Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the de facto independent Artsakh. There is a wide-ranging diaspora of around 5 million people of full or partial Armenian ancestry living outside modern Armenia. The largest Armenian populations today exist in Russia, the United States, France, Georgia, Iran, Germany, Ukraine, Lebanon, Brazil and Syria. With the exceptions of Iran and the former Soviet states, the present-day Armenian diaspora was formed mainly as a result of the Armenian Genocide.
Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a non-Chalcedonian church, which is also the world's oldest national church. Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after Jesus' death, due to the efforts of two of his apostles, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew. In the early 4th century, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as a state religion.
Armenian is an Indo-European language. It has two mutually intelligible and written forms: Eastern Armenian, today spoken mainly in Armenia, Artsakh, Iran, and the former Soviet republics; and Western Armenian, used in the historical Western Armenia and, after the Armenian Genocide, primarily in the Armenian diasporan communities. The unique Armenian alphabet was invented in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.
|c. 6–8 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
• Abkhazia[note 1]
Armenian Apostolic Church · Catholic · Protestant
Armenian Native Faith
|Related ethnic groups|
Historically, the name Armenian has come to internationally designate this group of people. It was first used by neighbouring countries of ancient Armenia. The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date around the 6th century BC. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription dated to 517 BC, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian) as Armina (in Old Persian; Armina ( ) and Harminuya (in Elamite). In Greek, Αρμένιοι "Armenians" is attested from about the same time, perhaps the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC). Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.
Armenians call themselves Hay (Armenian: հայ, pronounced [ˈhaj]; plural: հայեր, [haˈjɛɾ]). The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk (Armenian: Հայկ), the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who, according to Moses of Chorene, defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region. It is also further postulated that the name Hay comes from one of the two confederated, Hittite vassal states—the Ḫayaša-Azzi (1600–1200 BC).
The modern Armenian language is often grouped with Greek and Ancient Macedonian ("Helleno-Macedonian") in the Pontic Indo-European (also called Helleno-Armenian) subgroup of Indo-European languages by Eric P. Hamp in his 2012 Indo-European family tree, groups . There are two possible explanations, not mutually exclusive, for a common origin of the Armenian and Greek languages.
Some genetics studies explain Armenian diversity by several mixtures of Eurasian populations that occurred between ~3,000 and ~2,000 BC. But genetic signals of population mixture cease after ~1,200 BC when Bronze Age civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean world suddenly and violently collapsed. Armenians have since remained isolated and genetic structure within the population developed ~500 years ago when Armenia was divided between the Ottomans and the Safavid Empire in Iran.
In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1600–1200 BC). Soon after Hayasa-Azzi came Arme-Shupria (1300s–1190 BC), the Nairi (1400–1000 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (860–590 BC), who successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland. Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Under Ashurbanipal (669–627 BC), the Assyrian empire reached the Caucasus Mountains (modern Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan).
The first geographical entity that was called Armenia by neighboring peoples (such as by Hecataeus of Miletus and on the Achaemenid Behistun Inscription) was established in the late 6th century BC under the Orontid dynasty within the Achaemenid Persian Empire as part of the latters' territories, and which later became a kingdom. At its zenith (95–65 BC), the state extended from the Caucasus all the way to what is now central Turkey, Lebanon, and northern Iran. The imperial reign of Tigranes the Great is thus the span of time during which Armenia itself conquered areas populated by other peoples.
The Arsacid Kingdom of Armenia, itself a branch of the Arsacid dynasty of Parthia, was the first state to adopt Christianity as its religion (it had formerly been adherent to Armenian paganism, which was influenced by Zoroastrianism, while later on adopting a few elements regarding identification of its pantheon with Greco-Roman deities). in the early years of the 4th century, likely AD 301, partly in defiance of the Sassanids it seems. In the late Parthian period, Armenia was a predominantly Zoroastrian-adhering land, but by the Christianisation, previously predominant Zoroastrianism and paganism in Armenia gradually declined. Later on, in order to further strengthen Armenian national identity, Mesrop Mashtots invented the Armenian alphabet, in 405 AD. This event ushered the Golden Age of Armenia, during which many foreign books and manuscripts were translated to Armenian by Mesrop's pupils. Armenia lost its sovereignty again in 428 AD to the rivalling Byzantine and Sassanid Persian empires, until the Muslim conquest of Persia overran also the regions in which Armenians lived.
In 885 AD the Armenians reestablished themselves as a sovereign kingdom under the leadership of Ashot I of the Bagratid Dynasty. A considerable portion of the Armenian nobility and peasantry fled the Byzantine occupation of Bagratid Armenia in 1045, and the subsequent invasion of the region by Seljuk Turks in 1064. They settled in large numbers in Cilicia, an Anatolian region where Armenians were already established as a minority since Roman times. In 1080, they founded an independent Armenian Principality then Kingdom of Cilicia, which became the focus of Armenian nationalism. The Armenians developed close social, cultural, military, and religious ties with nearby Crusader States, but eventually succumbed to Mamluk invasions. In the next few centuries, Djenghis Khan, Timurids, and the tribal Turkic federations of the Ak Koyunlu and the Kara Koyunlu ruled over the Armenians.
