Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
GDP per capita
2 Country profile ARMENIA
Location: Geographically the Republic of Armenia is a
country located in Southwest Asia, but politically and cul-
turally it is accepted as part of Europe. It borders Turkey to
the west, Georgia to the north. It also shares borders with
Azerbaijan to the east and Iran to the south.
Climate: continental. Summers are dry and sunny and last
from June until mid-September. Winters are very cold with
lots of snow.
Ethnicity: Ethnic Armenians make up 97.9% of the popu-
lation. Larger minorities are: Yazidis – 1.3% and Russians -
0.5%, in addition, there are Assyrians, Ukrainians, Greeks,
Kurds, Georgians and Belarusians. There are also smaller
communities of Vlachs and others.
Religion: Christianity; about 93% of Armenian Christians
belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Government: presidential republic.
Coat of arms
3 Country profile ARMENIA
Today Armenia maintains good diplomatic relations with almost all countries around the
world, except for the neighbouring countries Azerbaijan and Turkey. The tension between
Azerbaijan and Armenia began during the last years of the existence of the Soviet Union,
and in addition the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the 1990s further complicated the re-
lations between the two countries. Till this very day the borders between the two are
closed, and there is no resolution to this conflict, despite the numerous attempts of inter-
national organization to cooperate in holding peaceful negotiations.
Turkey has also been in conflict with Armenia for many years, because of its refusal to
recognize the Armenian Genocide. Although Turkey was among the first countries to rec-
ognize Armenia after its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991, the relations between
the two countries remain tense and they do not maintain official diplomatic relations.
During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Turkey illegally closed its border with Armenia and
the blockade remains active till today, despite the strong pressure from Turkish business-
men who are interested in the Armenian market opportunities. In October 2009 Armenia
and Turkey sign a protocol for establishing mutual diplomatic recognition and opening of
the borders, but until today it has not been rectified by the parliament of the two states.
Due to its isolation from Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia holds very close relations with
the other neighbours, especially Iran. Due to its historic past of being part of the former
Soviet Union, Armenia continues maintaining good relations with Russia. Armenia is a
member of the Council of Europe and maintains friendly relations with the European
Union, especially with France and Greece. In 2011, Armenia negotiated with the EU to be-
come its associate partner. If it meets the standard criteria, Armenia will have the right to
become an EU member, although for the time being Brussels does not officially have such
plans. The Armenian government plans on becoming part of the union between Belarus,
Kazakhstan and Russia and possibly to become a member of the future Eurasian Union.
Armenia is included in the European Neighbourhood Policy, aiming to strengthen the rela-
tions between the EU and the neighbouring countries.
Moreover, Armenia is a member of nearly 40 international organizations, the Organization
of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, NATO partnership for peace program, etc.
44 Country profile ARMENIA
The Armenian flag is a horizontal tricolour of red, blue,
and orange. The red symbolizes the mountains in Arme-
nia and the difficult struggle for survival of the Arme-
nian people, as well as the struggle for preserving their
independence, freedom and Christian faith. The blue is
the symbol of Armenia’s desire to live under a pure and
peaceful blue sky. The orange is the symbol of the cre-
ativity and the industriousness of the Armenians.
FACTS ABOUT ARMENIA
During c. 404 – 406 AD, a former clergyman from the
Armenian royal court – Mesrop Mashtots rediscovers
rediscovered and newly adoptedadapts the old Arme-
nian alphabet, which had stopped being usedhad not
been used after accepting Christianity was accepted in
Armenia in 301. The hypothesis for the modeling of that
the Armenian alphabet to awas modelled after a foreign
alphabet diddoes not hold in the face of the discoveries
made by the Armenian professor and scientist Paris Her-
ouni, who provedes that the Armenian written language
hads its own history much before 5th century AD.
Armenia is a presidential republic. The President of Ar-
menia is being elected for a period of 5 years and can-
not be reelectedre-elected for a more than two man-
dates consecutively. The National Assembly of Armenia
is the legislative body, which consists of 131 members,
elected for a 4 year term.
55 Country profile ARMENIA
FACTS ABOUT ARMENIA
Yerevan is the capital and the largest city of Armenia. It
is situated along the Hrazdan River. Archeological re-
search shows that the in the 8th century BC, the for-
tress of Erebuni stood on the place of today’s Yerevan.
