Monday, May 6, 2013

Recently, the Intel Corporation agreed to open a research center in Armenia

Recently, the Intel Corporation agreed to open a research center in Armenia, in addition to other technology companies, signalling the growth of the technology industry in Armenia.[72] Agriculture accounted for less than 20% of both net material product and total employment before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Sony VPCCA15FH/L battery After independence, the importance of agriculture in the economy increased markedly, its share at the end of the 1990s rising to more than 30% of GDP and more than 40% of total employment.[73] This increase in the importance of agriculture was attributable to food security needs of the population in the face of uncertainty during the first phases of transition and the collapse of the non-agricultural sectors of the economy in the early 1990s. Sony VPCCA15FH/P battery As the economic situation stabilized and growth resumed, the share of agriculture in GDP dropped to slightly over 20% (2006 data), although the share of agriculture in employment remained more than 40%.Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold, and lead. The vast majority of energy is produced with fuel imported from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel (for its one nuclear power plant); Sony VPCCA15FH/W battery the main domestic energy source is hydroelectric. Small deposits of coal, gas, and petroleum exist but have not yet been developed. Like other newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, Armenia's economy suffers from the legacy of a centrally planned economy and the breakdown of former Soviet trading patterns. Sony VPCCA15FW/B battery Soviet investment in and support of Armenian industry has virtually disappeared, so that few major enterprises are still able to function. In addition, the effects of the 1988Spitak Earthquake, which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt. The conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved. Sony VPCCA15FW/D battery The closure of Azerbaijani and Turkish borders has devastated the economy, because Armenia depends on outside supplies of energy and most raw materials. Land routes through Georgia and Iran are inadequate or unreliable. The GDP fell nearly 60% between 1989 and 1993, but then resumed robust growth.[73] Sony VPCCA15FW/P battery The national currency, the dram, suffered hyperinflation for the first years after its introduction in 1993. Nevertheless, the government was able to make wide-ranging economic reforms that paid off in dramatically lower inflation and steady growth. The 1994 cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also helped the economy. Sony VPCCA15FW/W battery Armenia has had strong economic growth since 1995, building on the turnaround that began the previous year, and inflation has been negligible for the past several years. New sectors, such as precious-stone processing and jewellery making, information and communication technology, and even tourism are beginning to supplement more traditional sectors of the economy, such as agriculture. Sony VPCCA15FX/W battery This steady economic progress has earned Armenia increasing support from international institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and other international financial institutions (IFIs) and foreign countries are extending considerable grants and loans. Sony VPCCA16EC battery Loans to Armenia since 1993 exceed $1.1 billion. These loans are targeted at reducing the budget deficit and stabilizing the currency; developing private businesses; energy; agriculture; food processing; transportation; the health and education sectors; and ongoing rehabilitation in the earthquake zone. The government joined the World Trade Organization on 5 February 2003. Sony VPCCA16EC/P battery But one of the main sources of foreign direct investments remains the Armenian diaspora, which finances major parts of the reconstruction of infrastructure and other public projects. Being a growing democratic state, Armenia also hopes to get more financial aid from the Western World. A liberal foreign investment law was approved in June 1994, and a law on privatisation was adopted in 1997, as well as a program of state property privatisation. Sony VPCCA16FG/B battery Continued progress will depend on the ability of the government to strengthen its macroeconomic management, including increasing revenue collection, improving the investment climate, and making strides against corruption. However, unemployment, which currently stands at around 15%, still remains a major problem due to the influx of thousands of refugees from the Karabakh conflict. Sony VPCCA16FG/W battery Armenia ranked 78th on the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index, the lowest among the Transcaucasian republics.[75] In the 2007 Transparency InternationalCorruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Armenia ranked 99 of 179 countries.