Those who visit Armenia must make a trip to wonderful Lake Sevan in order to understand the country fully. Lake Sevan is considered to be one of the symbols of Armenia.
It is located in Gegharkunik marz, 60 km to the northeast of Yerevan. It is surrounded by the Geghama, Sevan, Pambak, and Areguni mountain ranges. These mountain ranges stretch about 400 km around the lake. The mountains rise as high as 1000-1500 meters. In some places they are so close to the lake that the cliffs seem to overhang the water. In some places they are far away from the water's edge. Before the artificial lowering of Lake Sevan's water level in 1952, it was as high as 1916 meters above sea. Nowadays it remains at about 1900 meters.
Lake Sevan is an exceptional and remarkable phenomenon in the region and in the world. It is among the world’s largest high-mountain, freshwater lakes.
Sevan provides 80% of Armenia’s water resources. This volume of water exceeds 5 times the volume of naturally flowing waters and 35 times the water that is stored in Armenia's reservoirs.
Various hypotheses have been suggested, regarding the formation of Lake Sevan. Most probably the lake is tectonic in origin. It is believed that there was a river in the area where Lake Sevan is today. As a result of volcanic eruption, the river bed was sealed by volcanic lava and the lake was formed.
Lake Sevan is fed by 28 rivers in its catchment area. Only the Hrazdan River flows out of the Lake.
To increase water flow into the lake, the unique Arpa-Sevan Tunnel was inaugurated in 1981. The tunnel was constructed to divert waters from the Kechut Reservoir across 49 kilometers to Lake Sevan.
The annual amount of sunshine here reaches 2700 hours. Seldom can it happen that the sun does not appear during a day. Due to the high mountain elevation, solar radiation here is higher than in Yerevan's lowland. In clear sunny weather the dark surface of the Sevan peninsula receives 1.69 calories of heat per 1 km 2, whereas in Yerevan – 1.46 calories, and in the Geghama mountains - 1.75 calories. There is a great amount of radiation at Lake Sevan, which can cause sunburns of uncovered skin within a short period of time. One should be very careful while trying to get tanned. There are scattered rays even in the shade.
Summer begins at the end of June in the Lake Sevan basin. When lowland areas are very hot, here the air is cool, fresh and pleasant. The lake water temperature reaches 21-220C in July-August, which is perfect for those who like swimming. And navigation on Lake Sevan in any weather offers opportunities for enjoying this blue-eyed beauty.
Lake Sevan is not rich in wildlife species - only 29 are registered. They are densely settled on the parts of the coast, where there is much light.
The most popular fish here is trout, called "ishkhan" in Armenian (it means "Prince” in English).
Ancient records that have been preserved provide evidence that tributes paid by Armenians to various conquerors included not only gold and silver, non-ferrous metals and agricultural products, but also fish. The unique taste of ishkhan was always very popular among the kings and princes in ancient times. It often decorated the celebratory table of kings, princes and shahs.