From the early 16th century, both Western Armenia and Eastern Armenia fell under Iranian Safavid rule. Owing to the century long Turco-Iranian geo-political rivalry that would last in Western Asia, significant parts of the region were frequently fought over between the two rivalling empires. From the mid 16th century with the Peace of Amasya, and decisively from the first half of the 17th century with the Treaty of Zuhab until the first half of the 19th century, Eastern Armenia was ruled by the successive Iranian Safavid, Afsharid and Qajar empires, while Western Armenia remained under Ottoman rule. In the late 1820s, the parts of historic Armenia under Iranian control centering on Yerevan and Lake Sevan (all of Eastern Armenia) were incorporated into the Russian Empire following Iran's forced ceding of the territories after its loss in the Russo-Persian War (1826-1828) and the outcoming Treaty of Turkmenchay. Western Armenia however, remained in Ottoman hands.
The ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is widely considered a genocide, resulting in an estimated 1.5 million victims. The first wave of persecution was in the years 1894 to 1896, the second one culminating in the events of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and 1916. With World War I in progress, the Ottoman Empire accused the (Christian) Armenians as liable to ally with Imperial Russia, and used it as a pretext to deal with the entire Armenian population as an enemy within their empire.
Governments of the Republic of Turkey since that time have consistently rejected charges of genocide, typically arguing either that those Armenians who died were simply in the way of a war, or that killings of Armenians were justified by their individual or collective support for the enemies of the Ottoman Empire. Passage of legislation in various foreign countries, condemning the persecution of the Armenians as genocide, has often provoked diplomatic conflict. (See Recognition of the Armenian Genocide)
Following the breakup of the Russian Empire in the aftermath of World War I for a brief period, from 1918 to 1920, Armenia was an independent republic. In late 1920, the communists came to power following an invasion of Armenia by the Red Army; in 1922, Armenia became part of the Transcaucasian SFSR of the Soviet Union, later on forming the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (1936 to 21 September 1991). In 1991, Armenia declared independence from the USSR and established the second Republic of Armenia.
Armenians have had a presence in the Armenian Highland for over 4,000 years, since the time when Hayk, the legendary patriarch and founder of the first Armenian nation, led them to victory over Bel of Babylon. Today, with a population of 3.5 million, they not only constitute an overwhelming majority in Armenia, but also in the disputed region of Artsakh. Armenians in the diaspora informally refer to them as Hayastantsis (Armenian: հայաստանցի), meaning those that are from Armenia (that is, those born and raised in Armenia). They, as well as the Armenians of Iran and Russia speak the Eastern dialect of the Armenian language. The country itself is secular as a result of Soviet domination, but most of its citizens identify themselves as Apostolic Armenian Christian.
Small Armenian trading and religious communities have existed outside Armenia for centuries. For example, a community survived for over a millennium in the Holy Land, and one of the four-quarters of the walled Old City of Jerusalem has been called the Armenian Quarter. An Armenian Catholic monastic community of 35 founded in 1717 exists on an island near Venice, Italy. There are also remnants of formerly populous communities in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Israel, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
Regardless, most of the modern days diaspora consists of Armenians scattered throughout the world as a direct consequence of the genocide of 1915, constituting the main portion of the Armenian diaspora. However, Armenian communities in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi, in Syria and in Iran existed since antiquity.
Within the diasporan Armenian community, there is an unofficial classification of the different kinds of Armenians. For example, Armenians who originate from Iran are referred to as Parskahay (Armenian: պարսկահայ), while Armenians from Lebanon are usually referred to as Lipananahay (Armenian: լիբանանահայ). Armenians of the Diaspora are the primary speakers of the Western dialect of the Armenian language. This dialect has considerable differences with Eastern Armenian, but speakers of either of the two variations can usually understand each other. Eastern Armenian in the diaspora is primarily spoken in Iran and European countries such as Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia (where they form a majority in the Samtskhe-Javakheti province). In diverse communities (such as in Canada and the U.S.) where many different kinds of Armenians live together, there is a tendency for the different groups to cluster together.
Before Christianity, Armenians adhered to Armenian paganism: a type of indigenous polytheism that stemmed from the Urartu period but which adopted several Greco-Roman and Iranian religious characteristics.
In 301 AD, Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion, becoming the first state to do so. The claim is primarily based on the fifth-century work of Agathangelos titled "The History of the Armenians." Agathangelos witnessed at first hand the baptism of the Armenian King Trdat III (c. 301/314 A.D.) by St. Gregory the Illuminator. Trdat III decreed Christianity was the state religion.
Armenia established a Church that still exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, having become so in 451 AD as a result of its stance regarding the Council of Chalcedon. Today this church is known as the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox communion. During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity. The original location of the Armenian Catholicosate is Echmiadzin. However, the continuous upheavals, which characterized the political scenes of Armenia, made the political power move to safer places. The Church center moved as well to different locations together with the political authority. Therefore, it eventually moved to Cilicia as the Holy See of Cilicia.
