Armenian people comprise one of the most interesting ethnic groups out there. Maybe you know about them because of famous Armenian people like Kim Kardashian, or because of their unique physical characteristics, or because of the tumultuous history of the country. This ancient and honorable people has been around for thousands of years and has fought for their right to exist for just as long. Without further ado, are a few facts about Armenian people and where they come from.
Where are Armenian people from?
While most Armenians live outside of Armenia, the population of Armenia today consists of approximately 3 million people. Armenians are indigenous to a region known as the Armenian Highland, which today is a part of Armenia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and a few other countries. Many Armenians used to live in present-day Turkey- referred among Armenians as Western Armenia- until the Armenian Genocide of 1915. They also lived in present-day Azerbaijan, Iran, Syria, Georgia, and other countries throughout the region. Due to regional conflicts and persecutions, many of the Armenians living in these countries either moved to what is currently the Republic of Armenia, or they fled elsewhere. There are still Armenian communities in some of these countries, though, particularly in Georgia and Iran.
Unique Physical Characteristics
If you ever get asked about what Armenian people look like, you are likely to say that the Armenian ethnicity is known for having dark hair, dark eyes, and light skin. The truth is that Armenians are actually more varied. The majority of Armenians have dark brown or black hair with hazel or brown eyes, but you will also come across Armenian people who have blonde, light brown, or red hair, and green or blue eyes.
Famous Armenian People
The most famous Armenian woman today is arguably Kim Kardashian. Her father, Robert Kardashian, was the great-grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors. There is also Cher, who was famous during the 1970s. Charles Aznavour, who died just this past October, was one of the most famous singers in the world and often dubbed “France’s Frank Sinatra.” The members of the band System of a Down are also Armenian and are very active in the public life of Armenia. The creator of the website Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, is also Armenian. There are many famous Armenians throughout the world and throughout history that it’s hard to miss them!
Armenia’s Tumultuous History
The Armenian ethnicity has gone through a lot throughout its long history. Due to where Armenian people are from, there have been lots of conflicts- even one that continues with Azerbaijan over the region of Karabakh, known to Armenians as Artsakh- and genocides. Armenians were frequently persecuted. Most famously, Armenians were persecuted in the Ottoman Empire, despite the fact that the Armenian people are indigenous to the eastern part of present-day Turkey. They were deported and slaughtered, and what is known as the Armenian Genocide resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians. Those who survived fled and moved elsewhere- most particularly, Western Europe and North America, where many of their descendants still live today. There is currently a territorial dispute going on with Azerbaijan over Artsakh, which plays a central role in the political life of Armenia.
Former Soviet State
Armenia was indeed one of the fifteen republics of the former Soviet Union. Most people in Armenia today know Russian to some degree, and you will see Russian written in a lot of places, too. Many of the buildings in Armenia still carry a Soviet vibe, as well as some workplaces and the mindset of many people.
Religion in Armenia
Another thing that Armenians are very well-known for is that Armenia was the first country to officially adopt Christianity as its state religion. In 301 AD, King Trdat III was the one to announce Christianity as the official religion, with the help of Armenia’s patron saint, Gregory the Illuminator. Today, the majority of people in Armenia belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, and its headquarters are located in the Armenian city of Etchmiadzin. In fact, the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, which is considered to be the seat of the Armenian church, is widely considered to be the oldest cathedral in the world.
Check out the “Religion in Armenia” blog post for more information.
Masters at Chess
Some of the most famous Armenian people happen to be some of the world’s best chess players- for example, Levon Aronian and Garry Kasparov. This is partly due to the fact that learning chess is a mandatory subject in Armenian schools. People of all ages know how to play chess in Armenia and are good at it, too. It’s no wonder that Armenians are also pretty smart!
Population of Armenia
As mentioned above, there are approximately 3 million people living in Armenia. Armenia is a mostly mono-ethnic nation, meaning that about 97 percent of people living there are ethnic Armenians. The rest are Russians, Assyrians, Greeks (there are even Greek villages in the northern regions of Armenia), Yezidis, and other ethnic groups.
Despite the fact that the mountain is not within Armenia’s national borders, it is known as the symbol of the Armenian ethnicity. It is visible from Armenia’s western border, especially from Yerevan and Etchmiadzin. According to biblical interpretations, Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat. It is seen as a symbol of hope and courage for the Armenian people.
What race are Armenians?
Some people wonder whether Armenian people are white, or what race Armenians are in general. While this is not a huge issue in Armenia itself, most people accept that Armenians belong to the Armenoid race– or, as people are more inclined to call it, the white race, and are similar to other ethnic groups such as Italians and Greeks especially. However, it does not matter at the end of the day what race someone is, because we are all unique and special.
Now, check out how three Americans share their love for the people and culture of Armenia.