[76] In the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, Armenia ranked 28th, ahead of countries like Austria, France, Portugal and Italy. Sony VPCCA16FH/B battery Armenia has a population of 3,238,000 (2008 est.)[77] and is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet republics. There has been a problem ofpopulation decline due to elevated levels of emigration after the break-up of the USSR.[78] However, in the past years, the emigration levels have levelled and there is steady population growth. Sony VPCCA16FW/W battery Armenia has a relatively large diaspora (8 million by some estimates, greatly exceeding the 3 million population of Armenia itself), with communities existing across the globe. The largest Armenian communities outside of Armenia can be found in Russia, France, Iran, the United States, Georgia, Syria, Sony VPCCA17EC battery Lebanon, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Poland and Ukraine. 40,000 to 70,000 Armenians still live in Turkey (mostly in and around Istanbul).[80] Also, about 1,000 Armenians reside in the Armenian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, a remnant of a once-larger community.[81] Sony VPCCA17EC/W battery Italy is home to the San Lazzaro degli Armeni, an island located in the Venetian Lagoon, which is completely occupied by a monastery run by the Mechitarists, an Armenian Catholic congregation.[82] In addition, approximately 139,000 Armenians live in the de facto country of Nagorno-Karabakh where they form a majority. Sony VPCCA17FX/D battery Ethnic Armenians make up 97.9% of the population. Yazidis make up 1.3%, and Russians 0.5%. Other minorities includeAssyrians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Kurds, Georgians, and Belarusians. There are also smaller communities of Vlachs, Mordvins,Ossetians, Udis, and Tats. Minorities of Poles and Caucasus Germans also exist though they are heavily Russified.[84] Sony VPCCA17FX/G battery During the Soviet era, Azerbaijanis were historically the second largest population in the country (forming about 2.5% in 1989).[85] However, due to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, virtually all of them emigrated from Armenia to Azerbaijan. Conversely, Armenia received a large influx of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan, thus giving Armenia a more homogeneous character. Sony VPCCA18EC battery Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301.[90][91][92][93] The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity. The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the 1st century. According to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus' twelve apostles – Sony VPCCA18EC/D battery Thaddaeus and Bartholomew – who preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40–60. Because of these two founding apostles, the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church. Over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syriac churches.[94] Sony VPCCA190 battery Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion only with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy. Other religious denominations in Armenia are the Baptists[95][96][97][98] and Presbyterians.[99][100][101] Catholics also exist in Armenia, both Latin rite and Mekhitarist Catholics. The Mechitarists (also spelled "Mekhitarists"Armenian: Մխիթարեան), are a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church founded in 1712 by Mekhitar of Sebaste. Sony VPCCA1AFJ battery Sony VPCCA1AGJ battery They are best known for their series of scholarly publications of ancient Armenian versions of otherwise lost ancient Greek texts. The Armenian Catholic denomination is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon. The Yazidi Kurds, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. There are also non-Yazidi Kurds who practice Sunni Islam. Sony VPCCA1AHJ battery There is a Jewish community in Armenia diminished to 750 persons since independence with most emigrants leaving for Israel. There are currently two synagogues in Armenia – in the capital, Yerevan, and in the city of Sevan located near Lake Sevan. In its first years of independence, Armenia made uneven progress in establishing systems to meet its national requirements in social services.[102] Sony VPCCA1C5E battery Education, held in particular esteem in Armenian culture, changed fastest of the social services, while health and welfare services attempted to maintain the basic state-planned structure of the Soviet era.[102] A literacy rate of 100% was reported as early as 1960.[102] In the communist era, Armenian education followed the standard Soviet model of complete state control (from Moscow) Sony VPCCA1S1C/CN1 battery of curricula and teaching methods and close integration of education activities with other aspects of society, such as politics, culture, and the economy.[102] As in the Soviet period, primary and secondary education in Armenia is free, and completion of secondary school is compulsory.