Earlier today, someone asked me how large Armenia was and I struggled to remember the population of the nation. I wanted to say 10 million but I was mistakenly thinking of the number of Armenians worldwide (which is closer to 11 million).
Armenia is a little-known country for the most part, which is a touch ironic considering its history and its contributions to so many realms of life. So here’s some not-so-trivial trivia about Armenia that I thought might interest those of you who are wondering about this country I’m going to on Tuesday:
- Armenia is considered by some to be part of the Middle East, by some to be part of Asia and by some to be part of Europe (because of its modern and economic trends, which are similar to Georgia, now part of Europe). Officially, however, it is in Asia. It is the landlocked neighbour of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran, making it a gateway from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.
- About 3 million people live in Armenia and 11 million Armenians live elsewhere, mostly in Russia (estimates are between 1 and 3 million) and the United States (between .5 and 1.5 million). Between 50,000 and 80,000 live in Canada. [My source is the-not-always-reliable Wikipedia.]
- Just over one-third of Armenia’s population lives in the capital, Yerevan.
- The two types of cars we saw the most of while we were in Armenia were old Russians Ladas or modern Mercedes.
- Mount Ararat is a national symbol even though it is now within the political borders of Turkey.
- Yerevan was founded 2,800 years ago, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.
- Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion (at the start of the 4th century). No, not Italy. Not England. Armenia.
- Armenia reportedly has the best apricots in the world. Too bad I don’t like apricots!
- The currency of Armenia is the dram.
- The longest non-stop two-way cable car system is in Armenia and it travels 1,000 feet over a gorge. No thanks!
- Many of the older buildings were constructed with stone that has a pink tinge. This has given Yerevan the unofficial nickname of “The Pink City.”
- Famous people you may not have known are Armenian (or part-Armenian) include singer/actress Cher, singer Charles Aznavour, tennis player Andre Agassi, actor Andy Serkis, director Atom Egoyan, comedian Andrea Martin, actor Mike Conners, actor Michael Vartan (yay!), and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (by adoption). There are many more, of course. In fact, Princess Diana was 1/64th Armenian!
In the next few weeks, as I post updates and photos from Armenia, you’ll learn more about Armenia than you even thought you wanted to. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun. And inspiring. And moving. Stay tuned! 🙂
(Armenian friends reading this, feel free to add your own favourite interesting facts about Armenia in the comments section below!)