Armenia is a small country, which connects Europe to Asia. There was a time when it was one of the major powers, and the third largest state in the Near East. Today, Armenia is a small but a lovely country with many hospitable people.

Its ancient history, a great amount of historical monuments, rich culture, as well as beautiful nature and many other factors attract all travelers. Located between the Black and the Caspian seas, the country has borders with Georgia from the North, Azerbaijan from the East, Iran from the South and Turkey from the West.

Armenia

Armenia has a population of about 3 million. Christianity is the official religion. The Republic of Armenia, in addition, is a member of the United Nations, Council of Europe as well as other international organizations.

Before we get to the main part of this article, that is the 10 facts about Armenia that you did not know, let’s see what famous foreign people have said about the country.

 Pope John Paul II

Sacrifice: an inseparable part of the Armenian history. I long for the day, when I kiss the Armenian land that has been warmed by the blood of so many victims.

Rockwell Kent

If I am asked where is the place on the earth that one can come across many miracles, I would name Armenia. Involuntarily it is amazing in such a small place on the earth it is possible to meet such monuments and such people, who can be the ornaments and pride of the whole world.

Valery Bryusov

The Armenians must be in the center of our attention and the attention of the whole world. And that’s because of the superb culture, which was generated by the Armenian people for many centuries of independent existence and the exclusively rich literature, which is a luxurious contribution of Armenia to the treasury of humanity. Armenia represents one of the spiritual centers of all humanity.

Pablo Nerude

I think, that Yerevan which is built from volcanic tuff(stone) and is harmonic like a rose, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

George Gordon(Lord) Byron

If the scriptures are understood in the right way, it was in Armenia that Paradise was placed. But whatever may have been their destiny and it’s been bitter, and whatever it may be in future, their country must ever be one of the most interesting on the globe. Armenian is the language to speak with God.

Mel Gibson

I know about Armenian Genocide. I know that the Armenian people have a very difficult history. The Armenians have always struggled and kept their religion and self-determination. The Armenians have always represented their history to the world. They really are the most noble nation. 

10 facts about Armenia that you did not know

  • FACT NUMBER ≋1≋ THE HOME OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN THE WORLD 

Etchmiatsin

The Etchmiadzin Cathedral stands in the city of Vagharshapat. It is the main church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. According to both archaeologists and historians, it is the first cathedral of Armenia.

The construction of the cathedral dates back to the  fourth century, and the order belongs to St. Gregory the Illuminator. The latter is a patron saint of Armenia, after adopting Christianity as the official religion of the kingdom of Armenia by King Tiridates III. In addition, St. Gregory has baptized the king.

The church was built on top of the pagan temple remains. Therefore, it symbolizes the conversion of the entire kingdom to Christianity.

The foundations of the current cathedral, however, belong to the end of the 5th century. The original building suffered major damage during the Persian invasion. For the second construction, the one who was in charge was Vahan Mamikonian. This person was a member of an Armenian noble family, and later became the governor of Persian Armenia in 485. He has recovered several cities that had fallen under the dominion of the dynasty of Sassanid.

Looted, damaged and rebuilt over and over again for more than 1500 years, as well as surviving not only the Armenian Genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire but also the Great Soviet Purge, the Cathedral of Echmiadzin today is a monument that incorporates different styles of Armenian architecture.

Moreover, it became a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its cruciform plan and the complicated decorative designs of its façade are stunning. There are also inscriptions in Greek before the invention of the Armenian alphabet. All of these factors are proofs that this cathedral holds a special place not only in the hearts of the Armenian nation, but in the history of Christianity.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋2≋ ONE OF THE ONLY MONO ETHNIC COUNTRIES

Armenian-PeopleArmenia is the one and only country in the former Soviet Union which is almost mono-ethnic. The major ethnic group in Armenia is no other than the Armenians. The Armenians form 98% of the total population. Then, come the Yazidi (Kurd; approximately 1.2% of the population). The minority ethnic groups which make the remaining 0,8 % include the Russians, Iranians, Assyrians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and the Greeks. These minority ethnic groups are those people who immigrated to Armenia from other countries in the past years. All the ethnic groups have their own different lifestyles.

