• Slovakia!

    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

  • Bulgaria!

    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

  • Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

  • Portugal!

    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

  • Denmark!

    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

  • Armenia!

    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

History of Armenia

The Armenians, like their neighboring Georgians, claim to be descended of Noah's (as in Noah's Ark) great, great grandson; the Armenians claiming to be descendants of Hayk. Since that time the Armenians have remained in the same general area, but much has changed.

In 301 Armenia declared Christianity the official state religion, making them the world's first country to do so. The country then encountered take-over after take-over, from Persia, Byzantium, and the Arabs. Under these foreign rulers, many Armenians moved to various parts of the Roman Empire, Byzantium, and Persia, creating Diaspora settlements in neighborhoods located in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

During the early years, Armenia generally fell under the rule of both the Persians and the Byzantines. They assimilated many aspects of Byzantium culture into their lives, but rejected much of the Persian lifestyle due to the differing religions. In the 800s the Arabs took over the region and in the 1000s the Seljuk Turks arrived. For the next couple centuries Armenia's position was regularly altered, but they stayed firmly committed to the ideas, religion, and culture of the falling Byzantine Empire rather than the local Arab and Turkish Muslims.

Throughout the 1500-1700s the people remained on the border of the Ottoman and Persian Empires, making their lands change hands regularly and this resulted in greater emigration and a continuously growing Diaspora abroad.

In the early 1800s Russia took over Armenia and the Christian rulers were a welcome change from most past rulers who were Muslim. This take-over led to bulging Armenian pride, particularly for those still in the Ottoman Empire. This led to a genocide beginning in 1915, although many Turks argue this title. To this day, the Turks deny such an event took place and the Armenians claim it did. Most independent sources claim that there was either an intentional genocide or the Ottoman Empire forced the Armenians into exile under poor conditions, which resulted in over 1 million deaths. Continuing their favorable relations with Russia and anti-Turkish tendencies, during WWI the Armenians sided with Russia against the Ottoman Turks.

After the war however, Armenia was again given to Turkey in the peace accord. This led to a united Transcaucus state with Georgia and Azerbaijan, followed by a declaration of independence, followed by, in 1922 Armenia's union with the newly formed Soviet Union. This led to further emigration of more Armenians and the creation of a new capital, Yerevan.

After independence in 1991, Armenia faced more diplomatic problems when Azerbaijan claimed the lands of Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan. Armenia protested, war broke out and today the battles remain at a stalemate as Armenia maintains diplomatic relations with neither Turkey nor Azerbaijan, two of their four neighbors. Armenia's closest allies are Russia and the United States. Russian rule was, for the most part favorable for Armenia and much of Armenia's Diaspora lives in the United States. The country's economy is still struggling and receives more money from Diaspora remittances than from internal revenue.

This page was last updated: March, 2013