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Armenia Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Armenia Map

Introduction

Background

Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity (early 4th century). Despite periods of autonomy, over the centuries Armenia came under the sway of various empires including the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman. During World War I in the western portion of Armenia, the Ottoman Empire instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in at least 1 million Armenian deaths. The eastern area of Armenia was ceded by the Ottomans to Russia in 1828; this portion declared its independence in 1918, but was conquered by the Soviet Red Army in 1920.

Armenia remains involved in the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh was a primarily ethnic Armenian region that Moscow recognized in 1923 as an autonomous oblast within Soviet Azerbaijan. In the late Soviet period, a separatist movement developed which sought to end Azerbaijani control over the region. Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988 and escalated after Armenia and Azerbaijan attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By the time a ceasefire took effect in May 1994, separatists, with Armenian support, controlled Nagorno‑Karabakh and seven surrounding Azerbaijani territories. The 1994 ceasefire continues to hold, although violence continues along the line of contact separating the opposing forces, as well as the Armenia-Azerbaijan international border. The final status of Nagorno-Karabakh remains the subject of international mediation by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which works to help the sides settle the conflict peacefully. The OSCE Minsk Group is co‑chaired by the US, France, and Russia.

Turkey closed the common border with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, further hampering Armenian economic growth. In 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed Protocols normalizing relations between the two countries, but neither country ratified the Protocols, and Armenia officially withdrew from the Protocols in March 2018. In 2015, Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union alongside Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. In November 2017, Armenia signed a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the EU. In spring 2018, Serzh SARGSIAN of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) stepped down and Civil Contract party leader Nikol PASHINYAN became prime minister.

Geography

Location

Southwestern Asia, between Turkey (to the west) and Azerbaijan; note - Armenia views itself as part of Europe; geopolitically, it can be classified as falling within Europe, the Middle East, or both

Geographic coordinates

40 00 N, 45 00 E

Map references

Asia

Area

total: 29,743 sq km

land: 28,203 sq km

water: 1,540 sq km

country comparison to the world: 142

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 1,570 km

border countries (4): Azerbaijan 996 km, Georgia 219 km, Iran 44 km, Turkey 311 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

highland continental, hot summers, cold winters

Terrain

Armenian Highland with mountains; little forest land; fast flowing rivers; good soil in Aras River valley

Elevation

mean elevation: 1,792 m

lowest point: Debed River 400 m

highest point: Aragats Lerrnagagat' 4,090 m

Natural resources

small deposits of gold, copper, molybdenum, zinc, bauxite

Land use

agricultural land: 59.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 15.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 42% (2018 est.)

forest: 9.1% (2018 est.)

other: 31.2% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

2,740 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the population is located in the northern half of the country; the capital of Yerevan is home to more than five times as many people as Gyumri, the second largest city in the country

Natural hazards

occasionally severe earthquakes; droughts

Geography - note

landlocked in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains; Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) is the largest lake in this mountain range

People and Society

Population

3,011,609 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Nationality

noun: Armenian(s)

adjective: Armenian

Ethnic groups

Armenian 98.1%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.2%, other 0.7% (2011 est.)

Languages

Armenian (official) 97.9%, Kurdish (spoken by Yezidi minority) 1%, other 1% (2011 est.)

note: Russian is widely spoken

Religions

Armenian Apostolic 92.6%, Evangelical 1%, other 2.4%, none 1.1%, unspecified 2.9% (2011 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Armenia

conventional short form: Armenia

local long form: Hayastani Hanrapetut'yun

local short form: Hayastan

former: Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, Armenian Republic

etymology: the etymology of the country's name remains obscure; according to tradition, the country is named after Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and the great-great-grandson of Noah; Hayk's descendant, Aram, purportedly is the source of the name Armenia

Government type

parliamentary democracy; note - constitutional changes adopted in December 2015 transformed the government to a parliamentary system

Capital

name: Yerevan

geographic coordinates: 40 10 N, 44 30 E

time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: name likely derives from the ancient Urartian fortress of Erebuni established on the current site of Yerevan in 782 B.C. and whose impresive ruins still survive

Administrative divisions

11 provinces (marzer, singular - marz); Aragatsotn, Ararat, Armavir, Geghark'unik', Kotayk', Lorri, Shirak, Syunik', Tavush, Vayots' Dzor, Yerevan

Independence

21 September 1991 (from the Soviet Union); notable earlier dates: 321 B.C. (Kingdom of Armenia established under the Orontid Dynasty), A.D. 884 (Armenian Kingdom reestablished under the Bagratid Dynasty); 1198 (Cilician Kingdom established); 28 May 1918 (Democratic Republic of Armenia declared)

National holiday

Independence Day, 21 September (1991)

