Armenia, a former Soviet Republic, is an independent nation lying between Asia and Europe. The country is in the mountainous Caucasus region. Armenia is among the first Christian civilizations of the world. Its many religious sites include the Greco-Roman Temple of Garni and the 4thC Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
But there are a number of other facts about the country. Those other facts are not so well known by most people. Perhaps you too do not even know them. For instance, when a man and women greet, who must wait till the other initiates a handshake? How do views of things differ in rural Armenia from Urban Armenia? If you make a fist, why must you not place your thumb between you index finger and middle finger in Armenia?
The answers to all these and more are in the following 10 random facts about Armenia.
Currencies: Noah’s Ark silver coins; Armenian dram
Official Language: Armenian
Government: Unitary Semi-Presidential Republic
President: Serzh Sargsyan
Population: 3,018,854 (2011 Census)
Random Facts About Armenia
1. Kiss with Greetings
General Armenian greeting between men is a handshake and a kiss on the cheek. Between women, it is a hug and a kiss. Between men and women, the woman usually needs to wait until the man extends his hand for a shake before she takes it.
2. Direct Communication
Armenian style of communication is very direct. They say exactly what they want to say, even if such brings you the greatest embarrassment or the greatest joy. It is their custom and visitors are advised not to take to heart as if they mean to spite you.
3. Close Communicators
Personal space is not really something the Armenians consider as of much value. When in a conversation, people touch each other commonly. But this is when the two in conversation know each other well.
4. To Touch or not To Touch
In the more “westernized” urban areas in Armenia, cross-gender touching is not frowned upon. But in rural Armenia cross-gender touching is not allowed as a means of showing affection in public. This is irrespective of the relationship.
5. Direct Eye-Contact
Armenians prefer direct eye contact. They like to look at you in the eyes when you talk to them to see if what you are saying is sincere and believable. However, on the whole, there is really no strict rule in this regard when speaking to Armenians.
6. Always a bit Late
As for timekeeping, Armenians love punctuality. However, that is easier put in words than it is in practice. Most things take place some 15 to 20 minutes after the time scheduled for it. And when someone says to give them just five minutes, he may take hours to show up!
7. Always Arrive in Time
Still on punctuality, your best bet is to be on time for anything because it is better to err on the side of caution. Also, it is good to mention that even though time is made to wait for mini-buses, quite a number would not wait for scheduled time when the bus is full. They leave before schedule!
8. As if Two Countries
Armenia may be a small country, but views of things by rural Armenia and metro Armenia are so divergent that one tends to think that one is talking about two countries. What rural Armenia would frown at is usually well embraced by metro Armenia.
9. A Women’s Dressing
A foreign woman wearing tight clothing, short skirts and/or shorts, smoking, participating in sporting activities, etc, would be seen by rural Armenia as not a good woman. But in metro Armenia, this takes place on a good day and no one bats an eyelid.
10. A Gesture to Avoid
When in Armenia, do not make a fist and place the thumb between the index finger and the middle finger. This is an obscene gesture and is definite to get frowns from everyone. And for women, drunkenness and prostitution are looked down upon.