Nation profile

Lernayin Gharabagh o Artsakh

General information
146.573 inhabitants (2013 est.)
11,458 km² (self-declared republic), 4,400 km² (according to Soviet boundaries)
Government of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and National Assembly
Major cities
Stepanakert (capital), Shushi, Merakert, Martuni
State administration
Azerbaijan (de jure), independent republic (de facto) with heavy links to the Republic of Armenia
Territorial languages
Official languages
Major religion
Armenian Christianity
National day
2 September (Independence Day)


Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsakh, is an Armenian-majority territory which lies within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.

Formerly part of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh was included in Soviet Azerbaijan in 1923, where it was granted the status of an autonomous oblast. Armenian leaders and intellectuals denounced, throughout the Soviet era, that the government of Azerbaijan was carrying out a policy of Azerbaijanization in their territory.

In the 1980s, a broad-based popular movement (the Karabakh Movement) called for Nagorno-Karabakh's reunification with Armenia. The Soviet Union did not meet the request and, in 1991, the government of Azerbaijan annulled Nagorno-Karabakh's limited autonomy.

As a result, the Karabakh Armenians proclaimed independence and war pitted an Armenia-Karabakh alliance against Azerbaijan. The conflict lasted until the 1994 ceasefire.

During the war, Karabakh annexed several surrounding Azerbaijani districts that now allows it to have territorial continuity with Armenia. The non-Armenian population was expelled from those districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement has been violated thousands of times, mostly in skirmishes. The most serious breach took place in April 2016 during the Four Days War, with a minimum of 200 killed —both combatants and civilians— and the capture by Azerbaidjan of some 8 to 20 square kilometres of territory formerly controlled by the Republic of Artsakh.


Karabakh has been acting as a de facto independent state, with very close links with Armenia.

No UN member state —not even Armenia— has recognized Karabakh independence in hopes that the various peace initiatives, above all under the OSCE aegis, that have been taking place bear fruit.

In 2007, the OSCE unveiled a peace proposal (the Madrid Principles, updated in 2009 in L’Aquila) foreseeing the retreat of the Armenian forces from the Artsakh territories not belonging to the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, the keeping of a corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, the return of those displaced, the approval of an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh, and finally a vote on its final status. The proposal was not fully accepted by any part of the conflict.


President: Bako Sahakyan (since 2007).
Distribution of seats in Parliament (33 seats). 2015 election:
Free Motherland - 15
Armenian Revolutionary Federation - 7
Democratic Party of Artsakh - 6
Movement 88 - 2
National Revival - 1
Independents/nonpartisans - 2

(Last updated February 2020)