The Kardashian sisters visited their ancestral homeland last week to draw attention to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. But the country has plenty going on, even when it’s not being graced by some of the most famous members of its diaspora.
1. First things first: Armenia is a small, mountainous country in the South Caucasus.
It borders Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
2. Before gaining independence in 1991, Armenians lived under Ottoman and Russian rule, and the country was part of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet-era Mother Armenia statue that looks over Yerevan, the capital, symbolizes peace through strength, according to Armenian lore.
3. The Kardashian sisters visited to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a defining event in Armenian history and identity.
4. They aren’t the only famous diaspora Armenians to stop by.
Cher, whose dad was Armenian-American, traveled to Armenia in 1993.
5. Armenia has a chilly relationship with some of its neighbors.
Armenia and Turkey aren’t on good terms, given the whole not-recognizing-the-genocide thing. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and both sides claim rights to Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-controlled enclave that technically lies within Azerbaijan.
6. It was the first country in the world to officially adopt Christianity back in 301 AD.
7. It has some beautiful centuries-old churches.
8. Like this gorgeous old monastery.
9. And this one.
10. Not too shabby, right?
11. But Armenia can do modern, too. Anyone who’s been there knows its public fountain game is on point.
12. Armenians are REALLY into chess.
13. They’ve also got a super cool alphabet.
14. So cool there’s an actual monument dedicated to it…
15. …and they put it on their bread.
16. Armenia is well known throughout the region for its cognac…
17. …fresh fruit…
18. …and its traditional flatbread, called lavash.
19. The Armenian diaspora stretches across the globe.
20. Mount Ararat
Ararat is the national symbol of the Republic of Armenia