[102] In the 1988–89 school year, 301 students per 10,000 population were in specialized secondary or higher education, a figure slightly lower than the Soviet average. Sony VPCCA1S1E battery In 1989 some 58% of Armenians over age fifteen had completed their secondary education, and 14% had a higher education.[102] In the 1990–91 school year, the estimated 1,307 primary and secondary schools were attended by 608,800 students.[102] Another seventy specialized secondary institutions had 45,900 students, Sony VPCCA1S1E/B battery and 68,400 students were enrolled in a total of ten postsecondary institutions that included universities.[102] In addition, 35% of eligible children attended preschools.[102] In 1992 Armenia's largest institution of higher learning, Yerevan State University, had eighteen departments, including ones for social sciences, sciences, and law.[102Sony VPCCA1S1E/D battery ] Its faculty numbered about 1,300 teachers and its student population about 10,000 students.[102] The Yerevan Architecture and Civil Engineering Institute was founded in 1989.[102] In the early 1990s, Armenia made substantial changes to the centralized and regimented Soviet system.[102] Sony VPCCA1S1E/G battery Because at least 98% of students in higher education were Armenian, curricula began to emphasize Armenian history and culture.[102] Armenian became the dominant language of instruction, and many schools that had taught in Russian closed by the end of 1991.[102] Russian was still widely taught, however, as a second language.[102] Sony VPCCA1S1E/P battery On the basis of the expansion and development of Yerevan State University a number of higher educational independent Institutions were formed including Medical Institute separated in 1930 which was set up on the basis of medical faculty. In 1980 Yerevan State Medical University was awarded one of the main rewards of the former USSR –Sony VPCCA1S1E/W battery the Order of Labor red Banner for training qualified specialists in health care and valuable service in the development of Medical Science. In 1995 YSMI was renamed to YSMU and since 1989 it has been named after Mkhitar Heratsi, the famous medieval doctor. Mkhitar Heratsi was the founder of Armenian Medical school in Cilician Armenia. Sony VPCCA1S2C/CN1 battery The great doctor played the same role in Armenian Medical Science as Hippocrates in Western, Galen in Roman, Ibn Sīnā in Arabic medicine. Foreign students' department for Armenian diaspora established in 1957 later was enlarged and the enrollment of foreign students began. Sony VPCCA1S3C/CN1 battery Nowadays the YSMU is a Medical Institution corresponding to international requirements, trains medical staff for not only Armenia and neighbor countries, i.e. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, but also many other leading countries all over the world. A great number of foreign students from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the USA and Russian Federation study together with Armenian students. Sony VPCCA2AJ battery Nowadays the university is ranked among famous higher Medical Institutions and takes its honorable place in the World Directory of Medical Schools published by the WHO. Other schools in Armenia include the American University of Armenia and the QSI International School of Yerevan. Sony VPCCA2S0E battery The American University of Armenia has graduate programs in Business and Law, among others. The institution owes its existence to the combined efforts of the Government of Armenia, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the University of California. Sony VPCCA2S1E battery The extension programs and the library at AUA form a new focal point for English-language intellectual life in the city. Armenians have their own distinctive alphabet and language. The alphabet was invented in AD 405 by Mesrop Mashtots and consists of thirty-nine letters, three of which were added during the Cilician period. Sony VPCCA2SFX/R battery 96% of the people in the country speak Armenian, while 75.8% of the population additionally speaks Russian, although English is becoming increasingly popular. Armenian music is a mix of indigenous folk music, perhaps best-represented by Djivan Gasparyan's well-known duduk music, as well as light pop, and extensive Christian music. Sony VPCCA2Z0E battery Instruments like the duduk, the dhol, the zurna, and the kanun are commonly found in Armenian folk music. Artists such as Sayat Novaare famous due to their influence in the development of Armenian folk music. One of the oldest types of Armenian music is theArmenian chant which is the most common kind of religious music in Armenia. Sony VPCCA35FA/PI battery Many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet. Whilst under Soviet rule, Armenian classical music composer Aram Khatchaturian became internationally well known for his music, for various ballets and the Sabre Dance from his composition for the