Nagorno-Karabakh nəgôrˈnə-kərəbäkh [key], region (1990 pop. 192,000), 1,699 sq mi (4,400 sq km), SE Azerbaijan, between the Caucasus and the Karabakh range. Khankendi or Stepanakert (the capital) and Shusha or Shushi are the chief towns. The region has numerous mineral springs as well as deposits of lithographic stone, marble, and limestone. Farming and grazing are important and there are various light industries. The population of the region is mainly Armenian, with Azeri, Russian, and Kurdish minorities; much of the pre-1990 Azeri population fled when Armenian nationalists began their uprising in the early 1990s.

A part of Caucasian Albania called Artsakh, the area was taken by Armenia in the 1st cent. a.d. and by the Arabs in the 7th cent. The region was renamed Karabakh (or Karabagh) in the 13th cent. In the early 17th cent., it passed to the Persians, who permitted local autonomy, and in the mid-18th cent. the Karabakh khanate was formed. Karabakh alone was ceded to Russia in 1805; the khanate passed to the Russians by the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813. In 1822 the Karabakh khanate was dissolved and the area became a Russian province. The Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountain-Karabakh) Autonomous Region was established in 1923.

The autonomous status of the region was abolished in 1989 amid Armenian nationalist demands that the region be included in Armenia, and it became a focal point in a war between the republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan. By the end of 1993, Armenians had won control of most of the region as well as neighboring parts of Azerbaijan to the west and south; some 30,000 died in the fighting. An unofficial cease-fire was reached in 1994 with Russian negotiation; it largely held, but recurring clashes occurred in subsequent decades, mostly on a smaller scale but sometimes intense.

In 1996, Nagorno-Karabakh's parliament declared the region independent, and ten years later voters approved a new constitution that affirmed that move. Neither action was internationally recognized. A final political resolution to the situation was not negotiated, and the region effectively became part of Armenia.

The conflict was renewed in Sept., 2020; Azerbaijani forces attacked first in the north, and then with more success in the south, capturing former areas of Azerbaijan and Shusha, and approaching the Armenian capital of Stepanakert when a cease-fire was declared in November. The agreement called Azerbaijan to retain its gains, for Armenian forces to cede parts of Azerbaijan held since 1994, for Armenian forces to retain control of areas in Nagorno-Karabakh they still held, and for Russian peacekeepers to enforce the peace and keep access routes open. Some 6,000 troops were reported to have been killed in the conflict. Subsequently, there were accusations of war crimes by both sides, but especially by Azerbaijan's forces, during the conflict.

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