Traveling Luck for Armenia

Armenia is located in Southwestern Asia, east of Turkey.

Armenia has borders with Azerbaijan for 787km, Georgia for 164km, Iran for 35km and Turkey for 268km.

Land in Armenia is Armenian Highland with mountains; little forest land; fast flowing rivers; good soil in Aras River valley.

Armenian land covers an area of 29800 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Maryland

As for the Armenian climate; highland continental, hot summers, cold winters.

Armenian(s) speak Armenian 97.7%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4% (2001 census).

Armenian National Map

Armenian Map

Regions of Armenia

Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity (early 4th century). Despite periods of autonomy, over the centuries Armenia came under the sway of various empires including the Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman. During World War I in the western portion of Armenia, Ottoman Turkey instituted a policy of forced resettlement coupled with other harsh practices that resulted in an estimated 1 million Armenian deaths. The eastern area of Armenia was ceded by the Ottomans to Russia in 1828; this portion declared its independence in 1918, but was conquered by the Soviet Red Army in 1920. Armenian leaders remain preoccupied by the long conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated region, assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s by Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the area in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, Armenian forces held not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also a significant portion of Azerbaijan proper. The economies of both sides have been hurt by their inability to make substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution. Turkey imposed an economic blockade on Armenia and closed the common border because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.


Armenia Country Profile

Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. Since the implosion of the USSR in December 1991, Armenia has switched to small-scale agriculture away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. The agricultural sector has long-term needs for more investment and updated technology. The privatization of industry has been at a slower pace, but has been given renewed emphasis by the current administration. Armenia is a food importer, and its mineral deposits (copper, gold, bauxite) are small. The ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the breakup of the centrally directed economic system of the former Soviet Union contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s. By 1994, however, the Armenian Government had launched an ambitious IMF-sponsored economic liberalization program that resulted in positive growth rates in 1995-2005. Armenia joined the WTO in January 2003. Armenia also has managed to slash inflation, stabilize its currency, and privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. Armenia's unemployment rate, however, remains high, despite strong economic growth. The chronic energy shortages Armenia suffered in the early and mid-1990s have been offset by the energy supplied by one of its nuclear power plants at Metsamor. Armenia is now a net energy exporter, although it does not have sufficient generating capacity to replace Metsamor, which is under international pressure to close. The electricity distribution system was privatized in 2002. Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by international aid, remittances from Armenians working abroad, and foreign direct investment. Economic ties with Russia remain close, especially in the energy sector. The government made some improvements in tax and customs administration in 2005, but anti-corruption measures will be more difficult to implement. Investment in the construction and industrial sectors is expected to continue in 2006 and will help to ensure annual average real GDP growth of about 13.9%.

Armenian natural resources include small deposits of gold, copper, molybdenum, zinc, alumina

landlocked in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains; Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) is the largest lake in this mountain range

Armenian religion is Armenian Apostolic 94.7%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi (monotheist with elements of nature worship) 1.3%.

Natural hazards in Armenia include occasionally severe earthquakes; droughts.

Travel Advice on Armenia

Armenia

This advice has been reviewed and reissued.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all but essential travel near the border with Azerbaijan due to the unresolved dispute over Nagorno Karabakh.  This particularly covers the Tavush and Gegharkunic regions, where there is sporadic gunfire.  We also advise against travel on the road from Ijevan to Noyemberyan, which passes close to the border and military placements.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Political demonstrations, which have the potential to turn violent, are occasionally held in Yerevan and the regions.

  • We are not aware of any British nationals who have required consular assistance in Armenia in the past year.

