Human beings have inhabited the Armenian Plateau and Caucasus Region since over 100,000 years ago. Little is known of them, however, drawings in caves and on rocks attest to their existence. Immodestly, Armenians consider themselves direct descendants of Noah, survivor of the Biblical flood. According to Genesis, ...the boat came to rest on a mountain in the Ararat range.
The history of Armenia begins with Neolithic cultures of the South Caucasus, such as the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, followed by the Bronze Age Kura-Araxes and Trialeti cultures.
The first significant state of the Armenian Highland was the highly advanced the Iron Age Kingdom of Ararat (with the capital in Tushpa, today's Van), better known under its Assyrian name Urartu (Ararat), lasted from the 9th century to 585 BC.
In 301, Arshakid Armenia was the first sovereign nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. The Armenian Apostolic Church later became a great defender of Armenian nationalism. The Armenians later fell under Byzantine, Persian, and Islamic hegemony, but reinstated their independence with the Bagratuni Dynasty kingdom of Armenia, rival to nearby Atropatene.
Before the fall of the Bagratuni kingdom a number of Armenian princes managed to escape from Armenia and found refuge in Cilicia, a region at the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, where Armenians were the majority of population. In 1080 their leader, prince Ruben, founded in Cilicia a new kingdom, which became known as Cilician Armenia, or Armenia Minor (Little Armenia) where Armenians established cordial relations with the Europeans and prolonged their existence as an independent entity to 1375.
Greater Armenia was later divided between the Ottoman Empire and Russia. Armenians then suffered in the genocide that was inflicted on them by the Ottomans. As a result, 1.5 million Armenians were killed, and the rest of the Western Armenians were dispersed throughout the world.
Armenia, from then on corresponding to much of Eastern Armenia, once again gained independence in 1918, with the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Armenia, and then in 1991, with the Republic of Armenia.