The Armenians collective has, at times, constituted a Christian "island" in a mostly Muslim region. There is, however, a minority of ethnic Armenian Muslims, known as Hamshenis but many Armenians view them as a separate race, while the history of the Jews in Armenia dates back 2,000 years. The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia had close ties to European Crusader States. Later on, the deteriorating situation in the region led the bishops of Armenia to elect a Catholicos in Etchmiadzin, the original seat of the Catholicosate. In 1441, a new Catholicos was elected in Etchmiadzin in the person of Kirakos Virapetsi, while Krikor Moussapegiants preserved his title as Catholicos of Cilicia. Therefore, since 1441, there have been two Catholicosates in the Armenian Church with equal rights and privileges, and with their respective jurisdictions. The primacy of honor of the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin has always been recognized by the Catholicosate of Cilicia.
While the Armenian Apostolic Church remains the most prominent church in the Armenian community throughout the world, Armenians (especially in the diaspora) subscribe to any number of other Christian denominations. These include the Armenian Catholic Church (which follows its own liturgy but recognizes the Roman Catholic Pope), the Armenian Evangelical Church, which started as a reformation in the Mother church but later broke away, and the Armenian Brotherhood Church, which was born in the Armenian Evangelical Church, but later broke apart from it. There are other numerous Armenian churches belonging to Protestant denominations of all kinds.
Through the ages many Armenians have collectively belonged to other faiths or Christian movements, including the Paulicians which is a form of Gnostic and Manichaean Christianity. Paulicians sought to restore the pure Christianity of Paul and in c.660 founded the first congregation in Kibossa, Armenia.
Another example is the Tondrakians, who flourished in medieval Armenia between the early 9th century and 11th century. Tondrakians advocated the abolishment of the church, denied the immortality of the soul, did not believe in an afterlife, supported property rights for peasants, and equality between men and women.
The Orthodox Armenians or the Chalcedonian Armenians in the Byzantine Empire were called Iberians ("Georgians") or "Greeks". See Gregory Pakourianos – the great Byzantine general. Their descendants are the Hayhurum and Catholic Armenians in Georgia.
Armenian is a sub-branch of the Indo-European family, and with some 8 million speakers one of the smallest surviving branches, comparable to Albanian or the somewhat more widely spoken Greek, with which it may be connected (see Graeco-Armenian). Today, that branch has just one language – Armenian.
Five million Eastern Armenian speakers live in the Caucasus, Russia, and Iran, and approximately two to three million people in the rest of the Armenian diaspora speak Western Armenian. According to US Census figures, there are 300,000 Americans who speak Armenian at home. It is in fact the twentieth most commonly spoken language in the United States, having slightly fewer speakers than Haitian Creole, and slightly more than Navajo.
Armenian literature dates back to 400 AD, when Mesrop Mashtots first invented the Armenian alphabet. This period of time is often viewed as the Golden Age of Armenian literature. Early Armenian literature was written by the "father of Armenian history", Moses of Chorene, who authored The History of Armenia. The book covers the time-frame from the formation of the Armenian people to the fifth century AD. The nineteenth century beheld a great literary movement that was to give rise to modern Armenian literature. This period of time, during which Armenian culture flourished, is known as the Revival period (Zartonki sherchan). The Revivalist authors of Constantinople and Tiflis, almost identical to the Romanticists of Europe, were interested in encouraging Armenian nationalism. Most of them adopted the newly created Eastern or Western variants of the Armenian language depending on the targeted audience, and preferred them over classical Armenian (grabar). This period ended after the Hamidian massacres, when Armenians experienced turbulent times. As Armenian history of the 1920s and of the Genocide came to be more openly discussed, writers like Paruyr Sevak, Gevork Emin, Silva Kaputikyan and Hovhannes Shiraz began a new era of literature.
The first Armenian churches were built on the orders of St. Gregory the Illuminator, and were often built on top of pagan temples, and imitated some aspects of Armenian pre-Christian architecture.
Classical and Medieval Armenian Architecture is divided into four separate periods.
The first Armenian churches were built between the 4th and 7th century, beginning when Armenia converted to Christianity, and ending with the Arab invasion of Armenia. The early churches were mostly simple basilicas, but some with side apses. By the fifth century the typical cupola cone in the center had become widely used. By the seventh century, centrally planned churches had been built and a more complicated niched buttress and radiating Hrip'simé style had formed. By the time of the Arab invasion, most of what we now know as classical Armenian architecture had formed.
From the 9th to 11th century, Armenian architecture underwent a revival under the patronage of the Bagratid Dynasty with a great deal of building done in the area of Lake Van, this included both traditional styles and new innovations. Ornately carved Armenian Khachkars were developed during this time. Many new cities and churches were built during this time, including a new capital at Lake Van and a new Cathedral on Akdamar Island to match. The Cathedral of Ani was also completed during this dynasty. It was during this time that the first major monasteries, such as Haghpat and Haritchavank were built. This period was ended by the Seljuk invasion.
Many types of sports are played in Armenia, among the most popular being football, chess, boxing, basketball, hockey, sambo, wrestling, weightlifting and volleyball. Since independence, the Armenian government has been actively rebuilding its sports program in the country.
