adopted through a nationwide referendum in July 1995; further amended in November 2005) is the main source of the law in the country. The new constitution of 2005 increased the power of the legislative branch and allows for more independence of the judiciary. Armenia is a member of CIS and Council of Europe. The judicial language in the country is Armenian, though Russian is also widely used.
Armenia just qualifies for ‘ruled by law' state of the World Bank. The judiciary does not guarantee an impartial trail to a foreign national. Even though corruption and nepotism exists among government officials but is still under control to a large extent.


Major political parties

There are numerous political parties in Armenia and no single party has a majority in the National Assembly. However the main parties are: RPA (Republican Party), ARF ( Armenian Revolutionary Federation ) , Rule of Law Party (a centrist political party), National Accord Party and the Justice Bloc (composed of several small parties organized by the People's Party of Armenia).


Major political leaders

President: Robert KOCHARIAN (since March 1998, re-elected in 2003) - leading a coalition consisting of RPA, ARF and Rule of Law Party
Prime Minister: Serzh SARKISIAN (since May 2007)


Next political election dates

President election: February 19, 2008
National Assembly: Year 2011




Climate

 

 

The climate in Armenia is markedly continental. Mountains block the moderating climatic influences of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, thus creating wide seasonal variations.
Summers are dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September. The temperature fluctuates between 22° to 36°C. 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 -5° and -10°C. Winter sports enthusiasts enjoy skiing down the hills of Tsakhkadzor, located 30 minutes outside of Yerevan. Lake Sevan nestled up in the Armenian highlands, is the second largest lake in the world relative to its altitude, 1,900 meters above sea level.

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Armenia 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 263 319 ..
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
Tourism in Armenia is rooted in the country's historical landmarks and natural attractions. Armenia was a regional empire with a rich culture in the years leading up to the 1st Century BC, at one period controlling all the land between the Black and Caspian Seas. In 301 AD, Armenia was the first state to formally adopt Christianity as its official state religion, twelve years before Rome. Numerous monuments and masterpieces of the Ancient era and Middle Ages can be found throughout the country. Many of the most interesting sights in the country are associated with the heritage of the Armenian apostolic church. Some of the major tourist attraction centres in the country are:

1. YEREVAN: The present capital of Armenia, Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded nearly 2,800 years ago in the time of ancient Babylon. Sadly, little remains to remind the visitor of the city's ancient heritage. Yerevan was rebuilt using the attractive pinkish-brown volcanic tufa stone seen throughout the republic, in so-called 'Armenian national style' architecture - solid, sometimes imposing and essentially Soviet in character. Mount Ararat lies across the border in Turkey, although it is claimed as part of the territory of greater Armenia, and is where Noah's Ark is said to have settled. Yerevan's History and Art Museum includes a section tracing the development of Armenian art from the 7th century to the present day. The Yerevan library of ancient manuscripts (Materadaran) houses over 12,000 texts, many beautifully illuminated and some dating as far back as the 9th century. The contents of the library testify Armenia's long history of culture and education. The Vernisaj flea market, which takes place at weekends, is very popular with tourists.
2. ECHMIADZIN: Some 20km (12 miles) west of Yerevan, Echmiadzin was the capital of Armenia from AD180-340 and remains the site of the country's most important cathedral, and home of the church's Supreme Catholicos. The existing 17th-century cathedral is a fine example of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture, with its squat bell tower and elaborately carved dome. In addition to chalices, vestments and other religious artefacts, the cathedral's treasury contains a spearhead believed to have been used to pierce the side of the crucified Christ, and a chunk of wood from Mount Ararat, claimed to be part of a plank from Noah's Ark. There are a number of other churches at Echmiadzin, including the excavated remains of the 7th-century Church of St Gregory at Zvartnots.
3. GEGARD: The Gegard Monastery, located 35km (22 miles) east of Yerevan in a steep, rocky valley, is one of Armenia's most dramatic sights. The monks, who still inhabit the monastery, occasionally sacrifice sheep on an open-air stone altar. 'Wishing trees' by the road approaching the site are decorated with coloured scraps of cloth, tied on by pilgrims and travellers hoping their prayers will be answered. A monastery has occupied this site since the 4th century AD, and the existing churches, all magnificently carved, date from the 13th century. Leading from the vaulted chambers of the main church and adjoining jamatoun, or meeting room, are two chapels hewn into the rock of the mountain itself. One of these contains a holy spring, the other a burial vault decorated with an ornate coat of arms. Higher up the slope, a passage leads into the mountainside to the 13th-century tomb of Prince Papak and his wife Rouzakan, a structure noted for its extraordinary acoustics.
4. GARNI: On the road between Gegard and Yerevan, Garni is the site of a temple of the Roman god Mithras. In the 1st century AD, Nero sent money and slaves to build the temple, as a tribute to the Armenian King Tiridates for his support in fighting off the Parthians. During the centuries following the conversion of the kings of Armenia to Christianity, the temple served as a royal summer palace. Repeated earthquakes have destroyed most of the original structure, but the temple's vertiginous position dominating the valley from a plateau 300m (984ft) above the Azat River is breathtakingly beautiful. A ruined 9th-century church stands near the restored temple, and a Roman bath house has recently been excavated, revealing a well-preserved mosaic floor.
5. LAKE SEVAN: Situated 70km (43 miles) east of Yerevan, Lake Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus, and much vaunted for its pure waters, stunning setting and delicious salmon trout. Tragically, badly planned irrigation and hydroelectric projects implemented during the 1970s have triggered an ecological crisis. The water level of the lake has dropped by as much as 16m (41ft). It is now feared that the ecology of Lake Sevan may be irreversibly damaged if radical action is not taken.
6. DILIZHAN: North of Sevan, further into the mountains, is Dilizhan, a resort much favoured during the Soviet period for the medicinal powers attributed to its mineral water. The authorities aspire in the long term to develop ski and spa resorts in this region, but at present, tourist infrastructure remains at a primitive level. A few kilometres east of Dilizhan, in a wooded gorge, is the Agartsin Monastery, believed to have been the major cultural centre in medieval Armenia. Located at a distance of 25km (16 miles) from Dilizhan is the 12th-century Goshavank Monastery featuring some of the finest examples of the delicate, lacey style of stone carving developed by medieval craftsmen in the region.

