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As posted in the Guardian

Map of ArmeniaPotted history of the country: In AD301 Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity. In the middle ages it was absorbed into powerful empires: Byzantine, Seljuk and Mongol. Under Ottoman rule Armenians were persecuted: Armenia claims up to 1.5 million people died in the mass killings of 1915-17, often referred to in the west as the Armenian genocide. Turkey blames inter-ethnic clashes and disputes the toll. From 1922 to independence in 1991 Armenia was part of the USSR.

At a glance
Location: West Asia
Neighbours: Georgia, Iran, Turkey
Size: 11,484 square miles
Population: 2,967,004 (137)
Density: 258.4 people per square mile
Capital city: Yerevan (population 1,249,202)
Head of state: President Serge Sarkissian
Head of government: Prime minister Tigran Sarkissian

Currency: Dram
Time zone: Armenia standard time (+4 hours)
International dialling code: +374
Website: gov.am/en
Data correct on Saturday 18 April 2009

Political pressure points: Ten people died in riots following the election of the prime minister, Serge Sarkisian, in 2008, after claims of vote-rigging. There are no diplomatic ties with Turkey over Ankara's refusal to recognise the 1915 killings as genocide. Relations are also antagonistic with neighbouring Azerbaijan over status of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Population mix: Armenian 97.89%, Yazidi 1.26%, unspecified 0.84%

Religious makeup: Armenian Apostolic 94.7%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi (monotheist with elements of nature worship) 1.3%

Main languages: Armenian, Russian, Yezidi

Living national icons: Hakob Meliq-Hakobian (Raffi) (writer, deceased), Vakhtang Darchinyan (boxing) Levon Aronian (chess)

Landscape and climate: Armenia is a landlocked, highland country with peaks rising to 4,000 metres, swift rivers and little forest. At about 1,900 metres above sea level, Lake Sevan is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. Climate is continental with hot, dry summers, cold winters and overall low humidity.

Highest point: Mount Aragats 4,090 metres

Area covered by water: 498 square miles

Healthcare and disease: Maternal and child healthcare have improved, but general mortality rates have risen alarmingly since the fall of the Soviet Union. TB is a scourge and tobacco consumption is increasing, with nearly 70% of men in the 24-65 age group smoking. Unofficial payments, including bribes, account for almost two-thirds of health funding.

Average life expectancy (m/f): 68/75

Average number of children per mother: 1.3

Maternal deaths per 100,000 live births: 76

Infant deaths per 1,000 births: 24

Adults HIV/Aids rate: 0.1%

Doctors per 1,000 head of population: 3.7

Adult literacy rate: 99.5% (m 99.7%/f 99.3%)

Economic outlook: Remittances from Armenia's large worldwide diaspora have shrunk in the global economic downturn. The country will be relying heavily on its close ties with Russia, which invested 1.3bn last year.

Main industries: Diamond-processing, machinery, car components, fabrics, chemical, food processing, brandy

Key crops/livestock: Fruit, primarily grapes, potatoes, vegetables, cereals

Key exports: Pearls, precious stones and metals, prepared foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, mineral products, textiles

GDP: 3,262m (117th)

GDP per head: 1,084

Unemployment rate: 8.2%

Proportion of global carbon emissions: 0.04%

Most popular tourist attractions: Unesco world heritage listed Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries, lake Sevan

Local recommendation: Tatev monastery, situated on a rock bluff on the edge of Vorotan canyon near Armenia's border with Iran. Its churches date to the 9th century and were once home to 600 monks

Traditional dish: Harissa (chicken and wheat porridge) and Lavash (flat bread)

Foreign tourist visitors per year: 318,563

Media freedom index (ranked out of 173): 102

Did you know ... Armenia claims to be "motherland of the apricot", and its apricots are considered to be the best in the world.

National anthem:
Death is everywhere the same
Man is born just once to die
But blest is he who gives his life
To defend his nation's freedom
But blest is he who gives his life
To defend his nation's freedom

Information correct on date of first publication, Saturday 18 April 2009.

Source: "The Guardian", London


Added: Monday, April 20, 2009
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