During Soviet rule, Armenian athletes rose to prominence winning plenty of medals and helping the USSR win the medal standings at the Olympics on numerous occasions. The first medal won by an Armenian in modern Olympic history was by Hrant Shahinyan, who won two golds and two silvers in gymnastics at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. In football, their most successful team was Yerevan's FC Ararat, which had claimed most of the Soviet championships in the 70s and had also gone to post victories against professional clubs like FC Bayern Munich in the Euro cup.
Armenians have also been successful in chess, which is the most popular mind sport in Armenia. Some of the most prominent chess players in the world are Armenian such as Tigran Petrosian, Levon Aronian and Garry Kasparov. Armenians have also been successful in weightlifting and wrestling (Armen Nazaryan), winning medals in each sport at the Olympics. There are also successful Armenians in football – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, boxing – Arthur Abraham and Vic Darchinyan.
Armenian folk musicians and traditional Armenian dance.
Instruments like the duduk, the dhol, the zurna and the kanun are commonly found in Armenian folk music. Artists such as Sayat Nova are famous due to their influence in the development of Armenian folk music. One of the oldest types of Armenian music is the Armenian chant which is the most common kind of religious music in Armenia. Many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet. Whilst under Soviet rule, Armenian classical music composer Aram Khatchaturian became internationally well known for his music, for various ballets and the Sabre Dance from his composition for the ballet Gayane.
The Armenian Genocide caused widespread emigration that led to the settlement of Armenians in various countries in the world. Armenians kept to their traditions and certain diasporans rose to fame with their music. In the post-Genocide Armenian community of the United States, the so-called "kef" style Armenian dance music, using Armenian and Middle Eastern folk instruments (often electrified/amplified) and some western instruments, was popular. This style preserved the folk songs and dances of Western Armenia, and many artists also played the contemporary popular songs of Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries from which the Armenians emigrated. Richard Hagopian is perhaps the most famous artist of the traditional "kef" style and the Vosbikian Band was notable in the 40s and 50s for developing their own style of "kef music" heavily influenced by the popular American Big Band Jazz of the time. Later, stemming from the Middle Eastern Armenian diaspora and influenced by Continental European (especially French) pop music, the Armenian pop music genre grew to fame in the 60s and 70s with artists such as Adiss Harmandian and Harout Pamboukjian performing to the Armenian diaspora and Armenia. Also with artists such as Sirusho, performing pop music combined with Armenian folk music in today's entertainment industry. Other Armenian diasporans that rose to fame in classical or international music circles are world-renowned French-Armenian singer and composer Charles Aznavour, pianist Sahan Arzruni, prominent opera sopranos such as Hasmik Papian and more recently Isabel Bayrakdarian and Anna Kasyan. Certain Armenians settled to sing non-Armenian tunes such as the heavy metal band System of a Down (which nonetheless often incorporates traditional Armenian instrumentals and styling into their songs) or pop star Cher. Ruben Hakobyan (Ruben Sasuntsi) is a well recognized Armenian ethnographic and patriotic folk singer who has achieved widespread national recognition due to his devotion to Armenian folk music and exceptional talent. In the Armenian diaspora, Armenian Revolutionary Songs are popular with the youth. These songs encourage Armenian patriotism and are generally about Armenian history and national heroes.
Carpet-weaving is historically a major traditional profession for the majority of Armenian women, including many Armenian families. Prominent Karabakh carpet weavers there were men too. The oldest extant Armenian carpet from the region, referred to as Artsakh (see also Karabakh carpet) during the medieval era, is from the village of Banants (near Gandzak) and dates to the early 13th century. The first time that the Armenian word for carpet, gorg, was used in historical sources was in a 1242–1243 Armenian inscription on the wall of the Kaptavan Church in Artsakh.
Common themes and patterns found on Armenian carpets were the depiction of dragons and eagles. They were diverse in style, rich in color and ornamental motifs, and were even separated in categories depending on what sort of animals were depicted on them, such as artsvagorgs (eagle-carpets), vishapagorgs (dragon-carpets) and otsagorgs (serpent-carpets). The rug mentioned in the Kaptavan inscriptions is composed of three arches, "covered with vegatative ornaments", and bears an artistic resemblance to the illuminated manuscripts produced in Artsakh.
The art of carpet weaving was in addition intimately connected to the making of curtains as evidenced in a passage by Kirakos Gandzaketsi, a 13th-century Armenian historian from Artsakh, who praised Arzu-Khatun, the wife of regional prince Vakhtang Khachenatsi, and her daughters for their expertise and skill in weaving.
Armenian carpets were also renowned by foreigners who traveled to Artsakh; the Arab geographer and historian Al-Masudi noted that, among other works of art, he had never seen such carpets elsewhere in his life.
Khorovats, an Armenian-styled barbecue, is arguably the favorite Armenian dish. Lavash is a very popular Armenian flat bread, and Armenian paklava is a popular dessert made from filo dough. Other famous Armenian foods include the kabob (a skewer of marinated roasted meat and vegetables), various dolmas (minced lamb, or beef meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves, cabbage leaves, or stuffed into hollowed vegetables), and pilaf, a rice dish. Also, ghapama, a rice-stuffed pumpkin dish, and many different salads are popular in Armenian culture. Fruits play a large part in the Armenian diet. Apricots (Prunus armeniaca, also known as Armenian Plum) have been grown in Armenia for centuries and have a reputation for having an especially good flavor. Peaches are popular as well, as are grapes, figs, pomegranates, and melons. Preserves are made from many fruits, including cornelian cherries, young walnuts, sea buckthorn, mulberries, sour cherries, and many others.