For more information about tourism in Armenia , check out the following web site(s) :
Informations portal on tourism in Armenia



Food


Traditional dishes
Home cooked food is the best food in Armenia.As a tourist, you will have limited opportunities to enjoy dinners at home, but if you are invited, by all means go! The Armenian cuisine (developed over thousands of years of multi-ethnic recipes) has somehow unfortunately been reduced to grilled meat and vegetables at almost every venue in the country. Most visitors rave about the succulent grilled pork, beef and chicken in the country.However, an incredible variety of fresh and tasty fruits and vegetables are grown in Armenia. Herbs and spices include cinnamon, cardamom, clove, cumin, nutmeg, garlic, as well as wild salad herbs (called greens) that include water cress, lettuce and spinach. Wild rice and wheat still grow much as they did 15,000 years ago, when mankind first began to cultivate them. The recipes are prepared seasonally, using the freshest meats, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices available.
1. BREAKFAST (nakhajash, entrik: nah-khah-JAHSH, un-TREEK): Most Armenians make do with a cup of Armenian Coffee, bread and jam, though more lavish spreads include cold meats, fish, pickled vegetables and omelets. A tasty version is made with whipped eggs and fresh tomatoes (ask for a tomati omelet). Restaurants and hotels serve the more lavish breakfasts. Café's primarily offer pastries or cakes for breakfast. A real favorite in the rural areas is mountain yogurt (matsun, mah-TSOON), that comes in several consistencies, all of them incredibly delicious.
2.LUNCH (jash, nakhajash: JAHSH, nah-khah-JAHSH): Traditionally mid day meals are light, with the main meal occurring around 5-7 p.m., after work. If you order 'jash', you will get a large multi-course meal. 'nakhajash' is a light meal.
3. DINNER (jash): The evening meal occurs after 5 p.m., with restaurants and bistros serving until midnight. A full course meal in Armenia begins with appetizers (also known as salads), that feature herbs (greens), cheese, sliced sausage, basturma and sujukh (dried spicy beef), prepared bean and vegetable salads and bread. First course is usually soup (spas, borsch, piti are specialties to ask for), or other prepared specialty (mushroom julienne is something to try). Main course is divided between meat and fish, and include other Armenian specialties. Meat dishes are divided between Chicken (Hav, HAHV), Pork (khoz, KHOHZ), and beef (tavar, tah-VAHR). The most popular dish is call 'khorovatz', which is barbecued or grilled meat that has been marinated. Khorovatz also includes grilled eggplant, potatoes, whole onions and green, red and hot peppers.
Other specialties include dolma (dol-MAH), kufta (koof-TAH) and boiled or grilled mutton (moo-TON). Dolma comes in two varieties, spiced meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves (served with yogurt mixed with grated fresh garlic), and summer dolma, which is wrapped with cabbage leaves. Another version is to stuff tomatoes, eggplants, apples and quince with spicy meat and rice, and cook over a slow oven with plums. Kufta is specially prepared strained meat that is boiled until tender in large balls, served with hot butter or oil. Mutton is almost always prepared boiled in salty water, though it can be served as shashlik, thin slivers grilled on a spit. Pilaf (usually steamed rice) can be served with apricots and plums, and makes a tasty side dish, though it is usually served after the main course.
Tradition demands that fruit and dessert always completes the menu, along with a demitasse of Armenian coffee and sweets.
4. LATE MEAL (entrik): Customary late meals before sleeping are very light, with herbal or western tea, bread and jam, perhaps matsun (mah-TSOON, yogurt). A specialty of Armenia is Walnut jam (popok muraba: poh-POHK moo-rah-BAH), which is made from green walnuts that are boiled in sweet syrup until as tender as plums. It is a true traditional dish found only in Armenia.
