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Armenia-National Traditions

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Armenia Index

Major Armenian holidays commemorate both religious and historical events. Besides Christmas and Easter, the most important holidays are Vartanants, the day marking the fifthcentury defense of Christianity against the Persians, and April 24, which commemorates the 1915 genocide of the Armenians in Turkey.

At times of celebration, Armenians enjoy traditional circle dances and distinctive Eastern music. Their music and their cuisine are similar to those of other Middle Eastern peoples. A typical Armenian meal might include lamb, rice pilaf, eggplant, yogurt, and a sweet dessert such as paklava (baklava). Armenians pride themselves on their close family ties, hospitality, and reverence for their national language and culture, an appreciation that is passed from one generation to the next.

Data as of March 1994

BackgroundArmenia 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, Ottoman Turkey instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in an estimated 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. Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated region, assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s by Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the area in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, ethnic Armenian forces held not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant portion of Azerbaijan proper. The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution. Turkey closed the common border with Armenia in 1994 because of the Armenian separatists' control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, further hampering Armenian economic growth. However, in 2009 senior Armenian leaders began pursuing rapprochement with Turkey, which could result in the border reopening.
LocationSouthwestern Asia, east of Turkey
Area(sq km)total: 29,743 sq km
land: 28,203 sq km
water: 1,540 sq km
Geographic coordinates40 00 N, 45 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 1,254 km
border countries: Azerbaijan-proper 566 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 221 km, Georgia 164 km, Iran 35 km, Turkey 268 km

Coastline(km)0 km (landlocked)

Climatehighland continental, hot summers, cold winters

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Debed River 400 m
highest point: Aragats Lerrnagagat' 4,090 m
Natural resourcessmall deposits of gold, copper, molybdenum, zinc, bauxite
Land use(%)arable land: 16.78%
permanent crops: 2.01%
other: 81.21% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)2,860 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)10.5 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 2.95 cu km/yr (30%/4%/66%)
per capita: 977 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsoccasionally severe earthquakes; droughts
Environment - current issuessoil pollution from toxic chemicals such as DDT; the energy crisis of the 1990s led to deforestation when citizens scavenged for firewood; pollution of Hrazdan (Razdan) and Aras Rivers; the draining of Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan), a result of its use as a source for hydropower, threatens drinking water supplies; restart of Metsamor nuclear power plant in spite of its location in a seismically active zone
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography - notelandlocked in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains; Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) is the largest lake in this mountain range
Population2,967,004 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 18.2% (male 289,119/female 252,150)
15-64 years: 71.1% (male 986,764/female 1,123,708)
65 years and over: 10.6% (male 122,996/female 192,267) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 31.5 years
male: 28.8 years
female: 34.4 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)-0.03% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)12.65 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)8.39 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-4.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 64% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: -0.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.14 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.89 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 20.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 72.68 years
male: 69.06 years
female: 76.81 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.36 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Armenian(s)
adjective: Armenian
Ethnic groups(%)Armenian 97.9%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.3%, Russian 0.5%, other 0.3% (2001 census)

Religions(%)Armenian Apostolic 94.7%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi (monotheist with elements of nature worship) 1.3%
Languages(%)Armenian 97.7%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4% (2001 census)

Country nameconventional 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
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Yerevan
geographic coordinates: 40 10 N, 44 30 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions11 provinces (marzer, singular - marz); Aragatsotn, Ararat, Armavir, Geghark'unik', Kotayk', Lorri, Shirak, Syunik', Tavush, Vayots' Dzor, Yerevan
Constitutionadopted by nationwide referendum 5 July 1995; amendments adopted through a nationwide referendum 27 November 2005

Legal systembased on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Serzh SARGSIAN (since 9 April 2008)
head of government: Prime Minister Tigran SARGSIAN (since 9 April 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 19 February 2008 (next to be held February 2013); prime minister appointed by the president based on majority or plurality support in parliament; the prime minister and Council of Ministers must resign if the National Assembly refuses to accept their program
election results: Serzh SARGSIAN elected president; percent of vote - Serzh SARGSIAN 52.9%, Levon TER-PETROSSIAN 21.5%, Artur BAGHDASARIAN 16.7%