ballet Gayane. Sony VPCCA35FF/P battery The Armenian Genocide caused widespread emigration that led to the settlement of Armenians in various countries in the world. Armenians kept to their traditions and certain diasporans rose to fame with their music. In the post-Genocide Armenian community of the United States, Sony VPCCA35FG/PI battery the so-called "kef" style Armenian dance music, using Armenian and Middle Eastern folk instruments (often electrified/amplified) and some western instruments, was popular. This style preserved the folk songs and dances of Western Armenia, and many artists also played the contemporary popular songs of Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries from which the Armenians emigrated. Sony VPCCA35FH/D battery Richard Hagopian is perhaps the most famous artist of the traditional "kef" style and the Vosbikian Band was notable in the 1940s and 1950s for developing their own style of "kef music" heavily influenced by the popular American Big Band Jazz of the time. Later, stemming from the Middle Eastern Armenian diaspora and influenced by Continental European (especially French) pop music, Sony VPCCA35FN/R battery the Armenian pop music genre grew to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with artists such as Adiss Harmandian and Harout Pamboukjianperforming to the Armenian diaspora and Armenia; also with artists such as Sirusho, performing pop music combined with Armenian folk music in today's entertainment industry. Sony VPCCA35FW/B battery Other Armenian diasporans that rose to fame in classical or international music circles are world renown French-Armenian singer and composer Charles Aznavour, pianist Sahan Arzruni, prominent opera sopranos such asHasmik Papian and more recently Isabel Bayrakdarian and Anna Kasyan. Sony VPCCA35FW/W battery Certain Armenians settled to sing non-Armenian tunes such as the heavy metal band System of a Down (which nonetheless often incorporates traditional Armenian instrumentals and styling into their songs) or pop star Cher. In the Armenian diaspora,Armenian revolutionary songs are popular with the youth. Sony VPCCA36EC battery These songs encourage Armenian patriotism and are generally about Armenian history and national heroes. Yerevan Vernissage (arts and crafts market), close to Republic Square, bustles with hundreds of vendors selling a variety of crafts on weekends and Wednesdays (though the selection is much reduced mid-week). Sony VPCCA36EC/W battery The market offers woodcarving, antiques, fine lace, and the hand-knotted wool carpets and kilims that are a Caucasus specialty. Obsidian, which is found locally, is crafted into assortment of jewellery and ornamental objects. Armenian gold smithery enjoys a long tradition, populating one corner of the market with a selection of gold items. Sony VPCCA36FA/B battery Soviet relics and souvenirs of recent Russian manufacture – nesting dolls, watches, enamel boxes and so on – are also available at the Vernisage.Across from the Opera House, a popular art market fills another city park on the weekends. Armenia’s long history as a crossroads of the ancient world has resulted in a landscape with innumerable fascinating archaeological sites to explore. Sony VPCCA36FG/B battery Medieval, Iron Age,Bronze Age and even Stone Age sites are all within a few hours drive from the city. All but the most spectacular remain virtually undiscovered, allowing visitors to view churches and fortresses in their original settings. The National Art Gallery in Yerevan has more than 16,000 works that date back to the Middle Ages, which indicate Armenia's rich tales and stories of the times. Sony VPCCA36FH/W battery It houses paintings by many European masters as well. The Modern Art Museum, the Children’s Picture Gallery, and the Martiros Saryan Museum are only a few of the other noteworthy collections of fine art on display in Yerevan. Moreover, many private galleries are in operation, with many more opening every year, featuring rotating exhibitions and sales. Sony VPCCA36FW/B battery A wide array of sports are played in Armenia, the most popular among them being wrestling, weightlifting, judo, association football, chess, and boxing. Armenia's mountainous terrain provides great opportunities for the practice of sports like skiing and climbing. Being a landlocked country, water sports can only be practiced on lakes, notably Lake Sevan. Sony VPCCA36FW/W battery 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). It also hosts the Pan-Armenian Games. Sony VPCCA37EC battery Prior to 1992, Armenians would participate in the Olympics representing the USSR. As part of the Soviet Union, Armenia was very successful, winning plenty of medals and helping the USSR win the medal standings at the Olympics on numerous occasions. The first medal won by an Armenian in modern Olympic history was by Hrant Shahinyan (sometimes spelled as Grant Shaginyan) Sony VPCCA37EC/B battery , who won two golds and two silvers in