1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Erivan (government)

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ERIVAN, a government of Russia, Transcaucasia, having the province of Kars on the W., the government of Tiflis on the N., that of Elisavetpol on the N. and E., and Persia and Turkish Armenia on the S. It occupies the top of an immense plateau (6000–8000 ft.). Continuous chains of mountains are met with only on its borders, and in the E., but the whole surface is thickly set with short ridges and isolated mountains of volcanic origin, of which Alagöz (14,440 ft.) and Ararat (16,925 ft.) are the most conspicuous and the most important. Both must have been active in Tertiary times. Lake Gok-cha (540 sq. m.) is encircled by such volcanoes, and the neighbourhood of Alexandropol is a “volcanic amphitheatre,” being entirely buried under volcanic deposits. The same is true of the slopes leading down to the river Aras; and the valley of the upper Aras is a stony desert, watered only by irrigation, which is carried on with great difficulty owing to the character of the soil. The government is drained by the Aras, which forms the boundary with Persia and flows with great velocity down its stony bed, the fall being 17-22 ft. per mile in its upper course, and 9 ft. at Ordubad, where it quits the government, while lower down it again increases to 23 ft. Many of the small lakes, filling volcanic craters, are of great depth. Timber is very scarce. A variety of useful minerals exists, but only rock-salt is obtained, at Nakhichevan and Kulp. The climate is extremely varied, the following being the average temperatures and mean annual rainfall at Alexandropol (alt. 5078 ft.) and Aralykh (2755 ft.) respectively: year 42°, January 12°, July 65°, mean rainfall 16.2 in.; and year 53°, January 20.5°, July 79°, rainfall 6.3 in. The population numbered 829,578 in 1897 (only 375,086 women), of whom 82,278 lived in the towns. An estimate in 1906 gave a total of 909,100. They consist chiefly of Armenians (441,000), Tatars (40%), Kurds (49,389), with Russians, Greeks and Tates. Most of the Armenians belong to the Gregorian (Christian) Church, and only 4020 to the Armenian Catholic Church. The Tatars are mostly Shiite Mussulmans, only 27,596 being Sunnites; 7772 belong to the peculiar faith of the Yezids. While barley only can be grown on the high parts of the plateau, cotton, mulberry, vines and all sorts of fruit are cultivated in the valley of the Aras. Cattle-breeding is extensively carried on; camels also are bred, and leeches are collected out of the swamps and exported to Persia. Industry is in its infancy, but cottons, carpets, and felt goods are made in the villages. A considerable trade is carried on with Persia, but trade with Asia Minor is declining. The government is divided into seven districts—Erivan, Alexandropol, Echmiadzin (chief town, Vagarshapat), Nakhichevan, Novobayazet, Surmali (chief town, Igdyr), and Sharur-daralagöz (chief town, Norashen). The principal towns are Erivan (see below), Alexandropol (32,018 inhabitants in 1897), Novobayazet (8507), Nakhichevan (8845), and Vagarshapat (3400).