Home to over a million people, making it the largest single community of Armenian people in the world, Yerevan is the capital of the Republic of Armenia and one of the three primary hubs of the South Caucasus region. Its most striking symbol is the snow-capped Mount Ararat, which, even though it is located over the border in Turkey, dominates the skyline from all parts of the city when the weather is clear.

CIBJO Congress 2016 (Yerevan - Republic Square 1)

Republic Square in the centre of Yerevan. On the left is the Armenia Marriot Hotel Yerevan, the hotel of the 2016 CIBJO Congress.

Yerevan’s most prestigious shopping area, Northern Avenue, which is lined with designer stores.

It is an ancient place, with a history dating back about 2,800 years, to the founding of the fortress of Erebuni, in 782 BC by king Argishti I.

In 301 AD, Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion, and to this day the majority of the Armenians living in the country belong to the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox church. The head of the church is the Catholicos of All Armenians, who resides in Holy Echmiadzin, located about 18 kilometres south of the city.

While there are about 8 million Armenians in the world world today, only about 3 million live within the borders of modern Armenia. There is a spread-out diaspora of around 5 million people, with the largest Armenian populations today in Russia, the United States, France, Georgia, Iran, Ukraine, Lebanon and Syria.

Modern Yerevan is considered to be a jewel of early Soviet architecture. The country was part of the Soviet Union from 1920 through 1991, when the modern Republic of Armenia was declared. During the Soviet period it became known as the s the Pink City, because of the the colour of the stone used in many of its buildings.

The centre of Yerevan is known as Kentron. It has two two hubs, the grand Republic Square, and the more elegant Opera district, which includes the Opera House, Freedom Square and the Swan Lake Park. The two are linked by the newly-constructed pedestrian-only Northern Avenue. Virtually all of the museums, hotels and popular places to eat and drink are in Kentron.

Although tiny Yezidi and Molokan (Russian) minorities live within its confines, Yerevan is a very homogeneous city, with its population overwhelmingly Armenian. But because the population was only 20,000 a century ago, the vast majority of the Armenians are immigrants themselves, from all over the world. They came from the villages and towns of Armenia, from Tbilisi which was the centre of Eastern Armenian culture before 1918, and from Western Armenia as survivors of the 1915 to 1917 genocide.

Since independence 25 years ago, Yerevan has become the heart of the entire Armenian world, and that has allowed has allowed the Diaspora  to embrace the city as its own.