gymnastics at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. To highlight the level of success of Armenians in the Olympics, Shahinyan was quoted as saying: "Armenian sportsmen had to outdo their opponents by several notches for the shot at being accepted into any Soviet team. Sony VPCCA38EC battery But those difficulties notwithstanding, 90 percent of Armenians athletes on Soviet Olympic teams came back with medals."Armenia first participated at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona under a unified CIS team, where it was very successful, winning three golds and one silver in weightlifting, wrestling and sharp shooting, despite only having 5 athletes. Sony VPCCA38EC/R battery Since the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Armenia has participated as an independent nation. Armenia participates in the Summer Olympic Games in boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, judo, gymnastics, track and field, diving, swimming and sharp shooting. Sony VPCCA3E1E battery It also participates in the Winter Olympic Games in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and figure skating. Football is also popular in Armenia. The most successful team was the FC Ararat Yerevan team of the 1970s who won the Soviet Cup in 1973 and 1975 and the Soviet Top League in 1973. Sony VPCCA3S1E battery The latter achievement saw FC Ararat gain entry to the European Cupwhere – despite a home victory in the second leg – they lost on aggregate at the quarter final stage to eventual winner FC Bayern Munich. Armenia competed internationally as part of the USSR national football team until the Armenian national football team was formed in 1992 after the split of the Soviet Union. Sony VPCCA3SFX/R battery Armenia have never qualified for a major tournament although recent improvements saw the team to achieve 44th position in the FIFA World Rankings in September 2011. The national team is controlled by the Football Federation of Armenia. The Armenian Premier League is the highest level football competition in Armenia, and has been dominated by FC Pyunik in recent seasons. Sony VPCEH13FX/B battery The league currently consists of eight teams and relegates to the Armenian First League. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora have produced many successful footballers, including Youri Djorkaeff, Alain Boghossian,Andranik Eskandarian, Andranik Teymourian, Edgar Manucharyan and Nikita Simonyan. Sony VPCEH13FX/L battery Djokaeff and Boghossian won the 1998 FIFA World Cup with France, Andranik Teymourian competed in the 2006 World Cup for Iran and Edgar Manucharyan played in the DutchEredivisie for Ajax. Wrestling has been a successful sport in the Olympics for Armenia. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Sony VPCEH13FX/P battery Armen Nazaryan won the gold in the Men's Greco-Roman Flyweight (52 kg) category and Armen Mkrtchyan won the silver in Men's FreestylePaperweight (48 kg) category, securing Armenia's first two medals in its Olympic history. Traditional Armenian wrestling is called Kokh and practiced in traditional garb; Sony VPCEH13FX/W battery it was one of the influences included in the Soviet combat sport of Sambo, which is also very popular. The government of Armenia budgets about $2.8 million annually for sports and gives it to the National Committee of Physical Education and Sports, the body that determines which programs should benefit from the funds. Sony VPCEH15EG/B battery Due to the lack of success lately on the international level, in recent years, Armenia has rebuilt 16 Soviet-era sports schools and furnished them with new equipment for a total cost of $1.9 million. The rebuilding of the regional schools was financed by the Armenian government. Sony VPCEH15EN/W battery $9.3 million has been invested in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor to improve the winter sports infrastructure because of dismal performances at recent winter sports events. In 2005, a cycling center was opened in Yerevan with the aim of helping produce world class Armenian cyclists. Sony VPCEH16EA/P battery The government has also promised a cash reward of $700,000 to Armenians who win a gold medal at the Olympics.[104]Armenia is very successful in chess, and their men's team is the current World Champion, Armenia had also won the World Chess Olympiad twice in a row.Armenia is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet republics because of its small size. Sony VPCEH16EF/B battery It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey. Until independence, Armenia's economy was based largely on industry—chemicals, electronic products, machinery,processed food, synthetic rubber and textiles; it was highly dependent on outside resources. Agriculture accounted for only 20% of net material product and 10% of employment before the breakuSony VPCEH16EG/W battery p of the Soviet Union in 1991. Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold and lead. The vast majority of energy is produced with imported fuel, including gas and nuclear fuel (for its one nuclear power plant) from Russia; the main domestic energy source is hydroelectric. Small amounts of coal, gas and petroleum have not yet been developed. Sony VPCEH16EH/W battery Like other former States, Armenia's economy suffers from the legacy of a centrally planned economy and the breakdown of former Soviet trading patterns. Soviet investment in and support of Armenian industry has virtually disappeared, so that few major enterprises are still able to function. In addition, the effects of the 1988 earthquake, Sony VPCEH16EN/B battery which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt. Although a cease-fire has held since 1994, the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved. The consequent blockade along both the Azerbaijani and Turkish borders has devastated the economy, because of Armenia's dependence on outside supplies of energy and most raw materials. Sony VPCEH17FG/B battery Land routes through Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed; routes through Georgia and Iran are adequate and reliable. In 1992-93, GDP fell nearly 60% from its 1989 level. The national currency, the dram, suffered hyperinflation for the first few years after its introduction in 1993. Sony VPCEH17FG/L battery Armenia has registered strong economic growth since 1995 and inflation has been negligible for the past several years. New sectors, such as precious stone processing and jewelry making and communication technology[primarily Armentel (left from the USSR era), which is not even owned by the government or Armenian investors]. Sony VPCEH17FG/P battery This steady economic progress has earned Armenia increasing support from international institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, EBRD, as well as other international financial institutions (IFIs) and foreign countries are extending considerable grants and loans. Total loans extended to Armenia since 1993 exceed $800 million. Sony VPCEH17FG/W battery These loans are targeted at reducing the budget deficit, stabilizing the local currency; developing private businesses; energy; the agriculture, food processing, transportation, and health and education sectors; and ongoing rehabilitation work in the earthquake zone. Continued progress will depend on the ability of the government to strengthen its macroeconomic management, Sony VPCEH17FJ/W battery including increasing revenue collection, improve the investment climate, and accelerate the privatization process. A liberal foreign investment law was approved in June 1994, and a Law on Privatization was adopted in 1997, as well as a program on state property privatization. The government has made major strides toward joining the World Trade Organization. Sony VPCEH18FA/B battery By 1994, however, the Armenian Government had launched an ambitious IMF-sponsored economic liberalization program that resulted in positive growth rates in 1995-2005. Armenia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January 2003. Armenia also has managed to slash inflation, stabilize its currency, and privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. Sony VPCEH18FF/B battery Armenia's unemployment rate, however, remains high, despite strong economic growth. The chronic energy shortages Armenia suffered in the early and mid-1990s have been offset by the energy supplied by one of its nuclear power plants at Metsamor. Armenia is now a net energy exporter, although it does not have sufficient generating capacity to replace Metsamor, Sony VPCEH18FG/L battery which is under international pressure to close. The electricity distribution system was privatized in 2002. Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by international aid, remittances from Armenians working abroad, and foreign direct investment. Economic ties with Russia remain close, especially in the energy sector. Sony VPCEH18FH/P battery The government made some improvements in tax and customs administration in 2005, but anti-corruption measures have been more difficult to implement. Investment in the construction and industrial sectors is expected to continue in 2006 and will help to ensure annual average real GDP growth of about 13.9%.Sony VPCEH18FJ/B battery Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. Since the implosion of the USSR in December 1991, Armenia has switched to small-scale agriculture away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. Sony VPCEH18FJ/P battery The agricultural sector has long-term needs for more investment and updated technology. The privatization of industry has been at a slower pace, but has been given renewed emphasis by the current administration. Armenia is a food importer, and itsmineral deposits (gold, bauxite) are small. Sony VPCEH18FJ/W battery The ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh (which was part of Soviet Azerbaijan) and the breakup of the centrally directed