What is the richest city in Armenia

Armenia at a glance

If Armenia sometimes appears to be a synonym for catastrophes of all kinds, from genocide to earthquake, from civil war to economic ruin to mass exodus, one could almost forget that this country at the intersection of the Asian and European continents, despite all the tragedy, has a great history and an important cultural heritage calls his own.

Amberd fortress at an altitude of over 2000 m

This was the scene of the legendary landing of Noah's Ark, the world's oldest national church was built and one of the most important trade routes of the Middle Ages, the Silk Road, led across the Armenian highlands. Foreign dynasties ruled the country, Medes and Persians, Romans and Arabs, Ottomans and Russians: Armenia became a bone of contention between the overpowering peoples of the region. So it is not surprising that it achieved state independence only rarely and for a short time. Nevertheless, the Armenians were able to maintain their linguistic and ethnic context and the continuity of their culture. The memory of the old homeland strengthened their community spirit, but the Armenian Church has the greatest merit for their phenomenal cohesion in good and bad times.

Hovhannawank Monastery above the Kazakh Gorge

It is not without good reason that Armenia is called an open-air museum, as well over 4,000 architectural monuments testify to the winding paths of its historical development. Cultural monuments and the overwhelmingly beautiful landscapes, plus an extremely hospitable, warm-hearted people, attracted quite a lot of visitors to the country two or three decades ago. In the turmoil of the post-Soviet period, the stream of tourists almost completely drained away. Anyone who travels the country with one of the specialist providers today still has to reckon with bumpy roads and one or the other inconvenience. But that in no way diminishes the extraordinary travel experience.

Marmaschen Monastery (10th century) in the picturesque Achurjan Valley near the border with Turkey

A good third of the population of Armenia lives in its capital, Yerevan (Yerevan). When the weather is clear, the “Mount Fate of the Armenians”, Ararat, 65 km away on Turkish territory, dominates the western panorama of the city. Large parts of their old quarters were demolished in the early days of Soviet rule, and the redesign of the city was placed in the hands of the local architect Alexander Tamanian. He merged national traditions and modern building concepts into fascinating new urban architecture. Generously laid out streets and squares and the buildings made of red, pink and yellow tuff and gray basalt so typical of Yerevan were built.

The Casacades - a work of art on stairs

A walk through the city should begin with a visit to the Urartian fortress Erebuni from the 8th century BC, the predecessor and namesake of today's Yerevan. The Historical Museum provides insights into the turbulent history of town and country, and the Museum of Folk Art is known for its rural customs and skills. As an exception, a completely new building stands out among the sacred buildings: the Cathedral of St. Gregory consecrated by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Armenia in September 2001. The Matenadaran is unique, one of the most extensive manuscript collections in the world, which contains over 14,000 manuscripts covering all fields of knowledge. It has been included in the UNESCO “Memory of the World” list.

Matenadaran: Central archive for ancient Armenian manuscripts

more about: World Heritage Sites in Armenia

Around 20 km west of Yerevan in the Araks Valley is the Etchmiadzin Monastery, the center of the Armenian Church, the residence of the Catholicos, the head of the church. The cathedral from the 4th century is one of the oldest still "active" places of worship in the world and the churches of Hripsime and Gajaneh, which are part of the complex, can look back on an age of almost 1,400 years. Armenians from all over the world are drawn to the monastery of Khor Virap, south of Yerevan, because there is no better place to look at “their” holy mountain Ararat, and nowhere is one closer to it. But there is another reason. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here for 15 years before he became a missionary in Armenia and also converted his jailer, King Tiridates III, to the Christian faith in 303.

