World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Syunik Province

Article Id: WHEBN0000470515
Reproduction Date:

Title: Syunik Province  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Armenia, Mountains of Armenia, List of cities and towns in Armenia, Dastakert, Goris
Collection: Historical Regions of Great Armenia, History of Armenia, Regions of Armenia, Syunik Province
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Syunik Province

Location of Syunik within Armenia
Location of Syunik within Armenia
Country  Armenia
and largest city
 • Governor Surik Khachatryan
 • Total 4,506 km2 (1,740 sq mi)
Area rank 2nd
Highest elevation 3,904 m (12,808 ft)
Lowest elevation 380 m (1,250 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 141,771[1]
 • Rank 8th
Time zone UTC+04
Postal code 3201–3519
ISO 3166 code AM-SU
FIPS 10-4 AM08
Website official website

Syunik (Armenian: Սյունիք, Armenian pronunciation: ), is the southernmost province (marz) of Armenia. It borders the Vayots Dzor marz to the north, Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic exclave to the west, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the east, and Iran to the south. Its capital and largest city is the town of Kapan. The National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia (ARMSTAT) reported its population was 141,771 in the 2011 census, down from 152,684 at the 2001 census.[2]


  • Etymology 1
  • Geography 2
  • History 3
    • Early rulers 3.1
    • Late first millennium 3.2
    • Imperial Russian rule 3.3
    • Soviet Syunik 3.4
    • Recent years 3.5
  • Economy 4
  • Education 5
  • Demographics 6
  • Sport 7
  • Attractions 8
    • Fortresses and archaeological sites 8.1
    • Churches and monasteries 8.2
    • Other 8.3
  • Communities 9
    • Towns or urban communities 9.1
    • Villages or urban communities 9.2
      • Non-communitiy villages 9.2.1
      • Former villages 9.2.2
  • Gallery 10
  • Notable people 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Historically, Syunik was one of the 15 provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia. At various times, the region of present-day Syunik was also known by other names such as Syunia, Sisakan and Zangezur. However, the present-name of the province is derived from the ancient Armenian Siunia dynasty, who were the Naχaarars (governors) of the historic proivnce of Syunik since the 1st century.


Syunik is located between the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan from the west, and the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from the east. The Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia forms its northern borders, while Aras River at the south separates Syunik from Iran.

Historically, the current territory of the province occupies most of the historic Syunik province of Ancient Armenia.

The province is mainly green and mountainous area. Major water basins include the rivers of Vorotan, Voghji, Sisian, Meghri and Vachagan. Summer temperature can reach up to 40 °C, although the average temperature is around 22 °C, while in winter it may reach down to -12.5 °C. Its border with Nakhchivan to the west is defined by the Zangezur Mountains.

Mount Kaputjugh with a height of 3905 meters and Mount Gazanasar with a height of 3829 meters are the highest peaks of the province.


Inscriptions found in the region around Lake Sevan attributed to King Artaxias I confirm that in the 2nd century BC the District of Syunik constituted part of the Ancient Armenia.[3][4][5]

Early rulers

The first dynasty to rule Syunik was the Siunia Dynasty, beginning in the 1st century. The first known Naxarar ruler was Valinak Siak (c. 330) and his successor was his brother Andok or Andovk (Antiochus, c. 340). In 379 Babik (Bagben) the son of Andok, was re-established as a Naxarar by the Mamikonian family. Babik had a sister called Pharantzem who had married the Arsacid Prince Gnel, nephew of the Armenian King Arsaces II (Arshak II) and later married Arsaces II as her second husband. Babik’s rule lasted for less than ten years and by about 386 or 387, Dara was deposed by the Sassanid Empire.

Valinak (c. 400–409) was followed by Vasak (409–452). Vasak had two sons: Babik (Bagben), Bakur and a daughter who married Vasak’s successor, Varazvahan (452–472). Varazvahan’s son Gelehon ruled from 470–477, who died in 483. Babik (Bagben) the brother of Varazvahan became the new Naxarar in 477. Hadz the brother of Gelehon died on September 25 482. The Syunik Province was later governed by Vahan (c. 570), Philip (Philipo, c. 580), Stephen (Stephanos, c. 590–597), Sahak (Isaac, c. 597) and Grigor (Gregory, until 640).

