Nagorno-Karabakh profile

  • Published
map of Nagorno-Karabakh

The landlocked mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of an unresolved territorial dispute between Azerbaijan, in which it lies, and its ethnic Armenian majority, backed by neighbouring Armenia.

It is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but much of it is governed by the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, also known as the Republic of Artsakh.

In 1988, towards the end of Soviet rule, fighting between Azerbaijani troops and Armenian secessionists left the de facto independent state in the hands of ethnic Armenians when a truce was signed in 1994.

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed since 2020 to monitor a new Moscow-brokered ceasefire, and also to ensure safe passage through the so-called "Lachin corridor" - which separates Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia.

While Armenia itself has never officially recognised the region's independence, it has become its main financial and military backer and the breakaway territory functions as a de facto part of Armenia.

Talks have so far failed to produce a permanent peace agreement. Russia, France and the US co-chair the OSCE's Minsk Group, which had been attempting to end the dispute but this has been thrown into doubt by Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, The EU is also seeking to aid a peaceful resolution of the issue.


  • Capital: Khankendi/Stepanakert
  • Area: 3,170 sq km
  • Population: 120,000
  • Languages: Armenian, Russian
  • Life expectancy: 75 years
Image source, Getty Images


The authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh operate radio and TV services. Locals can also receive broadcasts from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia:


Television and radio


Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Khankendi/Stepanakert is the largest city and de facto capital of the disputed region

Key dates in the history of Nagorno-Karabakh:

The conflict has roots dating back well over a century into competition between Christian Armenian and Muslim Turkic and Persian influences.

19th Century - Populated for centuries by Christian Armenian and Turkic Azeris, Karabakh becomes part of the Russian empire.

early 20th Century - Acts of brutality on both sides punctuate the region's relative peace, and live on in the popular memory.

1920s - After the end of World War One and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the new Soviet rulers, as part of their divide-and-rule policy in the region, established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, with an ethnic Armenian majority, within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan.

1991 - With the break-up of the Soviet Union, Karabakh declares itself an independent republic, and as Soviet control loosens Armenian-Azeri frictions escalate into a full-scale war.

1992-94 - First Karabakh war: During the fighting up to 30,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives. Armenians gain control of the region and push on to occupy Azerbaijani territory outside Karabakh, creating a buffer zone around Lachin, linking Karabakh and Armenia.

More than one million people flee their homes during the fighting. The ethnic Azeri population - about 25% of the total before the war - leaves Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia while ethnic Armenians flee the rest of Azerbaijan.

1994 - Russian-brokered ceasefire is signed leaving Karabakh as well as swathes of Azeri territory around the territory in Armenian hands.

1994-2020 - A simmering stalemate prevails punctuated by armed clashes.

2017 - In a referendum, voters approve a new constitution turning the government from a semi-presidential to a fully presidential one. The territory changes its name from Nagorno Karabakh Republic to Republic of Artsakh, though both remain official names.

Karabakh is the Russian rendering of an Azeri word meaning "black garden", while Nagorno is a Russian root meaning "mountainous". Artsakh is an ancient Armenian name for the area.

2020 - Second Karabakh war: Azerbaijan launches an offensive that recaptures territory around Karabakh. Some 3,000 Azerbaijani soldiers and 4,000 Armenian soldiers are killed in six weeks of fighting.

Russian peacekeepers are deployed to monitor a new Moscow-brokered ceasefire, and also to ensure safe passage through the so-called "Lachin corridor" that separates Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia.

Armenian forces agreed to return to Azerbaijan all occupied territory outside of the former Soviet Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.

2022 - Fighting breaks out between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops along the Armenia-Azerbaijan, with about 100 Armenian and 70 Azerbaijani soldiers killed in the clashes.

2022-23 - Armenia claims an Azerbaijani blockade on the Lachin corridor has led to a humanitarian crisis inside the territory. Baku insists the Lachin road should be open for civilians, whereas cargo deliveries should go via the Agdam-Khankendi/Stepanakert road.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Russian peacekeeping forces on the road outside Lachin in 2020

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.