Where is Armenia?
Armenia is not often talked about as a popular travel destination like bordering Turkey. Nor does it get frequent mentions in the news like nearby Iraq and Syria. But while Armenia might be a little unknown to most, it certainly has no lack of history, culture, or diverse and interesting geography. So where is Armenia anyway? Is Armenia part of Europe or Asia? Let’s explore this fascinating country a bit more.
Geography and Location
Armenia is a small country located in West Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran to the south. Armenia has a population of just over three million people, and covers 11,484 square miles. It is a mountainous region, with fast flowing rivers and few forests. With an average elevation of 5,879 feet above sea level, Armenia is the 10th highest country in the world.
The climate of Armenia is considered to be highland continental, meaning it is relatively dry and experiences all four seasons. Summers are typically sunny, though temperatures can fluctuate between different elevations. Springs are short, while autumns are long. In the winter, Armenia can get quite cold.
Most sources agree that Armenia is part of Asia, but because of the country’s location in the Caucasus Mountains, which act as a natural barrier between Europe and Asia, Armenia has long been seen as center of trade between Europe and Asia. Throughout its history, Armenia has acted as a gateway from Europe into the Middle East and the rest of Asia. This favorable location has not always brought prosperity, however.
Going back to Antiquity, many civilizations and states have called the region around Armenia home. During the late 6th century BC, Armenia was established within the Achaemenid Empire. Soon after, the Kingdom of Armenia would form, reaching its height under Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC. Armenia would become the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD.
Armenia’s importance as a link between Europe and Asia would ultimately bring conflict to the region. Over the last several centuries, Armenia has been controlled by various groups and empires, including the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Persians, and Ottomans. The latter held onto Armenia until the early 20th century, when the Ottoman Empire began to collapse, and soon after, World War I began.
Armenia in the 20th Century
Because of Armenia’s proximity to Russia, which was fighting against the Ottoman Empire in WWI, Ottoman leaders began to view Armenians with suspicion, in part because the Russian Army had a number of Armenian volunteers. Ottoman authorities arrested Armenian intellectuals in April of 1915, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. This would be the first event of what became known as the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide would be carried out in two phases, lasting between 1915-1917. First was the killing of able-bodied males through massacre and forced labor. This was followed by the mass deportation of women, children, and the elderly, who were sent on death marches through the Syrian Desert. An estimated 600,000 Armenians would die. Though Turkey today disputes use of the term genocide, many other countries, and most historians and scholars, officially recognize the mass killings as genocide.
When WWI ended, Russia gained control of Armenia, soon becoming Soviet Armenia under the Soviet Union. In 1991, Armenia would gain its independence.
Today, Armenia remains an independent country, with its own distinguished culture and language, run by its own governmental system. It continues to work to make improvements in infrastructure and for its people, as well as to work to develop better ties and relationships with surrounding countries. In 2009, Armenia and Turkey agreed on a provisional roadmap to normalize diplomatic ties, while in 2015, Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union.
For the Armenian people, their country is more than just a geographical location. It is a sacred place, with a many traditions, strong cultural ties, and a long and rich history.
Now that you know where to find Armenia on a map, make sure to check other geography posts on the Sporcle Blog!