Late first millennium

Zangezur mountains

A dynasty was formed, governed by a branch of the Bagratuni, with minor vassal princes from one or more previous dynasties, perhaps of Persian origin. Vasak III (c. 800) suffered an assault from the emir of Manazkert, Sevada. He established a garrison in Chalat, in the district of Dzoluk. He then called for help from the Persian revolutionary chief Babak Khorramdin, who married a daughter of the king.

After Vasak III (821) died, Babak inherited the country, which revolted against him. Babak suppressed the revolt, but was harassed by both Muslims and Armenians. Finally, he abdicated and the children of Vasak, Philipo, and Sahak regained power. Philipo governed Eastern Syunik, with the districts of Vayots Dzor and Balq (Goucha). Sahak governed in Western Syunik, also known as Gelarquniq, with capital in Khoth. These local dynasties disappeared during the ephemeral domination from Babak.

In 826, Sahak allied with his ancient enemy – Sevada, the Qaisite emir of Manazkert – against the governor of Caliph, Bugha al-Kabir, destroyed Armenia and Aghuania in these years, and sent a detachment to Eastern Syunik where was governing Vasak IV with his brother Achot. The people of Syunik were sheltered in the fortress of Balq, but Vasak fled to Kotaiq, and was pursued to the region of Gardman on the eastern border of Lake Sevan. Gardman's prince (ichkhan) Ketridj or Ketritchn betrayed him and delivered him to Bogha (859). Achot was also seized (859). But Bogha invaded Gardman and imprisoned Kertridj. He then went to Outi where he captured the prince of Sevordiq, Stephannos Kun.

Syunik and Artsakh until the 9th century.

The Caliphate tried to control all these regions, and for this reason Bogha decided to repopulate the city of Chamkor in the Kura River with Muslims. Chamkor, being near Barda and Ganja, was intended to act as a regional monitoring post. By order of the new Caliph in 862, the imprisoned princes were to be released and allowed to return to their former domains on the condition of becoming Muslim. (However, they all abandoned Islam after their return.)

The prince of Western Syunik, Vasak-Gabor, was married to a daughter of the Bagratid prince Ashot the Great named Miriam, and received the title of Ichkhan from the Syunik people – delivered to him by Ashot in name of the Caliph. His successor was his son, Grigor-Sufan II (887–909). The prince of Eastern Syunik, Vasak IV, died around 887, and was followed by his brother Achot who died c. 906.

The son of Vasak IV, Sembat, that received the Nakhchivan, which in 902 was upset with the Kaysites or Qaisids.

A few years later, the prince allied with the emir of Sadjid, Yusuf, against Eastern Syunik, which they invaded together. Sembat was sheltered in the fortress of Erendchak (today Alindja, northeast of Nakhchivan) and Yusuf remained owner of Eastern Syunik. Sembat requested refuge from his brother-in-law Khatchik-Gagik, which was granted. In the same year (909), the prince of Western Syunik, Grigor Sufan II, submitted to the emir Yusuf in Dwin. Only Byzantine movements and the withdrawal of the Sadjids permitted him to recover the throne some time later. Sembat, with his three brothers Sahak, Babgen, and Vasak, governed again. Also in Western Syunik, Sahak, Ashot and Vasak, brothers of Grigor-Sufan II, were governing the country. After them the dynasty of Western Syunik became extinct and the territory was subsumed by the Muslims.

The eastern part remained divided: Sembat, which had the main title, governed the western part of the Eastern Syunik with the Vayots Dzor, bordered by Vaspurakan. Sahak governed the eastern part until the river Hakar. Babgen governed the district of the Balq, and Vasak (who died in 922) an indeterminate territory. Nasr, the emir of Azerbaijan, captured territory through perfidy against Babgen and Sahak in Dwin. After the invasion, Sembat unseated Nasr and obtained the freedom of his brothers. Sembat was followed by his son Vasak, and Sahak in turn by his son Sembat. Vasak received the royal title from the Muslims at the end of his reign, which lasted until 963.

