Nagorno Karabakh history, full of unexpected developments, tragic incidents, protracted conflicts and also victories, is an inseparable part of Armenian history.
Speaking about Armenian history it’s almost impossible to forget about Nagorno-Karabakh history and vice versa. And this is what we are going to do today: speak about the history of two countries that are and will always be linked to each other.
Being home to unique art and architecture, ancient churches, monasteries and picturesque landscapes, Nagorno-Karabakh offers innumerable adventure, cultural and historical tourist destinations.
Especially over the last several years, due to its magnificent and breathtaking cultural landmarks Nagorno-Karabakh has started to attract a lot of travelers from all around the world.
Before travelling to Nagorno-Karabakh, or as locals say Artsakh, we recommend you to get acquainted with Nagorno-Karabakh history that has always interested historians, political analysts, international organizations, world powers and ordinary citizens like you.
- We will also present the 4 most interesting facts about Nagorno-Karabakh you didn’t know or didn’t read anywhere before.
Ready? Let’s go!
4 Interesting Facts about Nagorno Karabakh You Didn’t Know Before
But, let us attract your attention to something else at first. Before jumping into deep and ancient historical facts, let’s just discover some fun facts about Artsakh today.
Wouldn’t it be fun?
Fun Fact #1
We are sure you’ve watched “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” at least once in your life. How about “My BIG Fat Armenian Wedding”?
Hmm… Perhaps you don’t remember a film with such a title and it’s quite natural because there isn’t any. It’s simply reality.
Imagine what happened 9 months later! Yes, you are quite right! Nagorno Karabakh’s “big wedding” was followed by a real “baby boom”.
Fun Fact #2
After settling in Nagorno-Karabakh, Sterligov announced plans to start a farming business and stated that his wife would open a designer store.
Later Sterligov openly called for the international recognition of the unrecognized state.
To find out what happened to Streligov read the next fact about Nagorno-Karabakh below.
Fun Fact #3
No matter a football star, politician, billionaire or ordinary citizen, after visiting Nagorno-Karabakh your name will be included in the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s list of people declared personae non-grata.
Fun Fact #4
The author of The Guardian article mentions that the region has a lot to offer: mountain monasteries, archaeological sites, ancient cave settlements and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
You too pack your things and travel to Nagorno-Karabakh to experience unforgettable emotions during your Artsakh adventure. Don’t forget to take camera with you.
You will have many amazing photographs to share with people as they are excited to hear about your trip and see the beautiful images of Artsakh.
Check the Guardian article Nagorno Karabakh history!
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #1: Nagorno-Karabakh-first Mentioned in History
As an integral part of the Armenian Plateau, Artsakh was mentioned even in the works of such world renowned ancient philosophers, historians and authors as Plutarch, Strabo, Claudius Ptolemy, Dio Cassius and many others.
- The first mentioning of Karabakh dates back to the cuneiform script from the Uratuian King Sardur II of Armenia (763-734 BC).
- The document mentions the country of Urtekhini, which the Greek geographer, historian and philosopher Strabo (63/64 BC – 24 AD) called Orkhistene, Artsakh in Armenian.
- It is unclear when the area was conquered by Armenia, but Strabo’s history indicates indirectly that the country was already under Armenian rule in 189 BC.
- Strabo also mentions that in 100 BC the people who lived in Greater Armenia, including Artsakh and Utik, spoke the same language, namely Armenian.
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #2: Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh: Two names For the Same Region
The odds are you have always come across the terms “Artsakh” and “Nagorno Karabakh” when reading an article on this region.
Make sure, our article won’t be an exception. That’s why we think at first it would be better to understand why there are two terms referring to the same region and what each of them means?
The thing is that Armenians often refer to Nagorno-Karabakh as Artsakh using the name of the 10th province of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia.
Anyway “Artsakh” was better known among foreigners throughout the 20th century as “Nagorno Karabakh”.
- When it comes to the word “Karabakh” there are several explanations for it. According to one of these explanations the term “Karabakh” is of Armenian origin, meaning “Great Baghk” pointing to the Kingdom of Baghk (in the period between the 10th and the 13th centuries Baghk occupied the southern portion of Armenia’s provinces of Artsakh and Syunik).
- According to an alternative theory, the name “Karabakh” comprises two words, “kara” which means “black” in Turkish” and “bagh” or “bakh” which means “garden” in Persian. Thus, Karabakh literally means “black garden”.
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #3: Early History of Artsakh
- Artsakh, including today’s Nagorno Karabakh Republic, has been populated and uninterruptedly governed by Armenians, its autochthonous population, since the Roman times.
- The Armenian historian, Movses Khorenatsi (AD 5th century), states that during the 4th and 2nd centuries BC the province of Utik was along with Artsakh, part of the Armenian Kingdom of Yervandouni, also known as Orontids.
- According to geography book belonging to the Armenian royal Dynasty of Arshakounian (7th century) “Greater Armenia” was divided into fifteen provinces covering Siunik, Utik, as well as Artsakh….