Constitution

history: previous 1915, 1978; latest adopted 5 July 1995

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by the National Assembly; passage requires approval by the president, by the National Assembly, and by a referendum with at least 25% registered voter participation and more than 50% of votes; constitutional articles on the form of government and democratic procedures are not amendable; amended 2005, 2015, last in 2020; note - a constitutional referendum was rescheduled  from 4 May 2020 to summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Legal system

civil law system

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Armenia

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 3 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Armen SARKISSIAN (since 9 April 2018)

head of government: Prime Minister Nikol PASHINYAN (since 8 May 2018); Deputy Prime Ministers Mher GRIGORYAN and Tigran AVINYAN (since 16 January 2019)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly in 3 rounds if needed for a single 7-year term; election last held on 2 March 2018; prime minister elected by majority vote in 2 rounds if needed by the National Assembly; election last held on 14 January 2019

election results: Armen SARKISSIAN elected president in first round; note - Armen SARKISSIAN ran unopposed and won the Assembly vote 90-10; Nikol PASHINYAN was chosen as prime minister by the parliament automatically after his party won a landslide victory in the December 2018 elections

note: After initially winning election on 8 May 2018, Nikol PASHINYAN resigned his post (but stayed on as acting prime minister) on 16 October 2018 to force a snap election (held on 9 December 2018) in which his bloc won more than 70% of the vote; PASHINYAN was reappointed prime minister on 14 January 2019

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (Parliament) or Azgayin Zhoghov (minimum 101 seats, currently 132; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 9 December 2018 (next elections to be held December 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - My Step Alliance 70.4%, BHK 8.3%, Bright Armenia 6.4%, RPA 4.7%, ARF 3.9%, other 6.3%; seats by party - My Step Alliance 88, BHK 26, Bright Armenia 18; composition - men 112, women 20, percent of women 15.2%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Court of Cassation (consists of the Criminal Chamber with a chairman and 5 judges and the Civil and Administrative Chamber with a chairman and 10 judges – with both civil and administrative specializations); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council, a 10-member body of selected judges and legal scholars; judges appointed by the president; judges can serve until age 65; Constitutional Court judges - 4 appointed by the president, and 5 elected by the National Assembly; judges can serve until age 70

subordinate courts: criminal and civil appellate courts; administrative appellate court; first instance courts; specialized administrative and bankruptcy courts

Political parties and leaders

Armenian National Congress or ANC (bloc of independent and opposition parties) [Levon TER-PETROSSIAN]
Armenian Revolutionary Federation or ARF ("Dashnak" Party) [Hakob TER-KHACHATURYAN]
Bright Armenia [Edmon MARUKYAN]
Citizen's Decision [Suren SAHAKYAN] 
Civil Contract [Nikol PASHINYAN]
Free Democrats [Khachatur KOKOBELYAN]
Heritage Party [Raffi HOVANNISIAN]
Prosperous Armenia or BHK [Gagik TSARUKYAN]
Republic [Aram SARGSYAN]
Republican Party of Armenia or RPA [Serzh SARGSIAN]
Rule of Law Party (Orinats Yerkir) or OEK [Artur BAGHDASARIAN]
Sasna Tser [Varuzhan AVETISYAN]

International organization participation

ADB, BSEC, CD, CE, CIS, CSTO, EAEC (observer), EAEU, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Varuzhan NERSESSYAN (since 11 January 2019)

chancery: 2225 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 319-1976

FAX: [1] (202) 319-2982

consulate(s) general: Glendale (CA)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Lynne M. TRACEY (since 5 March 2019)

telephone: [374](10) 464-700

embassy: 

1 American Ave., Yerevan 0082



mailing address: American Embassy Yerevan, US Department of State, 7020 Yerevan Place, Washington, DC 20521-7020

FAX: [374](10) 464-742

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, and orange; the color red recalls the blood shed for liberty, blue the Armenian skies as well as hope, and orange the land and the courage of the workers who farm it

National symbol(s)

Mount Ararat, eagle, lion; national colors: red, blue, orange

National anthem

name: "Mer Hayrenik" (Our Fatherland)

lyrics/music: Mikael NALBANDIAN/Barsegh KANACHYAN

note: adopted 1991; based on the anthem of the Democratic Republic of Armenia (1918-1922) but with different lyrics

