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Armenian (people)
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Armenian (people)

The Armenians are a nation or ethnic group, originating in the Caucasus and eastern Asia Minor. A large concentration remain there, especially in Armenia, but almost as many are scattered elsewhere throughout the world.

This article covers the Armenians as an ethnic group, not Armenians in the sense of citizens of Armenia.

Total population: 2004: 6.5 million (est.)
Significant populations in: Armenia: 3 Million (est.)
United States: 700,000 (est.)
Russia: 532,000 (est.)
Georgia: 248,000 (est.)
France: 270,000 (est.)
Iran: 200,000 (est.)
Syria: 170,000 (est.)
Lebanon: 150,000 (est.)
Turkey: 150,000 (est.)
Nagorno-Karabakh: 146,000 (est.)
Rest of world: 700,000 (est.)
LanguageArmenian language, local languages of various countries
ReligionArmenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Catholic
Especially in diaspora, miscellaneous Protestant denominations
Related ethnic groupsGreeks

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geographic distribution
3 Culture
4 Institutions
5 Classification
6 See Also
7 References


Until modern times, the history of the Armenians is the history of Armenia, a name which designated a shifting region, but a reasonably continuous people in the Caucasus and eastern Asia Minor. Armenia first emerged into history around 800 BC as part of the Kingdom of Urartu or Van; the first Armenian state, founded in 190 BC. At its zenith (9565 BC), that state extended from the all the way to what is now eastern Turkey and Lebanon. It became part of the Roman Empire in 64 BC.

In AD 301, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion (see #Religion. During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity. From around 1100 to 1350, the focus of Armenian nationalism was the kingdom of Cilicia, which had close ties to the Crusader States.

As with virtually all other nations of this region, between the 4th and 19th centuries, Armenia was conquered and ruled by, among others, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, and Ottoman Turks. This last was to prove particularly disastrous, with two genocidal campaigns against the Armenians in 18941896 and 19151916.

In the 1820s parts of historic Armenia under Persian control centering on Yerevan and Lake Sevan were incorporated into Russia. Following the breakup of Russian empire in the aftermath of World War I for a brief period from 1918 to 1920, it was an independent republic. In late 1920, the communists came to power following an invasion of Armenia by the Red Army, and in 1922, Armenia became part of the Transcaucasian Federative Soviet Socialist Republic, later the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (1936September 21, 1991), now the independent state of Armenia.

Geographic distribution

Armenians today are scattered all over the world.

About 3 million Armenians live in Armenia, but there are also 532,000 in Russia, 248,000 in Georgia, 700,000 in the United States, 270,000 in France, 200,000 in Iran, 170,000 in Syria, 146,000 in Nagorno-Karabakh, 150,000 in Lebanon, 150,000 in Turkey and more scattered in other counties, all together about 6.5 million.

Persecution in the Ottoman Empire

See Armenian Genocide.

Armenia has a long history of conquering, or being conquered by, a vast number of peoples. Almost beyond doubt, the worst persecution of Armenians was in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire. In 18941896, Ottoman policy toward the Armenians bordered on the genocidal; the policy in the years 19151916 clearly stands as one of the paradigms of what constitutes genocide. With World War I in progress, the Turks saw the (Christian) Armenians as liable to ally with Imperial Russia and, essentially, chose to deal with an entire ethnic population as an enemy within their empire.

The exact numbers of deaths in the latter period is a very controversial matter; see Armenian Genocide#Statistics of the Second Massacre for discussion.


Main article: Culture of Armenia, Music of Armenia.


Main article:
Armenian language.


301 AD, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, establishing a church that still exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, having become so in AD 451 as a result of its excommunication by the Council of Chalcedon. The Armenian Apostolic Church is a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox communion. During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity.

The Armenians have, at times, constituted a Christian "island" in a mostly Moslem region. The Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, had close ties to European Crusader States. The religiously based sympathies that some Armenians presumably held for Imperial Russia provided the pretext for the genocide of 1915–1916 by the Ottoman Turks.

While the Armenian Apostolic religion remains the most prominent church in the Armenian community throughout the world, Armenians (especially) in the diaspora subscribe to any number of other Christian sects. For example, of 36 specifically Armenian churches in the Los Angeles Basin, there are 11 Apostolic churches; of the rest, 2 identify as Armenian Catholic, 9 as Evangelical Protestant, 3 belong to the Brotherhood Bible Churches, one is Baptist, one Presbyterian, and one Pentecostal. When one considers that a significant number of ethnic Armenians in L.A. are either unchurched or do not belong to specifically Armenian churches, the Armenian community in that city is obviously quite religiously diverse.


Obviously, the most prominent institution associated with the Armenians today is the nation-state of Armenia. Other important institutions include:


Is there any larger ethnic classification under which this group falls? any significant subgroups?

Applicability of the term "ethnic group" to the Armenians

The Armenians have long been viewed as a nation; however, in diaspora, especially since the era of World War I, they have typically been viewed as an ethnic group.

See Also