- After the division of Greater Armenia (AD 387), Artsakh became part of the Eastern Armenian kingdom, which soon fell under the Persian rule.
- At that time, Artsakh was a part of the Armenian marzpanutyun (province).
- In the eleventh century, Karabakh came under the rule of the Bagratid Kings of Georgia, relatives of the Armenian Bagratids, who held it until the Mongol invasion.
- After 100 years of Mongol rule, Karabakh fell into Turkish hands, where it stayed until the Persians took power in the early 1600s.
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #4: NK History – 16th -20th centuries
- In the 16th century, a number of administrative-political entities called meliqdoms (principalities) were formed in Karabakh. The rulers of those principalities were called Meliqs.
- In the 16-17th centuries, Artsakh Meliqs spearheaded the liberation struggle of the Armenians against the Shah of Persia and the Sultan of Turkey.
- Along with the armed struggle, the Meliqs of Artsakh sent representatives to Europe and Russia asking for help from the Christian West.
- Anyway, in the middle of the 18th century, penetration of Artsakh by foreign ethnic elements began while in the late 18th – early 19th century, the Russian Empire began to play a more active role in the region.
- Following the Russian-Persian War of 1804-1813, Persia forever surrendered most of the Caucasus to Russia, including Karabakh.
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #5: Nagorno Karabakh & Soviet Era
- After the demise of the Russian Empire the situation worsened for Nagorno-Karabakh as the ancient Armenian region became the subject of territorial disputes.
- However, in 1918-1920, during the Russian civil war, Nagorno Karabakh designated itself as part of Armenia and was a self-ruled Armenian province with its own government and armed forces which fought against Azerbaijani and Ottoman forces.
- In 1921, Bolsheviks temporarily recognized Artsakh as an integral part of Armenia, together with two other Armenian regions, Nakhichevan and Zangezur.
- Everything seemed fine and could continue this way to date if Joseph Stalin hadn’t forcibly placed Artsakh under the administration of Soviet Azerbaijan.
- After a two-year armed struggle and at the Russian Communist Party’s insistence, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, granted a small part of Karabakh the right to an autonomous oblast on July 7, 1923.
- This became known as the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO).
Nagorno Karabakh’s Struggle in Soviet Regime
- For the next 70 years, Azerbaijan systematically violated the rights and interests of the Armenian population of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast in an attempt to eliminate its Armenian Christian majority and replace it with Azerbaijani Muslim settlers.
- During the entire Soviet period, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh never put up with this decision, and for decades struggled for reunification with the motherland.
- Representatives of the people of Nagorno Karabakh appealed to Moscow with numerous letters and petitions (in 1945, 1965, 1967, 1977) requesting to re-unify their land with Soviet Armenia, though their attempts didn’t change the situation for better.
- This is how Nagorno Karabakh was turned into the world’s only Christian territorial autonomy inside a largely Muslim state entity.
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #6: Nagorno-Karabakh War
The struggle over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated after both Armenia and Azerbaijan attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
On February 20, 1988, the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh officially demanded reunification with Armenia.
This action was supported by peaceful mass demonstrations in Armenia but was responded by bloody massacres of Armenians in Sumgait and Baku cities in Azerbaijan.
These massacres were supported and organized by Azerbaijan government and reminded Armenians and the whole world about the Armenian Genocide in Turkey in 1915.
Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh, thousands of innocent people were killed and as a result Armenians were forced to undertake defensive measures.
Thus, the Karabakh war started.
- Mediation was attempted by officials from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Iran, among other countries, and by organizations, including the UN and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which began sponsoring peace talks in mid-1992.
- By the end of 1993, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh had caused thousands of casualties and created hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides.
- Although the Armenian troops were smaller in number, they succeeded to win.
- In 1994 a ceasefire was signed between Armenia, Armenian forces of Artsakh and Azerbaijan.
Nagorno Karabakh History Fact #7: Nagorno Karabakh Now
- Despite the ceasefire signed between warring parties, to say that life in Artsakh is easy would be a BIG lie.
- Of course, the living conditions of people are incomparably better now; people enter universities, work, start a family and lead a happy life.
- However, let’s not forget that Nagorno-Karabakh is still an unrecognized republic and ongoing violations of ceasefire agreement make the situation even worse.
- The real proof of this is the so called “four-day war” which started in the early morning of April 2, 2016.
- Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched a large-scale military offense along the entire length of the 170-kilometer Karabakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact.
- This upsurge of violence is deemed the worst since the 1994 ceasefire agreement.
- Taking into account Azerbaijan’s aggression since 199, Armenian Army has taken an active role in ensuring the defense of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh from the possible eruption of hostilities.
- Now, the man force of Armenian army is complemented by around 20.000 well trained soldiers who defend Nagorno-Karabakh.
- People of Artsakh are sure that only the peaceful settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh and the international recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic will serve for the establishment of stability and long-lasting peace in the region.
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