Preface | Contents | Recipes


A Free and Independent Armenia

Land and People | History | Mer Hayrenik | Alphabet | Hayr Mer

Tricolor Flag of Republic of Armenia ARMENIA. Called Hayastan by Armenians, it is one of the world's oldest centers of civilization. Armenia is an independent republic in the Caucasus Mountains. Population (1995 estimate), 3,548,000.

Armenia covers an area of 11,500 square miles. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Armenia borders on Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Iran. Yerevan, near the Turkish border, is the capital and chief city, with a population of about 1.2 million.

The land is a lofty plateau, crossed by mountain ridges and cut by valleys. The highest peak is Mount Aragats, an extinct volcano 13,418 feet high. Mount Ararat, a symbol of Armenia and resting place of Noah's ark, is now on Turkish land, visible from Yerevan. The climate is cool in the highlands and warm in the lowlands.

About 90 percent of the people are ethnic Armenians. The remainder of the population is made up primarily of Azerbaijanis and Russians, with a small number of Kurds, Ukrainians, and other groups. The Armenians belong mainly to the Armenian Apostolic church or the Armenian Catholic church.

The chief agricultural and industrial region is the Araks River valley. Irrigated fields produce wine grapes--the most important crop--figs, olives, pomegranates, cotton, and fruits. In higher altitudes grains, sugar beets, tobacco, potatoes, and hay are grown and cattle, sheep, and goats are pastured.

Bread is the staple of the Armenian diet, along with rice and wheat. Traditional Armenian breads include Lavash Hatz, a flat cracker bread and many variations of pastries. Rice-stuffed vegetables and vine leaves are popular in the Armenian diet, as are barbecued meats. The cuisine of Armenia shares many characteristics of food from neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

History. In ancient times Armenia was conquered by Assyria and by Persia, but it continued to be governed by native kings. Following conquest by Alexander the Great, it was ruled by a Greek dynasty.

In AD 300 the Armenian king Tiridates III was converted to Christianity. He at once made Christianity the state religion, making Armenian the first Christian nation. Mount AraratIn the 5th century a separate Christian church was established. In 653 Armenia fell to the Arabs, who were spreading their new Islamic religion. Persia took Armenia again in 1502, but the Turks soon wrested most of it from them and brought it into the Ottoman Empire. Both the Persians and the Turks oppressed their Christian subjects. The Armenians began to leave their homeland and scattered over Asia and Africa.

In 1828 Russia took from Persia the region later known as Russian Armenia. In 1878, at the Congress of Berlin that followed the Russo-Turkish War, Russia gained part of Turkish Armenia. Kurds, who had been resettled on Armenian land, massacred thousands of Armenians in 1894, 1895, 1896, and 1909. During World War I the Turkish government systematically began to annihilate the Armenians. Many fled and immigrated to Russia, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Western Europe, and the United States.

The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) between Turkey and the victorious Allies recognized the independence of Armenian territories in both the Soviet Union and Turkey. In December 1920, however, the Soviets sent troops to Yerevan and set up a Soviet government over Russian Armenia. In 1922 Russian Armenia became part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. In 1936 the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic was made a separate constituent republic of the Soviet Union.

A massive earthquake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, devastated a widespread area near the Turkish border on Dec. 7, 1988. About 25,000 people were killed and more than 500,000 left homeless. The cities of Spitak, Kirovakan, and Leninakan were partially or totally destroyed.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia declared its sovereignty and its independence in August 1991, and proclaimed its independence again in September.

source: Compton's Encyclopedia Online v3.0 © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

Score to Mer Hayrenik (Our Homeland)

Mer Hayrenik azad angakh,
Vor abrel es tareh tar,
Eer vortikuh art ganchoum eh,
Azad angakh Hayasdan.
Nayir nran, yerek kouynov,
Nviragan mer nshan,
Togh poghpoghi tshnamou tem,
Togh mishd bardza Hayasdan.
Aha, yeghpayr, kez mee trosh,
Vor eem tserkov kordzetsi,
Kisherneruh yes koon chegha,
Ardasoukov lvatsi.
Amenayn degh mahuh mee eh,
Mart mee ankam bid' merni,
Paits yerani vor eer azki
Azadoutian guh zohvi.

Armenian Alphabet

Hayr Mer
(Lord's Prayer)

HAYR MER vor hergins yes, soorp yeghitzi anoon ko.
Yegestzeh arkayootyun ko.
Yeghitzin gamk ko, vorbes hergins yev hergri;
Uzhatz mer hanabazort, door mez aysor.
Togh mez uzbardis mer Vorbes yev mek toghoomk merotz bardabanatz.
Yev mi danir uzmez ee portzootyun, Ayl purgya ee chareh.
Zi ko eh arkayootyun yev zorootyun yev park havidians. Amen.