Armenia is a land-locked country located in south-western Asia, bordering Georgia to the north, Turkey to the west, and Iran and Azerbaijan to the south and east. The country's total land area is roughly 30,000 square kilometres, and its population is estimated to be 3.3 million (2014). The capital of Armenia is the city of Yerevan. Armenia's national day is celebrated on 21 September.
The Republic of Armenia once more became independent on 21 September 1991 following a national referendum establishing independence from the Soviet Union. Armenia is a Presidential Republic. The executive branch consists of the President who serves as the Head of State, the Prime Minister who serves as the Head of Government, and the Council of Ministers, the members of which serve five-year terms.
President Serzh Sargsyan won the February 2008 presidential election with the backing of the conservative Republican Party of Armenia, a party in which he serves as chairman, and took office in April 2008. President Sargsyan won a second presidential term in elections held on 18 February 2013.
President Sargsyan's ruling Republican Party of Armenia won 44 per cent of the vote at the most recent parliamentary elections held in May 2012. The main opposition party, Prosperous Armenia, led by Armenia's wealthiest man, Gagik Tsarukyan, won 30 per cent of the vote. Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan took office in April 2014 following the resignation of Tigran Sargysan who had served as Prime Minister for six years.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) election observer mission stated that the 2012 parliamentary elections were administered in an overall professional and transparent manner prior to election day and that the election day was generally calm and peaceful. However, the OSCE observer mission found organisational problems and undue interference in the process, mostly by party representatives. The OSCE also noted that deficiencies in the complaint and appeals process were cause for concern.
Following independence, Armenia became a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In February 2003, Armenia achieved full membership of the World Trade Organization. Armenia is also a member of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Council of Europe, the Asian Development Bank, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and NATO's Partnership for Peace.
Armenia signed on to the European Union's Eastern Partnership Initiative in May 2009. In May 2014 Armenia joined Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Armenia's economy has undergone a profound transformation since independence in the early 1990s. After a difficult period from 1991 to 1993, during which time Armenia fought a war with Azerbaijan and began the transition to a market-based economy, the Armenian economy saw sustained growth supported by ambitious reforms and remittances from the global Armenian diaspora. Armenia continues reform efforts to create a market-oriented environment that is receptive to trade, capital and technological innovation. It is hampered by the inability to integrate economically with its immediate neighbours.
The global financial crisis had a major impact on Armenia. Before the crisis, Armenia’s annual GDP growth rate had neared 14 per cent, but in 2009 the Armenian economy contracted by 14.2 per cent. Economic growth gradually improved from 2.2 per cent in 2010 to reach 7.1 per cent in 2012, driven mainly by the mining sector and agro-industries. This trend declined in 2013 to 3.5 per cent growth and to 3.4 per cent growth in 2014, due to a reduction in private consumption and public investment.
Agriculture is the country’s largest employer, with other significant sectors including construction and mining of non-ferrous metals. Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold and lead. The majority of Armenia's energy is produced with fuel imported from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel for its nuclear power plant located at Metsamor. In 2009, following completion of a pipeline, Iran began exporting gas to Armenia. The mountainous country also uses hydroelectricity to meet its energy needs.
Australia recognised Armenian independence on 26 December 1991 and established diplomatic relations on 15 January 1992. Australia's Ambassador in Moscow is accredited to Armenia. There is no Armenian Government representation in Australia.
The 2011 census recorded 16,723 people in Australia who claim Armenian ancestry. Migrants of Armenian ancestry have come to Australia from a number of countries other than Armenia itself, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Turkey and India. Migration to Australia began in the second half of the nineteenth century. The peak period of migration occurred in the 1960s. Today, the Armenian community in Australia includes people born in 43 different countries.
High Level Visits
In March 2015 Armenian Minister of Diaspora, Ms Hranush Hakobyan, visited Australia. Armenian Foreign Minister, His Excellency Mr Edward Nalbandian, visited Australia in August 2012. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucasus, Dr Russell Trood, visited Armenia in June 2012. The Hon Joe Hockey MP visited Armenia in November 2005 as Minister for Human Services, and the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP visited in 2006.
Bilateral economic and trade relationship
Two-way trade between Australia and Armenia is modest. In 2014 total merchandise trade amounted to A$1.7 million. Australian exports were worth A$1.4 million, predominantly consisting of butter. Imports to Australia from Armenia were valued at A$268,000 and consisted mainly of clothing and footwear.
Last updated: July 2015