Economy

Economic overview

Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics, in exchange for raw materials and energy. Armenia has since switched to small-scale agriculture and away from the large agro industrial complexes of the Soviet era. Armenia has only two open trade borders - Iran and Georgia - because its borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey have been closed since 1991 and 1993, respectively, as a result of Armenia's ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia joined the World Trade Organization in January 2003. The government has made some improvements in tax and customs administration in recent years, but anti-corruption measures have been largely ineffective. Armenia will need to pursue additional economic reforms and strengthen the rule of law in order to raise its economic growth and improve economic competitiveness and employment opportunities, especially given its economic isolation from Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Armenia's geographic isolation, a narrow export base, and pervasive monopolies in important business sectors have made it particularly vulnerable to volatility in the global commodity markets and the economic challenges in Russia. Armenia is particularly dependent on Russian commercial and governmental support, as most key Armenian infrastructure is Russian-owned and/or managed, especially in the energy sector. Remittances from expatriates working in Russia are equivalent to about 12-14% of GDP. Armenia joined the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union in January 2015, but has remained interested in pursuing closer ties with the EU as well, signing a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the EU in November 2017. Armenia’s rising government debt is leading Yerevan to tighten its fiscal policies – the amount is approaching the debt to GDP ratio threshold set by national legislation.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 462,725

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15.27 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 3,707,557

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 122.35 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: telecommunications investments have made major inroads in modernizing and upgrading the outdated telecommunications network inherited from the Soviet era; now 100% privately owned and undergoing continued modernization and expansion; strong growth in mobile broadband sector and mobile services dominate over fixed-line; rollout of 4G networks and falling prices due to growing competition (2020)

domestic: 15 per 100 fixed-line, 122 per 100 mobile-cellular; reliable fixed-line and mobile-cellular services are available across Yerevan and in major cities and towns; mobile-cellular coverage available in most rural areas (2019)

international: country code - 374; Yerevan is connected to the Caucasus Cable System fiber-optic cable through Georgia and Iran to Europe; additional international service is available by microwave radio relay and landline connections to the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, through the Moscow international switch, and by satellite to the rest of the world; satellite earth stations - 3 (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

Armenia’s government-run Public Television network operates alongside 100 privately owned TV stations that provide local to near nationwide coverage; three Russian TV companies are broadcast in Armenia under interstate agreements; subscription cable TV services are available in most regions; several major international broadcasters are available, including CNN; Armenian TV completed conversion from analog to digital broadcasting in late 2016; Public Radio of Armenia is a national, state-run broadcast network that operates alongside 18 privately owned radio stations

(2019)

Internet country code

.am

Internet users

total: 1,966,942

percent of population: 64.74% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 122

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 347,448

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 5

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

EK (2016)

Airports

total: 7 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 165

Airports - with paved runways

total: 10 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Pipelines

3838 km gas (high and medium pressure) (2017)

Railways

total: 780 km (2014)

broad gauge: 780 km 1.520-m gauge (780 km electrified) (2014)

note: 726 km operational

country comparison to the world: 98

Roadways

total: 7,700 km (2019)

urban: 3,780 km

non-urban: 3,920 km

country comparison to the world: 140

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armenian Armed Forces: Armenian Army (includes land, air, air defense forces) (2021)

Military expenditures

4.3% of GDP (2019)

4.3% of GDP (2018)

3.8% of GDP (2017)

4.1% of GDP (2016)

4.2% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 10

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Armenian Armed Forces have approximately 45,000 active troops (42,000 ground; 3,000 air/defense) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the inventory of the Armenian Armed Forces includes mostly Russian and Soviet-era equipment; since 2010, almost all of Armenia's weapons imports have come from Russia (2020)

Military deployments

120 Afghanistan (NATO); contributes troops to CSTO's Rapid Reaction Force (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for voluntary or compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation, which can be served as an officer upon deferment for university studies if enrolled in officer-producing program; 17 year olds are eligible to become cadets at military higher education institutes, where they are classified as military personnel (2019)

Military - note

since November 2020, Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeeping troops to the area in and around Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a cease-fire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan; fighting erupted between the two countries over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in September of 2020; Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces ("Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army") backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994 (2020)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

the dispute over the break-away Nagorno-Karabakh region and the Armenian military occupation of surrounding lands in Azerbaijan remains the primary focus of regional instability; residents have evacuated the former Soviet-era small ethnic enclaves in Armenia and Azerbaijan; Turkish authorities have complained that blasting from quarries in Armenia might be damaging the medieval ruins of Ani, on the other side of the Arpacay valley; in 2009, Swiss mediators facilitated an accord reestablishing diplomatic ties between Armenia and Turkey, but neither side has ratified the agreement and the rapprochement effort has faltered; local border forces struggle to control the illegal transit of goods and people across the porous, undemarcated Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian borders; ethnic Armenian groups in the Javakheti region of Georgia seek greater autonomy from the Georgian Government

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 14,730 (Syria - ethnic Armenians) (2019)

stateless persons: 961 (2019)

Illicit drugs

illicit cultivation of small amount of cannabis for domestic consumption; minor transit point for illicit drugs - mostly opium and hashish - moving from Southwest Asia to Russia and to a lesser extent the rest of Europe

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