Learn more about Armenians
- This article is about the Armenian ethnic group. For specific information on residents or nationals of Armenia, see Demographics of Armenia.
|Total population||2004: 7-8 million (est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|| Armenia:|
3,000,000<ref>The Nationmaster.com page on Armenia gives 93% ethnic Armenians in an estimated national population of 3,326,448 (July 2003 est.), which would yield 3,093,000. It also notes that the population of Azeris in Armenia has been rapidly dropping in recent years. The National Geographic Atlas of the World, Seventh Edition (1999) puts the population of Armenia at 3,800,000. Adopting that same 93%, that would give about 3,500,000. However, Countrywatch gives a total national population of only 2,935,400 (2004). The CIA gives a similarly low 2,982,904 (July 2005 est.). We have gone approximately with the latter estimates as more recent and at least comparably authoritative.</ref> (2005 est.)
|Religion|| Predominantly Armenian Apostolic with Catholic, Evangelical and various Protestant denominations, especially in the diaspora. <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Hamshenis, other Indo-European peoples</td>
The Armenians (Armenian: Հայեր, Hayer) are a nation and an ethnic group originating in the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia. A large concentration of them have remained there, especially in Armenia, but many of them are also scattered elsewhere throughout the world (see Armenian diaspora). They have populated primarily eastern Anatolia and the southern Caucasus for over 4,000 years.
Prior to the 6th century BC, the predecessors of the Armenian Kingdom were the Hayasa-Azzi, Hittite Empire, Kingdom of Urartu, as well as other small states and tribal confederations. Herodotus claims that Armenians were colonists of the Phrygians. Hypotheses based on this narrative could place Armenians in their traditional homeland of eastern Asia Minor anywhere from around 1200 BC ("colonizing" at the same time as the Phrygian influx) to around 700 BC (pushed eastward by the invasions of the Cimmerians who ravaged Phrygia in 696 BC).<ref>Herodotus - The Histories, Book 7, Chapter 73</ref>
A competing view suggested by Thomas Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav V. Ivanov in 1984 places the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Armenian Highland.<ref>The Early History of Indo-European Languages, Thomas V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov Scientific American, March 1990, P.110</ref> A recent study (Gray & Atkinson) that applied the statistical tools used in timing genetic evolution to the lexical evolution of Indo-European languages strongly implied that the Indo-European homeland indeed appears to be in Asia Minor, and Armenian language (hence a well-defined group speaking it) split from it (along with Greek) at around 5300 BC, and split from Greek shortly thereafter (but the "split" from Greek was statistically less obvious, probably implying some interaction between the diverging populations until the split was "complete").<ref>Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin, Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson, Nature 426, 435-439 (27 November 2003)</ref>
The first state that was called Armenia (which is not the name Armenians themselves use) by neighboring peoples (Hecataeus of Miletus and Behistun Inscription) was established in the early 6th century BC. At its zenith (95–65 BC), the state extended from northern Caucasus all the way to what is now central Turkey, Lebanon, and north-western Iran. Later it briefly became part of the Roman Empire (AD 114–118). Historically the name Armenian has come to internationally designate this group of people. However, Armenians call themselves Hay (pronounced Hye; plural: Hayer). The word has traditionally been linked to the name of the mythical founder of the Armenian nation, Haik, which is also a popular Armenian name.
In 301 AD, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion (see Religion). During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity.
The history of Armenia consists of periods of independence interrupted by conquests by other peoples, during which time Armenia continued as an autonomous kingdom subject to various empires. The span of time during which Armenia itself conquered areas populated by other peoples is mainly limited to the imperial period (83 BC - 66 BC) during the reign of Tigranes the Great. Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia created by Armenians pushed westward by the invading Seljuk Turks could also be added in that regard, although demographics in the region might have already shifted by the time the newest wave arrived and the kingdom was established. From around 1080 to 1375, the focus of Armenian nationalism was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, which had close ties with the Crusader States. As with virtually all other nations of Near East and Asia Minor, between the 5th and 19th centuries, Armenia was conquered and ruled by, among others, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, and Ottoman Turks. In the 1820s, parts of historic Armenia under Persian control centering on Yerevan and Lake Sevan were later incorporated into the Russian Empire.
The ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is widely considered a genocide, with one wave of persecution in the years 1894 to 1896 culminating in the events of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and 1916. With World War I in progress, the Turks accused the (Christian) Armenians as liable to ally with Imperial Russia, and used it as a pretext to deal with the entire Armenian population as an enemy within their empire. The exact numbers of deaths in the latter period is hard to establish. It is estimated by many sources that close to a million perished in camps, which excludes Armenians who may have died in other ways. Most estimates place the total number of deaths between 800,000 and 1.5 million. Turkish governments since that time have consistently rejected charges of genocide, typically arguing either that those Armenians who died were simply in the way of a war or that killings of Armenians were justified by their individual or collective support for the enemies of the Ottoman Empire. The recent decision by the French lower house on October 12, 2006 to pass a bill making it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide has provoked intense reactions in the Turkish media. Note, however, that the decision has yet to be ratified by the French Senate to fully become law.
Following the breakup of the Russian Empire in the aftermath of World War I for a brief period, from 1918 to 1920, Armenia was an independent republic. In late 1920, the communists came to power following an invasion of Armenia by the Red Army, and in 1922, Armenia became part of the Transcaucasian SFSR of the Soviet Union, later forming the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (1936 - September 21, 1991). In 1991, Armenia declared independence from the USSR and established the second Republic of Armenia.
