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As part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Nakhichevan Republic is located in South Asia, west of Azerbaijan proper and separated from this main territory by the narrow strip of Armenia. The landmass of Nakhichevan is 5,500 square kilometers, occupying the southern slopes of the Darlagez range and the southwestern slopes of the Zangezur Mountains. The Araz river valley extends between these two ranges. Almost 75 percent of the territory is located at an elevation of 1,000 meters. Gapydjik, located in the Zangezur range, is the highest peak in the region at 3,904 meters. The region is also known for its volcanic domes and its frequent, severe earthquakes.

The republic is rich in mineral deposits including marble, gypsum, lime, and sulfur. There are abundant mineral springs including Badamli, Sirab, Nagajir, and Kiziljir.

Nakhichevan's climate is continental, its temperature ranging from 26 degrees Celsius in summer months to -6 degrees Celsius in winter. The pre-Arazian plains region can be described as semiarid. The higher elevations of the mountainous areas are characterized as tundra, typically cold and dry. Precipitation is considerably light throughout the region, with 200 to 300 millimeters annually recorded in the plains region. Periodic flash flooding occurs due to topography and sparse vegetation. Aside from the Araz, there are about forty smaller rivers in the country fed by rain and the mountain runoff of melting snows.

According to legend, Noah's ark is said to have first touched land along the submerged peaks of the Zangezur Mountains before reaching Mount Ararat. The Republic's name is derived from this legend, as "Nakhichevan" is a corruption of Nukkhtchikhan, the colony of Noah. Like the surrounding region, Nakhichevan sits at a strategic crossroads and has been subject to military intervention throughout much of its history. In the mid-eighteenth century, after successive battles for supremacy between Iran and Russia, Nakhichevan came under Russian control, in accordance with the treaty of Turkmanchai in 1828. In 1924 Josef Stalin designated Nakhichevan an autonomous republic, a status it maintains today within Azerbaijan.

The economy, based on agriculture, food processing, and mining, has suffered substantially since 1988 with loss of markets and imports due to the Karabakh conflict. While trade corridors are being restored to neighboring Iran and Turkey, economic recovery is slow. Since 2000 almost three-quarters of the state budget has been provided by the central government in Baku.

See also: azerbaijan and azeris; caucasus


"Azerbaijan and Iran deal in LNG." Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections. July 5, 2002. <>.

Swietochowski, Tadeusz, and Brian Collins. (1999). Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Twyman, Gregory. (2001). "Geography and Climate." In USACC Investment Guide to Azerbaijan, 2001. Washington, D.C.: USACC.

Gregory Twyman


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Nakhichevan Autonomous republic of Azerbaijan, bounded n and e by Armenia, s and w by Iran, and w by Turkey; the capital is Nakhichevan. Under Persian domination from the 13th to the 19th century, it became part of Russia in 1828. In 1924, it was made an autonomous republic within the Soviet Union. In 1991, it became part of the independent republic of Azerbaijan, but was subsequently disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nakhichevan is mountainous and subject to earthquakes. Crops: grains, cotton, tobacco, fruit, grapes. Industries: mining, silk textile production, food processing. Area: 5500sq km (2120sq mi). Pop. (2002 est.) 366,500.