The Armenian highland , which occupies an area of about 400.000 sq. kilometers, is spread in Frontal Asia, to the North of Mesopotamia. German geographers justly call this wonderful country “a mountainous island” or “the roof of snow-covered uplands”. Armenia is furrowed with numerous mountain chains and gorges, the fields between the mountains give place to alpine grasslands, the dense forests – to impregnable rocks and still active volcanoes.
The Armenian highland is situated as of mid on 2.200 meters above sea level. Among the noteworthy mountain peaks are Nemrut, Kirs, Mrav, Byurakan, Kaputdjugh, the highest mountain of today’s Republic of Armenia – Aragats (4.092 meters), Sipan(4.434 meters, on the shore of Lake Van) and of course Masis – the Biblical Ararat (5.165 meters) , on which Noah’s Ark rested after the flood. This enigmatic mountain has the highest mountain peak in Armenia.
The Armenian highland was the place where Armenians one of the planet’s oldest nations, were born and formed. Nearly 7.000 years ago here, in the Historical Armenia, the history of the Armenian people was started. A number of monuments date back to that era. They are the most ancient evidence of the material culture of the predecessors of Armenia and the Armenian people: the ancient Karahungeobservatory, many stone dragons, images on rocks, etc.
The present stage of the Armenian statehood starts from 1918, when the first Republic of Armenia was declared in the territory which the present-day Republic of Armenia, Artsakh (NKR-Mountainous Karabagh) and Nakhidjevan occupy. Losing Artsakh and Nakhidjevan in 1920, Armenia, as a Soviet Republic, became a member of the USSR. Artsakh and Nakhidjevan were annexed to Azerbaijan, the first one as an Autonomous region and the second one as an Autonomous Republic. In 1988, the Armenian liberation movement intensified, which resulted in the Declaration of Independence of the Mountainous –Karabagh Republic on September 2, 1991 and the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia on September 22, 1991.
On March 2, 1992, Armenia became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Council of Europe (CE), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and any others. It has also established diplomatic relations with nearly 150 countries. Negotiations for the NKR’s status are continuing.
Armenia was the first country in the world to officially embrace Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D. Both Armenia and Artsakh are widely celebrating the 1700 the anniversary of this historic event in 2001.
The Armenian Church has for centuries led the Armenian people, who had lost their statehood, it has created and maintained the material and spiritual values of the nation. There are about 50.000 historical architectural monuments in Armenia called an open-air museum. 90 percent of them are Christian, for at the time the new religion was being spread and confirmed, churches and monasteries were mainly built in the places where the pagan temples and other place for worship were.