Armenia country brief

Overview

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 an estimated 3 million (2016). The capital city of Armenia is Yerevan. Armenia's national day is celebrated on 21 September.

Political overview

The Republic of Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on 21 September 1991 following a national referendum. Armenia was a Presidential Republic until 2018. A referendum in December 2015 approved changing Armenia’s system of government from a semi-Presidential to a Parliamentary system, to take place in April 2018. The President will be elected by parliament every seven years. The President will not be permitted to be a member of a political party and can only serve one term. The Prime Minister will serve as Head of Government. Elections to the parliament (National Assembly) are held every five years. The last parliamentary elections were held in April 2017.

Under the new arrangements, Armen Sarkissian was elected President on 2 March 2018 and took office on 9 April. The previous President, Serzh Sargsyan, who won elections in 2008 and 2013, finished his presidency on 9 April 2018. On 17 April, Sargsyan was elected Prime Minister by the Parliament, but later resigned following widespread protests. Nikol Pashinyan was elected Prime Minister on 8 May.

Armenia is a member of a range of international organisations, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Armenia is also represented in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

Armenia is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and the European Union's Eastern Partnership Initiative. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It has since become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (alongside Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (alongside Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan).

Economic overview

Following a difficult transition after independence in the early 1990s, Armenia’s economy saw sustained growth supported by ambitious reforms and remittances from the global Armenian diaspora. Since 2014, growth has slowed. Real GDP growth in 2015 was 3.3 per cent in 2015, 0.2 per cent in 2016 and 3.5 per cent in 2017.

Agriculture is Armenia’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. Armenia also uses hydroelectricity to meet its energy needs.

Bilateral relationship

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 2016 census recorded 19,241 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.

High Level Visits

In March 2015 then-Armenian Minister for Diaspora, Ms Hranush Hakobyan, visited Australia. Then-Armenian Foreign Minister, Mr Edward Nalbandian, visited Australia in August 2012. The then-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 then 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. Total merchandise trade in 2016-17 was $1.95 million. Australian exports were worth $1.44 million, predominantly consisting of telecommunications equipment. Imports to Australia from Armenia were valued at $507,000 and consisted mainly of clothing.

Last updated: May 2018

Last Updated: 7 January 2016