Is Armenia in Europe?

Is Armenia in Europe or Asia? Or maybe it is in the Middle East? These questions are actually not as simple as they may seem.

The reason behind it might be the complex geographical location of the country.

One thing to remember is that the borders of ancient Armenia, medieval Armenia, as well as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, really differ from the borders of the today’s Republic of Armenia.

Now let’s find out what continent Armenia is located in!

Is Armenia in Europe?

GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION

Geographically, Armenia is in the South Caucasus region between Europe and Asia.

Located between the Black and the Caspian Seas, Armenia is bordered by Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, Iran on the south and on the west by Turkey. Armenia is a mountainous landlocked country.

Armenia map, is Armenia in Europe?

If we take a look at the question from the geographical point of view, we will understand that Armenia, as stated above, is in the South Caucasus region, between the two continents Europe and Asia.

The Great Silk Road
The Great Silk Road

Due to a really good geographical location, Armenia has been a trade center between the two continents for a long time. The old Silk Road went through its territory and for a long time, it has been a region of cultural exchange. Consequently, Armenia has both European and Asian elements in its tradition and language.

Throughout the history of Armenia, during many centuries, various empires and foreign forces have invaded and controlled Armenia. These and other event led Armenia to lose and gain its borders repeatedly.

After all these invasions and controls, Armenia lost a very significant part of the historical territory. Hence, now it is a small country in the crossroads of Asia and Europe.

Armenians people are Middle Eastern people both genetically and culturally. A DNA analysis showed that Armenians have the same DNA composition like the Assyrians. This indicates that at one point they were one people, who later turned into two groups.

“Is Armenia in Europe or Asia?” The question is rather complicated since there is no defined border between the two continents, so it is hard to say exactly where Europe ends and Asia starts.

Many people consider Caucasus to be the unofficial border between Europe and Asia. Consequently, most geographers consider the Caucasus region, which includes Armenia, to be a part of Asia.

Europe, however, is not a just a geographic concept but also a political and a cultural one.

According to the Greco-Roman geographer Strabo, Europe extended to the river Kura in modern Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Armenia Europe

And today, Georgia and Azerbaijan are part of the Council of Europe, the EU’s Eastern Partnership, UEFA, and Eurovision.

“As a matter of principle, Armenia is a European country and like other European states it has the right to be an EU member provided it meets necessary standards and criteria.”

— Torben Holtze, head of the European Commission’s representation in Armenia and Georgia and Ambassador of the European Union with residence in Tbilisi

On the other hand, the definition of Asia is not that clear. The Caucasus has deep ties to ancient Greece but also to ancient Persia and Assyria. Geographically, however, the Caucasus is on the border of Europe which is now defined as Asia.

The most similar countries to Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan are the other small Southeastern European countries.

Armenia is a member of many Asian political and economic organizations. This includes the Asian Development Bank. However, the closer political relationships are with European organizations.

It is a member of the Council of Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Armenia also has a close relationship with NATO.

Afterall, answering our question only with a geographical point of view is not enough. Therefore, setting geography aside, many other factors had a great influence on Armenia, making it more of a European country than an Asian country.

CULTURE

Armenian Culture

One of the main factors is the culture. The culture of Armenia has a very long and rich history. As you already know, Armenia was situated on the most beneficial part of The Great Silk Road, therefore it was a target for various empires.

The Great Silk Road, in addition, was an ancient caravan trade route. The Silk Road linked the eastern continent to the western.

The reason behind why we mention the Silk Road many times in our article is because it hugely affected the culture of Armenia. During those times, different empires and civilizations had a big influence on the development of the Armenian culture.

Back then, people thought of Armenia more as an Asian country. However, this changed eventually.

Because many empires invaded Armenia, some ancient Armenian traditions disappeared while some of them survived and others developed during the period.

Many traditions in Armenia were similar to Asia and the Middle East.

Modern Armenian culture is, however, a unique mix between Mediterranean, Near Eastern, and Caucasian traditions. Russian, Middle Eastern and ethnic Armenian cuisines influenced the cuisine of the modern Armenia. Ancient Armenian paganism was very closely linked to the Persian pantheon, while the Greek letters served as the basis of the post-pagan alphabet.