For more than four thousand years, the Armenian people have occupied the Armenian Highland. Today, the Armenians have a population of approximately 3 million people. Most Armenians are Christians. Armenia was also one of the first countries in the world to accept Christianity as a state religion.

Yazidis (Kurd) form the largest percentage of Armenia’s population after the Armenian people. They are also referred to as the Kurds. According to the 2011 census, the population of the Yazidis in Armenia was 35,272 people. The majority of the Yazidis are the descendants of people who sought refuge in Armenia during the Ottoman rule. Their forefathers had fled to Armenia in 1800s. Together with the Armenians, they were victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Other ethnic groups are the Russians, Molokans, Greeks, Armeno-Tats, Ukrainians, Jews and the Udis. The Russians are the third largest of the minority ethnic group in Armenia after the Armenians and the Yazidis. There are about 14,600 Russians in Armenia.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋3≋ YEREVAN IS KNOWN AS THE ‘PINK CITY’

pink yerevanThey say when Noah’s ark settled on the top of Mount Ararat, Noah looked out over the land and cried out, “It appeared, it appeared!” (in Armenian – Yerevats! Yerevats!). From here, with some changes the name Yerevan was created.

Yerevan is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Its foundation dates back to 782 B.C.E. by Urartian King Argishti I. The latter named it Erebuni. Even though people have settled in the territory since the 4th millennium B.C.E.. After World War I, Yerevan became the 12th capital of Armenia.

If you ever come to the Armenian capital  Yerevan, one of the first things you will notice is the city shrouded in pink. Also, you can look up and see Mount Ararat towering in the distance. Yerevan is famous as Armenia’s Pink City for exactly this view: the constructers  made the Soviet-era buildings out of pink stones. The color is the loveliest and brightest at sunrise and sunset. It changes throughout the day depending on the sun.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋4≋ THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE – 1.5 MILLION VICTIMS

genocideThe Ottoman Empire committed a terrible crime. This crime called Genocide, resulted in mass deportation and extermination of the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire states, including the Armenian population of Western Armenia in 1915-1923.

Conventionally, April 24, 1915 is the day of remembrance for the victims of the Armenian Genocide. That day is when about 600 Armenian intellectuals were arrested in Constantinople.

The Armenian Genocide was carried out in several stages: disarming Armenian soldiers, exiling Armenians from border districts, mass deportation and massacre of Armenians.

The main organizers of the genocide are Young Turks leaders Talaat, Djemal and Enver, as well as the head of the “Special Organization” Bahaddin Shakhir. In parallel with the Armenian Genocide, the massacres of Assyrians and Pontus Greeks took place in the Ottoman Empire. Most of the Armenian Diaspora originated from Armenians who had been deported from the Ottoman Empire and survived the Genocide.

Many states and international organizations have recognized the Armenian Genocide. The massacre of the Armenian people has officially been condemned and recognized by the following countries of the international law: France, Belgium, Sweden, Latvia, Cyprus, Argentina, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Greece, Lebanon, Venezuela, Vatican, Poland, Uruguay, Bolivia, Austria, Luxemburg, Brazil, Paraguay.

The slaughters, starvations and tortures took 1.5 million Armenian lives.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋5≋ MOST OF THE ARMENIANS LIVE OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY

diasporaDuring the First World War, the Ottoman Empire’s authorities sought to put an end to the national liberation struggle of the Armenian people. In order to that as well as to “tackle the Armenian Question”, in 1915, throughout the country, the Ottomans committed genocide and deportation of Armenians.

As a result of this criminal policy, Armenians lost about 1.5 million people and the rest were forced to migrate from the homeland. About 350 thousand Armenians survived during the war, migrating from the border regions of Turkey to the Russian Empire, first of all to Eastern Armenia, where they played a great and important role in the establishment of the first and second (Soviet) republics of Armenia.

After the defeat of Turkey in World War I (1918), Armenians began to return to their homeland. However, when France finally withdrew its forces from Cilicia in 1921 and handed it to the Kemalists, Armenians, in the end, had to leave the place. Armenian refugees were forced to establish themselves in different countries, thus creating the Armenian Diaspora.

It was the first time that the Armenian population in the Armenian national territories, Western Armenia and Armenian Cilicia almost completely disappeared.

Also, the main mass of the Armenian population appeared outside the homeland, that is – Eastern Armenia.

