The native name in Armenian language is Hayk, changed to Hayastan in the Middle Ages by adding the Persian suffix stan (meaning land). This name is traditionally derived from the name of Hayk, the founder of Armenian nation.
The name of Armenia in the inscriptions of Darius the great and historical texts
In 520-522 BC, after the suppression of rebellions of the countries under the rule of the Achaemenid Empire, including the rebellion of the semi-independent government of Armenia, Darius I unites and strengthens his empire. In the famous inscription “Bisotun” of the king of Achaemenid, which was written about the victories of the king in hree languages Persian, Elamite and Akkadian (Babylonian), Armenia is referred as the land of Armenia and its inhabitants are called as Armenians. However, in the Akkadian text of this inscription the old name, Urartu, were used. In the inscription of Urashto the inhabitants of the country were called Urartu. In the trilingual inscriptions left by the successors of Darius I in the fifth century BC, the same tradition is observed.
The Babylonians called the satrap of Armenia Orashto and ORALT, while the Persians called it Armina (in ancient Persian Armina). Greek texts are called Armenian and the people there Armenioi.
Xenophon called Armenia and the people, Armenion. Herodotus & Strabo also known Armenians, as Armenion. In the writings of the authors of the Islamic era such as Blazeri, Dinuri and Yaghoubi, the name of this Armenian land is mentioned. The name Armen is evident in the writings of the Sassanian era and later. In the inscription of Shapur I on the Kaaba of Zarathustra, the name of his eldest son Hormozd Ardeshir is mentioned with the great title of Armenians Shah.
Formation of Armenian Nation
The process of formation of the Armenian nation reached its final stage during the time of the Yervandoni dynasty. After the attack of Alexander the Great and the establishment of the Seleucid rule, Artaxerxes I, King of Armenia, revolted against them and founded the Kingdom of Greater Armenia, which reached its peak of power during the kingdom of Tigran the Great. During the Parthian dynasty, new developments took place in Armenia. In 301 AD, Armenia adopted Christianity as its official religion. At that time, the population of Armenia reached four million and the area of Greater Armenia reached 312 thousand square kilometers.
In 405 AD, the Armenian alphabet was invented by Masrup Mashtos, an Armenian scientist and priest, which caused the cultural and spiritual stability of the Armenian nation and played a significant role in their unity in the absence of a national government.
Following the extinction of the Arzroni rulers by the Byzantines in 1021 AD, because of the oppression of the Byzantine governments and Arabs and afterwards the invasions of the Seljuk Turks, many Armenians migrated from their lands and went to other countries. One of the most important of these areas, Cilicia was on the Mediterranean Sea (now bordering Syria and Turkey along the Mediterranean Sea) where they were able to establish an independent government known as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. This kingdom lasted for about three centuries (from 1080 to 1375 AD).
In 12th and 13th centuries, the northern and central parts of Armenia were liberated from Seljuks and Armenian government was revived. However, due to the continuous migration of Armenians and their economic and cultural recession, this government did not last long. The invasions of Tatars, Mongols, Timur and the tribes of Aq Quyunlu and Qara Quyunlu (14th and 15th centuries AD) were very costly for Armenia. In the 16th century, Western Armenia was under the control of Ottoman Empire and Eastern Armenia was under control of the Safavian of Iran.
The two empires fought with each other in several wars to get the whole control of Armenia, most of which took place on Armenian lands. In one of these wars, in 1603-4, Shah Abbas Safavi, while retreating to Tabriz, ordered the destruction of all Armenian cities and villages and the relocation of the population to central Iran. According to historical sources, more than 60,000 Armenian families left their homeland and moved to the center of Iran, during which most of them lost their lives and only about 120,000 people left, and inhabited mostly in rural areas around Isfahan, including Fereydan, Bulvari, Arak, and other villages.
About 30,000 of them migrated to Mazandaran, but all of them died due to incompatibility with the climate. In the meantime, the merchants and businessmen of Jolfa were taken to Isfahan and founded the city of New Jolfa in 1605 AD, in memory of their original homeland, which still stands till today. Since then, 18 generations of Armenians have continued to live in Iran, and thanks to the hospitality of Iranians, they have been able not only to preserve their native language and culture, but also with their dedication and hard work provided valuable services for the development of their new homeland, Iran. During the Qajar dynasty, after the Iran-Russia wars and the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, Eastern Armenia was annexed by Tsarist Russia. On the other hand, Armenians of Western Armenia which was under Ottoman control, began struggle for liberation.
