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Located on the Ararat plain and in the shadows of the holy Mount Ararat, the Armenian capital’s location reflects its difficult history. Armenia is a landlocked, semi-arid mountainous country without navigable rivers or easy access to the sea. A former Soviet republic, Armenia and its capital have struggled since the collapse of the USSR.

Among the countries of the Caucasus, Armenia maintains the closest relations with Moscow. The reasons are twofold: the Armenian economy is critically dependent on remittances, the vast majority of which come from Russia. Second, Armenia is involved in an extended conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia hosts a Russian military base in Gyumri, much to the consternation of neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan.