Armenia, a high tableland in the upper valleys of the Euphrates, Tigris, Aras, and Kur, some 500 miles long, by nearly the same breadth. In ancient times an independent country, it repeatedly recovered its independence down to the middle ages, although with varying boundary. It is now, however, distributed between Russia, Turkey, and Persia, and stretches, in its utmost extent, from Asia Minor on the W. to the Caspian Sea on the E., and from the Caucasus on the N. to the Murad Su on the S. The interior consists mostly of pastoral plateaus, 2700 to 7000 feet above sea-level, crowned by conical heights or traversed by mountain-chains, and culminating in Mount Ararat, 16,969 feet high. A chain of mountains, stretching from Ararat to the confluence of the two head-waters of the Euphrates, divides Armenia into a northern half and a southern half. The mountain-system of Armenia is mostly volcanic, a fact still evidenced by the hot mineral springs, such as the sulphur springs of Tiflis, and by earthquakes. The Murad Su and the Kara Su form the head-waters of the Euphrates; whilst the Shett, rising to the south of Lake Van, and an arm of the Diarbekr, rising in the Alinjik Dagh, constitute the headwaters of the Tigris. Other rivers are the Aras, the Kur, and the Tchorak. Of lakes, there is Van in Turkish, Goktcha or Sevan in Russian, and Urmia in Persian Armenia. Armenia is rich in metals, possessing mines of silver, lead, iron, arsenic, alum, rock-salt, and especially copper. The climate is distinguished into a region of rains, with subtropical climate, embracing parts of the valley of the Kur and the Upper Tigris; a region of perpetual snow, and an intermediate region of very various grades. The plateaus - volcanic, dry, and singularly bare of wood - have a very severe climate; the winters long and inclement, and the summers short.
The ancients distinguished Armenia Major, the larger and eastern half, bordering on Media and the Caspian Sea, on Mesopotamia and Assyria, from Armenia Minor to the west of the Euphrates. Turkish Armenia comprises, besides the old Armenia Minor, the vilayets of Van, Bitlis, Darsim, Erzerum, with parts of Diarbekr and Charput. The Sasun (q.v.) district was the scene of great atrocities by Kurds and Turks in 1S93-94. Russian Armenia, formerly Persian, forms the NE. part of old Armenia Major, and includes the governments of Erivan, Elizabetpol, and Kars, with parts of Tiflis. In this Russian division of Armenia are situated the three old monasteries - Etchmiadzin (q.v.), Haghpad, and Sanahine. Persia holds the SE. corner of Armenia Major in the province of Azerbijan.
The Armenians, whose national character is almost as strong as is that of the Jews, belong to the Iranian group of the Indo-Germauic family. The Armenians, at the present day, are to be found in almost all Turkish provinces; in Russia, Persia, and India; in the great commercial cities of the Mediterranean; in the Austrian empire; at London, Manchester, and other capitals of Western Europe, occupying posts as moneychangers, bankers, and merchants, though also as artisans and porters. Their number in Armenia itself is estimated at 1,000,000 at the most; in Persia and adjacent territories, 100,000; in European Turkey, 400,000; in Russia, 500,000; in India, 5000; in Africa, 5000; in Transylvania, Hungary, and Galicia, 16,000. Their total number is calculated at not more than 2,500,000. Among the foreign invaders domesticated in Armenia are the Turks, mostly engaged in agriculture; the nomadic Kurds; in the SE., the Tartars; Nes-torians occupying the mountains of the Persian frontier, and speaking a Syriac dialect; Georgians, in the north. Greeks, Jews, and Gypsies are also scattered throughout Armenia. The Armenians themselves are at home mostly shepherds and tillers of the soil. The Armenian church differs from the Greek church in being monophysite (attributing one nature only to Christ). Some Armenians are 'united' (i.e. to the Roman Catholic Church).
See Curzon, Armenia(1854); Norman, Armenia (1S78); Tozer, Turkish Armenia (1881); Creagh, Armenians, Koords, and Turks (1880); Hepworth, Through Armenia on Horseback (1S98); H. F. B. Lynch, Armenia (2 vols. 1901); and works named at Ararat.