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Origins of Armenia and Armenian Civilization

Armenia, located in Asia Minor and Transcaucasia, is not the only the one of the most ancient countries in the Middle East but in the world as well. Armenia, whose secrets have not been wholly unearthed, can be called enigmatic, mysterious and holy.

According to the Bible, the Garden of Eden was found in the central part of the Armenian Highlands in the Euphrates and Tigris River Valleys and the Tchorokh and the Araks Rivers. The Old Civilizations of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians and Persians have mentioned Armenia and Armenians in their writings. It is recorded in the Old Testament and in other sources that Noah’s Ark had landed on the slopes of Mount Ararat in Armenia after the Biblical Flood. It is also mentioned that Noah after disembarking had planted a vine and made wine afterwards.

It’s not surprising that archeological excavations found the most ancient wine-making manufacturing near the village of Areni  (Armenia) which is more than 6000 years old. Other archeological excavations have exhibited various skills and crafts of the inhabitants of the Armenian Highlands. It is now known that in the IV-V millenniums B.C. they were able to smelt copper, while in the second millennium B.C. they were able to smelt iron. The various ancient monuments and ethnic cultural traditions will ignite an interest in the archeologically, ethnographically and culturally inclined persons visiting Armenia.

The Spirituality of the Churches and the Mysticism of the Monasteries

Armenia is the first country to have adopted Christianity as its official religion in 301A.D.As a result, several churches and Christian temples have been erected on Armenian soil. The spirituality of churches and the mysticism of monasteries is felt everywhere. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Christians make their pilgrimage to Armenia and partake in Christian excursions.

The following 5 historical-cultural and natural monuments of Armenia are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List:

•   The Haghpat Monastery Complex
•    The Geghard Monastery and Upper Azat River
•   The  Cathedrals and Churches in Echmiadzin
•    The Sanahin Monastery
•   The Archeological Site at Zvartnotz
•    The Noravanq Monastery 

Khatchqars, which are carved images of a cross in stone, play a crucial role in the Christian Culture of Armenia.  During the Prehistoric Era and in the mountains next to river sources, vishaps “dragons” were carved out in stone which are deemed as the “ancestors” of the Khatchqars.  People living during that time imagined them to be enchanted heroes of their myths and legends. In all of Armenia one can count several thousand cross stones (Khatchqars) and each is distinguishable from the other with its unique ornaments even though all ornaments had one similar theme. In 2010 November, the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List considers the Art of the Armenian Cross-Stones: Symbolism and Craftsmanship of Khatchqars as part of its list.

Farming traditions since Ancient Times

From earlier times, the Armenian settlers had adopted and later developed an agrarian way of life that led to the creation of mouth watering traditional and national dishes. The different varieties of grapes and apricots that grow in Armenia have made it possible for the production of wines and spirits. Dairy products and breads have been a staple in the Armenian culinary world. Noyan Tours will assist the visitors to get acquainted with such fine traditions of farming methods, bread (Lavash) making, and production of wine and different assortments of cheeses, as well as the preparation of harisa, dolma, sweet sujukhs, the Armeian qyufta and the gata.

My Heart is in the Mountains (William Saroyan)

Armenia is a mountainous country rich with rapid running rivers and a few forests. More than 90% of its territory is located at a height of more than 1000m above sea level half of which is above 2000m and only 3% is 650m below sea level.

Armenia enjoys a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. Because the climatic influences of the Mediterranean and Black Seas are blocked from entering through the mountain chains of Armenia, one can find wide scale seasonal fluctuations of temperature. The average temperatures in the plains is -5°C in January and +30°C in July, -6°C in the mountains and +20°C in July. Subtropical climate is observed only in the town of Meghri where lemons, oranges, olives, as well as tropical fruit grow.

The presence of mountain chains and continental climate enabled the country to develop different types of active and adventurous tourism such as: trekking during the summer (hiking and mountain tours), rafting (navigating Armenian rivers), and all kinds of ski resorts  during the winter. More famous resorts are: 

•    Tsaghkadzor – ski resort of Armenia
•    Jermuk – health and ski resort; source of mineral waters; fast-flowing rivers
•    Dilijan with its  mountainous ,forests and fast-flowing rivers 
•    Lake Sevan – the pearl of Armenia surrounded by mountain ranges 
•    Artsakh with its amazing picturesque and diverse nature
•    Vanadzor with its forests and mountains 
•    Mount Aragats (4095m) which has a divine view of Mount Ararat (5137m) for tourists with  a thirst of the utmost experience during  winter and summer.


Nature: Priceless Gift

The flora of Armenia is unusual and presumably is in one of the leading places in the world on density of plant species per acre – more than 100 species for 1km?. Approximately 3500 plant species from 150 families grow in Armenia. Alpine forests occupy about 12% of the territory with oaks, beeches, and lime, maple and ash trees. Wild fruit trees such as pear, apple, cherry, hazelnut, cornel and plum trees are common in forests.

