Free Essay on Armenia: A Country Profile
In this paper the author discusses the issues surrounding the current state of the The Republic of Armenia. The report provides data concerning the history of the country, human development, living standards and cultural characteristics in Armenia. In order to present a comprehensive image of life in Armenia, a wide range facts, trends and statistics is included in a descriptive and analyzed format. Due to limitations of resources, only a certain degree of detail will be included.
This report begins with an overview of the current state of the country followed by a snapshot of the Armenia’s media, which connects its population. As a prelude to family life, culture, and ethnic structure, this report defines the gender differences associated with various determining factors such as life expectancy and employment. The profiling of Armenia continues with an overview of various holidays, the cuisine, and the experiences associate with the climate in this country. Before concluding, some major issues such as poverty, housing structure, and the economic effects of migration are reviewed. A great way to gain a grasp on understanding of life in a new country is by comparing its characteristics to those of a place that has been already learned through phenomenological experience. The author attempts to do so in the conclusion of this report.
Throughout history, Armenia has suffered through a long tradition of being conquered by Greeks, Turks, and Russians, among other empires. However, most recently, Armenia has shown the will and ability to fight and successfully exemplified how determination to maintain autonomy can prevail. This can be seen by the way the country has successfully gained control of the Nagorno-Kabarakh region, a region that wished to separate itself from Azerbaijani rule and join the Republic of Armenia. With the help of the Armenian people is now unofficially an independent state.
As of 2009, the Republic of Armenia has a population of just under 3.1 million people and occupies a 30,000 sq km piece of land located between Azerbaijan and Turkey (BBC). More specifically, the country is surrounded by, starting in the north- Georgia, on the east side by Azerbaijan, Iran on the south and Turkey on the west. The capital of Armenia is Yerevan, although Vanadzor, Gyumri, and Abovian are other major cities. The country’s political regime is headed by the current president of Armenia; Serge Sarkisan, who is a former Soviet soldier, leader of change in the Nagorno-Kabarakh region and Armenia’s former minister of defence. Like most countries, the political system in Armenia greatly depends on media to communicate its messages, reforms and regulations.
When analyzing a country and its societal norms, trends, beliefs, lifestyle, and characteristics, it is vital to consider the partnership of the government and the media, as these two generally institutions shape the foundations of a society. Armenians generally refer to television for their primary source of media intake. National TV stations include Armenia TV, and the state-run Public TV of Armenia. The state also maintains its own radio and news outlets, respectively known as Public Radio of Armenia and the Armenpress. However, there are many privately owned media organizations, which are allowed to broadcast uncensored information, although this information may always be subject to informal pressure of authorities (BBC). Not only does the media provide news and entertainment to the people of Armenia, but it also communicates ideas that help to shape the way men and women assert themselves into society.
The distribution of gender roles and responsibilities provides a conundrum to one who analyses the data. Although the current life expectancy in Armenia is 71 years for men and 78 years for women, according to 2010 United Nations data (BBC), data shows that men work less and play more than their female counterpart. The large discrepancy of the life expectancy in the sexes is accompanied by the following noticeable gender differences. In Armenia, women are expected to devote more time to unpaid work such as household duties rather to earning an income. Although Armenians perceive being employed as the number one priority for men, whereas housework is the priority for women, sometimes this results the the total requirements for paid and unpaid work for women greater than for men (Petrosyan, 4). This can be confirmed by the fact that men spend approximately 6 hours on leisure activities compared to women who only spend 4 hours and 2 minutes (Petroyasan, 5). The roles of men and women differ and are proportioned unevenly in regards to employment (or paid work), housework, working time with leased land, working time with animals, as well as other types of work. It could be that the expectations Armenians have on themselves and each other are a means of natural selection and self-preservation, with an allocation of more work to the stronger, healthier gender. This uneven allocation of work has historically not been a problem in the case of married couples.
Armenia as a country has a historically low divorce rate. This could be associated to the culture’s high value on family relationships. Currently, crude marriage rate stands at 4.8 marriages per 1000 people and crude divorce rate at 0.6, a significant difference (Kocharyan, 12). By viewing the lessening gap in the excess of births over deaths, experts estimate that the population in Armenia will not suffer a decrease like Russia or a growth like Iran, but it will rather sustain itself until 2050. As of 2002 Armenia has a relatively low fertility rate of 1.21 children per woman, compared to the rest of Europe’s average of 1.5 (Turkey leads with 2.46 children per woman) (Kocharyan, 11). These children are required to attend elementary and secondary school until graduation (Curtis), which ensures a very high literacy rate among Armenians. Furthermore, virtually all the people living in Armenia speak the main language, which is called Hayastani. However, due to the high level of Russian political and economic influence in the past and present, many people are also able to understand Russian (BBC). The dominance of these two languages says something about the ethnic structure this republic.
