Shirak borders upon two foreign countries - Turkey and Georgia. Geographical specificity is that Armenians populate the territory of Georgia, which borders upon the Shirak.
District inherited its name from the Shirak Gavar of Airarat Ashkharh of historical Armenia.
Natural conditions and resources
Ashotsk plateau is located in Shirak region. Its height reaches 1800-2200m. Here, air temperature falls to -46°C, so we can say that it is the "North Pole" of Armenian highlands. The reservoir of Lake Arpi is also in the territory of plateau.
Shakings of earth crust are still ongoing in district. In the last century, there have been destructive earthquakes (in 1926 and 1988).
The only big river of district is Akhuryan, which flows from Lake Arpi (reservoir of Lake Arpi).On the source of the river a dam is built which turned the natural lake into a reservoir. The largest in Armenia Akhuryan reservoir is built on the border with Turkey, on river Akhuryan.
Urartian cuneiform, ruins of fortresses, castles, bridges and other traces of antiquity are found in the territory of the region. Across the state border, in Turkey, only a few miles one can see the ruins of Ani - the capital of Armenia at time of Bagratuni Kingdome.
Gyumri is the administrative centre of Shirak. It is the second city in republic. Gyumri is located near the state border, on the bank of Gyumriget (flow of Akhuryan River).
In the written sources, Gyumri settlement is mentioned from ancient times as Kumayri and then - Gyumri. After the annexation of Eastern Armenia to Russia, it was renamed Alexandropol and in Soviet times was named Leninakan.
The economic importance of Gyumri greatly increased after foundation of numerous garrisons on the border with Turkey as well as was built Aleksandropole fortress. The construction of the railways Tbilisi-Gyumri-Kars, Gyumri-Yerevan-Nakhijevan and railway depot Gyumri gave a new inducement to the development of the city. In 1914, the population of Gyumri exceeded 30 thousand that is as many as the population of Yerevan. Together with the military garrison, the population of Gyumri was even more.
When Soviet came to power and Kars was passed to Turkey, Gyumri again appeared in the state border, which prevented to the rapid development of the city. In spite of this, the city developed and in the late 1980's, the population reached 230 thousand. Diversified industry was developed, where the textile, food and engineering industries were in first line. There were educational, cultural and academic institutions.
December 7, 1988 was tragic for the Gyumri, when the city was destroyed because of the earthquake. Almost all the factories of the city were collapsed or out of order. There were no electricity, no transportation, no water supply, only ruins and victims. Many families left Gyumri city.
It was drafted a new city plan, a powerful building base for the reconstruction of the city. Many countries were directly involved in the rehabilitation works. However, with the collapse of the Soviet power it was difficult to implement rehabilitation program.
Today the reconstruction of Gyumri is resumed thanks to financial assistance of Armenian Diaspora.
Artik and Maralik are also the cities of Shirak.
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In Gyumri was erected a monument to the famous singer and national hero of Armenia – Sharl Aznavour, whose assistance to Armenians is invaluable.