The nearly 3 million Armenians in Armenia (and 3–4 million in the Armenian Diaspora worldwide) "perceive" the nearly 8 million Azerbaijanis in Azerbaijan as "Turks."
The impact of such a horror on a group who presently number approximately 6 million, worldwide, is incalculable.
The country's estimated 3–6 million Diaspora represent a major source of foreign direct investment in the country.
Since the newly independent Republic of Armenia was declared in 1991, nearly 4 million of the world's 6 million Armenians have been living on the eastern edge of their Middle Eastern homeland.
...there are some 8 million Armenians in the world...
In contrast to its population of 3.2 million, approximately 8 million Armenians live in other countries of the world, including large communities in the America and Russia.
A nation of some 8 million people, about 3 million of whom live in the newly independent post-Soviet state, Armenians are constantly battling not to lose their distinct culture, identity and the newly established statehood.
An estimated 60 percent of the total 8 million Armenians worldwide live outside the country...
Worldwide, there are more than 8 million Armenians; 3.2 million reside in the Republic of Armenia.
The Armenians, an Indo-European people, first appear in history shortly after the end of the 7th century BCE[, d]riving some of the ancient population to the east of Mount Ararat [...]
In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian state was replaced by the Armenian kingdom in the territory of the Armenian Highlands.
The UCLA conference series titled "Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces" is organized by the Holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History. The conference proceedings are edited by Richard G. Hovannisian. Published in Costa Mesa, CA, by Mazda Publishers, they are:
Armenia ( (listen); Armenian: Հայաստան, translit. Hayastan, IPA: [hɑjɑsˈtɑn]), officially the Republic of Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն, translit. Hayastani Hanrapetut'yun, IPA: [hɑjɑstɑˈni hɑnɾɑpɛtutʰˈjun]), is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located in Western Asia on the Armenian Highlands, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. Urartu was established in 860 BC and by the 6th century BC it was replaced by the Satrapy of Armenia. The Kingdom of Armenia reached its height under Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC and became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the late 3rd or early 4th century AD. The official date of state adoption of Christianity is 301. The ancient Armenian kingdom was split between the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires around the early 5th century. Under the Bagratuni dynasty, the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia was restored in the 9th century. Declining due to the wars against the Byzantines, the kingdom fell in 1045 and Armenia was soon after invaded by the Seljuk Turks. An Armenian principality and later a kingdom Cilician Armenia was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between the 11th and 14th centuries.
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the traditional Armenian homeland composed of Eastern Armenia and Western Armenia came under the rule of the Ottoman and Iranian empires, repeatedly ruled by either of the two over the centuries. By the 19th century, Eastern Armenia had been conquered by the Russian Empire, while most of the western parts of the traditional Armenian homeland remained under Ottoman rule. During World War I, Armenians living in their ancestral lands in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. In 1918, following the Russian Revolution, all non-Russian countries declared their independence after the Russian Empire ceased to exist, leading to the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia. By 1920, the state was incorporated into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, and in 1922 became a founding member of the Soviet Union. In 1936, the Transcaucasian state was dissolved, transforming its constituent states, including the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, into full Union republics. The modern Republic of Armenia became independent in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Armenia recognises the Armenian Apostolic Church, the world's oldest national church, as the country's primary religious establishment. The unique Armenian alphabet was invented by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD.
Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Council of Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia supports the de facto independent Artsakh, which was proclaimed in 1991.Armenian Americans
Armenian Americans (Armenian: ամերիկահայեր, amerikahayer) are citizens or residents of the United States who have total or partial Armenian ancestry. They form the second largest community of the Armenian diaspora after Armenians in Russia. The first major wave of Armenian immigration to the United States took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thousands of Armenians settled in the United States following the Hamidian massacres of the mid-1890s, the Adana Massacre of 1909, and the Armenian Genocide of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. Since the 1950s many Armenians from the Middle East (especially from Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey) migrated to America as a result of political instability in this region. It accelerated in the late 1980s and has continued after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 due to socio-economic and political reasons.
