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 (the capital, formerly Stepanakert) and Shusha 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; more than half 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. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the region became a focal point in a war between the republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as Armenian nationalists demanded the inclusion of the region in Armenia. 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 has largely held, but there have been small-scale clashes since 1994. Nagorno-Karabakh's parliament declared (1996) 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 has not been negotiated, but the region is now effectively part of Armenia.