According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other sources, Armenia is situated at a cultural, historical, and religious intersection and, geographically, it is located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, in the southern Transcaucasus. The country spans 29,743 square kilometers (11,490 square miles, about the size of Belgium or Maryland). Presently, the country is landlocked and has no navigable waterways, in contrast to Historic Armenia, which at its height under King Tigran the Great, stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and was more than ten times the current size of the present-day Armenian Republic. Armenia has borders with Georgia to the north, with Turkey to the west and south, with Azerbaijan to the east and southwest, and with Iran to the south.
Armenia's landscapes offer boundless beauty. Seven main landscape types are represented across the different altitudinal zones of Armenia. Across the country are: desert, semi desert, dry steppe, steppe, woodland, sub alpine and alpine zones. More than 200 rivers and streams traverse Armenia, with steep falls, rapids, high mountain peaks, fertile valleys, picturesque land formations, basalt columns, rock sculptures, and waterfalls. In addition, Armenia has 5 scenic canyons and over 200 therapeutic mineral springs, differing in composition and temperature.
The Armenians, an ancient people living on an ancient land, call Armenia "Hayastan," and themselves “Hay" or “Hye.” Oral history explains the lineage of the Armenian people as being the direct descendants of Noah's son Habeth. The indigenous people of the land of Ararat, Armenians forged their national identity with the rise of powerful Armenian kingdoms, the adoption of Christianity as Armenia's state religion, and the creation of the Armenian alphabet, which spurred the development of literature, philosophy, and science.
Armenia is often referred to as an open-air museum where tourists can find over 4,000 historical monuments throughout the country, covering various periods of the country's history from prehistoric to Hellenistic times, and from the early to medieval Christian era.
About 94 percent of Armenians consider themselves to be Armenian Christians. Armenia became the first nation to declare Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD.
When Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion, the need of an indigenous language arose in order to translate the Bible. A devoted scholar and monk, Mesrop Mashtots, created a distinctly Armenian alphabet after traveling all over Armenia to gather the sounds of Armenian speech. In 405 AD he introduced the thirty-six unique characters that make up the basis of the Armenian alphabet. During the Middle Ages, two additional characters were added to write words borrowed from foreign languages.
According to the February 2012 report on preliminary results of the 2011 census, Armenia’s de facto population is 2,871,509.
The official title of the country is the Republic of Armenia (Hayastani Hanrapetutyun). The Republic of Armenia was established on September 21, 1991 after the dissolution of the former Soviet Republic of which Armenia was a part. The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia was adopted through a national referendum on July 5, 1995 and amended during another referendum on November 27, 2005. All citizens aged 18 and older have the right to vote.
Since 1991, the Armenian Government has moved quickly and effectively to establish friendly and close diplomatic and economic ties with the outside world. Armenia has established diplomatic relations with over 140 countries. Armenia has a permanent presence (embassy, consulate, or representation) in over 100 countries of North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Republic of Armenia among others has permanent representation missions to the following international organizations: UN, EU, OSCE, CoE, CIS, NATO and BSEC.
Armenia has a tricolor flag comprised of three horizontal and equally sized stripes of red, blue and orange. The red color of the flag symbolizes the blood that the Armenian people have shed in the struggle for independence. Blue symbolizes the clear sky of Armenia, while the orange color symbolizes the creative drive of the nation.
As a Christian nation surrounded by and, at times, subsumed by, its Muslim neighbors, Armenians living in the southern Transcaucas region have been subject to great cruelty, persecution and (between 1894 and 1922)even attempted genocide. During that period, approximately 1.4 million innocent Armenian men, women and children perished at the hands of others attempting to fulfill an official mandate of the Ottoman Turkish government which sought to remove all Armenians from their ancient homeland. In the end, the attempt failed and, presently, the Republic of Armenia persists as a free and independent state.
Through it all, the Armenian People have remained resolute and all are deeply devoted to preserving their ancient heritage, culture and beloved homeland. Today, nearly 10 million people of Armenian descent reside in countries beyond the territorial borders of Armenia.