A tiny nation with the distinction of being the “cradle of civilization,” Armenia is bursting with historical magnificence. One of the world’s oldest civilizations, Armenia has a long, tumultuous history, marked by invasions, occupations, and massacres and battered by war for more than 3,000 years.
Located in the Southern Caucasus, a land bridge from Europe to Asia, Armenia is landlocked by Turkey on the west, Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, and Iran on the south. It is precisely this location, a Christian nation surrounded by disparate religions, which has been the cause of much of Armenia’s violent story.
Though Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion, the country fell under the rule of Byzantine, Persian and Islamic authority over the course of the following centuries.
Starting in the 16th century and lasting through the 19th century, Armenia came under the rule of both the Ottoman and Iranian Empires, who would often fight for the small nation through several wars, with power over the country often passing between the two empires. At this time, Eastern Armenia was controlled by Persian rule and Western Armenia was under Ottoman rule. By the mid-19th century, Russia was able to conquer Eastern Armenia and take it from the Iranian Empire, though Western Armenia still remained under Ottoman rule.
Hegemony and external control had always been a big part of Armenia’s history, but the country’s most devastating occurrence happened in the early 20th century, when 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed in a planned extermination of the ethnicity by the Ottoman Empire. Known now as the Armenian Genocide of 1915, this heinous act against Armenians has caused the most pain for the ethnicity and led many who survived to escape their country in search of salvation and peace.