Republic of Artsakh
Karabakh (Armenian: Ղարաբաղ; Azerbaijani: Qarabağ) also known as Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Լեռնային Ղարաբաղ; Azerbaijani: Dağlıq Qarabağ) or Artsakh (Armenian: Արցախ) is a region in Transcaucasia with an area of 4400 km². As of 1990 it had a population of 192,000. The population at that time was mainly Armenian (76%) and Azeri (23%), with Russian and Kurdish minorities. The capital is Stepanakert (Ստեփանակերտ) in Armenian, Khankendi (Xankəndi) in Azeri. The other major city is Shushi (Շուշի), parts of which today lie in ruins due to the Karabakh War.
The name "Nagorno-Karabakh" itself seems to attests to the region's tumultuous history. The word "Nagorno" (Нагорный or Nagornyj) is Russian for "mountainous." The name "Karabakh" first appeared in Georgian and Persian writings from the 13th and 14th centuries. Many scholars have come to a conclusion that "Karabakh" (or "Karabagh") is a compound of the Turkic "kara" meaning "black" and the Persian "bakh" meaning "garden." However, Tabriz-born cartography researcher Rouben Galichian raises an interesting note in his book Historic Maps of Armenia: The Cartographic Heritage (pub. 2004, p. 210 ISBN 1860649793):
- ...there are a number of Armenian places that bear the Azeri prefix of "Kara", which in the modern Azeri language means "black". These include Karabagh (black garden), Karadagh (black mountain), Karakelisseh (black church) and Karasou (black water). The names do not seem logical, since Karabagh is a lush and green region, the mountainous area of Karadagh is not black and certainly Karakelisseh (Monastery of St. Thaddeus) is not black but an all-white cathedral, with a black strip of finishing stone on the rotunda of one of its churches.
- According to the paper entitled "Tati and Harzani, two ancient dialects of the Azeri language" by the Iranian linguist Abdolali Karang (Tabriz – 1954/5), the word "kara" is a derivative of "kaleh" or "kala", which in the old Harzani language means "large". This could well explain the meaning of the above names. Karabagh – Large Garden, does look like a huge garden, Karadagh – Large Mountain, is a mountainous region with many large and small mountains and Karakelisseh – Large Church, is indeed the largest religious complex in the area, while Karasou – Large River, is a very wide and shallow river. In the local dialect of the present-day Iranian-Azeri village of Gelin-Ghieh, the word used for large is "kala", and even in Persian the word "kalan" means a large amount, which could have been derived from the same root.
Karabakh is often referred to by the Armenians living in the area as "Artsakh" (Armenian: Արցախ), meaning "Woods of Aramanyak" ("Tsakh" is Armenian for Woods, "Ar" is abbreviation for Aramanyak).
For full article on the war, view the Karabakh War article. The modern war over Karabakh began, when, during Gorbachev's policies of Glasnost and Perestroika, Armenians in Karabakh began to express their will to reunite with Armenia. This wish, which had surfaced a few times during Soviet times after Stalin attached this overwhelmingly Armenian territory to Azerbaijan, and drew borders which detached it from Armenia proper came to a head with the government of the Autonomous Oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh voting to unite with Armenia. With massive rallies in Yerevan (in excess of 1 million attendees out of 3.8 million residents in the Armenian SSR), and counter rallies in Baku, things eventually became violent, with full scale war eventually breaking out. Armenians secured military control over most of Karabakh, as well as some surrounding territory before a cease fire was signed in 1994, which has held relatively well ever since. A peace deal has been discussed ever since, with no success.
Today Nagorno-Karabakh is a de-facto independent state calling itself the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, with its own democratically elected government and a market economy. The elected president is Bako Sahakian, the prime minister is Anushavan Danielyan, with a full cabinet and parliament. It is closely tied to the Republic of Armenia and uses its currency, the dram. Successive Armenian governments have resisted internal pressure to unite the two, fearing reprisals from Azerbaijan and the international community, which still considers Nagorno-Karabakh part of Azerbaijan. The politics of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are so intermingled that a former president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Robert Kocharian, has become first prime minister (1997) and then the president of Armenia (1998 to the present).
Meanwhile, negotiation continues. In the latest episode, representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the OSCE Minsk Group (France, Russia and the United States) met in Paris and Florida in the spring of 2001. The mediating countries proposed a plan to formally incorporate Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia, in exchange for a transport corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan through the Meghri district of Syunik. Armenia claims that this agreement was nearly reached, but that former Azeri president Heydar Aliyev reversed his position. In the end, this "territorial swap" would have been unacceptable to both sides. Armenia would have lost its vital southern frontier with Iran and "signed off" the Armenian inhabitants of the Meghri district to Azerbaijani control. Conversely, Azerbaijan would have lost Karabakh and Lachin, leading some analysts to believe this to be the reason why Aliyev never approved it.
The current position of the Armenian and Karabakh governments as well the OSCE is to allow the Karabakh Armenians the right to self-determination. Armenia also favors an overland link between Karabakh and Armenia possibly through the Kashatagh/Lachin and Karvachar/Kelbajar districts. Azerbaijan's position is that its territorial integrity must be respected in any final decision, thus denying the Karabakh Armenians the right to secure independence from Baku.
Ilham Aliyev, the current Azerbaijani president, regularly expresses belligerent statements regarding the solution of the Karabakh issue. This as well as Azerbaijan's increased military spending have created concern among observers. Aliyev has openly threatened to "liberate" the region "by force" and to "attack Armenia in all directions." Recently, he has been quoted by Radio Free Europe stating that the Karabakh Armenians should accept Azerbaijani rule or be forced to emigrate. 
The current borders of Karabakh, established in Soviet times, resemble a kidney bean. The bean, whose indentation is on the right side, has very tall mountain ridges along the northern edge, along the west, and the south is just plain mountainous. This makes options for getting to Karabakh from Armenia limited, with a windy mountainous road through Lachin being the primary route, and a dirt road through northern Kelbajar the only real alternative without driving all the way around Karabakh. The part near the indentation of the kidney bean itself is a relatively flat valley, with the two edges of the bean (Mardtakert and Martuni) having flat lands as well. Other flatter valleys exist around the Sarsang reservoir, Hadrut, and the south. Much of Karabakh is forested, especially the mountains.
According to the 2005 census (NKR National Statistical Service), Karabakh's population is 137,737, of which 48.3% are males and 51.7% are females. 70,512 urban (47.0% men and 53.0% women) and 67,225 rural (49.7% men and 50.3% women).
- Stepanakert: 49,986
- Askeran province: 16,979
- Hadrut: 12,005
- Martakert: 18,963
- Martuni: 23,157
- Shahumian: 2,560
- Shushi province: 4,324
- Kashatagh: 9,763
The first ever census in Karabakh was carried out in 1926. According to its results, there were 125,300 people living in the autonomous region; 111,700 Armenians and 12,600 Azeris. Censuses have also been organized in 1939, 1959, 1970, and 1989 which was the last one.
- This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain. — Azerbaijan
- Karabakh War
- Longevity in Karabakh
- Karabakh Travel Guide
- The Karabakh File
- Vladimir Kazimirov - How did the lands around Karabakh come to be occupied?
- Jhengalov Hats - popular bread baked with greens inside
- 2005 Census results (pdf)
- Artsakh Online youtube channel
- The official site of the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the United States
- Resources Related to Karabakh
- Conciliation Resources
- Articles about Armenia, Karabakh and Sumgait genocide pub.1987-95 (Part 1)
- Articles about Armenia, Karabakh and Sumgait genocide pub.1987-95 (Part 2)
- Base text from Wikipedia Article