  • You should carry a photocopy of your passport as identification.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Crime remains relatively low in Armenia.  But 2004 and 2005 saw a rise in the number of incidents of pickpocketing, mugging, theft from cars and burglary involving British or other foreign nationals.   There are occasional incidents of drive-by shootings on busy thoroughfares including an incident in June 2006 during which a bystander was killed.  Although tourists and westerners were not targeted, there is a risk of being caught up in such events and you should remain vigilant at all times.  You should not carry your passport, credit card, travel tickets and money together.   We advise you to leave spare cash, passports and valuables in a safe place.   We also advise that you take the same personal safety precautions on the street and when using ATMs as you would in the UK.   Be particularly careful if using them after dark, especially if you are alone.   Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
Political Situation
Country Profile: Armenia
Opposition parties hold demonstrations in Yerevan and the regions from time to time.  Violent incidents can occur during these.  Keep in touch with local news while in Armenia and try to avoid any such rallies
The dispute over Nagorno Karabakh remains unresolved.  The British Embassy cannot provide consular assistance to you if you are in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.  Although a ceasefire has been in place since May 1994, the borders between Azerbaijan and both Armenia and Armenian occupied territory remain closed.   There are no peacekeeping forces separating the two sides.  There are still occasional exchanges of sniper fire and the border areas contain mines and unexploded ordnance.  Any foreigners venturing within 20 kilometres of these borders are likely to be stopped by the police or the military.
Local Travel
We advise against all but essential travel near the border of Azerbaijan, particularly in the Tavush and Gegharkunic regions, where there have been reports of sporadic gunfire.  We also advise against all travel on the road from Ijevan to Noyemberyan, which passes close to the border and military placements.  If travelling between Armenia and Georgia we advise you to use one of the routes further west.
The land border with Turkey is also closed, but there are now direct flights four times a week from Yerevan to Istanbul with Armavia and Fly Air.  Travelling within the South Caucasus can be difficult and needs careful planning.
Road Safety
The local standard of driving is poor.  If you plan to drive in Armenia, you should be prepared for drivers who drive recklessly and flout traffic laws.  The roads are also in a poor state, particularly in the coldest months (November to February).  If you are walking, you should be careful when crossing roads and use subways where available.
Rail Safety
Public transport is often overcrowded and poorly maintained.  If you have to travel by train, secure your valuables, do not leave the compartment unattended, and lock the door from the inside.
Air Safety
Internal aircraft maintenance procedures on some flights are not always properly observed.  Where possible, fly directly to Armenia on a scheduled international flight.  Western airlines currently serving Armenia are British Mediterranean (British Airways), Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France and Austrian Airlines.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Armenia is an orthodox Christian country and women can usually dress in normal western-style clothing.  Outside the capital people are more conservative and both modified or shortened skirts and shorts will attract comment.
The use of illegal drugs carries stiff administrative and criminal penalties including fines and long prison terms.  The penalty for smuggling drugs carries a prison term of between four to ten years.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in August 2003.  But it is still an unacceptable lifestyle for the majority of Armenians.  We advise gay or lesbian travellers to exercise discretion on visits to Armenia.  Although you will see men (and women) holding each other's hands in public, this is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation.
You should refrain from photographing sites such as military bases, equipment and installations in whatever condition.  These are considered sensitive areas and visitors have been detained and questioned while attempting to photograph them.  You should also be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing churches and other religious sites.  If in doubt seek permission.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All visitors to Armenia require a visa. It is possible to get one at the airport or the main land border crossings of Meghri and Bagratashen on arrival, or from Armenian representation in the UK before departure.  You can also apply for an e-visa via the Internet on website:  http://www.armeniaforeignministry.am.  If you use a credit card you can get your visa in two days.  E-visas currently can be stamped at Yerevan's Zvarnots airport only.  If you are arriving by rail from Tbilisi you should ensure that you have a valid visa before boarding.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country, or in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Armenian Embassy in London.


HEALTH

You are strongly advised to obtain comprehensive medical as well as travel insurance before travelling.  This should include cover for medical air evacuation in the event of serious injury or illness.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance
Medical facilities are generally poor and treatment is not recommended for anything other than minor ailments.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Armenia during the current series of outbreaks.  But The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed cases elsewhere in the Region.  There have been human fatalities in Agri Province, Eastern Turkey in January 2006.  This outbreak occurred approximately 80 km from Yerevan.  You can view the Turkey Travel Advice at:  Turkey.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.
NATURAL DISASTERS
Armenia is in an active seismic zone.   In 1988 an earthquake, centred near Spitak in the north, killed between 25,000 and 50,000 people, injured thousands and left several cities in ruins.  The most recent major earthquake before 1988 was over 70 years ago.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
The British Embassy in Yerevan does not issue passports.  You should therefore ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a plentiful supply of unused pages.  Applications for new passports are accepted in Yerevan for forwarding to the British Embassy in Moscow for processing, but this may take up to six weeks.
Cheques and credit cards are not generally used within Armenia.  Prices for goods and services are often quoted in US Dollars.  But by law, payment must be made in the Armenian Dram.  There are many bank cash dispensers in Yerevan, including eight operated by HSBC.  These accept cards that work in HSBC ATMs in the UK.
Communication by telephone and e-mail can sometimes be difficult especially in the regions.  You should ensure that family/friends who expect regular contact are aware of this to avoid unnecessary worry.
You should carry a photocopy of your passport as identification at all times.

Money

Cheques and credit cards are not generally used within Armenia.  Prices for goods and services are often quoted in US Dollars.  But by law, payment must be made in the Armenian Dram.  There are many bank cash dispensers in Yerevan, including eight operated by HSBC.  These accept cards that work in HSBC ATMs in the UK.