One of my faithful readers,Selvakumar Sivalingam from India, is interested in tourist destinations in Armenia and I am happy to provide some information, feel free to add
I think I will start with our sacred Mt Ararat, our capital city Yerevan and people, the best treasure we have
Ararat, Yerevan and The Armenians
The Armenians, an ancient people living on an ancient land, call Armenia “Hayastan,” and themselves “Hai.” Oral history explains the lineage of the Armenian people as being the direct descendants of Noah’s son Japheth. The indigenous people of the land of Ararat, Armenians forged their national identity with the rise of powerful Armenian kingdoms, the adoption of Christianity as Armenia’s state religion, and the creation of the Armenian alphabet, which spurred the development of literature, philosophy, and science.
While the Armenian state withstood foreign invasions and domination over the centuries, the population continued to inhabit the highlands in Asia Minor, centered around Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia and resting place of Noah’s Ark. This continual presence came to an abrupt halt when the Young Turk regime of the Ottoman Empire implemented the first genocide of the twentieth century against its Armenian citizenry beginning in 1915. As a result, the majority of the Armenian people were either killed outright or ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homeland, taking refuge in neighboring countries or finding sanctuary in what remained of Armenia, the soon-to-be Soviet Republic of Armenia.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the rebirth of the independent Armenian state, the Republic of Armenia reemerged as the latest embodiment of Armenia’s perseverance as a nation. Overall, the population of Armenians world-wide is estimated to be 10 million, many comprising Diaspora communities in Russia, the US, Europe and the Middle East. Despite dispersion and effects of globalization which have drawn Armenians to the four corners of the world, Armenians continue to uphold strong cultural, religious, and historical customs and traditions, and have a rekindled spirit regarding their homeland, Armenia.
Mount Ararat is literally looming over capital city of Armenia – Yerevan.
Armenia is situated at a cultural, historical, and religious intersection and located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, in the southern Transcaucasus. The country spans 29,743 square kilometers (11,490 square miles, about the size of Belgium or Maryland) of mountainous terrain centered around the Ararat Valley, the heart of the Armenian nation since biblical times. Ancient geographers called the Armenian Highlands the “Island of Mountains” or the “Rooftop of Asia Minor.” In fact, the average altitude of the country is over a mile high, at about 1800 meters above sea level. Presently, the country is landlocked and has no navigable waterways, in contrast to Historic Armenia, which at its height under King Tigran the Great, stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and was more than ten times the current size of the present day Republic. Armenia has borders with Georgia to the north, with Turkey to the west and south, with Azerbaijan to the east and southwest, and with Iran to the south. Looming above the Yerevan skyline as an ominous reminder to its glorious past and as a beacon to a future of hope rises majestic Mount Ararat. Located southwest of the capital Yerevan in present day Turkey, Mount Ararat dominates the national landscape, psyche and character. Mount Aragats, the highest point within the Republic’s boundaries (4090 meters at its summit) is a hiker’s less explored paradise.
Armenia’s lowest elevation is found in the Arax River valley at 390 meters. The Ararat plain is divided by the Araks River and occupies the southwestern part of Armenia.
Armenia’s landscapes offer boundless beauty. Seven main landscape types are represented across the different altitudinal zones of Armenia. Across these desert, semi desert, dry steppe, steppe, woodland, sub alpine and alpine zones is geography as diverse as high mountain peaks, fertile valleys, picturesque land formations, basalt columns, rock sculptures, and waterfalls. More than 200 rivers and streams traverse Armenia, with steep falls, rapids and swift currents. Armenia has 5 scenic canyons. In addition, there are over 200 therapeutic mineral springs, differing in composition and temperature.
Lake Sevan is by far the largest body of water in Armenia, accounting for 5% of the country’s land area. Mythic and majestic, Lake Sevan fills a gigantic depression situated at a height of 2000 meters above sea level located in the central part of Armenia. In ancient times it was called the Geghama Sea. One of the largest freshwater mountain lakes in the world, Lake Sevan offers visitors an array of recreational opportunities and stunning vistas. The Sevan Basin is rich with archaeological and historic monuments; some say that the bowl of the lake was formed from the crater of an extinct volcano.
Armenia’s rivers flow into two large aquatic arteries of the Southern Caucasus- the basins of the Kura River in the north and the Araks River in the south. The Akhurian, Hrazdan, Kassakh, Vokhchi, Arpa, Vorotan Rivers run into the Araks River, and the Debet and Agshtev Rivers pour into the Kura River.
Where early man smelted iron, copper is the most important raw material mined in Armenia today, along with bauxite, silver, molybdenum, lead, obsidian, semiprecious stones and zinc. Substantial deposits of pumice, marble, perlite, limestone, salt, basalt, granite, volcanic stone (tuff), as well as smaller amounts of gold, diamonds and platinum lie beneath Armenia’s surface. Although oil deposits have been identified, the complex geology of the region makes recovery difficult and expensive.
Only one third of Armenia’s land is arable, and that portion blooms due to enormous and continuous effort on the part of its indigenous population. That’s why they say, “Armenians squeeze bread out of stone”. The legend goes that when Armenians came to God to ask for their piece of land, all the good land had already been distributed, so God gave them the leftovers, full of stones. Armenians infused this land with their soul and expressed all their hopes through it.