Culture and Ethnic Structure
The Armenian population consists mostly (93%) of Armenians and it is often regarded as ethnically the most homogenous of the Soviet republics (Curtis). The remaining population consists of Azerbaijanis, Kurds, and Russians living within Armenia. The homogeneity of the Armenian population has caused much dissatisfaction and unrest among national and religious minorities who cannot help but feel marginalized. However, in 2005, $100,000 US was awarded to the Centre of National and Ethnic Minorities in order to combat the visibility of Armenia’s minorities’ lack of resources and educational materials (Minority Rights Group International). The fact that the main religion in Armenia is Christianity (BBC) is not surprising seeing as it claims to be the first country in the world to officially adopt Christianity as a religion. Armenia was converted by Saint Gregory the Illuminator around the year 306 A.D. (Curtis). While the Armenian Apostolic Church represents the majority of the population, there are minorities that follow Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Islamic traditions. Whichever tradition they follow, Armenians do it with enthusiasm and respect.
The holidays celebrated in Armenia include Christmas, Easter and Vartanants. Vartanants is a special Armenian National day of feasting and celebrating St. Vartan, a Christian general who led Armenian troops in their freedom from the Persians in 451 A.D. Other holidays include Ascencion Day, Palm Sunday, and The Transfiguration, or the feast of water, a day on which everyone is allowed to pour water on each other without the right to be offended. Independence day is an official holiday that is celebrated on September 21st in Armenia. Armenians value their history as the cause of their current culture. They emphasize the importance of close family relationships and good hospitality. The celebrations of these holidays embody these values through music, dance, and a whole slew of delicious Middle Eastern cuisine including lamb, rice pilaf, and baklava.
While it may not be hard to find pizza shops or Chinese food in Armenian urban centres, Armenian food is better known for its unique spin on Middle Eastern Cuisine. Armenians’ salad favorites include hamime, tabouleh and hummus. Another favorite appetizer is pilaf, which is rice cooked in a seasoned broth and be made to include lamb, eggplant, as well as coriander seeds among other variations. Shish kebab, falafel, gyro, dolma, and lamb shanks are some of the popular meat dishes and adorned deserts worth mentioning include baklava, cheese kadayif, lookoom and roejig, a delicious grape juice and walnut roll. One can always find comfort in a traditional Armenian meal!
The climate in Armenia differs depending largely on the elevation, where mountain formations block influence from the surrounding seas and create wide variations in temperature from season to season. The volcanic soils found in the Armenian plateau provide the country a great venue for agricultural activity (Curtis). The mountains in Armenia are not only useful for tourism and sightseeing. Particularly, Mount Ararat, known to be associated with the biblical story of Noah’s ark, is used to gauge the level of pollution in Erevan. Its lessening visibility made it a symbol for worsening conditions (Curtis). However, if one were to think that the harsh winters and dramatic changes in temperature were the driving force in Armenia’s high rate of emigration, one would be mistaken.
Poverty levels, Housing and the Distribution of Wealth
The transition of Armenia into a market economy, the fall of the Soviet Union, a major earthquake, which left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, a17-year economic blockade courtesy of Turkey and Azerbaijan, a long with several other unfavourable factors have contributed to the rising poverty, fall in average standard of living, and increase in the inequality associated with distribution of wealth in Armenia (Tonoyan ,10). As of 2009, according to the Ministry of Urban Development, 8.4% of Armenia’s population is currently unsheltered or in need of improved housing conditions. The government has been executing an action plan that carries over into 2012 that aims to provide decent housing to vulnerable groups such as earthquake displaced households, refugee households, socially vulnerable and young familes, and people with disabilities, among others (Stepanyan, and Varosyan).
The level of poverty can be understood with an analysis of the inequality of income distribution in the country. While 12% of the population receives over half of all income, accounting for 32% of all income, the poorest 55% of people receive only 16% of the income in circulation (Tonoyan, 14). As a result, the poor population receives much less health consultation than the wealthy. When broken up into quintiles, the wealthiest utilizes 40% of public health care expenditures while the poorest only utilizes 13% (Tonoyan, 21). This trend leaves many who make up the poorer population resort to crime and illegal activity. Crime in Armenia is largely associated with drugs and corruption through bribery. Armenia also has a history of white-collar crime, which can be directly related to those who held seats in the parliament. During and after the Soviet rule in Armenia, corruption and bribery became the most learned and common ways of life.
Migration and the Diaspora
Since Armenia managed to recover its independence from the Soviet Union, there has been an increase in emigration. For a republic of only 3 million, there is a community of over 6 million Armenians living in Diaspora around the world (Hergnyan, and Makaryan). This Diasporan community has shown a high level of ethnic identity and attachment, as well as family and friends altruism. This has been beneficial to the general population of Armenia and has led to a great deal of economic development stemming from private transfers and foreign investments, specifically from the USA, Russia, and Iran (Hergnyan, and Makaryan). Temporary migration is also a very popular phenomenon in Armenia, especially to Russia, due to the growth of capitalism and geographic convenience. Some have argued that temporary migration should become regulated as most of it is economically driven and proper regulation can greatly support the Armenian labour market (Gevorkyan).
While the local economy suffers in Armenia, surrounding cities such as Novorossiysk provide excellent opportunities for employment opportunities. Novorossiysk is considered a “Hero City” and owns the biggest seaport in Russia. The location, along the Black Sea, provides more opportunities than other ports as it provides direct access to the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding countries. It is also well known for producing wines for Russia’s domestic market. Like Armenia, Novorossiysk was also commanded by the Ottoman empire until the Russo-Turkish war.
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