The 33rd International Biology Olympiad in Armenia

The Republic of Armenia is located in Western Asia, on the Armenian Highlands, in the geopolitical Transcaucasus region. While Armenia is geographically located in the South Caucasus, it is generally considered geopolitically European.

The capital of Armenia is Yerevan.

 

Armenia is the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion. The official date of state adoption of Christianity is 301. Armenia recognizes the Armenian Apostolic Church, the world's oldest national church, as the country's primary religious establishment.

 

 

Armenian is the official language in Armenia. The Armenian language belongs to the family of Indo-European languages. It is a separate branch of this family and is one of the ancient written languages. The unique Armenian alphabet was created by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD. The Armenian medieval manuscript by St. Mesrop Mashtots has become a solid foundation of the national language and culture. The manuscript heritage of the Armenians numbers over 23 thousand manuscripts, which are stored in the Yerevan Matenadaran - the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, bearing the name of the inventor of the Armenian letters, Mesrop Mashtots, as well as in book depositories and libraries in Jerusalem, Vienna, Venice, London and other places.

 

 

The original native Armenian name for the country was Hayk. The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk (Հայկ), the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Biblical Noah.

 

 

The national flag of the Republic of Armenia is a national emblem of the Republic of Armenia. The national flag of the Republic of Armenia is of three colors in stripes of the same width - red, blue, orange respectively from top to bottom.

 

 

The emblem / The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Armenia is a national emblem of the Republic of Armenia. 

 

 

The dram (sign: ֏; code: AMD) is the monetary unit of Armenia. The word "dram" translates into English as "money".

Money was used in Armenia from ancient times. There are some well-preserved coins of Tigran the Great and they were made in 1 century B.C. The present Armenian currency– dram was put into circulation in 1994.

 

The Armenians are one of the most ancient nations of the world.

Armenian culture is rooted in the depths of millennia, and many of the values ​​it created have enriched world civilization.

Since ancient times, Armenian culture has been in contact with both Western and Eastern culture, joining social progress. The Armenian national culture has absorbed Christian morality and the criteria of spiritual values ​​that determine the general appearance of the Armenian nation. Along with religion and native language, the Armenian national culture is an important factor in the preservation of the Armenian people, their self-affirmation in the modern world.

Armenian culture treats its centuries-old traditions with care, is receptive to the achievements of world culture, strives to keep pace with social progress.

 

Armenian arts date back thousands of years.  However, the Armenian arts, as such, took their own national features in the period of the Armenian Middle Ages thanks to the development of architecture, music, literature, fine arts and the applied arts (jewelry, pottery rug and carpet making).

 

Still way back in the Middle Ages the rug, already turned into a profitable commodity, had brought worldwide fame to the Armenian rug-making art and its glory keeps shining in the world market to this day.

 

 

Armenians have a very diverse national dress. The Armenian national costume (taraz), also known as the Armenian traditional clothing, reflects a rich cultural tradition. Wool and fur were utilized by the Armenians along with the cotton that was grown in the fertile valleys. The Armenian national costume has existed through long periods of historical development. The Armenian national costume is dominated by the colors of the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. According to the 14th century Armenian philosopher Grigor Tatatsi, the Armenian costume is made to express the ancestral soil, the whiteness of the water, the red of the air, and the yellow of the fire. Apricot symbolizes prudence and common sense, red symbolizes courage and martyrdom, blue symbolizes heavenly justice, white symbolizes purity. The Armenian national costume is accented with silver necklaces and bracelets. The final element of the costume is the headdress. 

 

 

Over the centuries, Armenian fine art has created enduring values - sculptures of ancient times, frescoes, wonderful examples of medieval book miniatures, paintings of modern times. The world-famous artist Martiros Saryan had a great influence on the development of modern Armenian painting. In recent decades, the best of their works have been created by artists Minas Avetisyan, Hakob Hakobyan, Grigor Khanjyan and others; sculptors Nikogos Nikoghosyan, Levon Tokmadzhyan, Artashes Hovsepyan, Ara Harutyunyan and others. Armenian fine art has always been characterized by a variety of styles and trends, sensitivity to the latest trends in world art, courage of creative searches.  

 

The Armenian cross-stone - Khachkar, is a carved, memorial stele bearing a cross, and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs. Khachkars are characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian art. The first khachkar dates back to 879 CE (in Garni), already contained the main symbolic elements of cross-stone.