Since then, the place has a strategic importance for
the caravan routes between Europe and India. It holds
has held the name Yerevan at least since the 7th cen-
tury, when it wasis Armenia’s capital during the Persian
reign. Today Yerevan is the leading industrial, cultural
and scientific center of the Caucasian region. It is also
the heart of a vast railway network and a major com-
mercial center for agricultural products. Other leading
sectors include metal extraction, metal working, chemi-
cal, textile and food industry.
In ancient times
The Armenian state emerged in the 6th century BC,
on the territory of Asia Minor, where its predecessors
were: the kingdom of Urartu, Hittite Empire, Phrygia
and a number of other small states and confedera-
tions like Hayasa. Armenia wasis the first state to adopt
Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. The last Ar-
menian kingdom encompasseds lands, today situated
in southeastern Turkey. Persia, Byzantium, the Arabs,
the Mongols and the Turks dominated the territory
until the 19th century. In the end of In late 1920, Tur-
key invadeds Western Armenia, while the Red Army
occupieds Eastern Armenia, which later becameomes a
part of the Soviet Union. After its collapse, the country
regaineds its independence in 1991.
66 Country profile ARMENIA
Armenia is a country in South Caucasus without a sea
coast. Most of the country’s territory is mountains, with
forests and fast flowing rivers. About half of Armenia’s
territory is located 2000 meters above the sea level, and
just 3% is at an altitude of under 650 meters. The Arme-
nian Plateau is located inIn the southwestern part of the
country, and its is located the Armenian Plateau whose
slopes descend to the southwest towards river Aras, on
the border with Turkey. On the territory of the plateau
rise sSeveral mountain ranges and extinct volcanoes
rise on the plateau territory. Most of the country’s pop-
ulation lives in the western and northwestern regions,
where the two largest cities are located – Yerevan and
Before the country’s independence in 1991, the econ-
omy has mainly relied on heavy industry – chemical,
manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, machines
and synthetic rubber – all industries requiring the
import of materials. Like the economies of many
countries which have been a part of the former Soviet
Union, after the falling of the Union, the economy of
the country has suffered from the consequences of
central planning and loss of traditional markets. The
government managed to lead a mass sale economic re-
form, which lead to lower levels of inflation and stable
growth. The new sectors include jewelry-making, in-
formation and communication technologies, and even
FACTS ABOUT ARMENIA
77 Country profile ARMENIA
FACTS ABOUT ARMENIA
Armenia is the first country in the world that adopted
Christianity as a state religion in year 301. Today the
main religion of the country is Christianity, and the roots
of the Armenian Church date back to the first centu-
ry. According to legend, it was founded by two of the
twelve apostles of Jesus – Thaddaeus and Bartholomew
who preached Christianity in Armenia between years 40
and 60. It is due to its founders that the church in Arme-
nia is called today the Armenian Apostolic Church, and
93% of the Christians in the country belong to it.
The national identity of the Armenians is mainly based
on their culture and by far exceeds the borders of the
country. Approximately 8 million Armenians (compared
to the population, which is 3 million) live outside the
country. The largest number of Armenians live in Russia,
France, Iran, the USA and Georgia. Despite the fact that
they do not live in Armenia, they have preserved their
identity, culture and tradition.
72% of the territory of Armenia is agricultural land, but
most of it is used as pastures and only 16% for agricul-
ture. The most common crops are grain crops (wheat
and rye), potatoes, vegetables, and fruits such as pome-
granate, apricots, and peaches. Many vineyards are
cultivated on the lower slopes of the mountains.
88 Country profile ARMENIA
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is located in the city of Vagharshapat
and is considered the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic
Church. According to most scholars, it is the first cathedral built
in ancient Armenia and is considered the oldest cathedral in the
world. The original church was built in the early fourth centu-
ry between 301 and 303, according to tradition by Armenia’s
patron saint Gregory the Illuminator, following the adoption of
Christianity as a state religion by KingTiridates III. It replaced a
pre-existing temple, symbolizing the conversion from paganism
to Christianity. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the main spiritual
center of most Armenians worldwide, and has been an important
location in Armenia not only religiously, but also politically, econom-
ically and culturally. The cathedral was listed as a World Heritage Site
by UNESCO in 2000.
Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin
Sanahin Monastery is an Armenian monastery founded in the 10th
century in the Lori Province. Its name literally translates “this one
is older than that one”, being built earlier than the neighbouring
Haghpat Monastery. The two villages and their monasteries
are similar in many ways. They lie in plain view of each other
on a dissected plateau formation separated by a deep “crack”
formed by a small river flowing into the Debed river. Hagh-
pat Monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, wife
of the Bagratid king Ashot III. It was built not on a peak, but
halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and
concealment from prying eyes, and also in response to a kind of
monastic humility. Unlike the other monasteries, in the country,
those in the Northern part of Armenia are not isolated, and usually
small villages emerged around them. Haghpat Monastery, together with
Sanahin Monastery, is surrounded by numerous villages. Today both monasteries are part
of the historic complex, and placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
UNIQUE PLACES IN ARMENIA
9 Country profile ARMENIA
Armenian cuisine has been influenced by
Turkish, Georgian and Persian cuisine. The
country has two typical national dishes:
Harissa – a type of porridge from wheat
and meat (lamb, beef or chicken), which
are boiled for a long period of time. Usually
the dish is prepared for certain holidays in a
single cooking pot and served to all guests.
Khash – in the past it was a dish for work-
ers, prepared by beef or lamb meat, which
are boiled slowly in water for the whole
night. It was served for breakfast with
crushed dried bread “lavash”, with scram-
bled garlic and vodka or other alcoholic
drink. It is usually eaten in winter. There
is a vegetarian version where the meat is
substituted with lentil, and the garlic with
A typical Armenian “everyday” dish is “dz-
hash” – a type of stew with meat or vegeta-
bles and spices. It is usually served on rice
or bulgur pilaf, sometimes accompanied by
bread, pickles or fresh vegetables. Stuffed
vegetables are usually served on holidays
– tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, aubergine,
onion, potatoes, as well as cabbage rolls
with vine or cabbage leaves or beat leaves.
Typically, the stuffing consists of rice or
bulgur, mixed with ground meat, season-
ings, and sometimes dried fruits and nuts.
Byoreks are pies made with phyllo pastry
and stuffed with cheese or spinach. They
are a popular snack and fast food, often
served as appetizer. “Su byorek” lit. “water
byorek” is a lasagna-style dish with sheets
of phyllo pastry briefly boiled in a large pan
before being spread with fillings. “Msov
byorek” is a bread roll stuffed with ground
meat, and it is similar to Russian pirozhki.
Grilling (barbecue) is very popular in Arme-
nia. The typical dish is called “Khorovats”,
which consists of chunks of meat grilled on
a skewer (with or without the bones).
“Gharsi khorovats” is similar to the donner
kebab – it is grilled meat rolled up in “la-
vash”. It takes its name from the city of Kars
(Armenian: Ghars) in eastern Turkey, close
to the Armenian border. The pomegranate
symbolizes fertility and is considered a sym-
bol of the nation, and apricots are consid-
ered the national fruit.
10 Country profile ARMENIA
Armenian coffee – strong black coffee,
sometimes sweet, Kefir – a fermented milk
drink, Kvas - sweet, fermented bread drink;
usually additionally flavoured with fruits
like strawberries or raisins, or with herbs
– most often mint. Than – yogurt drink
(still or carbonated), Tarkhun soda – tarra-
gon-flavored green soda.
Oghi is an Armenian vodka, usually pre-
pared from fruits. “Artsakh” is a famous
brand of mulberry vodka, produced in Na-
gorno-Karabakh. In the Armenian Diaspora,
oghi refers to the aniseed-flavored distilled
alcoholic drink like ouzo.
The alcoholic drink with the longest history
in Armenia is wine. The oldest winery in the
world was discovered in Armenia. Histor-
ically, wineries in Armenia were concen-
trated along the Ararat valley. Of particular
note was the district of Koghtn, current
Today, Armenian wineries are concentrated
in the Areni region (district of Vayots Dzor).
Armenian wine is mostly made from local
varietals, such as Areni, Lalvari, Kakhet, etc.,
though some wineries mix in better known
European varietals such as Chardonnay and
Wine-making took a downward plunge
in the years following the collapse of the
Soviet Union, but in recent years it is un-
dergoing a revival. An annual wine festival,
held in Areni, is popular with the locals and
features wines from official wineries as well
as homemade hooch of varying quality.
