Autonomous region of Azerbaijan
Area 4,400 sq km/1,700 sq mi
Industries cotton, grapes, wheat, silk
Population (1987) 180,000 (76% Armenian, 23% Azeri), the Christian Armenians forming an enclave within the predominantly Shiite Muslim Azerbaijan
History The region formed part of Armenia until the 7th century, but was subsequently taken by the Arabs. An autonomous protectorate after the Russian Revolution 1917, Nagorno-Karabakh was annexed to Azerbaijan 1923 against the wishes of the largely Christian-Armenian population. From 1989, when the local council declared its intention to transfer control of the region to Armenia, the enclave was racked by fighting between local Armenian troops (reputedly backed by Armenia) and Azeri forces, both attempting to assert control. By Feb 1994, 18,000 people were reported to have been killed in the conflict and one million had become refugees.
In 1920, inter-ethnic clashes in the Karabakh town of Shusha resulted in the deaths of 30,000 Armenians and 15,000 Azeris. The conflict, rooted in many centuries of Christian Armenian and Shiite Muslim Azeri enmity, re-erupted 1988, and the region has since been a subject of dispute between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia. The area was placed under direct rule from Moscow Jan–Nov 1989 and the conflict escalated autumn 1989, with Azerbaijan first imposing an economic blockade on Armenia, and then descending into civil war and threatening secession from the ussr, which resulted in 20,000 Soviet troops being sent to the republic Jan 1990. A cease-fire, brokered by the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan and signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan Sept 1991, broke down in Nov when the Azeri parliament voted to annul Nagorno-Karabakh's autonomous status. Following a referendum and elections early Dec 1991, and the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the 81-member parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence. This
Was not recognized by Azerbaijan and conflict within the enclave worsened.
In May 1992 Armenian troops made significant advances in the enclave, only to be repulsed by a surprise Azeri counter-offensive in June, which left hundreds of Armenian troops dead. On 15 Aug the ethnic Armenian government resigned. Another Armenian offensive began March 1993, and by June virtually all of Nagorno-Karabakh was under Armenian control.