Nagorno-Karabakh is the fourth piece of the South Caucasus jigsaw, a geopolitical product of the Soviet Union and a self-declared republic recognised by no one. The subject of a brutal war between 1990 and 1994, this small region is Armenian culture on land claimed by Azerbaijan. Its name sums up its myriad cultural influences: nagorno means mountainous in Russian, kara means black in Turkish and bakh means garden in Persian. To further confuse matters, Karabakhtis call their land Artsakh.
While there exist many questions about Nagorno-Karabakh and its political status, the beauty and cultural richness of its remote mountain landscape are undeniable. The Karabakh War left deep psychological scars on the people but the Karabakhtis are moving on, rebuilding their land stone by stone. Travel here is still an adventure, but rapidly improving infrastructure means better hotels, restaurants and hiking trails, while Karabakhti hospitality makes the challenges a joy, even in difficult times.