Title: The Republic of Armenia

Population: 3,011,609

Population Change: 0.19

National Average Age: 35

Urban Percentage: 63

Christian Population: 2,826,000

Christian Percentage: 97.9

Introduction: Armenia is a nation and former Soviet republic in the mountainous Caucasus region between Asia and Europe. Among the earliest Christian civilizations it’s defined by religious sites including the Greco-Roman Temple of Garni and 4th-century Etchmiadzin Cathedral headquarters of the Armenian Church. Khor Virap Monastery is a pilgrimage site near Mount Ararat a dormant volcano just across the border in Turkey.

Overview: 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. During World War I in the western portion of Armenia the Ottoman Empire instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in at least 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 seven surrounding regions approximately 14 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory. 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 1993 in support of Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas further hampering Armenian economic growth. In 2009 senior Armenian leaders began pursuing rapprochement with Turkey aiming to secure an opening of the border but Turkey has not yet ratified the Protocols normalizing relations between the two countries. In January 2015 Armenia joined Russia Belarus and Kazakhstan as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union.