16 important facts about Armenia
Are you looking for some interesting facts about Armenia?
There is something special about this small country in the South Caucasus that sets it apart from other countries in the region. With a rich history dating back centuries, Armenia has an impressive list of stories to tell – including some lesser-known facts which you can see below.
Read next: 15 amazing things to do in Armenia
Facts about Armenia
Here’s the lowdown on Armenia:
Official name: Republic of Armenia
Population: 2,977,118 (as of 2023)
Area: 29,743 sq km
Capital city: Yerevan
Religion: Armenian Apostolic (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
Languages: Armenian, Kurdish, Russian
1. Armenia is named after the Bible
Armenia got its name from Aram, a descendant of Hayk’s, the great-great-grandson of Noah from the Bible. He was also a leader and is considered the ancestor of all Armenians according to Armenian tradition.
2. Armenia is 3,500 years old
3. First country to adapt Christianity
Christianity came to Armenia in 301 AD through Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who went through quite an ordeal when he was cast in a dungeon for 13 years.
Today, 97% of the Armenian population practices Christianity, making it one of the most overtly Christian countries in the world.
4. Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world
Armenia is home to one of the world’s oldest capitals. Yerevan was founded in 782 BC by king Argishti I, 29 years earlier than Rome. The city has a long and rich history, which is reflected in its many beautiful buildings and monuments.
5. The Armenian alphabet
Armenia has its own alphabet, created over 1,600 years ago. In 2005, the 1600th birthday of the Armenian alphabet was celebrated with a special gift – 39 carved letters placed near the final resting place of its creator, Mesrop Mashtots. This monument can be found in Byurakan, Armenia and is a reminder of his invaluable contribution to the country’s history and culture.
6. Ararat is the national symbol
Mount Ararat is a powerful symbol for Armenians, despite the fact that it has been a part of Turkey since 1923. Armenia consider the mountain historically and legally a part of its country.
Mount Ararat is said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark after the Great Flood, making it a source of hope and inspiration for Armenians everywhere. Even from Yerevan, you can see the majestic peak, but you’ll get the most beautiful view from Khor Virap.
7. What food is Armenia famous for?
Armenian cuisine is world-renowned for its use of fresh, local ingredients. One of the most popular dishes is khorovats, a type of BBQ made with pork, lamb, or beef. Another favourite is dolma, which is stuffed grape leaves.
Lamb, eggplant, and lavash (flatbread), are integral components of Armenian cooking. Cracked wheat (bulgur) is the preferred grain among Armenians instead of maize or rice. Spices are used sparingly to allow the fresh flavours of the ingredients to be fully experienced in each dish.
8. Armenian bread is on the UNESCO list
Not many countries can pride themselves of having bread on the UNESCO world heritage list, but Armenia can.
Lavash, an Armenian bread, is on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. This delicious flatbread is a staple of Armenian food and adds a wonderful flavour to any meal (I can personally attest to that).
9. Chess is mandatory at school
10. Armenian genocide
During the period of 1915 to the early 1920s, Armenian lives were tragically taken by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire in a deliberate genocide. This atrocity took between 600,000 and 1.5 million innocent lives and was so devastating that it has come to be known as the Armenian Genocide.
11. More Armenians live outside of Armenia than inside of it
Because of the Armenian genocide in 1915, many fled their homeland to start a new life in a different country. Now, 5.6 million Armenians live outside Armenia versus the 3 million that continue to live in Armenia.
12. Armenia has celebrity connections
Armenia has a number of celebrity connections, including the Kardashians, Cher and Andre Agassi. Also, Joe Manganiello from True Blood and Garry Kimovich Kasparov (the greatest chess player of all time) are Armenian.
The frontman for American metal band System of a Down also has Armenian heritage and tries to publicise the injustices of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. This tragic event saw millions of Armenians displaced or killed, and continues to have an impact on the country and its people.
13. Yerevan is called the “Pink City”
Yerevan is called the “Pink City” because of the buildings constructed with volcanic rock from the area. The rock has a rosy hue, making most of the city appear pink. It’s similar to the “Pink City” of Jaipur in India.
14. Lake Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus
Lake Sevan is an impressive feat of nature, as it’s not only the largest lakes in the Caucasus but also one of the biggest in the world. Visiting the high-altitude lake will treat you to amazing views of the monastery placed atop the lake.
At an impressive altitude of 1,900 meters (6,234 feet) above sea level, this 1240 square kilometres of water is worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to Armenia.
15. The largest non-stop double track cable car
Armenia is home to the world’s longest non-stop double track cable car. The cable car runs for 5,752m (18,871 ft) and links the village of Halizor with the secluded Tatev Monastery. The journey offers breathtaking views and an opportunity to experience a unique part of Armenian culture.
16. Storks take over entire villages
Every year, several Armenian villages experience an influx of 650 pairs of breeding white storks. The villagers have joined forces to create a community-focused monitoring programme – Nest Neighbors – to protect the wetlands and provide the birds with a safe habitat.
Do you have questions to these facts about Armenia? Ask in the comments!