Etchmiadzin Monastery: Seat of the Catholicos, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church

Garni, the former summer residence of the Armenian kings in the green valley of the Azat River, is reached through the magnificent mountainous region east of Yerevan. Here is the only Hellenistic temple that has survived the times in the Caucasus. Not far, in a wild and romantic gorge, is the Geghard cave monastery, revered by the locals as a spiritual and cultural center. The almost completely preserved monastery complex from the 13th century is a World Heritage Site. One of the great scenic attractions of Armenia is Lake Sevan. Located almost 1,900 m high in the east of the country, with 1,244 km² it is one of the largest high mountain lakes in the world (Lake Constance: 538 km²). The “blue pearl of Armenia” is the summer bathing paradise of the capital city dwellers. The venerable Sewan monastery from the 9th century rises on its banks.

View of the Geghard cave monastery (Photo: Volker Stechele)

A round trip through the northern parts of the country touches Ashtarak, once an important trading center on the Silk Road, famous for its picturesque location and its ancient Armenian churches from the 5th and 7th centuries. Then it goes high up to 2,300 m to the dizzying fortress Amberd under the peaks of Aragaz. The weathered defense structure is one of the few remaining secular architectural monuments in Armenia from the Middle Ages. Across the mountain range is Lori, the border province to Georgia. Wooded, fertile, blessed with rich rainfall and moderate temperatures, this landscape is part of the Armenian heartland with an impressive cultural heritage such as the Odzun Cathedral (6th century), a great example of early Christian Armenian architecture. The fortified monastery Haghpat (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which grew in various stages between the 9th and 11th centuries, has a special reputation. For a long time this vast complex was one of the spiritual medieval centers of Armenia. Libraries, scriptories and academies were natural institutions here, as in the neighboring Sanahin Monastery (also on the World Heritage List).

Noravank Monastery (12th - 14th centuries) near the Azerbaijani exclave Nakhichevan in the south-west of Armenia

The path in the south of Armenia initially leads through almost treeless highlands. One of the most beautiful monasteries in the country, Noravank, is a little off the route. Directly connected to Jerevan (177 km), on the other hand, is the spa town of Jermouk, located at an altitude of 2,100 m, whose hot mineral water springs attract many health-conscious capital city dwellers. It becomes more mountainous. The peaks tower up to over 3,500 m. Harsh winters prevail here and the summers are hot in the valleys: we drive through the grandiose landscape of the Syunik province, a borderland to Iran peppered with castle ruins. The Baghaberd Fortress (4th century) and Halidzor Castle (17th century) are outstanding. In addition to a cathedral that is more than 1,300 years old, Sissian has a mysterious stone setting on the back of a hill, similar to that of Stonehenge in England. The 204 lined up stones are subject to innumerable interpretations. Some consider the approximately 4,000 year old facility to be the remains of a sun temple. For others it is nothing more than a natural rock formation, but there are also researchers who advocate an early observatory.

One of the highlights of the detour to the south is a visit to Tatev Monastery on a rocky plateau surrounded on three sides by insurmountable abysses. Its main cathedral St. Peter and Paul, which is well worth seeing, was built towards the end of the 9th century - one of the most important of the innumerable sacred monuments of this first Christian country in the world.

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General travel information and current Entry requirements as well as notes on security and medical care can be found on the following pages of the Foreign Office (Berlin): Foreign Office

Armenian airlines do not fly to Germany at the moment. Lufthansa and Austrian connect Frankfurt / Main with the Armenian capital Yerevan via Vienna. Shortest flight time: 6.05 hours.

The paved road network covered around 7,570 km at the end of 2015. Many road sections are in urgent need of repairs. For the Armenians, due to the Azerbaijani and Turkish border blockades, the international road connections to Georgia in the north and to Iran (south) are of considerable importance. The railway line to Georgia is no less important for the international movement of goods. At the end of 2015, the rail network covered approx. 850 km, most of which were electrified.

Armenia is in the Armenia Time (AMT) time zone, which is three hours ahead of CET.

The months of May / June and September / October offer sunny, warm days, pleasant nights and little rainfall.

The Armenian currency is called Dram. 1 dram = 100 luma. Withdrawing money is possible with the EC card at a limited number of ATMs in Yerevan. With major credit cards, there are more options in Yerevan. In the surrounding area, however, this is not so easy. It is therefore advisable to stock up on sufficient cash for overland tours. Euros or US dollars can easily be exchanged in banks and exchange offices.

