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Photo file Special features How life has changed Countdown to collapse Introduction Russian Version
Collapse of the USSR Countdown to collapse How life has changed Gorbachev webcast Photo file


Independence date: 23 September 1991

Population: 3.5 million

Capital: Yerevan

President: Robert Kocharian (since 30 March 1998)

 Country profile


I lost my country in which law prevailed, education was free, and work was guaranteed. Relations between people were much more humane. Ten years ago I didnít think that Armeniaís independence would lead to so many problems and privations. I have two children. I have to pay for their study. My salary is nowhere near enough to feed the family, let alone pay college fees. So Iím constantly in debt, and have to think up alternative sources of income. All anyone talks about now is how to earn money or leave for the West.

Hamlet Amiragan, pharmacist

When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, borders appeared between the former republics. I could no longer sell my produce across the border, as customs duties were too expensive, so I became unemployed. My wife and daughter emigrated to the US. I occasionally speak to my daughter on the phone. They say she has become quite grown up. I donít have enough money to go to the US myself, and probably wouldnít get a visa anyway. What can I do? Continue to sell grilled chicken to survive, or abandon everything and leave? But where would I go?<

Garik Martirosan, small businessman

From the outside my life seems fine. I had a more or less stable job. And today Iím not unemployed. But if tomorrow my boss were to leave, heíd ďaskĒ me to go too. Iím an economist by training, but havenít used my profession for a long time, as itís no longer needed. Young people today look at life very pragmatically: they want to study less and earn more. And many of them grow up to be mean and self-satisfied.

Armen Govorgan

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Armenian refugees in Azerbaijan, 1992
The conflict with Azerbaijan created thousands of refugees

The collapse of the USSR lifted the lid on a simmering ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In the first three years of independence, 25,000 people were killed in fighting over the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh Ė a mainly Armenian-populated region in Azerbaijan. Armeniaís economy virtually ground to a halt as a result of the conflict.

The United Nations has classified up to 80% of the population as poor or very poor, and about a fifth of the population has emigrated in search of a better life.

The country has also lived through political upheaval. Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and several other politicians were shot dead by gunmen, apparently driven by desperation at the plight of the Armenian people, in October 1999.

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