The landlocked country, a region of extinct volcanoes and rugged mountains, has an average altitude of 5,900 ft (1,800 m). Many peaks exceed 10,000 ft (3,048 m); perpetually snowcapped Mt. Aragats (13,432 ft/4,094 m) is the highest point in Armenia. The climate is continental, with cold, dry winters and scorching, dusty summers. The chief rivers are the Aras (Araks) and its tributary, the Razdan, which provide hydroelectricity and irrigation water. Lake Sevan supports the important fishing industry and is another source of hydroelectric power.
The country's main cities are Yerevan, Kumayri (formerly Leninakan), Vanadzor (formerly Kirovakan), and Yejmiadzin (seat of the Armenian Church). Ethnic Armenians make up the bulk of the people in this densely populated republic. In addition, there are Russian, Kurdish, and Azeri minorities. The official language is Armenian; Russian and various other tongues are spoken by a small minority. The Armenian Church is predominant, and there are Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Muslim minorities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.