Armenian wines are predominantly red
and sweet, semi-sweet, or dry. In addition
to grapes, wines can be made with other
fruits, notably pomegranate, apricot and
Armenian brandy, known locally as konyak
is perhaps Armenia’s most popular export-
ed alcoholic drink. It has a long production
history, even being served at the Yalta Con-
The most popular brands are Ararat and
Noy. It is claimed that the Armenian konyak
was Churchill’s most favourite drink.
11 Country profile ARMENIA
1 January: New Year
Usually the holiday starts
from 31.12 and lasts for a
whole week. Holiday sweets
are prepared and people
exchange gifts and greetings,
and their homes are open to
28 January: Army Day
The Armenian army was
founded in 1992.
International Women’s Day
All women in Armenia re-
ceive gifts and flowers from
their family, friends and
7 April: The Day of Materni-
ty and Beauty
Mothers receive flowers and
gifts from their children. The
period between March 8
and April 7 is considered a
month of the woman.
24 April: Genocide Remem-
Each year on the 24th of
April the Armenians around
the world remember the 1.5
million victims of the 1915
Genocide. On this day, tens
of thousands of people in
Armenia go on a pilgrimage
to Tsitsernakaberd in re-
membrance of the victims.
Victory and Peace Day
The end of World War II is
commemorated and vic-
tims who died in the war are
remembered. Each year a
parade of the war veterans
is carried out at the Republic
28 May: Republic Day
In 1918, after half a millenni-
um of foreign reign, Armenia
gained its independence.
5 July: Constitution Day
The Constitution of the
Republic of Armenia was
adopted by a national refer-
endum on 5 July 1995.
On this date in 1991, after
holding a national refer-
endum, Armenia declared
its independence from the
7 December: Day of mem-
ory of the victims of the
earthquake in 1988
On this very day a strong
earthquake lead to the
death of thousands of Arme-
nians and destroyed a large
part of the architecture of
12 Country profile ARMENIA
The national identity of the Armenians is formed by their culture. The deep his-
toric roots of Armenian culture and the geographic dispersion of its contributors
bring richness and diversity, which can hardly be reached within the boundaries
of a single country, but at the same time helps preserve its wholeness. Armenians
have a strong sense of national identity, which sometimes contradicts the modern
concept of a nation – the country. The Armenian identity is strongly influenced by
historic events, such as the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 301, the
creation of the Armenian alphabet in 406, and the violence exerted on the Arme-
nians during different historic periods.
THE PEOPLE IN ARMENIA
Meeting and greeting
A meeting between two men: the most
common greeting between two men in
Armenia is a hand shake.
If two men are close friends, the hand
shake can be followed by a kiss on both
cheeks. In most cases the hand shake is
enough. A meeting between two wom-
en: in Armenia, women usually greet
each other with a hug and a kiss on both
Even if this is your first meeting, most
Armenian women would kiss you on the
cheek as a greeting.
A meeting between a man and a woman:
in village regions women usually wait for
the man to extend their hand first. When
the meeting is between relatives, the tra-
ditional greeting is a light hug and a kiss
on the cheek.
13 Country profile ARMENIA
Armenians are monogamous. In some cases, marriages are arranged. Marriages with
relatives are avoided (until seventh generation). During the years of the Soviet Union, due
to the lack of housing in the country, most young couples lived with the husband’s family.
Nowadays most spouses live separately in their own household.
There has always been a gender division in Armenia. For example, the household has
always been the woman’s responsibility. The oldest woman used to be the head of the
family and ran the entire household. Women and men have worked outside their home,
but even then all household responsibilities have been left to the woman. Today women
and men have equal access to all economic sectors. Despite this, only five of 57 banks in
the country are managed by women. Regarding employment, most of the women work
on equal terms with the men, and women receive equal salary for the same work as men.
