This area gained international notice in 1988 as the site of conflict between the ethnic, mostly Oriental Orthodox Christian Armenians—who form a majority of the population and who have declared Nagorno-Karabakh to be part of Armenia—and the mostly Muslim Azerbaijanis, who claim it should continue to be ruled from Baku. It is a mountainous region, rich in agriculture and minerals, and a valuable asset. The dispute escalated after the collapse of the Soviet Union: Inter-ethnic killings led to military clashes which, according to United Nations estimates, claimed the lives of as many as 15,000 soldiers and civilians. Since 1992, Armenian troops have captured much of the Azerbaijani territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Today, the region is controlled by ethnic Armenians and is expected to be granted autonomy once—or if—all sides can agree as to how this will be carried out.
Though a cease-fire signed in 1994 has held for the most part, sniper and land-mine incidents continue to be problems, so travelers should avoid the region. Fighting has destroyed almost everything of interest anyway. 130 mi/210 km west of Baku.
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