economic system of the former Soviet Union contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s. Sony VPCEH19FJ/B battery By 1994, however, the Armenian Government had launched an ambitious IMF-sponsored economic program that has resulted in positive growth rates in 1995-99. Armenia also managed to slash inflation and to privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. Sony VPCEH19FJ/P battery The chronic energy shortages Armenia suffered in recent years have been largely offset by the energy supplied by one of its nuclear power plants at Metsamor. Continued Russian financial difficulties have hurt the trade sector especially, but have been offset by international aid, domestic restructuring and foreign direct investment. Sony VPCEH19FJ/W battery Armenia emerged from the umbra of the former Soviet Union in 1991 and migrated from a centrally planned economy (Communist system) to a market economy(capitalist system). Both the nation and the economy are nascent. Regional conflict retards economic growth. In addition, the border with Turkey is closed, Sony VPCEH1AJ battery making access to sea ports difficult and transportation logistics challenging to a country largely dependent upon imports. In 2003, Armenia became a member of the WTO. The nation is making substantial progress in privatizing ownership of what used to be state-owned industries under the former Soviet system. Sony VPCEH1E1E battery Despite marked progress, Armenia still suffers from a large trade imballance and is still largely dependent upon foreign aid and remittances from Armenian nationals working abroad, and members of the diaspora donating aid through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as churchES. There are some foreign capital inflows, but no robust foreign investment. Sony VPCEH1J1E battery Despite progress since the Soviet era, the unemployment rate still hovers near 30% and there remains a huge gulf between actual and potential Gross Domestic Product. The Armenian economy's competitiveness is low and stagnating according to the Global Competitiveness Index, Sony VPCEH1J8E battery in which Armenia's ranking slipped from 80th out of 132 countries in 2006-2007 index to 93rd out of 131 countries in the 2007-2008 index (just below Libya, Namibia, Georgia, Serbia and Pakistan).[10] Armenia ranks 82nd out of 144 economies according to the 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Index. Sony VPCEH1L0E battery Armenia ranks 32nd out of 185 economies according to the 2013 ease of doing business index .[13] Armenia's economy is competitive to a few extent with government-connected individuals enjoying de facto monopolies over the import and distribution of basic commodities and foodstuffs, and under-reporting revenue to avoid paying taxes. Sony VPCEH1L8E battery Despite pronouncements at the highest levels of government on the importance of free competition, Armenia is next to last in the effectiveness of its anti-monopoly policy according to the 2010 results of the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report.[14] According to Vahram Nercissiantz, President Serzh Sargsyan's chief economic adviser, Sony VPCEH1L9E battery "Businessmen holding state positions have turned into oligarchs who have avoided paying sufficient taxes by abusing their state positions, distorted markets with unequal conditions, breached the rules of competition, impeded or prevented small and medium-sized business’ entry into manufacturing and thereby sharply deepened social polarization in the republic.[15] Sony VPCEH1M1E battery Following the advice of economic advisors who cautioned Armenia's leadership against the consolidation of economic power in the hands of a few, in January 2001, the Government of Armenia established the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition. Its members cannot be dismissed by the government. According to one analyst, Armenia's economic system is anticompetitive due to the structure of the economy being a type of "monopoly or oligopoly". Sony VPCEH1M9E battery "The result is the prices with us do not drop even if they do on international market, or they do quite belated and not to the size of the international market."[17] According to the estimate of a former prime minister, Hrant Bagratian, 55 percent of Armenia's GDP is controlled by 44 families.[16] Sony VPCEH1S0E battery In early 2008, the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition named 60 companies having "dominant positions" in Armenia.[16] In October 2009, when visiting Yerevan, the World Bank’s managing director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, warned that Armenia will not reach a higher level of development unless its leadership changes the "oligopolistic" structure of the national economy, Sony VPCEH1S1E battery bolsters the rule of law and shows "zero tolerance" towards corruption.