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Nature in Armenia


Armenian nature is very diverse and interesting for a wide range of nature enthusiasts: geologists will find here all the layers and formations ranging from crusting to the latest periods; historians and archaeologists can learn about all the layers of human culture starting from the ancient Paleolithic (Schelsky) age; plant biologists will be amazed at the wealth of vegetation including about 3200 varieties; soil scientists will see a colorful soil cover which changes over short distances with a total of 15 types and 40 subtypes; geographers will be surprised by the grand combination of the sun and mountain ranges considered as “an amazing corner of the earth full of miracles” by Byron. And one of the miracles is Lake Sevan (1916 m above sea level).



Armenia is a mountainous country. Approximately 90% of its territory is located 1000 m. above sea level. The highest point in the country is the peak of Mount Aragats (4090 m).
Aragats is a solitary extinct volcano. On its slopes, the volcanic activity and the centuries-long work of water, wind and the sun formed deep ravines (the largest ones are Geghovit and Ambert) and wide valley surrounded by rocks. In the ravine Geghovit there are three cascading waterfalls, their height of water is more than 100 m.
The middle mountain zone and the mountain belt command a magnificent panorama - shiny mountain lakes among emerald green slopes, lonely hills turning into the misty valley of the Araks, with the biblical Mount Ararat, Aragats’ sister, on the edge.
The beautiful landscape of the foothills and the mountain belts, and numerous cultural monuments on the slopes make Aragats one of the most interesting peaks. It will be attractive both for active travelers and for mountaineers.

Rivers and Lakes

Armenia is covered with a rather dense network of rivers and streams. However, they are not very large. The biggest one is the border river Araks. In the country there are more than three hundred rivers with the length over 10 kilometers.
Most of the Armenian rivers are the tributaries of the Araks, one of the largest rivers in the Caucasus and Southwest Asia. Its length is 995 km. For Armenians Araks is "the mother river," the same as the Volga for the Russian nation. It is praised in local legends, poems and songs. Since ancient times the Araks has given life irrigating arid deserts.
The main tributaries flow into the Araks from the left. They are the Akhuryan, Metsamor, Hrazdan, Azat, and Arpa. The river Hrazdan originates in Lake Sevan, and the river Akhuryan - in Lake Aria. The Akhuryan has a length of about 200 km; it is the third longest river in the republic. The rivers Arpa and Vorotan are a bit shorter; they flow along the southern part of Armenia.
Armenia can be called a country of lakes. Although there is only one large lake - Sevan, it has more than a hundred small mountain lakes.
Lake Sevan is a natural miracle, one of the most beautiful mountain lakes. It is situated at an altitude of 1916 meters above sea level.
There are several hypotheses concerning the origin of Lake Sevan. Most likely, this lake was born thousands of years ago due to volcanic processes occurring in the surrounding Geghama Mountains. On the southern slopes to the lake there are several dozens of geometrically circular craters filled with fresh water. 28 rivers flow into Lake Sevan, all small, the largest one – the Maerik - is less than 50 km. Only the river Hrazdan takes off from the lake.
The Lake Sevan area is 1200 square meters, and its basin is about four times as much - 4850 square meters. There are two cities, two villages, and around 100 rural communities with more than 250,000 people.

It is believed that the lake received its name from an ancient temple of Sev Vank, built on the northwest peninsula in the ninth century. This name is translated from the Armenian language as “a black monastery”, and the church is really made of black tuff. There is also a version of more ancient origin of the name. The Urartu people, who lived there before the arrival of the Armenians, called the lake Tsuini, Sweeney, and it is close to the pronunciation of Sevan. Tsuini supposedly meant “a pond”.
Armenia has many mineral springs with different chemical compositions and thus with different healing properties. Near Dilijan town and Phioletovo village there are carbonic acid-alkaline springs similar to “Borjomi”, and on the west shore of Lake Sevan, near the town of Ghawar, there are mineral springs similar to “Esentuki”. Jermuk sources stand out from the other thermal (hot) springs - they are similar to the water of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic by their composition and healing properties. Near the mineral springs “Arzni” and “Jermuk” spa resorts were built. The mineral water “Arzni”, “Jermuk”, “Sevan”, and “Dilijan” has excellent drinking qualities.


Steppe and semi-desert formations are most common throughout Armenia. At the lower tiers of the relief there are well-developed sagebrush semi-deserts with the limited zones of halophytic and Achilleus-Calligonum deserts. In the middle mountain belt, grass and herb bunchgrass steppes dominate. At higher altitudes they are replaced with meadow steppes and alpine meadows.
In the beginning of 1990s less than 12% of the country was covered with forests - mainly the north-eastern and south-eastern regions. In the north-east there are broad-leaved forests with the domination of the oak, the beech and the hornbeam and with the little participation of the linden, the maple, and the ash; the south-east has more xerophilous oak forests.
In the forest composition you can often see the poplar and the walnut, wild fruit trees and bushes (apple, pear, cherry, plum, dogwood, wild rose). Considerable areas of the volcanic plateau are occupied by stone deposits devoid of vegetation. Armenian flora includes about 3200 species, 106 of which are endemic. Ararat valley is the center of the origin of the wheat and other cultivated cereals.

Animals and Birds

Fauna of Armenia includes 76 species of mammals, 304 species of birds, 44 species of reptiles, 6 species of amphibians, 24 species of fish and about 10 thousand invertebrates. In the semi-deserts there are numerous rodents (gopher, jerboa, mole rat, gerbil, and vole) and reptiles (agama, tortoise, viper, and adder). You can also see the steppe cat and the eared hedgehog. The lynx, jungle cat, wild boar, jackal and many various birds live in the coastal thickets of the river Araks.
The fauna of the steppe regions is similar to that of the semi-desert. In addition, you can often see the hare and the fox, more rarely - the wolf and the badger. For the steppes of the central and western regions the wild marbled polecat is common, for the south and south-eastern regions – the wild goat and the mouflon.
In the north-eastern Mountains you can see the deer, marten, lynx, squirrel, wild cat, bear, spotted and red deer. The south-east mountain forests are home for the lynx, wild cat, marten, wild goat, mouflon, wild boar, bear, deer, and leopard.
Armenia exhibits numerous species of birds: the crane (the national symbol of the country, “Krunk” in Armenian), stork, partridge, quail, grouse, eagle, snowcock, and vulture; on Lake Sevan - the duck and the gull. Lake Sevan is rich in the valuable commercial fish “ishkhan” (Sevan trout), khramulya, barbel, and Ladoga whitefish. In the valleys of the south rivers the nutria lives. 


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