The 2014 American Community Survey estimated that 461,076 Americans held full or partial Armenian ancestry. By 2016, the number has risen to 467,890. Various organizations and media criticize these numbers as an underestimate, proposing 800,000 to 1,500,000 Armenian Americans instead. The highest concentration of Americans of Armenian descent is in the Greater Los Angeles area, where 166,498 people have identified themselves as Armenian to the 2000 Census, comprising over 40% of the 385,488 people who identified Armenian origins in the US at the time. The city of Glendale in the Los Angeles metropolitan area is widely thought to be the center of Armenian American life.The Armenian American community is the most politically influential community of the Armenian diaspora. Organizations such as Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and Armenian Assembly of America advocate for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States government and support stronger Armenia–United States relations. The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is known for its financial support and promotion of Armenian culture and Armenian language schools.Armenian Canadians
Armenian Canadians (Armenian: կանադահայեր, kanadahayer) are Canadian citizens of Armenian national background or descent. The 2006 census determined that their number was 50,500 and the 2016 census determined that 35,790 had Armenian as their mother tongue. A large part of the Armenian diaspora in Canada came from nations in the Middle East and some from Europe. Canada has also seen increased immigration from Armenia, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union.Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց ցեղասպանություն, Hayots tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, mostly citizens within the Ottoman Empire. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the region of Ankara 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination in the Assyrian genocide and the Greek genocide, and their treatment is considered by some historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. Most Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.Raphael Lemkin was moved specifically by the annihilation of the Armenians to define systematic and premeditated exterminations within legal parameters and coin the word genocide in 1943. The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, because scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out. It is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.Turkey denies the word genocide is an accurate term for these crimes. In recent years, Turkey has been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. As of 2018, 29 countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide, as have most genocide scholars and historians.Armenian Quarter
The Armenian Quarter (Arabic: حارة الأرمن, Harat al-Arman; Hebrew: הרובע הארמני, Ha-Rova ha-Armeni; Armenian: Հայոց թաղ, Hayots t'agh) is one of the four quarters of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. Located in the southwestern corner of the Old City, it can be accessed through the Zion Gate and Jaffa Gate. It occupies an area of 0.126 km² (126 dunam), which is 14% of the Old City's total. In 2007, it had a population of 2,424 (6.55% of Old City's total). In both criteria, it is comparable to the Jewish Quarter. The Armenian Quarter is separated from the Christian Quarter by David Street (Suq el-Bazaar) and from the Jewish Quarter by Habad Street (Suq el-Husur).
The Armenian presence in Jerusalem dates back to the 4th century AD, when Armenia adopted Christianity as a national religion and Armenian monks settled in Jerusalem. Hence, it is considered the oldest living diaspora community outside the Armenian homeland. Gradually, the quarter developed around the St. James Monastery—which dominates the quarter—and took its modern shape by the 19th century. The monastery houses the Armenian Apostolic Church's Jerusalem Patriarchate, which was established as a diocese in the 7th century AD. The patriarchate is the de facto administrator of the quarter and acts as a "mini-welfare state" for the Armenian residents. The Armenian community has been in decline since the mid-20th century, and is in immediate danger of disappearing, according to Bert Vaux.
Though formally separate from Greek Orthodox and Latin (Catholic) Christians, the Armenians consider their quarter to be part of the Christian Quarter. The three Christian patriarchates of Jerusalem and the government of Armenia have publicly expressed their opposition to any political division of the two quarters. The central reasons for the existence of a separate Armenian Quarter is the miaphysitism and distinct language and culture of the Armenians, who, unlike the majority of Christians in Jerusalem (also in Israel and Palestine), are neither Arab nor Palestinian.Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic
Armenia ( (listen); Armenian: Հայաստան, translit. Hayastan, IPA: [hɑjɑsˈtɑn]; Russian: Армения; Armeniya), officially the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (Armenian SSR; Armenian: Հայկական Սովետական Սոցիալիստական Հանրապետություն, translit. Haykakan Sovetakan Soc'ialistakan Hanrapetut'yun; Russian: Армянская Советская Социалистическая Республика, translit. Armyanskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika), also commonly referred to as Soviet Armenia, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union in December 1922 located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It was established in December 1920, when the Soviets took over control of the short-lived First Republic of Armenia and lasted until 1991. It is sometimes called the Second Republic of Armenia, following the First Republic of Armenia's demise.
As part of the Soviet Union, the Armenian SSR transformed from a largely agricultural hinterland to an important industrial production center, while its population almost quadrupled from around 880,000 in 1926 to 3.3 million in 1989 due to natural growth and large-scale influx of Armenian Genocide survivors and their descendants. On August 23, 1990, it was renamed the Republic of Armenia after its sovereignty was declared, but remained in the Soviet Union until its official proclamation of independence on 21 September 1991. Its independence was recognized on 26 December 1991 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the state of the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia existed until the adoption of the new constitution in 1995.Armenian diaspora
The Armenian diaspora refers to the communities of Armenians outside Armenia and other locations where Armenians are considered an indigenous population. Since antiquity, Armenians have established communities in many regions throughout the world. However, the modern Armenian diaspora was largely formed as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, when the Armenians living in their ancestral homeland in eastern Turkey, known as Western Armenia to Armenians, were systematically exterminated by the Ottoman government.Armenians in Azerbaijan
Armenians in Azerbaijan are the Armenians who lived in great numbers in the modern state of Azerbaijan and its precursor, Soviet Azerbaijan. According to the statistics, about 400,000 Armenians lived in Soviet Azerbaijan in 1989. Most of the Armenian-Azerbaijanis however had to flee the republic, like Azeris in Armenia, in the events leading up to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, a result of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Atrocities directed against the Armenian population have reportedly taken place in Sumgait (February 1988), Ganja (Kirovabad, November 1988) and Baku (January 1990). Today the vast majority of Armenians in Azerbaijan live in territory controlled by the break-away region Nagorno-Karabakh (120,700 as of 1999 Azerbaijani official statistics) which declared its unilateral act of independence in 1991 under the name Nagorno-Karabakh Republic but has not been recognised by any country, including Armenia.
