Armenia has a history of more than 4000 years since the day when legendary archer
Hayk defeated the king of Assyria Bel and became the first king of Armenia. By 1824 BC
the Armenian provinces had united and formed a country. In the bible Armenia is called
the kingdom of Ararat (Urartu) and archeological excavations have revealed a highly de-
veloped civilization. Some specimens of this civilization can be seen in the Erebuni Fort-
ress Museum which is in the eastern part of present-day Yerevan. The I century BC was
the "renaissance" of Armenia, it was a period of blossom of art, handicraft and literature.
During this period the ancient Artashat city became an important centre serving as a trade
bridge between the East and the West.
In the second half of the I century AD Rome exercised power upon Armenia and its
neighbor Parthian country.
As a result of this Armenian king Trdat the I (Tiridates) was crowned by Rome in 66
AD after which came an era of revival and peace during which many cities and castles were
In 301 Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as official religion and Ech-
miadzin Cathedral was built. Saint Gregory the Illuminator became our first Catholicos.
During the next years Armenia almost constantly suffered invasions and blockades by its
powerful neighbors. This epoch saw the creation of rich cultural heritage particularly in the
fields of literature and architecture. During this period numerous invaluable manuscripts
were created, they were discovered in monasteries and preserved up to this day.
In the middle of the 17th Armenia was divided between Turkey and Persia and remained
this way until the Russian-Persian and Russian-Turkish wars of the 19th century. At the be-
ginning of the 20th century the government of the Ottoman Turkey started the extermina-
tion of the ethnic Armenian population. As a result of this in 1915 - 1,5 million people were
massacred, others were displaced from Western Armenia and spread all over the world.
At the end of the World War I in 1918 Armenia proclaimed its independence. But the
independent Armenia did not last long. In 1920 it joined the Soviet Union as a republic.
In 1991 Armenia regained its independence and today it is a prosperous, independent
and democratic presidential system of government.