220 V, 50 Hz. An adapter is required. The power supply is not always guaranteed.

Due to the mountain relief, strongly differing regional and local climates are characteristic. Particularly in the valleys and basin landscapes there is a pronounced dry continental climate with hot summers up to over 40 degrees and annual average precipitation of only 300 mm. On the plateaus and in middle mountain heights, the temperature changes are more moderate with increasing amounts of precipitation. It can get bitterly cold, down to -40 degrees, in the north-western mountain areas in the province of Shirak around Lake Arpi. The months April to June and September / October are considered the most pleasant travel times.

Armenia is a mountainous country. Only 1% of the national territory is below 500 m, 90% are at altitudes above 1,000 m, 40% even above 2,000 m. The north and north-east of the country are criss-crossed by the Lesser Caucasus. To the south there is an extensive volcanic plateau, which in the “Aragaz”, an extinct volcanic cone, has the highest elevation in the country at 4,096 m. Finally, in the southwest, in the Armenian-Turkish border area, the Ararat plain extends. The population is concentrated here and in other low-lying basin landscapes and valleys, so that more than half of the total population lives on only 10% of the land area. The forms of vegetation range - influenced by altitude and drought - from deserts to steppes to woodland (13%), subalpine and alpine meadows. Armenia lies in a tectonically troubled zone where the Arab and Eurasian plates meet.

Mountainous country south of the main ridge of the Great Caucasus, on the isthmus between the Black and Caspian Seas. Armenia shares borders with Georgia in the north and Azerbaijan in the east. Its southern neighbors are Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave Nakhichevan, and Turkey to the west. Nakhichevan, which is 5,550 km² in size and surrounded by Armenian territory, is an autonomous republic belonging to Azerbaijan. Nagorny Karabach (Nagorny Karabach, armen. Artsakh) with a majority Armenian population covers about 4,400 km² and is a nominally autonomous area of ​​Azerbaijan. After the civil war (1990), N. K. declared himself independent in 1991. Area: 29,800 km² (roughly the size of Belgium). North-south extension: 325 km, west-east: 125 km.

The former Soviet Republic of Armenia has been independent since September 1991. A few months later, the country became a member of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), an association of former Soviet republics that was set up at the end of 1991 to mitigate the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union by creating an economic and security alliance. In the late summer of 2010, the contract with Russia on the stationing of Russian troops (around 4,000 soldiers) in Armenia was extended until 2044. Since 2015, Armenia has also been a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), together with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Armenia is a parliamentary republic. State name: Hayastani Hanrapetut`yun, short form: Hayastan = Republic of Armenia.
The Washington-based NGO "Freedom House" determined a degree of freedom of 4.5 out of 7 for Armenia in 2018; the country scored 5/7 for political rights and 4/7 for civil liberties. (1 = free, 7 = not free)
In 2017, Armenia was ranked 107th out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index of “Transparency International”.

The Armenians, Christianized around 300, came under Arab rule in the 7th century, and later the Ottomans and Russians annexed large parts of the country. After the massacres by the Turkish security forces in 1915/17, Armenia was independent for a short time (1918/20) before being annexed by the Soviets in 1920, initially as part of the Transcaucasian Federation and from 1936 as the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The frequent foreign rule and the persecution that went with it repeatedly triggered refugee movements. There are contradicting statements about the strength of the Armenian diaspora. Depending on the source, the number of emigrants and their relatives varies between 4.5 and 5.5 million. The main receiving countries are Russia (mostly migrant workers), France, the USA and various countries in the Middle East. Demands for the annexation of Nagorny-Karabakh (Nagorny-Karabakh), an autonomous region within Azerbaijan with an Armenian majority, led to an open conflict between the two neighboring countries in the early 1990s, in the course of which Armenian armed forces and allied armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh established a land corridor established between the exclave and Armenia. They took power in the formerly autonomous area and declared their independence. In 1994 Russia brokered a ceasefire. The situation on the ground is unstable and there is no political solution in sight. One consequence of the conflict was a sometimes violent population exchange. 256,000 ethnic Armenians left Azerbaijan for Armenia and vice versa there were around 220,000 Azeris who fled Armenia to Azerbaijan. In addition, around 11,000 refugees (ethnic Armenians) from the Georgian republic of Abkhazia and Chechnya have settled in Armenia.

