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Armenia

Geography & Topography

Capital: Yerevan

Population: 3,033,000

Area: 29,743 square kilometers (11,484 square miles)

Language: Armenian, Russian

Ethnic Groups: Armenian (97.9%), Yazidis (1.3%), Russian (0.5%), Other (0.3%)

Religion: Armenian Apostolic

Currency: Dram

 

History

Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Armenia is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north and Azerbajian to the east.

The culture of Armenia consists of many elements that are based on the geography, literature, architecture, dance and music of the people. The culture shares similarities yet still is distinct from neighbouring countries such as Russia, Georgia and Iran as well as Mediterranean nations such as Greece and Cyprus.

Performing Arts

Music

Armenian music has distinctive melody patterns and are rich sounding. This originality is reached due to the use of original Armenian instruments which have survived from the early Middle Ages. Since ancient times people have sung folk songs of ritual, labor, and military content.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Armenian music are:

Shvi

Shvi: A wind instrument, an end-blown duct flute with a libium mouth piece, similar to that of a recorder. It may be made of reed, wood or bamboo. It has a range of an octave and a half. The pitches vary with the size of the instrument. Its average length is 32 cm, with seven finger-holes and one thumb-hole. At the upper end, near the mouthpiece, there is a metal (usually tin) ring for adjusting the sound. This can be made in various sizes. It is played solo and in ensembles of folk instruments, and it is used for everyday music-making and by shepherds, who sometimes use it in place of the more difficult pastoral “blul”.

Duduk

Duduk: Armenian oboe. A single or double reed wind instrument made of apricot wood with a sound that has a human-like voice quality. It has a cylindrical wooden pipe, a broad reed and nine holes (8 finger-holes and one thumb-hole). It has a warm, soft, slightly nasal timbre and full tone. This instrument is equally used for slow lyrical tunes (accompanying folk songs) and faster dance-tunes, and it is also played solo. The tuning is basically untempered diatonic, though chromatic notes can be obtained by partially opening or closing the finger holes. The double reed is a slit-tube-like reed. The origin of the duduk goes back to times before Christ.

 

Dance

Examples of traditional Armenian dances are:

Kochari

Kochari: Armenians have been dancing Kochari for over a thousand years. The dance is danced to a 2/4 rhythm. Dancers form a closed circle, putting their hands on each other’s shoulders. This may symbolize the alienation that this minority community felt at the time of the dance’s birth. The dance is danced by both men and women and is intended to be intimidating. More modern forms of Kochari have added a “tremolo step,” which involves shaking the whole body. It spread to the eastern part of Armenia after Armenians were driven out of Anatolia because of the genocide caused by Turkey. This movement is appropriate for its name, which in various Turkish languages signifies “nomad”.

Tamzara

 

 

Tamzara: Tamzara is an Armenian folk dance. This dance was especially popular in the regions of Erzincan, Erzurum, Kiğı, Arabkir, Elazığ, and Malatya. It is done in a “line dance” or “circle dance”, with a large group of people with interlocked fingers.

 

 

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Armenia is a member of more than 40 different international organizations, including the United Nations, Council of Europe, Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Independent States, World Trade Organization & the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
  • The highest point in Armenia is formed by Mount Aragats (4090 m), which houses a dormant volcano.
  • Armenia is known for its apricots, considered to taste better than anywhere else in the world.

Armenian Community in Australia:

More information on the Armenian community: