The conflict is an offshoot of the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and like other member states, Armenia and Azerbaijan declared their independence. Immediately there was a dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is a region located within Azerbaijan, but whose population is mostly Armenian. It entered the war with thousands of dead that allowed Armenia to invade Nagorno-Karabakh and pass into Armenia.
Two years ago, the Azerbaijani army – generously equipped with oil and gas exports – overran a large part of Nagorno-Karabakh. With Russian mediation, after six weeks of war and 6,500 deaths, a ceasefire was reached, allowing Armenia to keep about half of Nagorno-Karabakh. Since then, that region has been connected to Armenia only by a narrow corridor controlled by Russian forces.
Armenians are a local people from the Caucasus and have their own language. Most of them are Christians and the country considers itself culturally European, although geographically it is located in Asia. Azerbaijan is inhabited mainly by Shiite Muslims associated with the Turks. The country has good relations with Turkey.
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