Armenia has always been sandwiched between two superpowers. As a result, its history is plagued with takeovers and conflicts on two fronts. The land has constantly been given arbitrarily to other nations, diminishing the size of the Armenian state.
Arev Varjabedian ’15, a pre-med student here at the college, shed some light on a country many of us have never heard about.
Although Armenia is a relatively young country, emerging from the USSR in 1993, it made its mark on history by establishing itself as the world’s first Christian kingdom around 300 A. D. Its inhabitants have lived in what is now eastern Turkey for centuries. Armenia has a long history of being conquered by great powers including the Persians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans.
In the 1500s, the Ottoman Empire began moving eastward and took over the western portion of Armenia. The cultural divide that exists now between the East and West can be traced back to the Armenian genocide, which began in the West and resulted in a mass exodus out of western Armenia. This brought many western Amrmenians to the United States where they continue to maintain a heavy presence in Los Angeles. “I myself hail from the western Armenians, and my mom and I were both born in Los Angeles.” What used to be the Western part is now a part of modern Turkey,” said Arev. By the time the situation reached the eastern part of Armenia, rebellions had erupted and a full-fledged response was launched. The Ottomans left, and the eastern portion of Armenia was subsequently absorbed into the Soviet Union.
The Armenia currently consists of only the eastern portion of the former Armenia, the result of a serious reduction in territory. Mount Ararat in particular is of grave loss to the Armenians as they believe it is where Noah’s ark landed. The mountain is currently in Turkey.
Most Armenians follow the Eastern Orthodox tradition. They eat foods that are ubiquitously Middle Eastern like Dolma, a dish consisting of stuffed peppers with ground meats and spices and Manta, a yogurt broth with little beef dumplings. Chess, boxing and wrestling are very popular pastimes.
Armenia and its neighbor, Azerbaijan, were both states in the former USSR. During its reign, a portion of the Armenian state was given to the Azerbaijani state to allow for a land border between Turkey and Azerbaijan. At the time, the Soviets were interested in appeasing the rapidly westernizing Turks. After the USSR collapsed, these borders were left in place, and are now a source of contention.
Armenia is a country with a rich history and a culture that clearly has given the world more than just the Kardashians.