 Geographic distribution
Armenians today are scattered all over the world, constituting the Armenian Diaspora. Within the Armenian community there is an unofficial classification of the different kinds of Armenians. Armenians who originate from Iran are referred to as Parska-Hye, Armenians from Lebanon are usually referred to as Lipana-Hye and Armenians who are from Armenia (that is, they or their ancestors were not forced to flee in 1915) are referred to as Hyeastansees meaning those that are from Armenia. In general, Armenians from Armenia, Iran, and Russia speak the Eastern dialect of Armenian while Armenians of the Diaspora speak the Western dialect of Armenian. The dialects vary considerably, however, Armenians of differing dialect can usually understand one another. In diverse communities (such as in Canada and the U.S.) where many different kinds of Armenians live amongst one another, there is a tendency for the different groups to cluster together.
A small Armenian community has existed for over a millennium in the Holy Land, and one of the four quarters of the walled old city of Jerusalem is the Armenian Quarter.There are also Armenian populations in India and Myanmar and South East Asia.
Since the arrival of Martin the Armenian to the Jamestown Colony around 1618 , Armenians have dispersed all throughout the United States. Watertown, Massachusetts, Fresno, California, Detroit, Michigan, Glendale, California, and Los Angeles, California are centers of Armenian population in the United States; there is also a significant concentration in New York City. In Canada, large numbers of Armenians can be found in Toronto, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec. Armenians are also present in every country in Latin America, with the largest concentrations being found in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Mexico.
Glendale, California, in particular, is famous for its high concentration of Armenians; there are approximately 78,000 Armenians, according to the 2000 U.S. census. Armenian residents of the city are active members in the municipal government and chamber of commerce. In Hollywood, California, a small portion is known as "Little Armenia" - it covers Wilton Avenue to Vermont Avenue from the east to west, and Hollywood Blvd. down to Santa Monica Blvd from north to south.
It is estimated that there are at least 10 million Armenian speakers in the world. 6 million of the Armenian speakers live in the Caucasus and Russia, and perhaps another 1-2 million people in the Armenian diaspora are also Armenian speakers.
According to US Census figures, there are 300,000 Americans who speak Armenian at home. It is the 20th most commonly spoken language in the United States, having slightly fewer speakers than Haitian Creole, and slightly more than Navaho.
Armenian is a sub-branch of the Indo-European family, and with some 7 million speakers one of the smallest surviving branches, comparable to Albanian or the somewhat more widely spoken Greek, with which it may be connected (see Graeco-Armenian).
In 301 AD, Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion, establishing a church that still exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, having become so in AD 451 as a result of its excommunication by the Council of Chalcedon. The Armenian Apostolic Church is a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox communion. During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity.
The Armenians have, at times, constituted a Christian "island" in a mostly Muslim region. The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, had close ties to European Crusader States. The religiously based sympathies that some Armenians presumably held for Imperial Russia provided the pretext for the genocide of 1915–1916 by the Ottoman Turks.
While the Armenian Apostolic Church remains the most prominent church in the Armenian community throughout the world, Armenians (especially in the diaspora) subscribe to any number of other Christian denominations. These include the Armenian Catholic Church (which follows its own liturgy but recognizes the Roman Catholic Pope), the Armenian Evangelical Church, which started as a reformation in the Mother church but later broke away, and the Armenian Brotherhood Church, which was born in the Armenian Evangelical Church, but later broke apart from it. There are other numerous Armenian churches belonging to Protestant denominations of all kinds.
The nation-state of Armenia is the most prominent Armenian institution today. Other important institutions include:
- The Armenian Apostolic Church
- The Armenian Catholic Church
- The Armenian Evangelical Church The community was formally recognized in 1846 by the Ottoman Empire.
- The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) founded in 1906 and the largest Armenian non-profit organization in the world with educational, cultural and humanitarian projects on six continents.
- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation was founded in 1890. It is generally referred to as the Dashnaktsutyun, which means Federation in Armenian. The ARF is the strongest worldwide Armenian political organization and the only diasporan Armenian organization with a significant political presence in the Republic of Armenia.
- The Armenian Relief Society, founded in 1910.
- Hamazkayin, an Armenian cultural and educational society founded in Cairo in 1928, and responsible for the founding of Armenian secondary schools and institutions of higher education in several countries.
- Homenetmen, an Armenian scouting and athletic organization founded in 1910 with a worldwide membership of about 25,000.
 See also
- List of Armenians
- History of the Armenians in Egypt
- Armenians of Lebanon
- Armenians of Syria
- This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.
- This article contains material from the US Department of State's Background Notes which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.
- The categorization of Armenian churches in Los Angeles used information from Sacred Transformation: Armenian Churches in Los Angeles a project of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
- Some of the information about the history of the Armenians comes from the multi-volume History of the Armenian People, Yerevan, Armenia, 1971.
- George A. Bournoutian, A History of the Armenian People, 2 vol. (1994)
- George A. Bournoutian, A Concise History of the Armenian People (Mazda, 2003, 2004).
- I. M. Diakonoff, The Pre-History of the Armenian People (revised, trans. Lori Jennings), Caravan Books, New York (1984), ISBN 0-88206-039-2.
- Russell D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson, "Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin", Nature, 426, 435-439 (2003)ar:أرمن