The throne was inherited by his nephew Sembat (963–998) who was recognized as king by the emirs of Tauris and of Khwarezmshahs, Ilkhanate, Chupanids, Jalayirids, Karakoyunlu Turcomans, Timurid Empire and Akkoyunlu Turcomans successively before Safavid rule. It was also ruled by Ottomans between 1578–1606 and again between 1722–1736.

Later, the Orbelian Dynasty, one of whose members wrote an important history of the country, governed Syunik in times of Timur (Tamerlan) as vassals. Between the middle of the 17th century and early in the 19th century, the region was part of the Karabakh khanate of the Safavid Empire. It was during this period in the region's history that David Bek headed an armed struggled against the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire, both of which were fighting for control of the area.

Imperial Russian rule

Following the Russo-Persian War of 1804–1813, Syunik passed into Imperial Russian possession by the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 together with the rest of the Karabakh khanate. The khanate was abolished by the Russian government in 1822. The region was first divided under the Erivan Governorate and the Shemakha Governorate, after 1859 the Erivan Governorate and the Baku Governorate. When the Elisabethpol Governorate was established in 1868, the region became the Zangezur uyezd, with its seat of administration in Geryusy.[7]

According to imperial census in 1897 total population of Zangezur uyezd constituted 137 971 people. 51.6% of them were Azerbaijanis and 46,1% were Armenians.[8]

The beginning of 20th century saw an outbreak in ethnic tensions between the Armenian and Azerbaijani populations in the Caucasus, culminating in the Armenian-Tatar massacres. Clashes occurred in Nakhichevan and Sharur-Daralgez uyezdy of the Erevan gubernia and in Zangezur, Shusha and Javanshir uezdy of Elizavetpol gubernia in 1905. According to Armenian sources 128 Armenian and 158 Azerbaijanian villages were "pillaged or destroyed"[8] while the overall estimates of lives lost vary widely, ranging from 3,000 to 10,000, with Muslims suffering higher losses.[9] During these events, the Armenians of Syunik were massacred "without distinction of sex or age" by Azeri forces.[10]

Tensions were accelerated with the collapse of the Russian Empire. The region fell under the authority of the Special Transcaucasian Committee of the Russian Provisional Government and subsequently the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. When the TDFR was dissolved in May 1918, Zangezur, Nakhchivan, and Nagorno-Karabakh became heavily contested between the newly formed and short-lived states of the First Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. At the time, Syunik had an Armenian majority of 350,000 and a Muslim population of 180,000.[11] According to Thomas de Waal, the dispute over Syunik resulted in the ethnic cleansing of region's local Azeri minority through direct military action by Armenian guerilla commanders Andranik Ozanian,[12] Rouben Ter Minassian[13] and later Garegin Nzhdeh.[14]

Soviet Syunik

Armenian forces eventually secured the region but their efforts were in vain when the Bolsheviks, successful in the Russian Civil War, pushed deep into the Caucasus. Syunik was one of the last major holdouts of the DRA whose leaders were eventually expelled by incoming Soviet authorities to Iran. During Sovietization, Syunik became part of Soviet Armenia, while the two other disputed territories, Nakhchivan and Nagorno-Karabakh became part of Soviet Azerbaijan. It then became part of Armenia under the Transcaucasian SFSR and part of the Armenian SSR in 1936. Under Soviet rule, Syunik suffered a devastating earthquake in April 1931, leaving 80% of its villages destroyed.[15] A subsequent earthquake hit the region in May during the same year, destroying 27 of 38 villages in the Sisian district.[16]

Despite the region's troubled early years in the Soviet Union, it gradually began to recover with much of the area's infrastructure rebuilt and improved. During the Soviet era, Syunik was noted as a source of metal and ore production.[17] However, the region was shaken by the renewal of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with neighboring Azerbaijan. In 1987–1989, the remaining Azeri inhabitants fled the region as a result of interethnic violence.[18][19] This exodus of Azeri population made Syunik and Armenia in general more homogeneous.