[18] "I think you can only go so far with this economic model," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a news conference in Yerevan. "Armenia is a lower middle-income country. If it wants to become a high-income or upper middle-income country, it can not do so with this kind of economic structure. Sony VPCEH1S8E battery That is clear." She also called for a sweeping reform of tax and customs administration, the creation of a "strong and independent judicial system" as well as a tough fight against government corruption.[18] The warning was echoed by the International Monetary Fund. Sony VPCEH1S9E battery The Gross Domestic Product of Armenia stood at 8.8 billion US dollars in 2010; with a population of 3.2 million, this amounts to a GDP per capita of $2,676 (purchasing power parity $5,178).[14] GDP growth for 2010 was at 2.9 percent, and inflation was at 8 percent.[14] GDP growth is expected to be around 3 percent in 2011, with inflation returning to 4-5 percent.[14] Sony VPCEH1Z1E battery In comparison, in 2006, the GDP was estimated to be 6.6 billion USD per calendar year and the GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) was estimated at $5,400 US. The growth rate was high at 13.4%, but the relatively low base must be considered. Low inflation was maintained around 2.6% annually. Sony VPCEH24FX/B battery After a decade of double-digit growth, Armenia's economy declined by 14.4 percent in 2009.[14] The year-to-date growth as of October 2010 was 2.8 percent.[14] In 2010, the main macro deficiencies of the Armenian economy — namely, unsustainable growth drivers, a narrow and resource-dominated export base, and overdependence on private transfers — were still prevalent.[14] Sony VPCEH24FX/L battery According to official figures, Armenia’s economy grew by 13.8 percent in 2007.[36] According to research funded by the USAID CAPS project, Armenia's exceptionally high rate of economic growth during the last decade has been largely dependent on external factors (e.g., remittances, assistance from international financial and donor organization). Sony VPCEH24FX/P battery Furthermore, the study concluded that despite its record growth on most macro-economic metrics, Armenia is "low and lagging" in competitiveness.[37] According to the National Statistical Service, the booming construction and service sectors remain the driving forces of the high growth rate of GDP. Sony VPCEH24FX/W battery Cash remittances sent back home from Armenians working abroad—mostly in Russia and the United States—are growing and contribute significantly to Armenia's Gross Domestic Product (between 15 to 30 percent). They help Armenia sustain double-digit economic growth and finance its massive trade deficit. Sony VPCEH25EG/B battery According to the Central Bank of Armenia, during the first half of 2008, cash remittances sent back to Armenia by Armenians working abroad rose by 57.5 percent and totaled $668.6 million USD, equivalent to 15 percent of the country's first-half Gross Domestic Product.[39] However, the latter figures only represent cash remittances processed through Armenian commercial banks. Sony VPCEH25EN/W battery According to RFE/RL, comparable sums are believed to be transferred through non-bank systems, implying that cash remittances make up approximately 30 percent of Armenia's GDP in the first half of 2008.[39] Sony VPCEH26EA/W battery In 2007, cash remittances through bank transfers rose by 37 percent to a record-high level of $1.32 billion USD.[39] According to the Central Bank of Armenia, in 2005, cash remittances from Armenians working abroad reached a record-high level of $1 billion, which is worth more than one fifth of the country’s 2005 Gross Domestic Product.[40] Sony VPCEH26EF/B battery Net private transfers decreased in 2009, but saw a continuous increase during the first six months of 2010. Since private transfers from the Diaspora tend to be mostly injected into consumption of imports and not in high value-added sectors, the transfers have not resulted in sizeable increases in productivity. Sony VPCEH26EG/P battery Armenia experienced a construction boom during the latter part of the 2000s. According to the National Statistical Service, Armenia's booming construction sector generated about 20 percent of Armenia's GDP during the first eight months of 2007.[38] According to a World Bank official, 30 percent of Armenia's economy in 2009 came from the construction sector.[19] Sony VPCEH26EH/P battery However, during the January to September 2010 period, the sector experienced a 5.2 percent year-on-year decrease, which according to the Civilitas Foundation is an indication of the unsustainability of a sector based on an elite market, with few products for the median or low budgets.[14] Sony VPCEH26EN/B battery This decrease comes despite the fact that an important component of the government stimulus package was to support the completion of ongoing construction projects. Sony VPCEH26FJ/W battery,Sony VPCEH27FG/W battery,Sony VPCEH28FA/B battery

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