An autonomous republic within the state of Azerbaijan, located southwest of the Lesser Caucasus. Azerbaijanis constitute the vast majority of its population, and most of them profess Islam.
It is separated from Azerbaijan by a strip of Armenian territory, through which it passes.Zangzour Pass“which is the direct land link between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan, and Armenia's closure of the corridor in 1989 led to the isolation of this republic from its political, economic and cultural surroundings, which left a chronic problem and constituted a permanent conflict between the two countries.
Location and geography
This republic is located southwest of Azerbaijan and the Lesser Caucasus region, and is bordered by Iran to the south and west, Turkey to the northwest, and Armenia to the north and east.
Nakhchivan represents an enclave separated from Azerbaijan by a strip of Armenian territory, and Azerbaijan does not have a direct land route to it, except by passing through another country, such as Armenia and Iran.
The area of the republic is about 5,502.75 square kilometers, and mountain highlands cover most of its territory, and the “Zangzur” and “Daralayaz” ranges form a natural border for this country with Armenia. Mount Gabichig is the highest peak (3904 meters above sea level).
The plains are spread over an area representing about a third of the area of Nakhchivan, and are located to the west and southwest of the region, to the east and north of the Aras River, which forms the region’s natural borders with Iran and Turkey.
In general, the Nakhchivan region has a dry continental climate, where summers are hot and dry, while winters are cold and cloudy, with rain and snow falling. Temperatures range between minus 6 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees Celsius in summer. It is rarely below minus 12 degrees Celsius or above 39 degrees Celsius.
The annual rainfall rate in the plains ranges between 200 and 300 mm, while in the mountainous highlands the rainfall varies between 500 and 800 mm.
Administratively, Nakhchivan is divided into 7 regions: Babak, Julfa, Ordubad, Sedrak, Shabuz, Shirur, Kangerli, and Nakhchivan. It includes 5 cities: Nakhchivan (the capital), Ordubad, Julfa, Shabuz, and Sharur.
Nakhchivan has its own constitution, a Supreme Council, a Council of Ministers, and a Supreme Court. The Supreme Council of the Republic consists of 45 deputies, whose president is considered to have the highest authority in the Republic. The heads of executive authorities are appointed by the President of Azerbaijan on the recommendation of the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Nakhchivan.
There is no agreement on the origins of the name “Nakhchivan”, and some scholars believe, according to historical sources, that the word is taken from the merging of the two words “Naqshi-Jihan”, which means “adornment of the world”, in reference to the beauty that the region enjoys.
The popular story, and the most popular among Azerbaijanis, is that “Nakhchivan” means “Land of Noah” in ancient Persian languages, and it was originally composed of two words: Nakh, meaning Noah, and Jevan, meaning land.
It is common among local residents that Sina Noah, peace be upon him, lived in the area and was buried there. They rely in their story on the old grave in the city of Nakhchivan, which they say is the grave of the Prophet Noah.
There is an explanation that believes that “Nakhchivan” is an Armenian word, which literally means “landing place,” referring to the landing of Noah’s ark on the towering peaks of the region’s mountains. According to popular legend, the visible crack at the top of Mount Ilandag is nothing but the effect of Noah's Ark landing after the waters of the flood receded.
The population, according to the official sources of the Republic, is about 463 thousand people (January 2022), the vast majority of whom are Azeris, at a rate of 99.6%, and there are also small numbers of some minorities such as Armenians, Russians, and Turks.
Most of the population is Muslim, and speaks Azeri, which belongs to the Turkic language family, and is also the official language. In addition, Russian is a common second language among urban residents.
Nakhchivan relies mainly on the agricultural and industrial sectors for its economy. Agriculture represents an important economic activity in the region, and the abundance of fertile plains and the richness of the region in rivers and springs have contributed to its success. Many crops are grown in it, such as: grains, vegetables, fruits, cotton, and tobacco.
Agricultural and livestock wealth is considered one of the pillars of industry in Nakhchivan, as many industries depend on it, such as: food industries, textiles, carpets, and silk.
Industrial activity also focuses on the electronics and mining industries, such as the extraction of lead, molybdenum, and salt. Building materials, furniture, glass, and other light industries are also manufactured.
Nakhchivan's geographical separation from the rest of the Azerbaijani lands, and the isolation imposed by Armenia on it since 1989, have greatly affected its economic development. However, local sources confirm that the economy is constantly improving.
The domestic product – the period between January and October 2022, according to local data – was estimated at about 1.44 billion dollars, an increase of 2.6%, compared to the same period in 2021, and the size of the per capita gross domestic product increased by 3.4% to reach 3,100. dollar.
Nakhchivan is one of the oldest areas inhabited by humans, and archaeologists’ excavations indicate the availability of evidence of human settlement there since the Paleolithic Age, and the artifacts found confirm the establishment of an economically and culturally prosperous civilization in the Bronze Age.
For more than 3,500 years, the city of Nakhchivan has formed one of the most important economic, political and cultural centers in the country AzerbaijanThe Manaeans were the first people to rule the region, then the Persian Achaemenids took control of it, and in the fourth century BC the region became part of the independent state of Atropatena, and in 189 BC the Kingdom of Armenia, which was established by Artasias (Ardashis) I, extended its rule over Nakhchivan.
In Iran, the Sassanian Empire appeared in the third century AD, and began to expand at the expense of neighboring countries. In the fourth century AD, it was able to control Nakhchivan, and in 623 the Byzantines were able to defeat the Sassanians and subject the region to their rule.
Islamic conquests arrived in the region in the seventh century AD, and Muslim raids continued back and forth. By the eighth century AD, Islamic forces extended their control over all parts of Central Asia, and Nakhchivan became subject to Islamic rule.
