Political System The unicameral parliament (also called the National Assembly) currently is controlled by a coalition of three political parties. Armenians voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum. In 1999, as the Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, parliament and six other officials were killed in the attack on the National Assembly, the country experienced a period of political instability. President Robert Kocharian was successful in riding out the unrest, and currently rules with the support of the parliamentary coalition.
Education System The law requires eight to ten years of schooling, from the ages 6-16. State schools are still the norm in Armenia, with classes normally lasting 4-6 hours, but lots of homework rounding out the program. General secondary education lasts for 2 years after completion of the first two stages: primary school (3 years) and intermediate school (5 years). On completion, students have the opportunity to attend a 2-year college (vocational school) or university. Armenia has an extensive network of universities and institutes, all of which offer graduate programs. The few leading educational institutions include Yerevan State University, State Engineering University, Yerevan State Medical University, the Armenian Academy of Agriculture, Yerevan State Institute for Russian and Foreign Languages, and Yerevan Komitas Conservatory. Officially guaranteed for all citizens free of charge, education has in fact become a private system, deeply threatened by lack of funding and support from the government and outside sources. Kindergartens are considered essential to the education process, and the closing of many of them has created a private system, with families scrambling to raise the money to place their kids. The system continues into primary schools, where parents have to purchase expensive textbooks, supplies, even provide supplemental income to teachers, who are often unpaid for months at a time.
Population Armenia has an estimated population of 3 million. Widespread emigration is one of the most serious problems Armenia has been facing since the break-up of the USSR. It is estimated that as many as one-third of Armenia"s population lives in Russia illegally, and that Armenia has no more than about two million residents.
Language Armenians have their own highly distinctive alphabet and language. 96% of the people in the country speak Armenian, while 75.8% of the population speaks Russian as well. Most adults in Yerevan can communicate in Russian, while English is increasing in popularity