Armenia is a landlocked country, surrounded by Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan. Situated on the ancient route of the Silk Road, various different cultural influences have played a part in shaping the country as it changed hands between numerous powers. The land was primarily split between Persian and Ottoman rule from the 16th century. In the early 19th century, the eastern areas became part of the Russian empire while the western part remained with the Ottoman empire. It was during the first world war that the infamous killing of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians took place at the hands of Ottoman troops. Independence was declared at the end of the first world war, only for the country to come under Soviet rule in the 1920s. Independence came again in 1991 after the Soviet Union collapsed.
Armenia has played a crucial role in the development of Christianity and monasticism in eastern Europe. One of the first countries to convert to Christianity in the early fourth century, it contains a rich ecclesiastical heritage. The country has a large number of wonderful churches, cathedrals and monasteries to visit and explore. Different in mentality and heritage to its neighbour, Georgia, Armenia has a host of attractions, from the Unesco world heritage site of Geghard monastery to the mighty Mount Ararat and some stunning scenery.
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