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Summary: Armenia lies officially in southwestern Asia, east of Turkey, and contains the Armenian Highlands with mountains, and little forest land, fast flowing rivers, and good soil in the Aras River valley. Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt Christianity in the early 4th century, and is moving its economy from predominantly manufacturing-based to include agriculture and increased privatization for increased stability.
Time Zone: DST +0500 UTC
Languages: Armenian, Russian
Power: 220 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Dram - Currently 1 AMD = 0.0033 USD $
Climate: Armenia is a mostly highland continental climate with hot summers and cold winters.
Yerevan: At the center, the Republic Square with the State Historical Museum turns into the hub for festivities and parades, so it is definitely a great place to start. Otherwise, see the Armenian History Museum, one of many fine museum sin the city, or enjoy the day at a cafe or just walk the streets. A side trip to the Tsiranavor and Kamravor churches in Ashtarak, less than 15 miles away to the west or to the Khor Virap Monastery in Artashat 19 miles to the south are worthwhile.
Lake Sevan: Only 50 kilometers from Yerevan, Lake Sevan, which sits at almost 2,000 meters above sea level, has seen its water level lower since a dam was built redirecting some of its source rivers, revealing 2,000 year old pieces of history. Dating from the 9th century, two churches stand on what used to be an island in lake Sevan, and make for a worthwhile day trip.
Security Warning: A ceasefire has been in effect since the spring of 1994, but the dispute over Nagorno Karabakh remains unresolved. The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which remains closed, does contain land mines, and occasionally there are still incidents of sniper fire.
Food: Food is part of the Armenian culture, and it is commonplace to be welcomed by a household and offered different plates of food that should be taken and sampled.
Water: Although some villages have inconsistant water service, there are fountains to be found in Yerevan and along some major roads that have fresh water suitable for drinking.
Cloth Ribbons: It is common to find bunches of small cloth strips tied to trees and shrubs outside churches. Each represents a prayer by a faithful visitor.
When To Visit: Fall can be the prettiest season to visit with enough warmth in the air to contrast with the colors of the leaves. Of course, the bargain hunter will love winter, as the skiing is great and prices are better than the rest of Europe. Sevan Lake has festivities and concerts every weekend throughout the summer.
Food: Lamb is the staple meat, and kashlama, or boiled lamb, is a specialty. Other dishes common in the Middle East are the norm in Armenia. There is also a great local konyak (cognac or brandy).
Tipping: Standard tipping rules apply, normally around 10% being acceptable for good service.