Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. There is a wide-ranging diaspora of around 5 million people of full or partial Armenian ancestry living outside of modern Armenia. The largest Armenian populations today exist in Russia, the United States, France, Georgia, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria. With the exceptions of Iran and the former Soviet states, the present-day Armenian diaspora was formed mainly as a result of the Armenian Genocide.
Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a non-Chalcedonian church, which is also the world's oldest national church. Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after Jesus' death, due to the efforts of two of his apostles, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew. In the early 4th century, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as a state religion.
Armenian is an Indo-European language. It has two mutually intelligible and written forms: Eastern Armenian, today spoken mainly in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran and the former Soviet republics, and Western Armenian, used in the historical Western Armenia and, after the Armenian Genocide, primarily in the Armenian diasporan communities. The unique Armenian alphabet was invented in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.
The Armenian Highland lies in the highlands surrounding Mount Ararat, the highest peak of the region. In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1600–1200 BC). Soon after Hayasa-Azzi were the Nairi (1400–1000 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (1000–600 BC), who successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland. Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, was founded in 782 BC by king Argishti I. A minority view also suggests that the Indo-European homeland may have been located in the Armenian Highland.
Eric P. Hamp in his 2012 Indo-European family tree, groups the Armenian language along with Greek and Ancient Macedonian ("Helleno-Macedonian") in the Pontic Indo-European (also called Helleno-Armenian) subgroup.