Armenia: Background & Geography

Introduction Armenia
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. It was incorporated into Russia in 1828 and the USSR in 1920. Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with Muslim 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, 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 imposed an economic blockade on Armenia and closed the common border because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.
Geography Armenia
Southwestern Asia, east of Turkey
Geographic coordinates:
40 00 N, 45 00 E
Map references:
total: 29,800 sq km
water: 1,400 sq km
land: 28,400 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries:
total: 1,254 km
border countries: Azerbaijan-proper 566 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 221 km, Georgia 164 km, Iran 35 km, Turkey 268 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
none (landlocked)
highland continental, hot summers, cold winters
Armenian Highland with mountains; little forest land; fast flowing rivers; good soil in Aras River valley
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Debed River 400 m
highest point: Aragats Lerrnagagat' 4,090 m
Natural resources:
small deposits of gold, copper, molybdenum, zinc, alumina
Land use:
arable land: 17.52%
permanent crops: 2.3%
other: 80.18% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
2,870 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
occasionally severe earthquakes; droughts
Environment - current issues:
soil 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 agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography - note:
landlocked in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains; Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) is the largest lake in this mountain range

See Also: