Republic of Artsakh
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Artsakh, officially the Republic of Artsakh (Armenian) or the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, is a breakaway state in the South Caucasus supported by Armenia, whose territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Artsakh controls a part of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, and a 5km wide corridor connecting it to Armenia, and is withdrawing from surrounding territory. Its capital is Stepanakert.
The predominantly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh was claimed by both the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the First Republic of Armenia when both countries became independent in 1918 after the fall of the Russian Empire, and a brief war over the region broke out in 1920. The dispute was largely shelved after the Soviet Union established control over the area, and created the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) within the Azerbaijan SSR in 1923. During the fall of the Soviet Union, the region re-emerged as a source of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 1991, a referendum held in the NKAO and the neighbouring Shahumian region resulted in a declaration of independence. Ethnic conflict led to the 1991–1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War. Conflict has sporadically broken out since then, most significantly in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.
In the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Azerbaijani forces, retook the Artsakh-held Azerbaijan territories and captured the southern half of the region, including Shusha. Armenia (negotiating on behalf of Artsakh) was forced to concede additional territories in order to preserve Stepanakert and the northern half of Artsakh proper under local Armenian control (and protected by Russian peacekeepers). The political status of this reduced region was not specified in the agreement, and remains unresolved.
Artsakh is a presidential democracy with a unicameral legislature. The country is reliant on and closely integrated with Armenia, in many ways functioning de facto as part of Armenia.
The country is very mountainous, averaging 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) above sea level. The population is 99.7% ethnic Armenian, and the primary spoken language is the Armenian language. The population is overwhelmingly Christian, most being affiliated with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Several historical monasteries are popular with tourists, mostly from the Armenian diaspora, as most travel can take place only between Armenia and Artsakh.