Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. The Kingdom of Armenia was established in the 6th century BC, after the fall of Urartu; it became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in the early years of the 4th century. For this reason, Armenia is often referred to as the "first Christian nation." An Armenian principality and later a kingdom, known as Cilician Armenia, existed on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between the 11th and 14th centuries.
By the 19th century, the traditional Armenian homeland was divided between the Ottoman and Russian empires. During World War I, the Armenians living in their ancestral lands in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. After almost 600 years of statelessness, Armenia was able to become independent in 1918; however, the First Republic of Armenia was surrounded by hostile countries that forcibly ended its independence in 1920. Between 1920 and 1991, Armenia was part of the Soviet Union. The modern Republic of Armenia became independent in 1991.
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