The Armenian people are an ethnos, which belongs to the large Caucasian racial group of peoples, that have inhabited the Armenian Highlands since the Stone Age. The earliest possible record identified with Armenians, is from Sumerian records from around 2,700 BC, in which the Armenians are referred to as the sons of Haya, after the regional god of the Armenian Highlands.

Oral history explains the origin of the Armenian people as being the direct descendants of Noah’s son Japheth. Armenians call themselves Hay and identify their homeland not by the term “Armenia” but as Hayastan.

In the Bible, the area designated as Armenia is referred to as Ararat, which the Assyrians referred to as Urartu. The indigenous people of the land of Ararat, Armenians shaped their national identity with the rise of powerful Armenian kingdoms, being the first nation to have adopted Christianity as a state religion, and the creation of the Armenian alphabet, which spurred the development of literature, philosophy and science.

Armenians are born survivors. Since the start of their history over 3,000 years ago Armenians have been the subject of all kinds of atrocities, foreign domination, natural disasters, hardships and genocide. Particular historical fate of the Armenian people formed such features of national character as expressive national pride and merit, love for their land, hospitality, surprising diligence, energy and perseverance.

The number of Armenians in the world counts approximately 10 million people, of whom around 3 million people live in the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Another 3 million Armenians live in various countries of the ex-Soviet Union, mainly in Russia. About 2 million Armenians are dispersed in the Americas. About 1.5 million Armenians live in various European countries, and 500,000 Armenians live in the Middle East and Africa. There are 50, 000 Armenians in Turkey, 4,000 in Cyprus and 20, 000 in Australia.

The most common ending for the Armenian last name is ian, or yan (Kim Kardashian, William Saroyan). When Armenians moved from Armenia or from the Middle East, some changed their last names to adapt better to their new societies. Sometimes the ian or yan ending was dropped and the root kept, such as Charles Aznavour (was Aznavourian), or Andy Serkis (originally Sarkissian).

Thought you knew nothing about Armenians? Think again – here are some of their most famous people.