According to Census figures, Glendale in California is home to the largest number of Armenians in the United States, with people of Armenian descent allowing for 40% of the city’s population.
Armenia is a small, landlocked country located in Eurasia, lying east of Turkey and south of Georgia. It is a unitary, democratic nation-state, and former member of the Soviet Union. According to Armenia’s April 2006 Census, the country has a population of just over three million, and is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet Union republics, behind Moldova.
Armenia has a rich and historic culture. It has it’s own language and alphabet, although 76% of its population also speaks Russian, with English also becoming increasingly popular as an additional language. Armenia’s National Art Gallery in its capital city Yerevan hosts over sixteen thousand paintings, dating back to the Middle Ages.
Armenia has it’s own national football team, which was established in 1991, following the split of the Soviet Union, as Armenians had played for the Soviet Union’s team previously. The team is yet to taste any real success, and has never qualified for any major competitions, including the World Cup or European championships. The team is currently number 82 in the FIFA world rankings.
Armenian music is predominantly indigenous folk music, best represented by Djivan Gasparyan, who has become known as the master of the dudek, a woodwind instrument that originated in Armenia. Armenia also has an extensive Christian music scene, not surprising considering Armenia is the oldest Christian nation on Earth. Some Armenians have embraced non-Armenian forms of music to great success, including critically acclaimed UK-based rapper and producer Blade, and innovative heavy metal group System Of A Down, whose members are all of Armenian descent.
Armenia has been producing movies since the 1920s, the most famous of which is Sergei Parajanov’s 1968 art-house film The Colour Of Pomegranates. It was banned in the Soviet Union, but was nonetheless hailed as a masterpiece and influenced by revered art-house film directors Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Goddard.
Armenia’s vast densely populated landscapes together with its climate wonderfully lend itself to farming, and particularly the growing of crops. Apricots and peaches are both said to have originated from Armenia. Barbecues are also massively popular in Armenia, resulting in most traditional Armenian dishes being based around grilled meat.
This rich and diverse culture is massively reflected in Glendale’s Armenian community. 30% of Glendale’s residents speak the distinctive Armenian language at home and the city is packed with Armenian restaurants, serving authentic Armenian cuisine, such as Tjvjik, a dish of fried liver, kidney and onions, and falsuya, a stew made with lamb and green beans.
There are also several Armenian schools in Glendale, as well as Armenian businesses and community groups and a number of hotels in Glendale available for anyone keen to experience the Armenian way of life in the city for themselves.