Yesterday marked the official commemoration date of the Armenian Genocide, which occurred just over a century ago. A day which offers an opportunity to reflect on the unimaginable violence from which the nation is still recovering.
The Genocide triggered the 20th century's first large-scale refugee population. Between 1915-1923, 1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered, and 500,000 survivors were forcibly displaced. The survivors were left to flee as far afield as the United States, France and Argentina, with many settling in neighbouring states including Russia, Syria and Lebanon.
Whilst it is important to reflect on one of the darkest chapters in our recent past, we must also recognise the incredible rejuvenation of Armenia, and the Armenian people, that has occurred over the past 102 years.
In 1917, the total number of Armenians was estimated to be 284,157. Over the past century, this has risen to a population of 3 million in the country itself, as well as an estimated 10 million in the global diaspora.
Armenia is rebuilding itself into a cosmopolitan and forward-thinking nation. As it recovers from the economic devastation following the fall of the Soviet Union, the country is undergoing gradual economic growth, driven by a number of burgeoning industries. Agriculture, food processing, and information technology are some of the thriving sectors which are attracting both inbound investment, and a growing regional talent pool. Additionally, academic centres of excellence, such as the newly launched international school, UWC Dilijan, are attracting foreign students into the country.
The country has established a productive tourist industry, with major airlines committing regular flights to the capital. Over 1.2 million tourists visited Armenia in 2016, many of whom were from Europe.
Away from the state itself, Armenia's diaspora has grown and thrived in a range of new host countries. Indeed, large Armenian communities now reside in the United States, Russia, France and Argentina. The extended Armenian community includes some of the world's most noted businesspeople, scientists, academics, sportspeople and entertainers.
From Alexis Ohanian to David Ignatius, Andre Agassi, Cher or Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the Armenian people have made major contributions toward advancing their adoptive countries. Long ago, we learned to adapt to our host countries, to be loyal citizens, even as we maintain our common historic identity.
As we reflect on a time when a concerted attempt was made to wipe out our entire nation, we Armenians have much to celebrate and be proud of. Armenia continues to rebuild and grow. The future is incredibly exciting as we continue to transform into a vibrant, modern, secure, peaceful and progressive homeland for a global nation.