Legislative branchunicameral National Assembly (Parliament) or Azgayin Zhoghov (131 seats; members elected by popular vote, 90 members elected by party list and 41 by direct vote; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 12 May 2007 (next to be held in the spring of 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - HHK 33.9%, Prosperous Armenia 15.1%, ARF (Dashnak) 13.2%, Rule of Law 7.1%, Heritage Party 6%, other 24.7%; seats by party - HHK 64, Prosperous Armenia 18, ARF (Dashnak) 16, Rule of Law 9, Heritage Party 7, independent 17

Judicial branchConstitutional Court; Court of Cassation (Appeals Court)

Political pressure groups and leadersAylentrank (Impeachment Alliance) [Nikol PASHINIAN]; Yerkrapah Union [Manvel GRIGORIAN]
International organization participationACCT (observer), ADB, BSEC, CE, CIS, CSTO, EAEC (observer), EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OIF (associate member), OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionthree 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

Economy - overviewSince the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has made progress in implementing many economic reforms including privatization, price reforms, and prudent fiscal policies. The conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s. By 1994, however, the Armenian Government launched an ambitious IMF-sponsored economic liberalization program that resulted in positive growth rates. Economic growth has averaged over 10% in recent years. However, with the global economic downturn, Armenia's growth rate dropped to 6.8% in 2008. Armenia has managed to reduce poverty, slash inflation, stabilize its currency, and privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. 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 agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. Nuclear power plants built at Metsamor in the 1970s were closed following the 1988 Spitak Earthquake, though they sustained no damage. One of the two reactors was re-opened in 1995, but the Armenian government is under international pressure to close it due to concerns that the Soviet era design lacks important safeguards. Metsamor provides 40 percent of the country's electricity - hydropower accounts for about one-fourth. Economic ties with Russia remain close, especially in the energy sector. The electricity distribution system was privatized in 2002 and bought by Russia's RAO-UES in 2005. Construction of a pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Armenia was completed in December 2008 and after testing is expected to be operational in Spring 2009, though it is unlikely significant quantities of gas will flow through it until the Yerevan Thermal Power Plant renovation is completed in 2010. Armenia has some mineral deposits (copper, gold, bauxite). Pig iron, unwrought copper, and other nonferrous metals are Armenia's highest valued exports. Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by international aid, remittances from Armenians working abroad, and foreign direct investment. Armenia joined the WTO in January 2003. The government made some improvements in tax and customs administration in recent years, but anti-corruption measures will be more difficult to implement. Despite strong economic growth, Armenia's unemployment rate remains high. Armenia will need to pursue additional economic reforms in order to improve its economic competitiveness and to build on recent improvements in poverty and unemployment, especially given its economic isolation from two of its nearest neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan. The disruption of rail transit into Armenia during the Georgia-Russia conflict in August 2008 highlighted how vulnerable Armenia's supply chains for key goods - such as gasoline - are to instances of regional instability.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$18.81 billion (2008 est.)
$17.62 billion (2007 est.)
$15.48 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$11.92 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.8% (2008 est.)
13.8% (2007 est.)
13.2% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,300 (2008 est.)
$5,900 (2007 est.)
$5,200 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 16.7%
industry: 33.8%
services: 49.4% (2008 est.)
Labor force1.481 million (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 46.2%
industry: 15.6%
services: 38.2% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)7.1% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)26.5% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 41.3% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index37 (2006)
44.4 (1996)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)39% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $2.481 billion
expenditures: $2.626 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)9% (2008 est.)
4.4% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$1.359 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.507 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$950.1 million (31 December 2008)
$765.2 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$1.98 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.256 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA (31 December 2008)
$105 million (31 December 2007)
$60.17 million (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipientODA, $180 million (2007)

Agriculture - productsfruit (especially grapes), vegetables; livestock
Industriesdiamond-processing, metal-cutting machine tools, forging-pressing machines, electric motors, tires, knitted wear, hosiery, shoes, silk fabric, chemicals, trucks, instruments, microelectronics, jewelry manufacturing, software development, food processing, brandy