Yerevan (Yerevan) with 1,075,800 inhabitants according to the 2017 National Statistical Committee.

In 2000 Armenia had 3.221 million inhabitants, ten years later 3.045 million, in 2018 the population was estimated at 2.969 million (Nat. Stat. Kom.). For 2019 the UN Population Division calculated 2.937 million, 98.1% of the total population are ethnic Armenians (self-designation: "Haikh"). Russians, Yezidi and Muslim Kurds, Assyrians, Ukrainians and Greeks are small minorities. This makes Armenia the most ethnically homogeneous country in the Caucasus region.
The number of ethnic Armenians is estimated at eight million. Around five million - the Armenian diaspora - live in Russia (mostly as migrant workers), in the USA, Canada, France, and in the Near and Middle East, without the majority of them having too much ties to their homeland. They are usually well integrated in their host countries. The Armenian Ministry for Diaspora Issues appeals to the ethnic Armenians abroad to “return to the homeland of their forefathers”.

According to the 2011 census, 92.6% of the Armenian population belonged to the Armenian Apostolic Church (Gregorians), which was founded in 301 as the first Christian state church. A minority is a member of the Armenian Catholic Church united with Rome. There are also small religious communities of Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians as well as Muslims, Yezidis and Jews.

The official language is Armenian, more precisely: New East Armenian ("Ashcharabar"), an independent branch of the Indo-European language family with its own alphabet. Russian is widespread; Kurmanyi (a Kurdish dialect) and Turk-Azeri are spoken regionally.

During the Soviet era, the country was turned into an industrial location, the Armenian production facilities were supplied with the necessary raw materials, which were processed into machines, armaments, chemical products and textiles and then exported. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic system also collapsed. The resulting decline in the Armenian industrial sector was followed by a sustained recovery phase, which, however, only brought Armenia's economic output back to 1990 levels in 2004.The closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of 1988, which destroyed 25% of the industrial plants, the hesitant diversification of the economy, monopoly formation, oligarchic structures, high corruption are stressful for the Armenian economic sector to this day. After MP Nikol Pashinyan came to power in May 2018 after the so-called "Velvet Revolution", a policy of fighting corruption, dismantling monopolies and oligarchic influence, and strengthening the rule of law was increasingly pursued. From the previously important heavy industry, the economic focus shifted to the agricultural sector, which is still the largest employer today, but is losing importance again due to its miserable equipment. In 2016 it contributed only 15.9% to economic output, in 1993 it was 50%. One relied on the EU early on. In the summer of 2013, the association agreement with the EU was ready to be signed, but Moscow was against it, played a little with the gas price and supplied Armenia's archenemy Azerbaijan with weapons. That was enough to refrain from signing and instead join the Eurasian Economic Union, to which Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan have come together. Nevertheless, Armenia was able to conclude an extended partnership agreement with the EU in 2017, which came into force in June 2018. Armenia is the only EAEU member country that has a privileged partnership with the EU. The country remains closely linked to Russia (also in its own security interests). It depends on the cash transfers from the Armenian guest workers in Russia and other Armenians abroad (transfers 2018: the equivalent of around 1.6 billion US dollars = around 13% of GDP). The informal sector (“shadow economy”) contributes around 36% of GDP. Armenia's main exports copper and molybdenum, gold and diamonds are extremely dependent on world market prices. There are unprocessed goods as well as agricultural exports. The country has z. Currently not the industrial basis for products with high added value. The unemployment rate is said to have been just under 19% in 2018. Insiders expect significantly more.