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YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia holds a presidential election on Monday. [ID:nL6N0BH0RZ] Here are some key facts about the former Soviet republic and the main contenders in the election.
Seven candidates are running. The leading one is 59-year-old incumbent President Serzh Sarksyan, whose election to a first term in February 2008 sparked a violent post-election crisis that left at least ten people dead.
Opinion polls show the Sarksyan getting 67-69 percent of the vote on Monday.
He is followed by the 53-year-old, U.S.-born Raffi Hovannisian, a former foreign minister and a current leader of the opposition Heritage Party. Opinion polls put Hovannisian at 11-20 percent of the vote.
Polls indicated other candidates could count on less than 5 percent, including Paruyr Hayrikyan, 63-year-old leader of the National Self-determination Union, who was shot in the shoulder on January 31 near his home in the capital Yerevan.
Doctors removed the bullet from Hayrikyan's shoulder and said his life was not in danger, but he returned to hospital earlier this week saying he did not feel well.
More than 300 international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as about 25,000 local observers were to monitor the vote.
POPULATION - 3.2 million as of December 2012, according to the National Statistics Service. The Central Election Commission says there are about 2.5 million eligible voters.
GEOGRAPHY - Landlocked, bordering Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey, Armenia covers an area of 29,800 square km (11,500 square miles). The capital is Yerevan.
POLITICS - Armenia is locked in a prolonged dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan over the tiny region of Nagorno-Karabakh, over which they fought a war in the 1990s.
Armenia also has fraught relations with Turkey, in part because Ankara does not recognize as genocide the killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War One.
ECONOMY - The Armenian economy grew about 7.0 percent in 2012, recovering from the 2008-09 global crisis, which resulted in a 14.2 percent contraction in 2009. The government forecasts 6.0 percent growth in 2013. Inflation eased to 3.2 percent in 2012 from 4.7 percent in 2011 and 9.4 percent in 2010, while the fiscal deficit was below 3 percent last year.
Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Mark Heinrich