Officially the Republic of Armenia is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. The Republic of Armenia lies in a triangular section of the South Caucasus, bordered by Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia. With an area of 29,800 square kilometers (11,490 square miles).
Republic of Armenia is situated in Southern Caucasus and occupies a territory of 29,74 thousand sq km. To the North borders with Georgia, to the East with Azerbaijan, to the South with Iran and to the West and Southwest with Turkey. RA is also situated on the territory of Armenian plateau or Historical Armenia. It’s a vast territory of more than 300 thousand sq km, stretching from the Black sea to the Caspian Sea, an to the South to the Mediterranean Sea. On the North the Armenian Plateau is bound by the Lesser Caucasus range, on the South by Armenian Taurus range, on the West it descends into Euphrates valley, while on the East into the Caspian lowland. It’s average height above the sea level is 1500-1800 m.
Arm Pl is an endless sequence of high mountain ranges, gorges, river valleys, plateaus and lonely mounts. Such peculiarities of the relief are explained by the volcanic activity which was very developed on this territory and ended not so long ago. The Plateau is seismically active and earthquakes here have taken place in different times. The highest point in the Arm Pl is the Greater Ararat (Masis) – 5165 m above the sea level. Next to it there is the Lesser Ararat (Sis) – 3914 m. The both mounts form a massif Ararat, which occupies a territory of 1000 sq km, currently within the territory of Turkey in some 32m from Armeno-Turkish border. Ararat is mentioned in Bible as the mount on which the Noah’s Ark stopped., etc.The 1st people who reached the summit of the Ararat were a physicist of Derpian University Fredrik Parrot and Armenian writer KhachaturAbovyan in 1829. Among the other brave mountain claimer is St Jacob from Mcbin, a relative of Gregory the Illuminator. Armenian historian Pavstos from Byzantium (V century), wrote in his “History of Armenia”: This old man asked the God to let him see the Noah’s Ark, which landed on the Ararat and decided to climb the mountain. When he was near the summit he fell asleep. In his dream an angel came to him and said “Jacob, God has heard your prayers, take what is there at your feet, it’s a part of the Noah’s Ark and don’t try to climb higher. God wants it to be so.” Jacob woke up, saw a plank, took it and descended back to his travelers.”Nowdays this part of Noah’s Ark is kept in Ejmiadzin, as a sacred object of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The average height of RA is 1800 m. If we take into consideration only the average height RA is the highest country in the region. The highest point on the territory of RA is the mount Aragats, a dead volcano – 4090 m.
The Armenian plateau is rich with iron, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, manganese. There are also some reserves of gold, antimony, mercury and arsenic. Volcanic and sedimentary rocks turned out to be excellent building materials. Among them are multicoloured tuff, basalt, marble, limestone etc.
Near Yerevan there are some deposits of table salt.
Artesian waters give birth to many springs, among them are Jermuk, Arzni, Bjni, Dilijan, Hankavan, Sevan.
In Armenia is continental, with lower temperatures and more precipitation in higher elevations. In central plateau temperature varies widely with cold winters and hot summers.It is sometimes possible to find all the four seasons at the same time. When succulent apricots, peaches and grapes, high on the mountain slopes which surround the valley there is not enough heat even for grain to ripen, while still higher there are places covered with snow all the year round.
Woods occupy only 10% of the whole territory of RA, situated on the altitude from 550 to 2600m. Here grow oak, beech, hornbeam next to lime tree, maple, ash tree. The woods are also rich with wild growing trees such as pear, apple, cherry, walnut, Cornelian cherry, cherry plum. On rocky soil there grow bushes of almond, buckthorn and Christ’s thorn, as well as betony, thyme and sage. In steppes there live many rodents such as vole, suslik, jerboa. From reptiles Caucasian agama, Greek turtle, lizard, Levantine / blunt-nosed viper, Armenian viper.
The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church traces its origins to the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the 1st century. But Armenian king Sanatrook martyred Thaddeus, Bartholomew and Sandookdht his daughter, who had adopted Christianity. Universally recognized date for the adoption of Christianity in Armenia is 301. The most important figures in this event were Gregory the Illuminator, who became the 1st catholicos of Armenia (302-326) and king Tiridates III (287—330), who was a severe persecutor of the Christians before his own conversion. Gregory was a son of Anak, the man who assassinated Tiridate’s father. Consequently Tiridates imprisoned Gregory in an underground pit, called Khor Virap, for 13 years. In 301, 37 Christian virgins found refuge in Vagharshapat, escaping from Roman Emperor Diocletian. Tiridates desired one of them, Rhipsime, to be his wife, but she turned him down. In a rage, he martyred the whole group of them. Soon afterward, according to legend, God struck him with an illness that left him crawling around like a beast (swine). Xosrovaduxt, the king’s sister, had a dream in which she was told that the persecution of Christians must stop and that only Gregory could heal the king. She related this to Tiridates, who released Gregory from prison. Gregory then healed Tiridates who then converted to Christianity and immediately declared Armenia to be a Christian nation, becoming the first official Christian state.Tiridates declared Gregory to be the first Catholicos of the Armenian Church.
