The Republic of Armenia has an ancient history that pre-dates many of its European and Middle Eastern neighbours. It was one of the first nations to adopt Christianity and the oldest monasteries and churches in the country date back to the fourth century. Mount Ararat - the peak on which Noah's ark was said to have rested during the Biblical Flood - also looms over Yerevan, the nation's capital. Bordered by Iran to the South, Turkey to the West, and Azerbaijan to the East, Armenia survived as a Christian enclave through successive empires over the next two thousand years. It fell under Ottoman, Persian and Mongolian rule through the Middle Ages and was brought under secular Soviet Rule in the Modern Age.
Each invasion brought hardships, but the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the collapsing Ottoman empire during World War I stands as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Relations between Turkey and Armenia are still fraught and the country's economic development has been hampered by trade blockades from Turkey.
The result of centuries of culturally distinct empires occupying Armenia has infused the country with a number of traditions, which have each combined with its own very ancient cultural and architectural heritage to produce a unique environment.
The art and literature of Armenia shares similarities with Mediterranean European cultures as well as Iranian and wider Arabic sources.
Modern Armenian cinema has been given a tremendous boost through the works of Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan. His films have achieved critical acclaim and his work embraces Armenian culture.