|Armenia, a landlocked country in the South Caucasus, was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1922, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union.
It declared its independence on August 23, 1990 and became the first non-Baltic republic to secede from the Soviet Union. Upon dissolvement of the SU in 1991, Armenia's independence was officially recognized. Now it is a multiparty democratic republic.
The first years of its independence were very difficult. It was still feeling the effects of the Spitak earthquake in 1988. Also the armed conflict with Azerbaijan, the huge inflation rates and the legacy of the existing centrally planned economy took its toll. But after the introduction of wide-ranging economic reforms, it seems that the economic situation is stabilizing now. More production in agriculture, as well as new sources of industry helped this country forward. Even the tourism is developping now.
Armenia is at present also part of many international organisations, such as the United Nations, Council of Europe, the World Trade Oraganization, and also particpates in NATO's Partnership for Peace. It is in a negociation process with the European Union of which it may become an Associate Member in the future. The Armenian Government holds the European intergration as a key priority in its foreign policy.
Armenia has about 3,3 million inhabitants of which about one third is living in the capital Yerevan.