Is Armenia in Europe or Asia?

A map showing Armenia in the Caucasus region.
A map showing Armenia in the Caucasus region.

Officially known as the Republic of Armenia, Armenia is a state that is located in Eurasia’s South Caucasus region. The South Caucasus region refers to the area lying on the border between Western Asia and Eastern Europe, which is close to the southern Caucasus Mountains. Located in the Armenian Highlands in Western Asia, the nation is bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Azerbaijan’s exclave of Nakhchivan, and the de facto Republic of Artsakh. The city of Yerevan is the capital as well as the largest city. The physical location of Armenia has led to plenty of questions about whether the nation is part of Europe or Asia.


Geographically, Armenia is in a confusing location. The South Caucasus region, in which Armenia lies, is between the two continents of Europe and Asia. The region is what most geographers would consider the unofficial border between the two continents. Naturally, as is the case with almost all border regions, it is difficult to classify where it belongs due to the mixture of elements and traditions from either side of the border. Regardless, going by the strict geographical demarcations of the world, the continent of Europe ends at Bosporus in Turkey and at the border to Georgia in the Caucasus Mountain range. Going by this, then Armenia is geographically on the continent of Asia.


The problem with the geographical argument is that, in this age and time, continents are much more than what a map shows. Politically, Armenia has good relations with almost every nation in the world, regardless of continent, except Turkey and Azerbaijan who are the immediate neighbors. Since the USSR collapsed, political ties between Armenia and Europe (especially with Russia) have intensified. As it stands, Armenia is a member state in several international organizations such as the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, the European Broadcasting Union, and others.

Most people in Armenia favor the idea of being in Europe. In 2005, a study conducted about the matter showed that about 64% of the population support an application to the EU. Several top public officials also support the idea and experts predict that it is only a matter of time before the application. This argument also raises questions about where a “political border” begins and ends.


The aspect of culture adds further confusion to the already murky subject. Historically, during the period of the Silk Road, Armenia was considered an Asian state. However, history shows that many empires coveted the strategic location offered by Armenia in linking Europe and Asia. Consequently, several kingdoms, from Europe and Asia, fought and conquered Armenia, which led to the disappearance of some traditions and the introduction of new ones. As is stands, the current culture of the nation is a blend of several European and Asian cultures that make it even harder to define the nation.


Clearly, from the above arguments, it is difficult to say where Armenia belongs. Different people will have different views on the matter. Other countries in similar confusing situations as Armenia are Azerbaijan and Georgia. To avoid the confusion, others say the nation is in Eurasia.


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