After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, masses of newly unemployed people found themselves with no income. The predominantly industrial society of Armenia was suddenly forced to be independent and rebuild an economy. People who lost their livelihood in other sectors got into agriculture, finding a safety net there.
About half of Armenians live in poverty and two out of ten are extremely poor, with rural people being particularly vulnerable. Armenia's poorest people are concentrated along the nation’s borders, in mountain areas and in earthquake zones. The Shirak Province in north-eastern Armenia, Lori Province in northern Armenia, and Kotayk Province in central Armenia are among the poorest provinces.