The Armenian Plains are characterized with steppe vegetation and feather-grass steppes; one can also see feather-grass steppes fescue, June grass and couch grass. Bushes such as almonds, buckthorn, Jerusalem thorn, Astragalus microcephalus, prickly thrift, betony, thyme and sage grow on steep slopes. There is a small Goravan Desert near the Goravan and Vedi Towns in Armenia where sand dunes dominantly reign. Here you can find snakes, scorpions, lizards, eagles, turtles and other animals and plants,typical of desert life.

The flora and vegetation of the southern and northern slopes in the peninsula drastically differ as that of the lake littoral area. Southern and south-western slopes are covered with steppe vegetation such as thorny astragals and light pink poppies. The northern slopes are covered with hygrophilous vegetation with plenty of blossoming forget-me-nots, buttercups, anemones, primroses etc. Among rocks one can still see Sorbus Hajastana which is about to get extinct.

The geographical location and relief of Armenia has produced a variety of bio-resources of high-level endemism and a rich and diverse agriculture. 

The fauna of Armenia comprises of 76 species of mammals, 304 bird species, 44 reptile species, 3 amphibian species, 24 fish species and about 10 thousand invertebrate species. There are bears (including Iranian silver bears) bobcats, boars, deer, woods and jungle cats in the northern part of the country. In the mountain steppes you can find wolves, badgers, foxes, hares, moufflons and bezoar goats, while in the steppes and the semi deserts there are numerous rodents such as the voles, ground squirrels, gerbils, mole rats, jerboas. The Caucasian agama, the Greek tortoise, the Levantine viper, the Armenian viper make up the amphibian group. In Lake Sevan one can find trout, whitefish and other fish species. Lizards and snakes are also widely common. Raccoon dogs have already acclimatized in Armenia. About 339 endemic animals inhabit the Armenian land.
The diversity of the Armenian flora and fauna promotes the development of ecotourism in Armenia. Year after year the number of botanical, zoological and geological tours is in the increase.

The Armenian Flag and the Armenian Coat of Arms

The population of Armenia is diverse and has the following ethnic composition: Armenians (97%), Yezidis, Russians, Assyrians, Ukrainians, Kurds, Greeks, Georgians and others.

Much of the territory of Armenia is mountainous.

The high mountain peaks are: 

Aragats – 4090 meters above sea level 
Kaputjugh – 3906 meters above sea level
Azdahak – 3598 meters above sea level 
Spitakasar – 3555 meters above sea level 
Vardenis – 3522 meters above sea level 

The Principle Rivers of Armenia are:

Araks – 158km in the territory of Armenia (total length – 1072km)
Akhuryan – 186km in the territory of Armenia 
Vorotan – 119km in the territory of Armenia (total length – 179km) 
Debed – 152km in the territory of Armenia (total length – 178km)
Hrazdan – 141km in the territory of Armenia
Aghstev – 99km in the territory of Armenia (total length – 133km) 

The Principle Lakes of Armenia are:

Lake Sevan with an area of 1239 square km and  found 1898 meters above sea level
Lake Arpi with an area of 22 square km and found 2025 meters above sea level
Lake Akna with an area of 0.53 square km and found 3030 meters above sea level
Lake Sev with an area of 2.0 square km and found 2666 meters above sea level

The Political Structure of Armenia:

The Republic of Armenia  is an independent, democratic, social and legal entity.
The President of the Republic is its Head of State empowered with the greatest of authorities.
The President of the Republic of Armenia is the guarantor of the country’s independence and territorial integrity and security.The Prime Minister is the Head of Government.
The members of the National Assembly make up the Supreme Legislative Body.
The Capital City is Yerevan.The Monetary Unit is the Armenian Dram.

The State Religion is Christianity (Armenian Orthodox)

The Important National Holidays and Memorials are: 

   1.New Year and Armenian Christmas is observed from December 31 to January 6 (Official Holidays are December 31,
      January 1 and 2, and January 6)
   2. The Armenian Army Day is observed on January 28 (Official Holiday)
   3.The Mother Tongue Day  is observed on February 21
   4.International Women's Day is observed on March 8 (Official Holiday)
   5.Motherhood, Beauty and Love Day is observed on April 7
   6. Genocide Victims Memorial Day is observed on April 24 (Official Holiday)
   7.  Labor Day is observed on May 1 (Official Holiday)
   8. People’s Volunteer Corps Day is observed on May 8
   9. Victory & Peace Day is observed on May 9 (Official Holiday)
  10. Day of the First Republic is observed on May 28 (Official Holiday)
  11. Protection of Children’s Day is observed on June 1
  12. Constitution Day is observed on July 5 (Official Holiday)
  13. Knowledge Day is observed on September 1
  14.  Independence Day is observed on September 21 (Official Holiday)
  15. Teachers’ Day is observed on the first Sunday of each October
  16. The Holy Translators’ Day is observed on the second Saturday of October 
  17. The Memorial for the victims of the 1988 Earthquake is
       observed on December 7
  18. Saint Vartanantz Day is observed on the Thrusday that falls 8 weeks before Easter

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