(Armenian Հայաստան, Hayastan) is the only country remaining from 3,000 year old maps of Anatolia. It became the world’s first Christian country more than 1,700 years ago in 301 AD and has a large Diaspora all over the world. As a former Soviet republic lying in the Caucasus region straddling Asia and Europe, Armenia has a rich and ancient culture.
Landlocked, Armenia is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Iran to the south, Azerbaijanto the east, and Azerbaijan’s Naxcivan exclave to the southwest. Five percent of the country’s surface area consists of Lake Sevan (Sevana Lich), the largest lake in the Lesser Caucasus mountain range. Armenia’s many mountains and mountain valleys create a great number of microclimates, with scenery changing from arid to lush forest at the top of a mountain ridge.
As Armenia straddles Europe and Asia, East and West, so does Armenian culture. Many Armenians refer to Armenia as a European nation, but their social conservatism in some realms hasn’t been seen in Europe proper for a few decades. The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up many channels with the West again and change is coming rapidly, although much more so in Yerevan than in the rest of the country. Armenia’s small, very homogeneous population (about 99% Armenian) is strongly family-oriented. All across the land, people place a lot of pride in their hospitality. Show up in a village without a penny, and food and a place to stay will come to you along with drinks and endless toasts.
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