Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Armenia is situated at a cultural, historical, and religious intersection and located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, in the southern Transcaucasus. The country spans 29,743 square kilometers (11,490 square miles, about the size of Belgium or Maryland) of mountainous terrain centered around the Ararat Valley, the heart of the Armenian nation since biblical times. Ancient geographers called the Armenian Highlands the "Island of Mountains" or the "Rooftop of Asia Minor." In fact, the average altitude of the country is over a mile high, at about 1800 meters above sea level. Presently, the country is landlocked and has no navigable waterways, in contrast to Historic Armenia, which at its height under King Tigran the Great, stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and was more than ten times the current size of the present day Republic. Armenia has borders with Georgia to the north, with Turkey to the west and south, with Azerbaijan to the east and southwest, and with Iran to the south. Looming above the Yerevan skyline as an ominous reminder to its glorious past and as a beacon to a future of hope rises majestic Mount Ararat. Located southwest of the capital Yerevan in present day Turkey, Mount Ararat dominates the national landscape, psyche and character. Mount Aragats, the highest point within the Republic's boundaries (4090 meters at its summit) is a hiker's less explored paradise.