A landlocked country with Turkey to the west and Georgia to the north, Armenia boasts striking scenery with high mountains and caves, lakes and hot springs. Situated along the route of the Great Silk Road, it has fallen within the orbit of a number of empires and come into contact with many cultural influences throughout its history.
One of the earliest Christian civilisations, its first churches were founded in the fourth century. It later spent centuries largely under Turkic or Persian control and its rich cultural and architectural heritage combines elements from different traditions. Bulgaria
The Armenian language is part of the Indo-European family but its alphabet is unique. Yerevan wants the world, and particularly Turkey, to recognize that the killing by the Ottoman Empire of hundreds of thousands of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 was genocide.
Armenia Tourist Attractions
Turkey says that there was no genocide and that the dead were victims of World War I. The two countries have no diplomatic relations. Armenia's parliament sits in the capital, Yerevan
An independent Republic of Armenia was proclaimed at the end of the first world war but was short-lived, lasting only until the beginning of the 1920s when the Bolsheviks incorporated it into the Soviet Union.
When that empire in turn collapsed in 1991, Armenia regained independence but retained a Russian military base at Gyumri. In the mid-1990s the government embarked on an economic reform programme which brought some stability and growth. The country became a member of the Council of Europe in 2001.
Unemployment and poverty remain widespread. Armenia's economic problems are aggravated by a trade blockade, imposed by neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan since the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict over the predominantly Armenian-populated region in Azerbaijan overshadowed Armenia's return to independence in 1991.
Full-scale war broke out the same year as ethnic Armenians in Karabakh fought for independence, supported by troops and resources from Armenia proper. A ceasefire in place since 1994 has failed to deliver any lasting solution.
There is concern over safety at the Metsamor nuclear plant west of Yerevan. It was closed in 1988 following a catastrophic earthquake in the area but reopened in 1995 for economic reasons. The country is heavily reliant on it for electricity.
Armenia receives most of its gas supply from Russia and, like some other republics of the former Soviet Union, has had to face sharp price rises. The Russian gas giant Gazprom more or less doubled the price in April 2006. Russian gas arrives via a pipeline running through Georgia.
Armenia has a huge diaspora and has always experienced waves of emigration, but the exodus of recent years has caused real alarm. It is estimated that Armenia has lost up to a quarter of its population since independence, as young families seek what they hope will be a better life abroad.
Conversely, Armenia is richly endowed with potential as a tourist destination and recent figures indicate that some success is being achieved in attracting visitors.
Full name: The Republic of Armenia
Population: 3 million (UN, 2007)
Area: 29,743 sq km (11,484 sq miles)
Major languages: Armenian, Russian
Major religion: Christianity
(Armenia map) Please mouse click on the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement
Life expectancy: 68 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 dram = 100 lumas
Main exports: Processed and unprocessed diamonds, machinery, metal products, foodstuffs
GNI per capita: US $1,470 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .am
International dialling code: +374