Armenia: Great Destination for Travelers

Armenia: Great Destination for Travelers

Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity (early 4th century). Despite periods of autonomy, over the centuries Armenia came under the sway of various empires including the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman. It was incorporated into Russia in 1828 and the USSR in 1920.

Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated region, assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s by Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the area in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, Armenian forces held not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant portion of Azerbaijan proper. The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution. Turkey imposed an economic blockade on Armenia and closed the common border because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.


Armenia is located in the southern Caucasus and is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. It is bounded by Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, Iran on the south, and Turkey on the west. Contemporary Armenia is a fraction of the size of ancient Armenia. A land of rugged mountains and extinct volcanoes, its highest point is Mount Aragats, 13,435 ft (4,095 m).

Government: Republic

President: Robert Kocharian (1998)

Prime Minister: Andranik Markarian (2000)

Area: 11,506 sq mi (29,800 sq km)

Population (2004 est.): 2,991,360 (growth rate: –0.3%); (Armenian, 93%; others, Kurds, Ukrainians, and Russians); birth rate: 11.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 24.2/1000; life expectancy: 71.2; density per sq mi: 260

Capital and largest city: Yerevan, 1,462,700 (metro. area), 1,267,600 (city proper)

Other large cities: Vanadzor, 147,400; Gyumri (Leninakan), 125,300; Abovian, 59,300

Monetary unit: Dram

Language: Armenian 96%, Russian 2%, other 2%

Ethnicity/race: Armenian 93%, Russian 2%, Azeri 1%, other (mostly Yezidi Kurds) 4% (2002).

Note: as of the end of 1993, virtually all Azeris had emigrated from Armenia

Religion: Armenian Apostolic 94%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi 2%

Travel Tips For Russia

Travel Tips For Russia

Winston Churchill once said “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” and no truer words were ever spoken. Russia has long been a country of great fascination and intrigue for many enthralled by the her three hundred year Romanov dynasty, communist past and emerging democracy. As the world’s largest country, Russia occupies two continents, eleven timezones and its rich culture is a unique blend of European and Asian.

Everyone should visit Russia at least once in their lifetime and here are some tips to make your trip a safe and happy one:

* A visa is essential for entry into Russia, This must be arranged prior to your arrival and the fee is cheaper when ordered well in advance. Some people make the mistake of visiting one of the nearby countries e.g. the Ukraine or the Baltic States, thinking they can simply cross the border and enter Russia at whim but you cannot. A last minute visa request can cost over $400.

* Travellers require an invitation to visit Russia for a visa to be granted. This is usually issued by the hotel you will be staying at. Your travel agent can organise all this on your behalf.

* The terms of the visa are quite strict. You must enter and leave Russia on the dates stated otherwise you could land yourself in a lot of trouble.  If you lose the visa you will not be able to leave Russia and hotels will be breaking the law by letting you stay! 

* Hotels in the centre of Moscow are extremely expensive, so be aware if you are looking for budget accommodation you will only find it once you are at least 5km out of the city centre.  

* Exercise common sense while travelling. Don’t flaunt your valuables and don’t walk alone at night.

* Be aware that in Russia there is often one price for locals and another for foreigners. So if you are in a bar ordering a drink, don’t be surprised that the Russian guy sitting next to you paid less for his than you did.

* When hiring a car, make sure to ask for one with seat belts. This may sound crazy but Russia is still developing her health and safety standards.

*Try to blend in where ever possible. Don’t speak English too loudly in public, unfortunately it does identify you as a tourist and attracts thieves. The majority of Russians wear black leather shoes so if you are out in public wearing white trainers, you will stand out, once again identifying yourself as a tourist. 

Must see places in St. Petersburg

* The Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace)

* The Catherine Palace (Summer Palace)

* Peterhov Palace 

* Peter and Paul Fortress (famous historical prison) 

* Tikhivin Cemetery in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery  (Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky are buried here)

* Peter and Paul Cathedral (The Romanov family are buried here) 

Must see places in Moscow

* The Kremlin

* St. Basil’s Cathedral 

* Red Square

 * Leo Tolstoy’s home in Yasnaya Polyana (it is now a museum) 

* Novodevichy Cemetery (burial place of writer Anton Chekhov)