Since 2010, khachkars, their symbolism and craftsmanship are inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The most common khachkar feature is a cross surmounting a rosette or a solar disc. The remainder of the stone face is typically filled with elaborate patterns of leaves, grapes, pomegranates, and bands of interlace, sometimes containing biblical or saintly figures. 

 

 

With the creation of the Armenian letters in the 5th century, Armenian literature, which has great traditions of oral creativity, entered a new stage in its development. Over the past centuries, Armenian fiction has come a long way, reflecting the events of the historical life of Armenians in its works. The best works of Armenian literature of different eras have always received a wide public response, contributed to the formation of the liberation thought of the Armenians.

 

Theatrical art has been known in Armenia since ancient times.

The formation of the Armenian theater has started in the times of the Armenian King Tigran II the Great. The first historically known theater in Armenia was built in the reign of Tigran the Great in 69 BC in Tigranakert. 

Folk performances, open-air performances, acquaintance with ancient drama, the first amateur troupes, and finally, the creation of a professional theater - these are the milestones in the development of the Armenian performing arts. Currently, there are over three dozen theaters operating in the Republic of Armenia.

 

At the beginning of the 1920s, the “Armen-Film” film studio was created in the republic, the leading film director of which was Hamo Beknazaryan.

Among the feature films created in different years, the most successful ones are “Pepo” (the first Armenian sound film, director H. Beknazaryan, 1935), “Triangle” (1967, director G. Malyan), “We and Our Mountains” ( 1969, directed by G. Malyan), “The Color of Pomegranate” (1969, directed by S. Parajanov), “Tango of Our Childhood” (1985, directed by A. Mkrtchyan).

 

Armenian music has a history of thousands of years. It was formed together with the formation of the Armenian language. In the 3rd century BC, the first branches of Armenian music were formed: peasant, cult and folk art. After the adoption of Christianity in 301 BC, a new branch emerged: the music of the Christian church.

 

Instruments like the duduk, dhol, zurna, kamancha and kanun are commonly found in Armenian folk music.

 

 

Armenian music has gone from folklore to different genres of contemporary music. During the late Middle Ages, Armenian troubadours called ashughs, played instruments like the kamancha and saz. Sayat-Nova is an 18th century ashugh and poet, the most famous troubadour known for his love songs. 

Achievements of Armenian music became known to the world thanks to the works of Komitas, A. Spendiaryan, A. Khachaturyan, A. Babajanyan, other composers, folk songs and dances, traditional performers such as duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, as well as the performances of the musical groups and singers, such as Charles Aznavour, pop star Cher, heavy metal band System of a Down, which often incorporates traditional Armenian instrumentals and styling into their songs.

 

 

Among the Armenian cultural values, the leading position ​​occupies Armenian dance and its traditions.

The Armenian dance heritage has been considered one of the oldest and most varied in its respective region. From the 5th to the 3rd millennia BC, in the higher regions of Armenia, there are rock paintings of scenes of country dancing. These dances were probably accompanied by certain kinds of songs or musical instruments. 

Traditional dancing is still popular among diaspora Armenians and has also been very successfully exported to international folk dance groups and circle dance groups all over the world. All dancers wear traditional costumes to embody the history of their culture and tell their ancestors' stories.

Folk dances include solo dances, duets, and round dances. Group dances are performed in a variety of settings: round, closed and open, semi-circle. Solo dances are performed with folk instruments, circular dances, especially accompanied by bagpipes (Armenian zurna and dhol), along with the singing of dancers.

 

 

Archaeological excavations testify that agriculture in Armenia began already in the Neolithic period. The Armenian Highlands is one of the centers of cultivated plants. This fact is especially evidenced by the example of cultivated wheat: it is in the Armenian Highlands that many types of cultivated and wild wheat can be found. Armenia is home to rye, grapes, pears, cherry plums, cherries, pomegranates, walnuts, quince, almonds, figs, melons. It is known that apricots were brought to Europe from Armenia under the name “Armeniaca” in antiquity.

 

Traditional Armenian cuisine is varied and rich in dishes made from cultivated and wild plants and fruits, the meat of domestic and wild animals, and fish.

In Armenia, special attention is paid to the culture of food and feast.

We consider it useful to provide below a description of some of the most frequently used national dishes, snacks and traditional types of Armenian bread.

 

Lavash is a long, elliptical, thin strip of baked dough up to one meter long, up to 50 cm wide. Lavash has no crust, crumbs: it is always soft, flexible bread. Lavash, dried for the purpose of long-term storage, after being moistened before use, restores its taste and softness. Traditionally, lavash was baked in a tonir - a special oven. Currently, lavash is also baked in modern baking ovens using a special technology. 