Despite this, more women hold low-paid positions and the average salary for women in
Armenia remains two thirds of men’s salary. Women work mainly in the education and
health sectors. In the industrial sector, the percentage of hired women is 40-42%. 63.9%
of unemployed are women. Most of the people dealing with subsistence farming are also
Comparative status of men and women
During the first Armenian republic (1918–1920), women had the same rights to vote and
be elected as men. Four women entered the parliament, and Diana Abgar was sent as an
ambassador to Japan. During the Soviet Union, despite the laws that guaranteed equal
rights to men and women on all levels, it was difficult for women to participate in politics
and high-level decision-making. In 1991, during the first democratic elections in Armenia,
which had recently gained its independence, only 9 women out of 240 representatives
entered the Parliament, and not a single woman took part in the parliamentary commit-
THE PEOPLE IN ARMENIA
1414 Country profile ARMENIA
When people speak, they usually stay close
to each other, which might make foreigners
coming from western countries feel a little
When you speak with a colleague or a
business partner, usually an arm’s length is
acceptable, but when people speak to rela-
tives or close friends, the distance is closer.
The better two people know each other,
the more likely it is that they will touch
each other during the conversation.
Men and women usually don’t demon-
strate closeness with one another in public
places, regardless of their relationship. In
bigger cities, like Yerevan and Gyumri, the
western style of communication is becom-
ing more popular, and it is more common
to have physical contact during conversa-
Do not be surprised if somebody taps you
on the back during a conversation. This is
an expression of admiration. Direct eye
contact is preferred.
Armenians are very direct and say what
they think directly. This is part of their cul-
ture, so do not be offended.
In most cases, events start with a
15-20-minute delay. But sometimes “just
another five minutes” can become one
hour. Transport is usually more regular, but
if buses get full earlier, they leave immedi-
ately, even before the scheduled departure
To make sure you will not miss your trans-
port, get to the bus station earlier, but do
not be surprised if you have to wait.
15 Country profile ARMENIA
If you have been invited to somebody’s
home for a dinner, it is advisable to go a lit-
tle later, but not more than 10-15 minutes.
Dress formally and wear long trousers
(even if it is hot outside).
After you enter the home you might be
asked at the door to take off your shoes.
When you go inside, shake hands with ev-
When invited to visit, it is appropriate to
bring a small present – some chocolates or
foreign alcohol are a good choice.
You can bring flowers for the housewife
and candy for the children.
Eating is relatively formal and follows the
European etiquette – the knife is held in
the right hand, and the fork in the left, the
wrists are placed on the table.
Avoid using your left hand during eat-
ing and touching food with it, especially
If you have been invited to a restaurant,
have in mind that some restaurants are
intended only for men.
There is no restriction for women to go in,
but women would feel uncomfortable in
such an environment.
Tipping is not typical for Armenia, but if
you are at an expensive restaurant, tips
are appreciated. Leave what you feel is
appropriate; 10% is considered a generous
tip. In most cafeterias and restaurants or
taxis, you can just round up the bill.
Usually men let women go first when en-
tering a room or getting onto a vehicle by
opening the door for them.
In addition, in public transportation it is
customary to give place to elderly people.
Avoid talking about topics related to Azer-
baijan or the Armenian Genocide; conver-
sations about the former Soviet Union are
A clenched fist with the thumb placed
between the index and the middle finger is
considered an insulting gesture.
1616 Country profile ARMENIA
Business dress code is formal and in west-
ern style. A dark suit and a tie is suitable
for the men, and a formal dark suit with a
knee-length skirt is suitable for the women.
Women in Armenia pay special attention to
being well dressed. Casual daily clothes are
not acceptable at business meetings.
It is traditional for the Armenian host to
introduce you and not for you to introduce
In Armenia, the title is mentioned first, then
the family name and finally the first name.
The title for “Mr.” is “Baron”, for “Mrs.” –
“Deegeen”, and for “Miss” – “Oryort”.
Appropriate gifts include pens and other
office materials. It is always best to have
the gifts wrapped.
Gifts should not be opened immediately.
Building personal relationships is the basis
of all meetings.
When meeting Armenians, make arrange-
ments in advance and be on time, although
it is possible that the host will be late.
It is acceptable to interrupt during conver-
sations, so be patient and do not get of-
It is possible for the meeting to start with a
conversation on a different topic. Avoid per-
sonal questions and religion. Appropriate
topics are food, sports, time and history.
Armenians are generally friendly and com-
municative. It is better to let them start
and finish the conversation. It is acceptable
to haggle, but not always desirable during
Armenians are very sensitive when they
hear the answer “no”, so be tactful and give
the information in a soft manner.
Taking decisions does not usually happen
immediately. Refrain from demonstrating
strong emotions during ne
1717 Country profile ARMENIA