Industrial production growth rate(%)2.4% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$1.355 billion (2008 est.)
-$589.6 million (2007 est.)
Exports$1.124 billion (2008 est.)
$1.197 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)pig iron, unwrought copper, nonferrous metals, diamonds, mineral products, foodstuffs, energy
Exports - partners(%)Russia 20.2%, Germany 17.2%, Netherlands 12.2%, Belgium 8.5%, Georgia 7.7%, Bulgaria 5.7%, US 4.9% (2008)
Imports$3.763 billion (2008 est.)
$2.797 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)natural gas, petroleum, tobacco products, foodstuffs, diamonds
Imports - partners(%)Russia 19.3%, China 8.7%, Ukraine 7%, Turkey 6.1%, Germany 5.8%, US 4.9%, Iran 4.6% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$1.407 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$1.659 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$3.449 billion (31 December 2008)
$2.909 billion (31 December 2007)

Exchange ratesdrams (AMD) per US dollar - 303.93 (2008 est.), 344.06 (2007), 414.69 (2006), 457.69 (2005), 533.45 (2004)

Currency (code)dram (AMD)

Telephones - main lines in use650,000 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular2.336 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral 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 modernization and expansion; mobile-cellular services monopoly terminated in late 2004 and a second provider began operations in mid-2005
domestic: reliable modern landline and mobile-cellular services are available across Yerevan in major cities and towns; significant but ever-shrinking gaps remain in mobile-cellular coverage in rural areas
international: country code - 374; Yerevan is connected to the Trans-Asia-Europe fiber-optic cable through Iran; 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 (2007)
Internet country code.am
Internet users191,000 (2008)
Airports11 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 2,233 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 7,700 km
paved: 7,700 km (includes 1,561 km of expressways) (2006)

Military branchesArmed Forces: Ground Forces, Air Force and Air Defense, Nagorno-Karabakh Self Defense Force (NKSDF) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-27 years of age for voluntary or compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2007)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 809,576
females age 16-49: 870,864 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 642,734
females age 16-49: 729,047 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 27,293
female: 25,574 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)6.5% of GDP (FY01)
Disputes - internationalArmenia supports ethnic Armenian secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh and since the early 1990s, has militarily occupied 16% of Azerbaijan - Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continues to mediate dispute; over 800,000 mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis were driven from the occupied lands and Armenia; about 230,000 ethnic Armenians were driven from their homes in Azerbaijan into Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh; Azerbaijan seeks transit route through Armenia to connect to Naxcivan exclave; border with Turkey remains closed over Nagorno-Karabakh dispute; ethnic Armenian groups in Javakheti region of Georgia seek greater autonomy; Armenians continue to emigrate, primarily to Russia, seeking employment

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 113,295 (Azerbaijan)
IDPs: 8,400 (conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, majority have returned home since 1994 ceasefire) (2007)
Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Armenia is primarily a source country for women and girls trafficked to the UAE and Turkey for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; Armenian men and women are trafficked to Turkey and Russia for the purpose of forced labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Armenia is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year; its efforts to increase compliance with the minimum standards were assessed based on its commitments to undertake future actions, particularly in the areas of improving victim protection and assistance; while the government elevated anti-trafficking responsibilities to the ministerial level, adopted a new National Action Plan, and drafted a National Referral Mechanism, it has yet to show tangible progress in identifying and protecting victims or in tackling trafficking complicity of government officials; the Armenian Government made some notable improvements in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, but it failed to demonstrate evidence of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences of officials complicit in trafficking (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)5.584 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 42.3%
hydro: 27%
nuclear: 30.7%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)4.776 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)451.3 million kWh; note - exports an unknown quantity to Georgia; includes exports to Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)418.7 million kWh; note - imports an unknown quantity from Iran (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)48,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)45,200 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)1.93 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS2,400 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2007 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.2% (2001 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 12 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.2% of GDP (2001)

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