Armenia was originally known as Hayk and later Hyastan. Throughout its history it has been a disputed region with many small tribes and kingdoms occupying part or all of the area we know today as Armenia.
As far back as 1800 BC the Hittites occupied the region and they were followed by a series of kingdoms including the Orontid Dynasty between the 6th and 2nd centuries BC.
Over the next two thousand years the region was occupied by Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Persian Ottoman and Russian empires. By the end of World War 1 the Ottoman and Russian Empires were crumbling, leading to the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in 1918.
The post world war period was, however, a period of instability as the new nation tried to establish itself in wars with neighbouring Azerbaijan, Georgia and the new Republic of Turkey. In late 1920 this led to the invasion of the region by the 11th Red Army. The Treaty of Kars in 1921 between the new Soviet government and Turkey stabilised the borders.
In 1922 the country was subsumed by the USSR and the new Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic was declared. It became one of three states (Azerbaijan and Georgia were the others) comprising the Transcaucasia SFSR (Socialist Federative Socialist republic) which was subsequently dissolved in 1936.
On 23rd August 1990, during the disintegration of the Soviet Union Armenia declared independence and in 1991 it became the Republic of Armenia. In the 1990 general election the Communist Party of Armenia won with 136 of the 259 seats in the National Assembly.
The first president of the new Republic was Levon Ter-Petrossian who won 83% of the vote in the 1991 election. The party he had founded in 1989, the Pan-Armenian National Movement (HHS), won the 1995 general election with 62 seats. They formed part of the Republican Bloc which won 88 of the 190 seats in the new parliament.
Ter-Petrossian went on to win the 1996 presidential election with 51.3% of the vote, but was forced to resign in 1998 over a compromised settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh regional conflict.
A new president, the independent Robert Kocharyan was elected in 1998 with 58.99% of the vote. In the general election a year later the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) won the election, taking 62 of the 131 seats in the National Assembly under the title of the Unity Bloc.
In 2003 the HHK did less well and held 33 seats. A number of new parties fought the 2003 election and gained seats including Justice, Rule of Law (OEK) and the United Labour Party (MAK).
Kocharyan was re-elected in 2003 with 67.45% of the vote and in 2007 the HHK managed to consolidate its first place position and won 64 of the 131 seats in the National Assembly. They went on to form a coalition government with Rule of Law and Prosperous Armenia.
In 2008 the HHK candidate, Serzh Sargsyan, won the presidential election with 52.82% of the vote, further consolidating their position.
The next presidential election is due in 2013 with the general election scheduled for 6th May 2012.
The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and may serve a second term.
The National Assembly is a unicameral body with 131 members; 90 members are elected from party lists and 41 directly from single seat constituencies. Members are elected for five year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Armenia at joint 113th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 33 (where 100 is least corrupt).