These struggles reached the peak in the mid-nineteenth century, at the end of this century led to the liberation movement and the establishment of various parties. This struggle continued until then Ottoman government, taking the advantage of the situation created by the outbreak of World War I, carried out its long-standing plan for Armenians living in Western Armenia, and from 1915 to 1923 more than 1.5 million people were killed more than a million people were displaced.
In the following years, these refugees were scattered to different countries, including the United States, France, Britain, Bulgaria, Romania, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, etc., and formed the Armenian communities of the Diaspora. These Armenian communities continues to live in European, Americans and Middle East countries. This genocide was named as the first genocide of the twentieth century. After the genocide and at the end of the First World War, Armenians succeeded in defeating the Ottoman Turkish forces during the wars that took place from 23 to 28 May 1918 in the Sardarabad and Bash Abaran regions, and established the independent Republic of Armenia after centuries.
During the two years of existence of this republic, which is the foundation of the current state of Armenia, established various government institutions, revived the destroyed economy, overcame famine and epidemic diseases, saved tens of thousands of Armenians from the Genocide and provided home and employment for them. The republic lasted only two years, 1918-1920, and in September 1920 was attacked by the Turkish army on one side and the Red Army of Soviet Russia on the other side, and the government was forcibly handed over to the Bolsheviks.
Since then, Armenia has been the smallest republic of the Soviet Union with a population of about one million and an area of 29,800 square kilometers. It is noteworthy that during the 1920s, Turkey led by Ataturk and the Soviet Union led by Lenin separated parts of Armenia, including the historic city of Kars and the Surmalo region to Turkey, and the predominantly Armenian areas of Nakhchivan and Nagorno-Karabakh annexed to the fledgling Republic of Azerbaijan. This was legalized during the March 16, 1921 agreement between Soviet Russia and Turkey.
During its 70-year history, Soviet Armenia made economic, cultural, and scientific progress, but the authoritarian Soviet government ignored many of the historical and national rights of Armenia and Armenians, especially the transfer of parts of Armenian territory to Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Soviet Union has always caused dissatisfaction among the Armenian people, and there have been occasional protests. During these seventy years, the events of World War II had a significant impact on the demographic situation in Armenia.
The Armenians of Soviet Armenia suffered the most loses during the war in the ranks of the Red Army. In 1940-41, the population of Armenia was only 1.4 million. Of this number, about six hundred thousand, mostly male citizens, served in the Red Army and participated in the war, of which more than three hundred thousand lost their lives and tens of thousands were injured and disabled. After the end of the war and with the aim of compensating for Armenia’s population shortage, Stalin, the Soviet leader, issued a permit for the diaspora Armenians to immigrate to Soviet Armenia. But less than three years later, in 1949, most of them were exiled, imprisoned, and executed on charges of nationalism and espionage.
After Stalin’s death, the situation improved a little. The citizens of Armenia were able to improve economic, cultural and social situation, but politically the situation did not change much and the communist government did not allow any activity. Following the death of the old Soviet leaders Brezhnev-Chernenko and Andropov in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev took over the Soviet leadership and announced his policy of perestroika. In some republics, Soviet citizens were able to take advantage of the situation and raise their issues and problems.
Citizens of Armenia also began peaceful rallies and demonstrations in February 1988, seeking to annex the predominantly Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, which eventually led to a referendum after which on September 21, 1991, and after 70 years, Armenia became an independence country. After the declaration of independence of Armenia, an unintended war broke out over the predominantly Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh with the Republic of Azerbaijan. This war finally led to a ceasefire between the two countries in May 1994, which remained in force till September 2020.
It’s worthy to mention that during the war, Armenia was in a tight spot in terms of energy and food because all its borders with the outside were closed, from the north border of Georgia – from the west border with Turkey and from the east border of Azerbaijan and the only border in south with Iranian border allowed Armenia to communicate. Therefore, during the years of the conflict, the border between Armenia and Iran was called the “Border of Life” by Armenians because all food and other goods of the Armenian people were provided through this way. On that time, a temporary military bridge on Aras River was used for communication between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Armenia but in 1993, current main bridge were constructed and used.
In the meantime, Iran’s air connection with Armenia was established with the first flight between the two countries in early February 1992. At first, there was one weekly flight withTehran-Yerevan-Tehran route, but over time, these flights reached almost one flight a day. Passenger traffic across the land border also began with the launch of bus lines. First, Armenian buses and then relatively comfortable Iranian buses do the transportation of passengers.
After Armenia’s independence in 1991, the country’s first presidential election was held in October of that year, and Lyon Derpetrosian was elected as the president for a five-year term. In the election of 1996, again he won the election with a small majority, but was opposed by the opposition, and there were many protests in this regard, which ended with the intervention of the military.
In early 1998, there were disagreements between the president and Prime Minister Kocharyan and Sarksian the defense minister over political issues, which eventually led to the resignation of Derpetrosian. In the next presidential election, held in 1998, former Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan became president and held the presidency for ten years. At the beginning of his presidency, a powerful man named Vazgen Sargsyan as the leader of the Republican Party of Armenia in alliance with the leader of People’s Party Karen Demirjian, won the parliamentary elections and took over the parliament. He was an active man and there were high hopes that with this union the Armenian economy would move towards flourishing. However, on October 27, 1999, while the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister had meeting with the parliament, several armed men attacked the parliament and shot and murdered Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, the speaker of the parliament, Karen Demirjian, and several ministers and deputies.
After this incident, President Robert Kocharyan came to power by appointing a new Prime Minister as the incontrovertible leader of the country and held this position for two terms. In February 2008, presidential elections were held with two candidates, former Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian and former President Lyon Derpetrosian. After the announcement of the victory of Serge Sargsyan, the supporters of Petrosyan did not accept the election results and held protests and many people started sit-down strike. On March 1, 2008, by the order of President Robert Kocharian, military forces attacked the protesters, arrested a large number of them, Derpetrosian was confined to house. On the same night, a large protest was held by Derpetrosian supporters in Yerevan, which was suppressed by military forces, during which ten of the protesters lost their lives.
As the third president and leader of the Republican Party of Armenia, Serge Sarkisian formed the government with several other parties and continued to govern until 2013. In the election of 2013, Rafi Hovannisian, the leader of the Heritage Party, which, by forming a coalition with several groups, succeeded in creating a new movement, could get the most of votes, but after announcing the results of election in which Serge Sarkisian was the winner of it, the supporters of Hovannisian held some protests without any consequences, as a result, Serge Sarkisian started his second presidential term. During this period, in April 2016, a furious four-day conflict took place between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in which more than 100 Armenian troops lost their lives, and this was not accepted by the opposition groups, they claimed Serge Sargsyan was responsible for this loss.
Serge Sargsyan’s coalition government finally changed the presidential system to parliamentary system, Serzh Sargsyan was elected as Prime Minister on April 17, 2018. This election coincided the protest march of Nikol Pashinyan, a member of the opposition from the parliament, who started his march from the city of Gyumri on April 13, 2018 with moto “No to Serge” and invited people to protest and join in all cities and villages.
The march for protest reached Yerevan on April 17 and finally on April 22 led to a historic meeting between Prime Minister Serge Sargsian and leader of protests Nikol Pashinian, during which Pashinian announced that there was only one way for Serge Sargsyan and that was resignation. After a few minutes discussion, Serge Sargsian left the meeting and Nikol Pashinian was arrested. At the night of April 22, 2018, tens of thousands of people gathered in Republic Square in Yerevan to protest and demand the resignation of Sarkisian and the release of Pashinian. Finally, on the morning of April 23, Prime Minister Sarkisian announced his resignation. In the beginning of May, the parliament selected Nikol Pashinian as the prime minister.
In order to stabilize their power, Pashinian and his companions held early parliamentary elections in December 2018, which all political groups and experts believe it was the healthiest election in the country in past 30 years. In this election, the coalition led by Pashinyan won more than 70% of the votes, and the Flourishing Armenian party led by Gakik Zarukian, the Bright Armenian party led by Edmond Marukian also entered the parliament. After the formation of the parliament, Nicol Pashinian was elected as the prime minister by the majority of the parliament.
The main program of Pashinian is to fight immorality, barratry and to separate the three branches of government, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, following up issues related to the 2008 elections and murder of the protesters is also an issue that the Pashinian is addressing. With the government controlled by Pashinian in Armenia, the foreign policy of this country has not changed and as a member of the Commonwealth and also a member of the Eurasian Agreement, it has pursued a policy of convergence with Russia.
Pashinian government’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran have deepened as a friendly and neighbor country, and he also met with the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, on one of his first foreign trips to Iran in 2019. In the meeting with Mr. Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the relations between the two countries were revised and it was decided to take basic steps to strengthen and expand these relations.
Armenia as one of the Eurasian Union Agreement member, could have an efficient role in business relations and economy of Iran with other member countries.