The British telegraph marks Armenia’s Independence Day through featuring 25 amazing things about the country. Among the most noticeable facts about Armenia the newspaper point out to the wine-producing traditions of the country. “It is the oldest wine-producing nation in the world – at least that’s what the archaeologists claim: in 2011 they unearthed what is believed to be the world’s oldest wine production facility, which was found, of all places, in a cave in the village of Areni,” writes the paper. It was the first nation to adopt Christianity, the paper says, referring to the fact that Christianity spread to the now-defunct Kingdom of Armenia soon after the death of Jesus, though it took until the early 4th century for it to be adopted as the state religion. Still, that was earlier than any other country on the planet.
The Telegraph traveler reveals that chess is part of the curriculum “which explains why Armenians are so good at it.” “Indeed, since breaking free from the Soviet Union, the country has proven itself to be a world beater at the sport: the men’s team have won the European Team Championships (1999), the World Team Championship (2011) and the Chess Olympiad (2006, 2008, 2012), while the women’s team have scooped the European Championship (2003).” Referring to the Armenian Genocide, the paper reminds that in 1915 the Ottoman government orchestrated the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, and governments of 28 countries – including Britain, Russia and France – recognise the events as an act of genocide. One noticeable thing, outlined by the newspaper, is that more Armenians live abroad than in Armenia. “The events of 1915 forced millions of Armenians to flee abroad, where they established strong communities in the US, Russia and France. There are thought to be some 5.6 million people of Armenian descent living abroad, which is greater than the population of Armenia (3 million).” “Armenia is the ancestral homeland of Cher, Andre Agassi and Serj Tankian, the frontman of American metal band, System of a Down, one of the groups at the forefront of publicising the injustices of the Armenian Genocide,” says the publication. There’s a widely-held belief in Armenia that Noah’s Ark is embedded in ice atop Mount Ararat. Snow-capped Mount Ararat is the principal national symbol of Armenia and is considered by many Armenians to be sacred, yet situated in the territory of Turkey. The Armenian capital, Yerevan, is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities, constructed as it was 29 years before Rome. Overlooked by the snow-capped Mount Ararat, the capital has a bewildering number of historic buildings, not to mention a clutch of excellent museums. The newspaper writes that during the Second World War, Joseph Stalin shipped several dozen cases of Armenian cognac to Winston Churchill, which the then-British prime minister consumed with gusto. “His love for brandy was no secret: by his own estimate he had drunk enough brandy to fill three railway carriages by the time he was 71.” The paper features also Tatev Aerial Tramway, which is “according to Guinness World Records, is the longest non-stop double track cable car connecting the village of Halizor with the aforementioned Tatev Monastery, offering spectacular views across the Vorotan River Gorge en route.” The publication goes on saying that relations between Armenia and neighbouring Azerbaijan have been fraught for years and the two countries are technically still at war. Armenia is a twitchers delight, home as it is to 345 of Europe’s estimated 530 bird species. Highlights include falcons, swans and eagles, which also feature on the Armenian coat of arms. The Telegraph also refers to lavash, “a tasty flat bread that is the cornerstone of Armenian cuisine.” It adds that the bread was placed on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014.