Realizing the fateful significance of the incident, Armenians called the new migrations as a “diaspora”. It is noteworthy that before that term “diaspora” was never used in the Armenian language towards the Armenian migration.

The number of Armenians in the world is around 11 million. besides Armenia, Armenians live in 105 countries around the world. In 2014, Armenians appeared on the list of declining nations. But then, when it became clear that there are Armenians in about 105 countries, the nation entered the eternal nations list.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋6≋ WINSTON CHURCHILL LOVED ARMENIAN BRANDYchurchill

On January 24, 1964, one of the most prominent people in the history of Britain, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, passed away. He was the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. He is one of the greatest leaders of the 20th year of war.

Now let’s get to the topic:

Soviet scholars begun to explore the nature of the Arctic. They organized an expedition at the North Pole and each state helped them however they could. Ukraine was able to help with fat, Belarusians with hot clothes, Armenians with cognac.

The Armenians sent the Brandy with barrels. But drinking 42 degrees could not warm the people in the cold, and then the party ordered to prepare a brandy that would meet the conditions of the North Pole. The problem got solved and “Dvin” brandy with 50 degrees appeared.

Then in 1945, when Dvin reached to Yalta, the English prime minister, who went to Yalta to meet Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt, saw the taste of the drink. “Dvin” was undoubtedly incredible, and Churchill appreciated it, after which Stalin ordered to provide his English ally with Armenian cognac.

“My taste is simple and straightforward. I am easily satisfied with the best, ” said Churchill, enjoying the 50% strong” Dvin” Armenian cognac.

They say, that one day Churchill noticed that the quality of the drink was gradually diminishing, and he complained to Stalin. It turned out that the cognac master Margar Sedrakyan was exiled to Siberia. When Churchill expressed his dissatisfaction, they brought Sedrakyan back and even awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. And… Churchill continued to enjoy his favorite cognac.

In addition, they sold a bottle of aging 70 years old “Ararat” Armenian cognac for $ 120,000 at the London auction.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋7≋ TATEVER “WINGS OF TATEV’ – THE LONGEST ROPEWAYtatever

Tatever(Tatev) means “Give me wings”. The idea was that this project should have given wings to a whole region of Armenia, attract tourists and become a source of income for residents of Syunik marz. This part of Armenia is a mountainous, beautiful, but not ordinary place. Sophisticated landscapes, clean air and severe climate.

To overcome the 13-kilometer stretch of the Vorotan Gorge, people should spend over 40 minutes in the complex mountainous and unbearable road. But much has changed after the ropeway construction. It connects Halidzor and Tatev. It is not a usual structure, it is in a very picturesque place and is the longest in the world. Also, it has its honorable place in the Guinness Book of Records.

The length is 5752 meters, in order to reach the other end, it takes only 12 minutes instead of 40.

In 2010, when Tatev had just opened, the number of passengers was 9,000 (3 months), in 2014 it reached 100,000, and in January-August of this year Tatev aerial ropeway transported 75 thousand people. by the end of 2016, the number of passengers in the ropeway exceeded 505,000. The Tatev residents, seeing that dynamics, quickly opened 15 guest houses.

They built “Wings of Tatev” reversible ropeway in 2010 within the framework of the “Tatev Revival” program of the “IDeA” Foundation.

It is the longest reversible ropeway in the world. Not only the length of the airplane, 5752 meters, but also the construction time of the ropeway – only 10 months.

Thanks to the Tatev Revival Project, the Tatev region is rapidly turning into a world-class tourism destination where tourists from Russia, Europe and the United States are visiting. “Tatev Gates”, “Big Tatev”, Tatev Monastery Restoration Program and “Tatev” National Park are the basis for the complex development of the region.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋8≋ THE BIGGEST FRESHWATER LAKE IN THE CAUCASUSsevan

According to geologists Lake Sevan has a volcanic origin. It appeared as a result of the volcanic activity of the Geghama Ridge, when the erupted lava blocked the Hrazdan River flow, forming the basin. As a result of accumulation of melted ice and river water, water filled the basin, creating Lake Sevan.

People inhabited the coastal zone of Lake Sevan since ancient times. There are the Bronze Age “Kiklopian” castles (Lchashen, Hayravank) throughout the basin, Urartian era structures and inscriptions (Velikukh, Rusa II), medieval structures (Sevanavank, Hayravank), settlements, khachkars.

