According to tradition, the kingdom was founded in the region of Lake Van by Haig, or Haik, a descendant of Noah. Historically, the region and former kingdom that was Greater Armenia lay east of the Euphrates River; Little, or Lesser, Armenia was west of the river. In 189 BC the Armenians split from the Syrians to found a native dynasty, the Artashesids. The imperialistic ambitions of King Tigranes led to war with Rome and defeated Armenia became a tributary kingdom. In the 3rd century AD it was overrun by Sassanian Persia. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion, in the early 4th century. The persecution of Christians under Persian rule kindled nationalism, particularly after the partition (387) of the kingdom between Persia and Rome. However, because of its strategic location, attempts at independence were short-lived, as Armenia was the constant prey of the Persians, Byzantines and Arabs, and later of the Turkish and Russian Empires.
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