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As of 1995, Armenia is one of only two of the 15 former Soviet states not headed by a former communist, now maintaining a free press and vigorous new multi-party system that it has not had before.
Armenia is still recovering from a severe 1988 earthquake that destroyed several cities and killed some 50,000 people.
During World War I (1915-1920), with the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the rise of Pan-Turkish nationalism, the Turkish government attempted to eradicate the Armenian nation in what is now termed "the first genocide of the twentieth century." One million Turkish Armenians were slaughtered, while the other million survivors were cast from their Anatolian homeland into a global diaspora that remains to this day.
On May 28, 1918, facing death, some Armenians declared an independent Armenian state in the northeast corner of Turkey.
Although the independent Republic of Armenia has existed since 1991, it is misleading to term it a homeland like, for example, Sweden is for Swedish Americans, for a few reasons.
Meanwhile, the four million Armenians in the diaspora energetically extended their support for Armenia's survival. It was also the most educated (in per capita students), and the most ethnically homogeneous, with 93 percent Armenians, and 7 percent Russians, Kurds, Assyrians, Greeks, or Azeris.In 451, when Persia ordered a return to paganism, Armenia's small army defiantly stood firm to defend its faith; at the Battle of Avarair, Persia's victory over these determined martyrs proved so costly that it finally allowed Armenians to maintain their religious freedom.By the time European Crusaders in the twelfth century entered the Near East to "liberate" the Holy Land from the Moslems, they found prosperous Armenian communities thriving among the Moslems, while maintaining the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and other Christian sites.Second, communism's avowed policy of quashing nationalists within its 15 republics rendered the status of the previous Soviet republic and its citizens as questionable among most diaspora Armenians.
Third, this Republic occupies only the northeastern ten percent of the territory of historic Armenia, including only a few of the dozen largest Armenian cities of pre-1915 Turkey—cities now empty of Armenians in Eastern Turkey. Armenian youth express an interest to visit the Republic, yet 94 percent continue to feel it important to regain the occupied part of the homeland from Turkey.The estimated 700,000 Americans of Armenian ancestry are descended from an ancient nation located at the borders of modern Russia, Turkey, and Iran.Through much of the past 4,000 years, Armenians have been a subjugated people with no independent state until September 23, 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved and the 3,400,000 people in that area voted to form a new Republic of Armenia.The capital city of Armenia today, Yerevan (population 1.3 million), celebrated its 2,775th anniversary in 1993.