The Armenians, an ancient people living on an ancient land, call Armenia "Hayastan," and themselves "Hai." Oral history explains the lineage of the Armenian people as being the direct descendants of Noah's son Japheth. The indigenous people of the land of Ararat, Armenians forged their national identity with the rise of powerful Armenian kingdoms, the adoption of Christianity as Armenia's state religion, and the creation of the Armenian alphabet, which spurred the development of literature, philosophy, and science.
While the Armenian state withstood foreign invasions and domination over the centuries, the population continued to inhabit the highlands in Asia Minor, centered around Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia and resting place of Noah's Ark. This continual presence came to an abrupt halt when the Young Turk regime of the Ottoman Empire implemented the first genocide of the twentieth century against its Armenian citizenry beginning in 1915. As a result, the majority of the Armenian people were either killed outright or ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homeland, taking refuge in neighboring countries or finding sanctuary in what remained of Armenia, the soon-to-be Soviet Republic of Armenia.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the rebirth of the independent Armenian state, the Republic of Armenia reemerged as the latest embodiment of Armenia's perseverance as a nation. Overall, the population of Armenians world-wide is estimated to be 10 million, many comprising Diaspora communities in Russia, the US, Europe and the Middle East. Despite dispersion and effects of globalization which have drawn Armenians to the four corners of the world, Armenians continue to uphold strong cultural, religious, and historical customs and traditions, and have a rekindled spirit regarding their homeland, Armenia.