 

Matnakash is an oval or round bread with a rim along its entire length and longitudinal grooves. The dough for matnakash is prepared with sourdough and yeast.

 

Common Armenian snacks are meat basturma, meat sujukh, in which the taste of garlic, caraway, and pepper prevails. Snacks with different types of cheese with the addition of garlic and nuts are distinguished by their peculiar taste. The use of spices, nuts, vinegar, matsun and sour cream gives the dishes a special piquancy.

 

Basturma is pressed and dried pieces of soft beef, pre-soaked with salt and covered with a special spicy compound (chaman).

Served as a cold snack, very thinly sliced. 

 

Sujukh is a thin flat sausage made from ground beef with hot spices. Served as a cold snack, sliced.

 

Matsun (yogurt) is a sour dairy product from cow, sheep, buffalo milk, fermented with lactic acid bacteria with yeast. Matsun is very useful as a food product, used as baby food, recommended for patients with gastrointestinal diseases.

 

Soups are based on meat, chicken, fish, mushroom broths, as well as decoctions of vegetables and fruits, milk, matsun (yogurt), buttermilk. Soup ingredients include meat, vegetables, pasta, cereals, fruits, spices.

Meat, fish, chicken, vegetable and milk soups are hot dishes. Soups made with matsun, buttermilk or fruit infusions are served as cold dishes.

  

Khash is made with thoroughly washed scraped beef legs, kept in cold water for 24 hours, are boiled in unsalted water until the meat is completely separated from the bones. Boiled tripe is added during cooking.

Khash is served very hot. Salt, crushed garlic diluted with broth, radish and dried lavash are served separately.

Khash is not considered a systematic food for the family; it is a ceremonial dish.

 

Dolma is often made with meat, but you can find a vegetarian option as well. Minced meat mixed with rice and a variety of herbs and spices is wrapped in fresh grape or cabbage leaves.

Matsun (with crushed garlic) is served separately for dolma wrapped in grape leaves.

 

Harisa is a homogeneous mushy mass of chicken meat, previously boiled and separated from the bones, and soaked coarse wheat groats. This dish is cooked for quite a long time with constant whipping with a wooden jar. Served with melted cinnamon butter or fried onions.

 

Khorovats means grilled meats or barbecue of chunks of bone-in meat grilled on a skewer. The dish can be made with lamb, beef or pork.

In summer, khorovats is usually served with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers baked on hot coals (on skewers) and peeled, most often chopped and mixed with each other, with the addition of finely chopped greens (cilantro, dill, parsley) and onions: In winter - tomato paste with the addition of chopped greens or onions.

Khorovats is served with red table wine.

 

Ghapama is a stuffed pumpkin dish often prepared around Christmastime. The guts of the pumpkin are removed, and then it is stuffed with boiled rice and dried fruits like apple, apricot, dates, plums, and raisins together with nuts. The pumpkin is baked until it softens.

 

Gata is a typical Armenian pastry, very common across the country. Each region or town has its own variety of gata, making it in a diversity of sizes, shapes, and decorations.

 

A wide array of sports are played in Armenia, the most popular among them being wrestling, weightlifting, chess, judo, association football, and boxing. Armenia's mountainous terrain provides great opportunities for the practice of sports like skiing and climbing. Competitively, Armenia has been successful in chess, weightlifting and wrestling at the international level. Armenia is also an active member of the international sports community, with full membership in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Armenia participates in the Summer Olympic Games in boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, judo, gymnastics, track and field, diving, swimming and sharp shooting. Armenia also participates in the Winter Olympic Games in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and figure skating.

 

Armenia has been very successful in chess, winning the World Champion in 2011 and the World Chess Olympiad on three occasions.

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, who was an Armenian Grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969, is credited with popularizing chess in Armenia. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his almost impenetrable defensive playing style, which emphasized safety above all else.

Yerevan House of Chess Players bears the name of the two-time world chess champion Tigran Petrosyan, and the statue of the famous grandmaster is erected in front of the building.

Chess Grandmaster Levon Aronian, as of November 2021, is a FIDE No. 4 rated player. 

 

 

Football is also popular in Armenia. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora have produced many successful footballers, including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sargis Adamyan, Youri Djorkaeff, Alain Boghossian, Andranik Eskandarian, Edgar Manucharyan, Nikita Simonyan and others. Djorkaeff and Boghossian won the 1998 FIFA World Cup with France. Mkhitaryan has been one of the most successful Armenian footballers in recent years, playing for international clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Arsenal and currently for A.S. Roma.