Hence, from a cultural point of view, Armenia really is equally an Asian and a European country.

LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

Literature and Language

The Armenian language is one of the most ancient languages in the world. It belongs to Indo-European language family. The family includes various languages starting from Hindi to Greek and English. With only a few exceptions, the most of Europe belongs to the Indo-European family.

Alphabetically, Armenia is more European. Armenia has its own alphabet which originates from the old Greek alphabet.

So by language and alphabet, Armenia is definitely a European country.

In addition, Armenian literature existed long before the invention of the alphabet. The huge ancient literature heritage survived till our days. For instance, various legends of old Armenian literature reached to us.

In fact, these legends passed through Armenian generations only orally since there was no alphabet. However, after the invention of the alphabet, a new era of literature started its existence.

The 18th century is the modern age of the Armenian literature. During this era, most of the Armenian writers showed a deep interest towards the new tendencies arising in Europe. They took various styles of European literature as an example for their future works.

POLITICS AND ECONOMY

Armenia Economy

Because of Armenia’s geographical location, it collaborates with Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

Armenia has close relationships with different organizations in Europe. For instance, the Council of Europe, European Bank Association, United Nations. It is a member of European Olympic committee and UEFA and so on… Armenia has good relationships with NATO as well. Armenia’s main trading partner is Europe.

By origin, Armenians are considered to be more European than Azerbaijan and Georgia since Armenians are originally from Balkans.

In a culture, political and economical point of view, many Armenians consider themselves to be more a part of Europe than Asia. The propensity towards the European continent has very strong roots now.

Even though Armenia is also a member of Asian political and economic organizations, the influence of the West, however, is greater.

The younger generation is also more connected to European civilization than the Asian.

FAMILY PATTERN AND RELIGION

Armenian family

During the ancient times, it was widely popular in Armenian culture that the families should be big and all of the members should live together under the same roof. This tradition has changed nowadays though.

Modern Armenian families are more independent and are not really that big.

In old times, Armenians got married very soon, but this has also changed. Now most Armenians tend to have the desire to build their career, become successful and only then get married.

This modern family pattern is more like the European way of thinking.

In addition, Armenians show more interest in European languages and culture. Many youngsters also find Asian cultural elements old fashioned, which brings a generation gap since most old people are more into the old values and tendencies.

In Azerbaijan, most people generally do not care in which continent the country is. There, the word Europe refers to the European values like the important vision of the modern world.

On the other hand, in Georgia, the word Europe refers more to the good standard of living and also security. Armenia, in this case, is very much like Georgia.

Religiously, Europe mostly contains Catholic and Protestant countries. Armenia, however, is neither protestant nor catholic.

Being the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion, Armenia in a religious point of view isn’t really a European or an Asian country. The Armenian Apostolic Church is the national church.


Europe AsiaThere are many reasons why there is no definite answer to whether Armenia is Asian country or European.

To answer the question it is important to know where exactly the borders are that separate the two continents. This task is a hard one if we consider that there are only arbitrary boundaries.

Generally, other than the geographical position, the cultural and political habits also play a huge role in determining the borders of a continent.

 

To summarize our article, let’s take a look at the most important points:
  • Linguistically, Armenia is more of a European country. Most European languages belong to the Indo-European language family. Armenians have their own subset of the Indo-European languages. Greek served as the basis for the Armenian alphabet.
  • Most of the citizens of Armenia consider themselves to be Europeans rather than Asians.
  • If we combine social and political factors, Armenia is more on the Europe side.
  • Armenia is a member of Council of Europe. Asian countries, however, can not become one.
  • Armenia is in the south(east) of the Black Sea, which is one of the popular “borders” between the two continents.
  • Some sources, like the CIA World Factbook, consider Armenia to be in the Middle East. Most people, however, disagree with this.

Since there is no scientific way to say what are the official boundaries between the two continents, in this article, we discussed many factors and views to help us determine the right answer. The conclusion we came to is that Armenia perhaps leans more towards being a European country rather than Asian.

Read about the location of Armenia here.

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