Lake Sevan is in the north-eastern part of the Armenian Highland, in the Gegharkunik region of Armenia, 60 km to the north-east of Yerevan. Together with Van and Urmia lakes, Lake Sevan is one of the three large lakes of the kingdom Greater Hayk of the ancient Armenian world.

Van and Lake Sevan together were the “Blue Eyes” of the Armenian Kingdom. Lake Sevan has a height of about 1,900 meters above sea level. Vardenis, Geghama, Pambak, Areguni and Sevan mountain ranges surround Sevan Lake. The lake consists of the Great Sevan and the Small Sevan. In the north-western part of the lake Sevan, there is its peninsula, which has number of famous monasteries and cross-stones.

Sevan is the only lake in the Republic of Armenia, which is classified as one of the largest lakes. It is one of the largest, high-mountainous, freshwater lakes in the world. Because of the unity of these three attributes, the lake truly is one of the unique, remarkable phenomena in the region and the whole planet. Lake Sevan is a pearl between the mountains, which is unique and most precious treasure of the Armenian Highland.

Previously, the lake basin owned the name “Tsovazard(Sea-decorated) province”, because of the picturesque and landscapes of nature.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋9≋ ARMENIA HAS A STORK VILLAGEstork village

On the way to Vayots Dzor, there is the village Surenavan, where with every step you take, you can meet stork nests on every electric pillars. They are always standing on one leg and almost never tire …

These are the stork-like Birds of the family of storks. There are 18 famous species. One can find them in tropical, partly temperate zones. The most famous species are white and black storks.

The length of the body is 100-115 cm, the width of wings aperture is 155-165 cm, the living mass is 4 kg. The White Stork is common in the western and eastern regions of Asia and the Middle East. The storks live in the Ararat Valley, partly in the Southeastern regions of Armenia. Until the 1970s, the White Stork was nesting-migrating. After the establishment of fish farms, they no longer need to migrate.

They knit the nests from branches, herbs and sweaters, on the roofs of the houses, on the trees, on the towers, on the rocks, or even on the ends of the electric pillars. They put 3-7 eggs, have 3-5 pups.

White Stork Couples are faithful until the end of their lives. Newborns can make sounds, which gradually degrades. Mature storks communicate with the clatter of their beaks. With the help of which they also prophesy the coming of spring and the time of their breeding. To safeguard the nests, the storks can make an uncompromising fight and even throw their newborns out of the nests.

One can rarely encounter Black stork in Europe and Asia. In Armenia, you can see them in the basin of Lake Sevan, in the northern and southeastern regions. It’s an extremely careful bird, preferring to live in deep forests. The stork is a useful bird, destroys agricultural pests.

  • FACT NUMBER ≋10≋ CHESS IS A COMPULSORY SUBJECT IN SCHOOLS

In Armenia, people play chess from the early Middle Ages, but it has gained wide recognition during the Soviet era. It is one of the most nationwide games in the country. In Armenia, chess gained popularity in the 1960s, when Tigran Petrosyan became the world chess champion. Armenia with a population of nearly three million is one of the strongest chess countries in the world. In addition, Armenia is one of the countries with the large amount of chess grand masters.

The country has participated 9 times in the Chess Olympiads, in five of which the country was in the top three. Armenia is on the 4th place in the final table of the 38th Olympiad, leaving ahead only Russia (USSR), US and Hungary.

In 2011, the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia made chess a compulsory subject. Children learn chess in the second, third and fourth grades. They needed more than $ 1.5 million to implement the project. This event of making it compulsory at schools generally had positive reactions, although some parents claim that their children’s school plan is already heavily enough. According to GM Smbat Lputyan, “Chess’ import in schools is the best way to build the future of the country”.

The international press widely covered this event. Journalists, chess experts and officials from various countries have praised the program and advised their countries to adopt it. During his visit to Armenia in 2014, Magnus Carlsen said: “I think that Armenia’s experience of teaching chess in schools is a great example for the whole world.”

“Chess for Armenians is like what football is for Latin America, and it’s even a compulsory school program,” said Garry Kasparov. (Armenian-Jewish chess player, grandmaster).