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What you need to know about Vanadzor

Vanadzor (Armenian: Վանաձոր pronounced, is an urban municipal community and the third-largest city in Armenia serving as the capital of Lori Province in the northern part of the country. It is located around 128 kilometres (80 miles) north of the capital Yerevan. As of the 2011 census, the city had a population of 86,199, down from 148,876 reported at the 1979 official census. Currently, the town has an approximate population of 82,200 as per the 2016 official estimate.

The city is in a picturesque setting, with an attractive planned town centre. Mostly crumbling Soviet-era chemical factories dominate much of the valley below the city.

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Geography and climate

Vanadzor, the capital of Lori Province, is located 128 km (80 mi) north of Yerevan and 64 km (40 mi) east of Gyumri.

At an average height of 1,350 metres (4,430 feet) above sea level, Vanadzor is located in the valley of Pambak River, on the point where the rivers of Tandzut and Vanadzor join the Pambak river. The city is surrounded by the over 2,500-metre-high (8,200-foot) mountains of Bazum and Pambak. The southern and eastern regions are densely forested while to the north and west are only covered with bushes and plants.

The climate of Vanadzor is characterized by cool summers and relatively mild winters. The average temperature in winter is −4.2 °C (24.4 °F), while in summer it reaches up to 20 °C (68 °F). Vanadzor’s climate is classified as humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb). The amount of precipitation is around 650 mm (25.6 inches).

The Vanadzor Botanical Garden located to the southwest of the city is one of the 5 botanical parks within the Republic of Armenia.

Population

The population of Vanadzor has grown gradually since 1849, after becoming part of the Yerevan Governorate.

The population of Kirovakan-Vanadzor increased significantly after World War II, when Stalin allowed open immigration to the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic with the promise of a better life for the arriving Armenians in the historical homeland. More than 150,000 Armenians from different parts of Europe and the Middle East, most being survivors of the Armenian Genocide, immigrated and settled in Kirovakan. Due to the harsh conditions imposed by the Soviets intelligence and the Ministry of Interior, many of the immigrants were sent to labor camps in Siberia and elsewhere. The reason for such disrespectful treatment towards the Armenian immigrants was because almost all were more educated than the local community, spoke more than 3 languages, and were open followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church, something that was considered a threat to the national security by the Stalinist Government. Despite the difficulties, more Western Armenians immigrated to Kirovakan during the following years. However, many of the immigrants left the city and returned to their diaspora countries, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Greece, France and the United States. Nowadays, approximately 2,000 Western Armenian settlers are living in Vanadzor, most of whom still using the Western Armenian dialect at daily life.

While the majority of Vanadzor are ethnic Armenians, there are also small communities of Russian, Ukrainian and Greek population.

Religion

The majority of the population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Vanadzor is the seat of the Diocese of Gougark of the Armenian Apostolic Church, serving the population of Lori province.

Economy

Industry

The city of Vanadzor is the main industrial centre of the province. The industry of the city is quite diversified with many firms specialized in garment manufacturing, chemical products, building materials, and dairy products. The largest garment manufacturers of the city are the “Dav-Gar” garment factory founded in 1962, the Darbbag’s Sewing Factory founded in 1977 (privatized in 1996), the “Sarton” Sewing Factory founded in 1990, “Ruz-Dan” garment factory founded in 2000. The largest chemical plants of Vanadzor include the “Vanadzor ChimProm” founded in 1929, the “Gipk” enterprise for polymeric materials founded in 1967, and the “Gary Group” for polymeric materials founded in 1998. The “Beton” enterprise founded in 1988, the “Bionik” plant founded in 2004, and the “Karaberd” plant are specialized in building materials. The “DIET LLC”, the “K&K” factory, and the “Katnagorts” plant are specialized in dairy products. Other major industrial plants of Vanadzor include the “Ardvin” electromechanical plant founded in 1956, the “Gems De Luxe” precious stone processing enterprise founded in 1996, and the “Jerutsogh” factory for heating equipments.

Many small plants for the production of building materials, mainly tufa, basalt and clay are also operating in Vanadzor.

The city is home to the Vanadzor Thermal Power Plant opened in 1961.

Tourism

Vanadzor is a resort center in northern Armenia due to its mild climate, clean air and mineral springs. Many hotels and spa resorts are built in the city and the nearby countryside.

The city is connected with other major cities of Armenia with a railway and a motorway.

The Armenia Vanadzor Spa and Hotel Complex is among the most significant resorts since the Soviet times.

Transportation

Vanadzor is connected to other parts of Armenia through a railway and a motorway. The M-6 Motorway that connects the capital Yerevan with the Georgian capital Tbilisi passes through Vanadzor. The city is connected with Tavush Province to the east through the M-8 Motorway.

Vanadzor has a railway station that also connects the city with northern and central Armenia. In April 2012, the Zamarlu bridge was opened at the Vanadzor-Ayrum railroad section to secure a safe passage of the trains on this segment. Currently, the Vanadzor-Fioletovo railroad section is under construction within the frames of the Armenian railway development programme.

Currently under reconstruction, the Stepanavan Airport located 44 km (27 mi) north of Vanadzor, is the nearest airport to the city.