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Home :: Nature

The flora

The mountainous Armenia is famous for floral diversity. This is testified by the fact that more than 3500 high quality plants (120 of them are endemic) grow here, which is an exception for a small area like this. Note that only in Russia (4 m km2) the number of plants does not surpass 3500. Suffice it to note that 200 years ago the majority of the territory of the present country was covered with forests. Today the forest area has shrunk by more than twice. Now there are two main masses of forests. The larger one rims the northern and the other - the southern part of the country. The forests are of great value thanks to their trees (oak, beech, hornbeam, pine-tree, elm-tree, maple, lime-tree) wild fruit trees (walnut, spelt, medlar, haw, blackberry, plum, cornel, pear, apple) and herbal ivy (buckthorn berry, grape and sweet-brier).

Since times immemorial, a great number of flowers have been grown in Armenia and the history of many flowers is connected with this country. In XVIII c., J. P. de Toumefort, professor in the French court traveled through Armenia. He noticed that the Armenian flora is very rich in wild flowers, especially tulips and irises. He took a great number of bulbs and offshoots with him back to France where he got valuable flowers through interbreed­ing. Later, part of these flowers were taken to Holland. Today several vari­eties of world-famous tulips and irises are known to have Armenian origin.

The main occupation of the people in mountainous valleys has since ancient times been the cultivation of grain, vine, flax, toadflax, sesame, apricot, peach, cherry, pear, apple and other fruit-trees. Armenia is homeland to a number of these trees. Some Armenian fruits outshine their counterparts in the world with their looks, sweetness and taste. In old times, Armenians had 15 varieties of fruit. Among them the apricot, grape, pear and pomegranate were princesses. while the rest were the maidservants. The pomegranate was the King of fruit with its crown and the apricot was the Lady of Ladies.

Armenians have grown apricot since ancient times. In IV BC, Alexander of Macedon took the apricot to Greece and called it armeniaka (the Armenian fruit). Later this name was spread all over Europe. Armenia is one of the oldest places of viticulture and, at present, there are more than 200 old and new high-quality varieties of grape in country. The local varieties Voskehat, Garan Dmak. Mskhali, Kangoun, Yerevan and the imported Rkatsiteli, Kakheti, Mouskat, Kaberne and Resling are widely popular in the world. Best quality grapes are grown in the Ararat Valley and the regions of Meghri and Yeghegnadzor. They are used to make cognac and wine, including Kheres, Madera, Alikant, Malaga, Portvain, etc.

The Fauna

Armenian Moufflon
The fauna of the country is also very rich and Diverse. Around 17 000 species of animals are known to live in Armenia, which, is rare for such a small territory. There are 10000 species of insects, 1000 species of invertebrates  and 460 vertebrates. The vertebrates include birds (303 species), mammals (86 species), reptiles (39 species), fishes (28 species) and amphibians (6 species). One is likely to come across mammals such as the brown bear, wild cat, lynx, wolf, fox, badger, marten, weasel, jackal, deer, wild boar, hare and squirrel; 40 % of the migrant birds from the CIS and 4 % of the migrant birds from the rest of the world. One of the main world routes of bird passage lies over the country. Of great interest among insects is the Armenian vordan karmir (cochineal). 18 mammals, 67 birds, 11 reptiles, 2 fishes and 1 amphibian are included in The Armenian Red Book.

There have always been chamois in the Armenian mountains. In Akkadian the chamois was called armatu (Armenian). Even now, there is a species of chamois, which is called the Armenian chamois or ovis ophion armeniana.

Armenia is also one of the countries where horses appeared first. Remains of wild horses have been found in the Armenian mountains. According to the Egyptian priest Maneton, the taming of horses was first practiced in Armenia. The studhorse was the most popular. It was big in size and 'of unrivalled beauty' (Strabo). The Armenian historians described the studhorse as 'fast-footed,' 'fast- winged' or 'kites.' These were magnificent studhorses, and Assyrian and Persian kings used to fill their stables with them. One of the 4 famous canals of the An­cient World (unfairly called after Semiramis) was built by King Menua of Van (810-788 BC) who used to be a brave horseman. His horse Artsibeh (eagle) ma­de a jump of 11.39 m. This was an exclusive jump and, as such, was recorded in lapidary inscriptions. It had remained unchallenged for about 2800 years and only in 1975 Swinger, German K. Berdman's horse made a jump of 22.16 m.

Related Links:

Apricot Festival |Event Tours to Armenia

Mountainous Armenia |
Adventure Tours to Armenia

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