Total area - 4,506 km2
Cities - Kapan, Goris, Sisian, Kajaran, Meghri, Agarak, Dastakert
Villages - 127
Population as of the beginning of 2016 - 139.4 thousand
Syunik province is located in the south of the Republic of Armenia. The province is bordered by the Vayots Dzor province from the north, Iran from the south (the border is 42 km), Nakhichevan from the west, and Artsakh from the east. Syunik lays on the Zangezur nature area, which includes the basin of upper and average flows of the Vorotan, Voghji Rivers, and the eastern slopes of Zangezur, which is the highest after the South Caucasus in the Caucasus mountain range. The highest mountain of the province is the Kaputjugh (3 906 m), and the lowest place is the canyon of Meghri (Araks valley- 380 m). Occupying strategic and geopolitical important position, having rich resources of natural raw materials, industrial big capacity and being one of the biggest administrative and economic regions of the republic, Syunik remains relatively less populated and economically weak province, which is partly due to the great distance from the capital and lack of alternative transportation options. The most important of them are non-ferrous metals (copper, molybdenum, zinc and others non-ferrous) and precious metals (gold, silver) and also non-metal useful minerals (construction and facing stones, basalt raw materials, limestone and shale, granite, perlite, diatomite and other reserves). Industry and agriculture sectors dominate the overall economy of the region. In 2015, the share of major sectors of the economy in the total volume of the correspondent branches of the RA comprised:
- industry 13.3 %
- agriculture 7.0 %
- construction 5.1 %
- retail trade 1.2 %
- services 1.7 %
The main branches of the province industry are mining and electricity production. The prevailing part of electrical energy produced in the region belongs to Vorotan hydroelectric station cascade. Agriculture is mainly specialized in crop production (in particular, cereals and potato production) and cattle breeding. Cargo and passenger transportation in the province is carried out by road, railway and electric transport (ropeway). The highway connecting Armenia with Iran passes through the region; it plays an important role in the development of the region's economy. In 2008 the “Kapan-Tsav-Meghri” motorway of strategic importance was put into operation, which, as an alternative to the “Kapan-Kajaran-Meghri” interstate highway, surpasses the latter in technical parameters. The major motorway, which connects Armenia to Artsakh and the only direct land connection way between the Republic of Armenia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are passing through the province.
Kapan town (population - 42.640 as of the beginning of 2016) is situated at the located on the northern slopes of Mount Khustup (3 201 m) at 301 km distance from Yerevan. Industry is the leading branch of the economy, with a dominant share of the mining, the most important of which is the extraction of non-ferrous and noble metals. The manufacturing industry also has a certain share of production (production of foodstuff, clothing, non-metallic construction materials, aluminum and metal-plastic products, timber processing and production of wooden products, furniture and equipment) and electricity generation.
Kajaran town (population - 7,061 as of the beginning of 2016) is located 376 km south of Yerevan, and 25 km from the regional center. The city is the center of non-ferrous metallurgy of the republic based on the exploitation of rare mine that is a powerful mine basis of copper and molybdenum. The mining industry is the main and leading branch of economy.
Goris town (population - 20 342 as of the beginning of 2016) is 236 km away from Yerevan and 63 km from the provincial center Kapan. The main sector of the economy is industry. Production of electricity, foodstuff, textile, clothing, aluminum and metal-plastic products, wood processing and electrical equipment are developed.
Sisian town (population - 14 856 as of the beginning of 2016), at a road distance of 206 km southeast of the capital Yerevan, and 110 km north of the provincial center Kapan. The dominant power in economy is the production of electricity, as well as production of foodstuff and other non-metallic mineral products.
Dastakert town (population - 300 as of the beginning of 2016) is located 226 km south from Yerevan, 130 km from the regional center. Work is being carried out to rebuild copper and molybdenum mines.
Meghri town (population - 4542 as of the beginning of 2016) is located 373 km south of the capital and 75 km south of the provincial capital Kapan. The processing industry is the dominant sector in the overall economy. The production of electricity and fruit tin and beverages has a certain share.
Agarak town (population - 4 284 as of the beginning of 2016) is at a distance of 358 km south of Yerevan and 90 km south of the provincial center Kapan. The mining industry is the leading branch of the economy, the main important section of which is non-ferrous metal production. The Meghri customhouse and the border checkpoint with Iran are situated in the territory of Agarak.
History of Syunik
Historically, Syunik was one of the 15 provinces (nahang) of the Greater Armenia. The province was proclaimed with its amazing castles and ancient monasteries. The oldest university of Armenia, Gladzor, founded in the 13th century, was situated here. Medieval Syunik used to occupy a much larger area than now. At that time, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik, most of Nakhichevan and some territory of the present Artsakh were a part of Syunik. In the X- XII centuries, Syunik was a kingdom where the Siunia dynasty ruled. Later, the Orbelian Dynasty ruled here. Particularly, Prince Tarsayich Orbelian is known. His son Stepanos Orbelyan, the Metropolitan of Syunik, wrote the great “History of the Province of Syunik” in the XIII century. In 1918 – 1920, Syunik, as well as Artsakh and Nakhichevan, became a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On December 2, 1920, Turkey, which at the time conquered most of the territories of Armenia, forced the Armenian government to sign the Treaty of Alexandropol by which Syunik was handed over to Azerbaijan. However, the Armenian population of Syunik did not recognize this treaty and started the armed struggle under the command of Garegin Nzhdeh. Syunik remained independent even when the Bolsheviks occupied the rest of Armenia. In the early 1920s, when the Bolsheviks suppressed the February uprising of Armenians, many government members and officers retreated to Syunik. Soon the Republic of Mountainous Armenia was proclaimed, and Garegin Nzhdeh was chosen as prime minister. The Red Army managed to capture Syunik only in 1921 after months of fierce fights. In the Armenian SSR, Syunik was not a separate administrative unit but rather divided into several districts (raions). Following the independence of Armenia, the raions of the Soviet Syunik were merged to form the Syunik Province.