Recent years

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Syunik has been a constituent part of the Republic of Armenia. The republic's southernmost province, it has become strategically and ecomically important for Armenia, sharing a border with Iran from which vital energy resources are exported. Recently, a new 140-kilometer-long Kara Koyunlu rule and were found by researchers of the Preservation Committee for Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Armenian Republic in 2000.[21]


Syunik is home to many of Armenia's largest mining operations including the Kajaran Mine operated by the Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine.[22] The prospect of a uranium mine being exploited by the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom) in the village of Lernadzor.[22] The town of Goris is home to the Vorotan Hydropower Plant, considered one of the main providers of electrical power in Armenia. Other types of productions include electronic devices and electric motors (in Goris).

The rural population is mainly involved in agricultural and food processing industries.


Syunik is home to the Goris State University operating since 1967 in the town of Goris. Branches of the Yerevan State University, National Polytechnic University of Armenia and Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography are also operating in the province.



Football is the most populous sport in the province. FC Gandzasar Kapan represents Syunik at the Armenian Premier League. Gandzasar Stadium in Kapan is the largest sports venue of Syunik. Minor stadiums are also opened in Meghri, Goris and Sisian.

In 2013, FC Gandzasar Kapan opened its up-to-date training centre to become the only football training academy in southern Armenia. The centre has many regular-sized football pitches including one with artificial turf.


Syunik Province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions in Armenia including:

Fortresses and archaeological sites

Zorats Karer, is believed by many scientists including Paris Herouni and Onik Khnkikyan to be a prehistoric astronomical observatory[23]

Churches and monasteries



The province of Syunik consists of the following 109 communities (hamaynkner), of which 7 are considered urban and 102 are considered rural.

Towns or urban communities

Image City (town) Province Founded Land area (km2) Population (2011 census)
Agarak Syunik 1949 2.5 4,429
Dastakert Syunik 12th century (first mentioned) 0.5 323
Goris Syunik 1870 8 20,591
Kajaran Syunik 1958 2.8 7,163
Kapan Syunik 10th century 36 43,190
Meghri Syunik 17th century 3 4,580
Sisian Syunik 8th century BC (first mentioned) 9 14,894

Villages or urban communities

Non-communitiy villages

Former villages


Notable people


  1. ^ Syunik population, 2,011 census
  2. ^ Report of the results of the 2001 Armenian Census, National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
  3. ^ Borisov ""nscriptions of Artaxia (Artashes), King of Armenia, 1946, No 2"
  4. ^ Historical-Philological Magazine, 1965, No 4
  5. ^ A.G. Perikhanyan, "Aramian Inscription from Zangezur"
  6. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica. C. E. Bosworth. Arran
  7. ^ 1906 Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, "Зангезурский уезд" article.
  8. ^ a b Audrey L. Altstadt. The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule. Hoover Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8179-9182-4, ISBN 978-0-8179-9182-1
  9. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski. Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition. Columbia University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-231-07068-3, ISBN 978-0-231-07068-3
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Thomas de Waal. Black Garden: Armenia And Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press, pp. 129. ISBN 0-8147-1945-7
  13. ^ The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction by Donald Bloxham. Oxford University Press: 2005, pp.103–105
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Situation of refugees and displaced persons in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
  19. ^ Thomas de Waal. Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War. NYU Press; 2004.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b The Specter of Uranium Once Again Hangs Over Syunik, Hetq Online, November 10, 2008.
  23. ^ Paris Herouni, Armenians and Old Armenia, Yerevan, 2004.

External links

  • Syunik portal
  • Syunik Tourist Guide
  • Syunik at the site of Ministry of Urban Development
  • Syunik at Armeniainfo
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.