Non-official sources estimate that the number Armenians living on Azerbaijani territory outside Nagorno-Karabakh is around 2,000 to 3,000, and almost exclusively comprises persons married to Azeris or of mixed Armenian-Azeri descent. The number of Armenians who are likely not married to Azeris and are not of mixed Armenian-Azeri descent are estimated at 645 (36 men and 609 women) and more than half (378 or 59 per cent of Armenians in Azerbaijan outside Nagorno-Karabakh) live in Baku and the rest in rural areas. They are likely to be the elderly and sick, and probably have no other family members. Armenians in Azerbaijan are at a great risk as long as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unsettled.
In Azerbaijan, the status of Armenians is precarious. Armenian churches remain closed, because of the large outmigration of Armenians and fear of Azeri attacks.Armenians in Baku
Armenians once formed a sizable community in Baku, the current capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Though the date of their original settlement is unclear, Baku's Armenian population swelled during the 19th century, when it became a major center for oil production and offered other economic opportunities to enterprising investors and businessmen. Their numbers remained strong into the 20th century, despite the turbulence of the Russian Revolutions of 1917, but almost all the Armenians fled the city between 1988 and January 1990. By the beginning of January 1990 only 50,000 Armenians remained in Baku compared to a quarter million in 1988; most of these left after being targeted in a pogrom that occurred prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the early stages of the Nagorno-Karabakh War.Armenians in Central Asia
Armenians in Central Asian states: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, were mainly settled there during the Soviet era for various reasons.Armenians in Iraq
The history of Armenians in Iraq is documented since late Babylonian times. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers both have their sources in the Armenian Highland, hence, the land of Iraq and the land of Armenia have always been connected. Today it is estimated that there are around 10,000–15,000 Armenians living in Iraq, with communities in Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk, Baqubah, Dohuk, Zakho and Avzrog. They make up the second largest solely Christian ethnicity in the country, after the indigenous Assyrians.Armenians in Lebanon
The Armenians in Lebanon (Armenian: Լիբանանահայեր lipananahayer, Arabic: اللبنانيون الأرمن) (French: Libano-Arméniens) are Lebanese citizens of Armenian descent. There has been an Armenian presence in Lebanon for centuries. According to Minority Rights Group International, there are 156,000 Armenians in Lebanon, around 4% of the population. Prior to the Lebanese Civil War, the number was higher, but the community lost a portion of its population to emigration. Prior to 1975, Beirut was a thriving center of Armenian culture with varied media production, which was exported to the Armenian diaspora.Armenians in Turkey
Armenians in Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Ermenileri; Armenian: Թուրքահայեր, also Թրքահայեր, "Turkish Armenians"), one of the indigenous peoples of Turkey, have an estimated population of 50,000 to 70,000, down from more than 2 million in 1914. Today, the overwhelming majority of Turkish Armenians are concentrated in Istanbul. They support their own newspapers and schools, and the majority belong to the Armenian Apostolic faith.
Until the Armenian Genocide of 1915, most of the Armenian population of Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) lived in the eastern parts of the country that Armenians call Western Armenia (roughly corresponding to the modern Eastern Anatolia Region).Armenians in the Ottoman Empire
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (or Ottoman Armenians) mostly belonged to either the Armenian Apostolic Church or the Armenian Catholic Church. They were part of the Armenian millet until the Tanzimat reforms in the nineteenth century equalized all Ottoman citizens before the law.Catholicos of All Armenians
The Catholicos of All Armenians (plural Catholicoi, due to its Greek origin) (Armenian: Ամենայն Հայոց Կաթողիկոս) is the chief bishop and spiritual leader of Armenia's national church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the worldwide Armenian diaspora. According to tradition, the apostles Saint Thaddeus and Saint Bartholomew brought Christianity to Armenia in the first century. Saint Gregory the Illuminator became the first Catholicos of All Armenians following the nation's adoption of Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD. The seat of the Catholicos, and the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Armenian Church, is the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, located in the city of Vagharshapat.