The Armenian language is an independent, one-language subgroup within the Indo-European language family. Armenian alphabet, which consists of 39 characters, was created in 405 AD by a monk named MesropMashtots (the original alphabet had 36 letters, three characters were added later). The first work of literature with the new alphabet was the translation of the Bible from Greek. During the centuries, the dialect into which the Bible was translated became the standard language – Grabar, or Classical Armenian. Numerous literary works, both original and translations, were written in that period in Grabar.
Many works in Classical Greek, Latin and other languages exist today only in their Armenian translations. A unique collection of priceless ancient documents is preserved in the National Depository of Manuscripts, the Matenadaran, in Yerevan.
First printed documents appeared in Armenia in early 16th century. A century later, in 1662, an Armenian cleric, Father Voskan was sent to Amsterdam by CatholicosHakop, to prepare printing of the Bible in Armenian. Four years later, the job, which consisted of casting Armenian letter types, producing wooden carvings for the illustrations, and so on was completed, and the first Bible in the Armenian language was printed in Amsterdam in 1666.
The originality and uniqueness of Armenia rests on three pillars – the unique charm of its mountainous nature, the ancient Christian heritage ( Armenia was among the first countries to adopted it) and its original national culture. It is the main treasure of Armenia which it has managed to preserve in spite its dramatic history.
During its more than 2,000 year-old history, Armenia has gone through so many radical changes in its size and political status, that our culture has been influenced by and has influenced many other cultures. The many wars and other disasters in ancient and recent time tore the country apart and left a deep imprint in its culture. That tragic division had some positive consequences too, for instance, post-mediaeval Armenian literature has two different traditions, Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian, which being a part of a original literary heritage, have their own distinct linguistic and stylistic properties. Armenians love their culture and art, they understand its importance for the survival of a small nation. Not once in their long and tragic history, during another enemy invasion, Armenians would abandon their own property and sacrifice their lives trying to save their libraries and churches. We may have lost a few wars in the past, but we still speak the same language our forefathers spoke thousands of years ago, and we can trace our distinct heritage way back before many civilizations were born.
Armenian traditional Instruments
Duduk, Dhol, Tar, Kanon, Oud, Shvi, Zurna, Qamancha
All work songs describe something of the working process and are sung to accompany work. Songs of the fields are called “horovel”. This is a large, many-sided genre, in which the peasant expresses his thoughts, desires and his love for the nature, all combined with a deep respect for his work.
Ceremonial songs are sung at weddings, at funerals (songs of sadness and mourning) and on the occasion of various other holidays and at festive celebrations. Every ceremony or holiday has its particular ceremonial song.
Epic songs – In Armenian music tradition, epic songs are thematically distinguished into two categories.
– 1. The one with the bigger repertory contains mythological themes of pagan Armenia like “Haik and Bel”, “Dork Angegh”, “Ara and Shamiram”; those are classified as “fables”.
– 2. The others are the so-called heroic songs telling about the history and the traditions of these people and their heroes, such as e.g. “SasuntziDavith” dealing with the adventures of the hero of epics, David of Sasun, in his defense against infidel Arab invaders from Egypt and Persia (today Iran).
– Historical songs – These songs reflect Armenian history and reality. Through such songs, we can learn about the real events of Armenian history in various times.
Lyric songs, love songs – Lyric songs make up the largest part of the Armenian traditional song repertory. The themes are manifold, including love, social uncertainties and upheavals, tragedies suffered under foreign rule, and various deep expressions of the soul and life.
The Armenian dance heritagehas been one of the oldest, richest and most varied in the Near East. From the fifth to the third millennia B.C., in the higher regions of Armenia, the land of Ararat, there are rock paintings of scenes of country dancing. These danceswere probably accompanied by certain kinds of songs or musical instruments. In the fifth century Moses of Khoren (MovsésKhorenats’i) himself had heard of how the old descendants of Aram (that is Armenians) make mention of these things (epic tales) in the ballads for the lyre and their songs and dances. Traditional dancing is still popular among expatriate Armenians, and has also been very successfully `exported’ to international folk dance groups and circle dance groups all over the world.