The people of the country expressed their rejection of foreign rule, despite the spread of Islam among them, and a popular resistance emerged that was able to obtain self-rule under the Islamic State. In the tenth century, the region became completely independent, and Nakhchivan came under the control of the local dynasties that ruled Azerbaijan.
In the 11th century AD, the Seljuk state ruled Azerbaijan, including the Nakhchivan region. With the decline of Seljuk rule, the state of the Atabegs of Azerbaijan, “Ildgiz,” was established, which made Nakhchivan its capital, and the city then became an important economic, political, and cultural center.
This country was invaded by the Mongols in the 1320s, and Nakhchivan became part of the Mongol Empire. In the 16th century, the Persian Safavids dominated the region, which in that era was the scene of military-political competition between the Safavid, Ottoman, and Russian empires.
In the 18th century, the control of the Safavid Empire began to decline, which enabled the establishment of small local states, including the Nakhchivan Khanate, which was founded in 1747.
the modern history
In the 19th century, the Azerbaijan region, including Nakhchivan, remained the subject of fierce competition between Russia and Iran, and fierce wars broke out between them for years, the first of which took place between 1804 and 1813, and ended with the “Golestan” agreement, according to which the lands of Azerbaijan were divided between Russia and Iran, and Nakhchivan was the share of Iran.
Between 1826 and 1828, a second war broke out, and it ended, as before, with the division of Azerbaijan according to the Turkmenchay Treaty, and this time Nakhchivan was annexed to Russia.
In the Russian era, the ethnic composition of Azerbaijan was changed by settling large numbers of Armenians there. While the proportion of Armenians was only 17% of the total population, it rose to 45% under Russian rule. Muslims now constitute 55%, after they were the majority at 83% of the total population.
The Russian authorities worked to merge the Khanate of Nakhchivan with the Khanate of Yerevan, and thus Nakhchivan became part of the new Armenian region. By the twentieth century, a fierce conflict broke out between the Azeris and Armenians, claiming the lives of hundreds of people on both sides.
And after rising Bolshevik RevolutionThe “People's Democratic Republic of Armenia” was dissolved in 1918, and the republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan were formed, between which the dispute raged over the ownership of a number of regions, including Nakhchivan. At the end of the same year, the establishment of the “Turkish Republic of Araz” was declared on the lands of Nakhchivan, with the aim of preventing Armenia from seizing the region. However, the Armenian attacks did not stop until March 1920, when Armenia was able to impose its control over Nakhchivan.
In July 1920, the Soviet Red Army took control of Nakhchivan, and reorganized its administrative organization under the name “Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.” The Russians made numerous attempts to annex the region to Armenia, and also ceded to it the Zangzur region, the corridor connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan, and this caused The situation cut off the geographical connection between Nakhchivan and other Azerbaijani regions.
Soviet policies were met with strong popular resistance in the region, and an opinion poll – conducted in 1921 – showed that 90% of the population wanted the region to remain part of Azerbaijan, and indeed the republic was annexed that year to Soviet Azerbaijan, while maintaining its autonomy, and in April 1926 it was declared Adopting its own constitution.
In that era, a reverse migration movement of Armenians began towards Armenia, so that their presence in Nakhchivan decreased in 1979 to reach about 1.4% of the total population. Some lands were also cut off from Nakhchivan and annexed to Armenia.
In 1989, against the backdrop of ongoing conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia closed the railway line that passed through its territory, and cut off the direct line of communication between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan. It attacked the latter the following year and seized the village of “Garki.”
After Azerbaijan declared its independence in 1991, it was announced Heydar AliyevChairman of the Supreme Soviet of Nakhchivan at the time, declared the independence of the region, which retained its status as an “autonomous republic” and part of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan.
However, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan did not stop over Nakhchivan, and the dispute between them over the Zangrur Corridor was repeatedly renewed, and the project turned into a thorny issue, and a subject of ongoing disagreement between the two countries, and in 2023, Azerbaijan demanded that Armenia open it, and threatened to use it by force.
Nakhchivan is characterized by a long history, immortalized by many ancient cities, towers, fortresses, shrines and mosques. Among the most prominent historical monuments are:
The Republic includes many shrines that represent distinctive architecture, the most important of which are:
Mausoleum of Yusuf bin Kusir: It is considered one of the masterpieces of Eastern architecture. It is located northwest of Nakhchivan, in the village of Qara Bagler. It is believed to have been built between the 12th and 14th centuries AD. The landmark is distinguished by distinctive Quranic inscriptions and bright turquoise floral decorations. The shrine was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998.
Mausoleum of Momina Hatun: It is considered one of the most important architectural landmarks in the city of Nakhchivan. It was built by the architect Ajami bin Abu Bakr in the 12th century, and it was part of a large cultural complex in Nakhchivan. The shrine was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998.
Tomb of the Prophet Noah: It is an architectural monument, built between the eighth and 12th centuries, near an old castle, in the southern part of Nakhchivan. The people of this country attribute the grave in the landmark to the Prophet Noah, who they believe lived in the region and was buried there.
Built in the oriental architectural style, at the end of the 18th century, in the mountainous area of the city of Nakhchivan. The building was constructed of baked bricks, on an area of 3,600 square meters, to be the headquarters and residence of the khans of the “rulers” of Nakhchivan.
- Alingajala Castle
It is located in the Julfa region, at an altitude of 1,700 meters, on top of Mount Alingagala. It has two main entrances from the east and west, and represents a distinctive example of castles with military fortifications in the Middle Ages. The castle played an important role in repelling foreign invasion, especially during the Atabeg period of Azerbaijan.