Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region in the South Caucasus, lying between Lower Karabakh and Zangezur and covering the southeastern range of the Lesser Caucasus mountains. The region is mostly mountainous and forested and has an area of 8,223 square kilometres (3,175 sq mi).
Most of the region is governed by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, an unrecognized, de facto independent state established on the basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within the Azerbaijan SSR of the Soviet Union.
The territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but this has not exercised power over most of the region since 1991. Since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994, representatives of the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group on the region's status - so far these are inconclusive.
In March 2007, the government announced that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh had grown to 138,000. In 1989 it had a population of 192,000. The population at that time was 76% Armenian and 23% Azerbaijanis, with Russian and Kurdish minorities. In 2001, the reported population was 95% Armenian, with the remaining total including Assyrians, Greeks, and Kurds..
It has a total area of 4,400 square kilometers (1,699 sq mi) and is an enclave surrounded entirely by Azerbaijan; its nearest point to Armenia is across the Lachin corridor, roughly 4 kilometers across.
The capital is Stepanakert (known in Azerbaijan as Xankəndi, Khankendi). Its other major city, today lying partially in ruins, is Shushi (known in Azerbaijan as Shusha).
The borders of Nagorno-Karabakh resemble a kidney bean with the indentation on the east side. It has tall mountain ridges along the northern edge and along the west and a mountainous south. The part near the indentation of the kidney bean itself is a relatively flat valley, with the two edges of the bean, the provinces of Martakert and Martuni, having flat lands as well. Other flatter valleys exist around the Sarsang reservoir, Hadrut, and the south. Much of Nagorno-Karabakh is forested, especially the mountains.
Most of the Armenian population is Christian and belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Certain Orthodox Christian and Evangelical Christian denominations also exist.
Nagorno (Нагорный) is a Russian word meaning "highland". The word is not used in Armenian or Azerbaijani, but was used in the official name of the region under the Soviet Union. Due to this, it is the most commonly known name, though many languages also use their own word for mountainous or upper or highland; for example, the official name used by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in France is Haut-Karabakh, meaning "upper Karabakh".
The word Karabakh is generally held to originate from Turkic and Persian, and literally means "black garden". The name first appears in Georgian and Persian sources of the 13th and 14th centuries. Karabagh is an acceptable alternate spelling of Karabakh, and also denotes a kind of patterned rug originally produced in the area.
In an alternative theory the name Karabakh has a Turkic-Armenian origin, meaning "Greater Baghk" (Armenian: Մեծ Բաղք), a reference to Ktish-Baghk (later: Dizak), one of the principalities of Artsakh under the rule of the Aranshahik dynasty, which held the throne of the Kingdom of Syunik in the 11th–13th centuries and called itself the "Kingdom of Baghk".
Likewise, the names for the region in the various local languages all translate to "mountainous Karabakh", or "mountainous black garden":
Armenian: Լեռնային Ղարաբաղ, transliterated Leṙnayin Ġarabaġ Azerbaijani: Dağlıq Qarabağ (mountainous Karabakh) or Yuxarı Qarabağ (upper Karabakh) Russian: Нагорный Карабах, transliterated Nagornyj Karabax
It is often referred to by the Armenians living in the area as Artsakh (Armenian: Արցախ), designating the 10th province of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia. In Urartian inscriptions (9th–7th centuries BC), the name Urtekhini is used for the region. Ancient Greek sources called the area Orkhistene.
The information in this section is derived from the document State-Building referenced at the end of this country report.
The secondary education system consists of 228 state secondary schools, two state departmental colleges, and two non-state secondary schools. The secondary educational system has three levels: junior (1-3 grades), medium (4-9 grades) and senior (10-11 grades).
In the republic there are 17 junior, 36 medium and 121 senior secondary schools. Among senior secondary schools four schools are of special nature, two of which are professional technical schools.
The total number of school teachers is reported as 3292.
Secondary schools are reported as having computer classes: currently about 400.
The document reports that there are eight universities in Nagorno Karabakh. This is a surprisingly high number for a country with just over 100,000 population but four are reported as being (just) branches of non-state universities in Armenia. Three others are reported as local non-state higher educational establishments (no details are available).
Artsakh State University is the main and the biggest university. Little information is available and the web site given (http://www.arsu.nk.am) was inactive when checked (note the .nk.am designator for Nagorno-Karabakh). However there is recent information on it at http://armenhes.blogspot.com/2009/01/artsakh-president-addresses-artsakh.html and a picture of its main building (and a location map) at http://www.panoramio.com/photo/579894.
The higher educational establishments overall satisfy the requirements of the republic in specialists, with the exception of medical, radio-technical, and energy specialists: these receive education in the Republic of Armenia. Every year Armenia allocates a quota of its university places to Karabakh students.
There is a (to some) surprising amount of information in English on Nagorno-Karabakh, due in part to the activities of their Office in the United States (http://www.nkrusa.org).
No doubt there are differing viewpoints in the world, and in particular in Armenia and Azerbaijan, about the reliability of such information - a topic explored in more detail in articles such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagorno-Karabakh, but outside the scope of the Re.ViCa project to discuss. We have felt comfortable using some of the basic information on education for our country report.
- NAGORNO KARABAKH REPUBLIC (ARTSAKH) - STATE BUILDING: PROGRESS TOWARD FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, September 2008 (date based on internal evidence in the document), http://www.nkrusa.org/nk_conflict/assets/nkr-state-building.pdf
- ARMENIA: HIGHER EDUCATION AND SCIENCES, interesting and provocative blog with occasional information on Nagorno-Karabakh, http://armenhes.blogspot.com/