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These empires often fought their wars on Armenian territory, using Armenian soldiers.Despite rarely being politically independent, Armenians have consistently kept their language and their church.They were unified once, just before the time of Christ, in the empire of Tigran the Great, which stretched from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea.Much of the region's history has since been spent under the dominion of whichever great power was à la mode at the time: Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Persians, Russians and Soviets have all come and gone.Armenia became the world's first Christian country in 301 AD.Various vassal states, principalities, kingdoms and empires rose and fell in different parts of this highland during history.Islamic Ottoman rule was, for much of the time, largely benign.

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As the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 1990s, the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, a culturally Armenian region in Azerbaijan, fought for independence from Azerbaijan with support from Armenia, and the Armenian Diaspora.

The Debed River Canyon contains many of these, and the remote Shamshadin region is a glimpse of a virtually unvisited and beautiful Armenia.

Southern Armenia A particularly beautiful section of Armenia stretching south to the Iranian border with interesting caves and more remote, beautiful Christian monuments.

The war was won militarily, but no diplomatic solution was reached.

The ceasefire line of 1994 now represents a de facto national boundary and Nagorno-Karabakh is in an odd state of unrecognized statehood.