5. SOUPS: There are a few Armenian specialty soups that you ought to try if you get the chance. They include 'spas' (SPAHS), made from yogurt, greens and herbs, and 'aveluk' (ah-veh-LOOK), a river green, prepared in soup.
Also, 'khash' (KHAHSH) is more than soup, it is an Armenian institution. Songs and poems have been written about this one dish, which is made from ham hocks and herbs made into a clear broth. Tradition holds that Khash can only be cooked by men, who spend the entire night cooking, and can be eaten only in the early morning in the dead of winter, where it served with heaps of fresh garlic and dried lavash.
Other soups include 'borsch' (BOHRSH) a beet root soup with meat and vegetables (served hot in Armenia, with fresh sour cream); 'akroshka' (ah-KROHSH-kah, Russian), a cucumber, garlic and sour cream soup; 'kufta' (kiuf-TAH) soup made with large balls of strained boiled meat and greens; and 'bozbash' (boz-BAHSH) a vegetable soup served usually in Summer.
6.DESSERTS: Unlike other cultures, which bring courses on one at a time, Armenians tend to make the first impact with appetizers and salads already set on the table, and then begin piling on soup and hot courses. The dessert course always includes fresh fruit, which is peeled and sliced into quarters at the table. Special desserts include cake (tort, TORT), each woman of the house priding herself on her own special recipe.
A favorite in summertime is paghpaghak (pagh-pagh-AHK, ice cream), that comes in many varieties and tastes.
7. SNACKS: Fruit sujukh, not to be mistaken for the meat variety, is made from strings of shelled walnuts dipped in grape syrup until a thick and tender coat covers them. It is a wonderful high-energy snack that can be taken on hikes and day excursions, eaten at will. Another snack is T'tu Lavash (t'-TOO lah-VAHSH), which are thin paper-like layers of sour plum puree. Other snacks found at street vendors include spicy "Armenian Hamburgers" ( sliced meat grilled and served in fresh bread, Piroshkis (deep fried potato crust with ground meat or cabbage as filling), and Shashlik (slivers of grilled mutton and greens in a small pocket bread).
8. DRINKS:
Coffee: Haikakan S'rj, Armenian Coffee, defines its lifestyle. Like Greek or Turkish coffee, Armenian coffee is a demitasse of thick brew boiled and served with powdered grounds in individual copper or brass pots. When ordering, the server will ask if you want it soverakan or kats'r (normal or sweet). Normal is already sweetened a bit.
Tea: Tea in Armenia can be a delight, especially if it herbal. Armenians will spend spring and summer collecting mountain herbs, drying them for teas. Name an herb, and it is available in tea form in Armenia, though restaurants usually serve Indian or Georgian tea. Name-brand bag teas are available around the country.
Beer: It is a local drink local. It is the best priced and the best tasting, winning awards in Europe. The local beers include Kotaik and Kilikia. Imported beers include Heineken, Amsted and Bavaria, all widely available in urban area bars and restaurants.
Wines: Armenia produces a remarkable variety of grapes under soil and climate conditions perfect for fermenting excellent dry wines. Majority of the wines produced in the country are semi-sweet to sweet dessert wines. Armenians prefer them that way, choosing harder drinks like cognac or vodka over wine at dinners. The dessert wines are not to be under-rated though, since they are among the best produced and have begun to win international competitions. Dry and table wines that are particularly good include the red Areni and the honey-colored semi-sweet Voskevaz.
Cognac/Brandy: Of all Armenia's alcoholic drinks, Cognac is its best-known product. It's no wonder why, since it is truly one of the best brandies in the world, the only type William Churchill drank (Stalin often complained about Churchill, saying he cared more about his next shipment of Armenian Cognac than how the war was going).


Last modified on mai-07

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