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Encompassing 29,800 km2, Armenia is roughly the same size as Albania or the federal states of Tyrol and Styria combined. Ninety per cent of the land area is located at an altitude higher than 1,000 metres. The country is situated in a zone of recurrent earthquakes due to collisions of the Eurasian and Arabian plates. It maintains good neighbourly relations with the Republic of Georgia in the North and Iran in the South. Relationships with Turkey in the West and Azerbaijan in the East and Southwest are, however, beset with deep-seated conflicts, which resulted in their severing diplomatic relations and which jeopardise stability in the whole region.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Armenia lost its major markets. The large agricultural combines were converted into small farming enterprises. Today, the plots are often too small, machinery and knowledge are lacking and smallholders live in poverty, many moving away to the towns or emigrating.
Austrian Development Cooperation with Armenia focuses on developing agriculture, a sector where about 46 per cent of the labour force work. It aims at promoting economic activity by improving general conditions and seeks to contribute to modernising and raising agricultural production through know-how transfer. In addition, Austria wants to develop modern and efficient administrative capacities and competitive enterprises, raise local content and secure new jobs.
Austrian Development Cooperation also supports Armenia in conducting the first agricultural census and setting up a related statistics service. These surveys will provide the basis for basic land law reforms to improve the economic and investment climate.
Austrian engagement in Armenia dates from the severe earthquake in 1988, when it provided humanitarian aid. Since 2011, Armenia has been a priority country of Austrian Development Cooperation. Besides the agriculture sector, programmes and projects concentrate on good governance as a cross-cutting theme. As of 2013, Austrian Development Cooperation invests about EUR 2 million a year in Armenia.