Territory - 2681 square km
Agricultural land - 165737 ha
including arable land - 84530 ha
Urban communities -3
Rural communities -116
Rural settlements -128
Population as of January 1, 2003 - 282.5 ths., including
urban -173.1 ths.
rural -109.4 ths.
RA Shirak marz is situated in the north-west of the republic. Borders with Turkey andGeorgia.
Marz covers Artik, Akhuryan, Ani, Amasia and Ashotsk regions. It includes 3 towns -Gyumri, Artik, Maralik and 128 rural settlements. Marz occupies 9% of RA territory. The population of the marz comprised 8.8% of RA total population in 2002, including 61.3% urban, 86.6% of which only in Gyumri.
RA Shirak marz inherited its name from the Shirak province of Ayrarat land of historical Armenia. Being at the height of 1500-2000 m above sea level (52 villages of the marz are at the height of 1500-1700 m above sea level and 55 – 2000 m), the marz is the coldest region of Armenia, where the air temperature sometimes reaches -460C in winter.
The main railway and automobile highway connecting Armenia with Georgia pass through the marz territory. The railway and motor-road networks of Armenia and Turkey are connected here.
Spitak destructive earthquake of 7 December 1988, besides taking away thousands human victims, has caused big destructions of Shirak marz economy and, particularly, Gyumri town. To earthquake the marz took the second place in the republic by its development level and economic capacity, yielding only to Yerevan city. However, after the earthquake the marz economy endured a deep drop ( earthquake consequences were destructive: in seconds powerful factories have been turned into ruins, thousands dwelling houses, schools, hospitals have been destroyed). A big number of cattle was remained under the ruins in villages.
In 1989-1991 by the assistance of almost all soviet republics, many foreign countries and international organizations a big reconstruction work has been conducted with a purpose to liquidate ruins. In the past period the marz economy and industrial capacities are slowly reconstructed.