NATURE

Armenia occupies the territory of Armenian highlands – the so called “Island of Mountains” with the average altitude of 1800 meters. It is distinguished for its numerous high mountain ridges, intermountain hollows, extinct volcanic mountains, plateau and plains. 90% of the land is 1,000 m above the sea level and higher. Country’s territory is framed by over 3,000 km of mountain ridges. The mountainous nature of Armenia results in various highly diverse landscapes. Relief is characterized with its mountainous steppe, semi-desert, high rocky mountains, deep gorges, meadows and valleys. The highest point of Armenia is the Northern of the 4 tops of Mount Aragats (4,090m); the lowest point is in the gorge of the river Debed (375m).

Mountains of Armenia are fount of minerals. The most significant are deposits of copper, molybdenum, iron and poly-metallic ores (lead, zinc), manganese, gold, platinum, silver, pyrites, aluminum nepheline syenite, antimony, mercury, and arsenic, dolomites, table salt, and also large deposits of highest quality natural building materials, such as basalt, granite, volcanic tuffs of various colorations, perlites, limestone, marble, and pumice stones. There are also rare-earth metals: bismuth, gallium, indium, selenium, thallium, tellurium, and rhenium. Bowels of Armenia are rich with gems. Beautiful kinds of quartz, agate, amethyst, jasper, silvery, light-golden, night-dark tones of obsidian, turquoise, rubies, onyx, and beryl are extracted in different regions.

Rivers in Armenia are not rich in waters but are fast in their flow. There are more than 300 rivers and rivulets of 10 km and longer. Some of them cut deep gorges and canyons in steep stony rocks. They all belong to the basin of rivers Araks (the longest river of Armenia with 1072 km length) and Kur. Rivers are mainly fast, falling down from a great height, with many scenic rapids, cascades and waterfalls, which make them impassable for river transport, but at the same time especially worthy for electric power. Hydroelectric power plants work on almost every river in Armenia, and, besides, the water of many rivers is used for irrigation. The rivers are fed with thawed snow, rain and underground waters. In spring the rivers become rapid and deep. In the middle of summer the rivers get shallow.

The main drinking water wealth of Armenia is under the earth. They are underground mineral waters of various chemical compositions. The most famous are Jermuk, Arzni, Bjni, Dilijan, Hankavan, which are renowned for not only their wonderful taste, but also healing power. There are a lot of warm and hot springs as well. The mineral waters which while passing through the thicknesses ­of easily soluble limestones, dolomites and magnetites are enriched with salts and gases acquiring certain medical properties and rich mineral contents. On the territory of Armenia there are more than 500 springs of volcanic origin.

Flora of Armenia is extremely multifarious (about 3500 species) and includes rare and endemic species. Indescribable is mass blooming of snowdrops, the 1st heralds of spring. In moist high-grass sub-Alpine meadows various species of gladioluses are flowering, Armenian lily forms huge colonies, and large flowers of Eastern poppies are blazing. Arid and vain rocky slopes seem from afar to be a lifeless desert, but it’s just there that grow tremendous majority of most valuable volatile-oil-bearing, dyeing, and medicinal plants, which are used in folk medicine since oldest times. Armenia is one of four Asian centers of origin of many cultivated plants, where wild species of wheat, rye, barley, pea, lentil, chick-pea, flax, beet, and spinach are preserved. Forests occupy relatively small area and lie on the North, North-East, and South of the country. Main trees are oak, east-beech, and hornbeam, which somewhere form mixed forestry growing with together with linden, maple, ash, and wild fruit-trees, such as apple, pear (more than 20 species), peach, walnut, cornelian cherry, cherry, plum, cherry-plum etc. Brush woods of wild pomegranate, fig, vine, dog rose, hawthorn, and buckthorn are found too. Armenia is famous for its sweet and tasty apricots, pomegranates and various types of grapes. The biggest harvesting period is summer-autumn. So if you happen to be in Armenia then you’ll have an amazing opportunity to taste large variety of organic fruits and vegetables grown under warm Armenian sun. The abundance of grapes has fostered the development of wine and brandy production.   The rocky and stony soils are grown with bushes – almond and pistachios, Jerusalem thorn, and beans.

The fauna of Armenia consists of 76 species of mammals, 304 kinds of birds, 44 kinds of reptiles, 6 kinds of amphibious, 24 kinds of fishes and about 10 thousand invertebrates. In forests live roes, wild boars, brown bears, squirrels, deer, roebucks, forest cats, foxes, forest dormice, martens, badgers, lynxes, the birds are chanters, woodcocks, woodpeckers, hoopoes. In more arid steppes and bushes wolves, hares and foxes are met. In mountain steppes and highlands live pasans, moufflons, bezoar goats, argalis, gophers, mole rats, hedgehogs, gerbils, jerboas, and gophers of Asia Minor, and field-voles and the birds, such as falcons, eagles, vultures, larks, nightingales, titmice, jays, hawks. In the reeds one can meet rush cats, marsh harriers, gulls, cranes, partridge, quail, black grouse, ducks, seagulls and storks. In foothills there are many of reptiles (agamas, turtles, vipers), including such rare species as gyurza and Armenian adder.

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