The Armenian Apostolic Church is part of the Oriental Orthodox communion that do not subscribe to the Christological formulas of the Council of Chalcedon. It includes the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
The current Catholicos is Karekin II.Hidden Armenians
Hidden Armenians (Turkish: Gizli Ermeniler) or crypto-Armenians (Armenian: ծպտեալ հայեր tsptyal hayer; Turkish: Kripto Ermeniler) is an "umbrella term to describe Turkish people of full or partial ethnic Armenian origin who generally conceal their Armenian identity from wider Turkish society." They are mostly descendants of Ottoman Armenians who, at least outwardly, were Islamized (and turkified or kurdified) "under the threat of physical extermination" during the Armenian Genocide.Turkish journalist Erhan Başyurt describes hidden Armenians as "families (and in some cases, entire villages or neighbourhoods) [...] who converted to Islam to escape the deportations and death marches [of 1915], but continued their hidden lives as Armenians, marrying among themselves and, in some cases, clandestinely reverting to Christianity." According to the European Commission 2012 report on Turkey, a "number of crypto-Armenians have started to use their original names and religion." The Economist suggests that the number of Turks who reveal their Armenian background is growing.History of Armenia
Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat. The original Armenian name for the country was Hayk, later Hayastan (Armenian: Հայաստան), translated as the land of Haik, and consisting of the name of the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and the Persian suffix '-stan' ("land"). The historical enemy of Hayk (the legendary ruler of Armenia), Hayastan, was Bel, or in other words Baal (Akkadian cognate Bēlu).The name Armenia was given to the country by the surrounding states, and it is traditionally derived from Armenak or Aram (the great-grandson of Haik's great-grandson, and another leader who is, according to Armenian tradition, the ancestor of all Armenians). In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1600–1200 BC). Soon after the Hayasa-Azzi were the Nairi (1400–1000 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (1000–600 BC), who successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland. Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by King Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni has been described as "designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital."The Iron Age kingdom of Urartu (Assyrian for Ararat) was replaced by the Orontid dynasty. Following Persian and subsequent Macedonian rule, the Artaxiad dynasty from 190 BC gave rise to the Kingdom of Armenia which rose to the peak of its influence under Tigranes II before falling under Roman rule.In 301, Arsacid Armenia was the first sovereign nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. The Armenians later fell under Byzantine, Sassanid Persian, and Islamic hegemony, but reinstated their independence with the Bagratid Dynasty kingdom of Armenia. After the fall of the kingdom in 1045, and the subsequent Seljuk conquest of Armenia in 1064, the Armenians established a kingdom in Cilicia, where they prolonged their sovereignty to 1375.Starting in the early 16th century, Greater Armenia came under Safavid Persian rule, however over the centuries Eastern Armenia remained under Persian rule while Western Armenia fell under Ottoman rule. By the 19th century, Eastern Armenia was conquered by Russia and Greater Armenia was divided between the Ottoman and Russian Empires.In the early 20th century Armenians suffered in the genocide inflicted on them by the Ottoman government of Turkey, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed and many more dispersed throughout the world via Syria and Lebanon. Armenia, from then on corresponding to much of Eastern Armenia, regained independence in 1918, with the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia, and in 1991, the Republic of Armenia.Iranian Armenians
Iranian-Armenians (Armenian: իրանահայեր iranahayer) also known as Persian-Armenians (Armenian: պարսկահայեր parskahayer), are Iranians of Armenian ethnicity who may speak Armenian as their first language. Estimates of their number in Iran range from 70,000 to 200,000. Areas with a higher concentration of them include Tabriz, Tehran and Isfahan's Jolfa (Nor Jugha) quarter.
Armenians have lived for millenia in the territory that forms modern-day Iran. Several times in history Iran's northwestern regions were part of Armenia. Many of the oldest Armenian churches, monasteries, and chapels are located within modern-day Iran. Persian Armenia, which includes modern-day Armenian Republic was part of Qajar Iran up to 1828. Iran had one of the largest populations of Armenians in the world alongside neighboring Ottoman Empire until the beginning of the 20th century.
Armenians were influential and active in the modernization of Iran during the 19th and 20th centuries. After the Iranian Revolution, many Armenians emigrated to Armenian diasporic communities in North America and Western Europe. Today the Armenians are Iran's largest Christian religious minority.Nagorno-Karabakh War
The Nagorno-Karabakh War was an ethnic and territorial conflict that took place in the late 1980s to May 1994, in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. As the war progressed, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, entangled themselves in a protracted, undeclared war in the mountainous heights of Karabakh as Azerbaijan attempted to curb the secessionist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave's parliament had voted in favor of uniting itself with Armenia and a referendum, boycotted by the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh, was held, whereby most of the voters voted in favor of independence. The demand to unify with Armenia, which began anew in 1988, began in a relatively peaceful manner; in the following months, as the Soviet Union's disintegrated, it gradually grew into an increasingly violent conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, resulting in claims of ethnic cleansing by both sides.Inter-ethnic clashes between the two broke out shortly after the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) in Azerbaijan voted to unify the region with Armenia on 20 February 1988. The declaration of secession from Azerbaijan was the final result of a territorial conflict regarding the land. As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government, the Armenian majority voted to secede from Azerbaijan and in the process proclaimed the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.Full-scale fighting erupted in early 1992. International mediation by several groups including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) failed to bring an end resolution that both sides could work with. In early 1993, Armenian forces captured regions outside the enclave itself, threatening the involvement of other countries in the region. By the end of the war in 1994, the Armenians were in full control of the enclave (with the exception of the Shahumyan Region) in addition to surrounding areas of Azerbaijan proper, most notably the Lachin Corridor, a mountain pass that links Nagorno-Karabakh with mainland Armenia. A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in May 1994, but regular peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group have failed to result in a peace treaty. This has left the Nagorno-Karabakh area in a state of legal limbo, with the Republic of Artsakh remaining de facto independent but internationally unrecognized while Armenian forces currently control approximately 9% of Azerbaijan's territory outside the enclave. As many as 230,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and 800,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenia and Karabakh have been displaced as a result of the conflict.