The Nagorno-Karabagh Republic is located in the southeastern part of the Caucasus Minor. The Republic is typically mountainous, embracing the eastern part of Karabakhi plateau and from the west goes downhill to the east, joining with the Artsakh valley, forming the great part of Kuro-Araks lowland.
Almost all the rivers of Nagorno-Karabagh flow from the western and southwestern mountains to the east and south- east out into to the Artsakh valley.
During the centuries these fast flowing mountainous rivers formed deep spectacular gorges and beautiful picturesque valleys. The valleys of the rivers Ishkhanaget, Varanda, Khonashen, Kar- Kar, Indja, Kavart, Tartar are considered the most beautiful. The vastest is the valley of the river Tartar, situated in Martakert region.
It is no surprise that the carving of the mountains by the fast rivers characterizes the republic’s territory and offers the most beautiful of scenery. The eastern parts of Martakert and Martin regions are relatively low-lying. The average height of Nagorno Karabagh above sea level is 1100 meters.
From the north to the south on the eastern frontier of Nagorno Karabagh stretches the Karabakhian mountain ridge. Running from this chain in an east west direction are several mountain ridges stretching along most of the territory of the region.
The Mrav mountain ridge is the country’s highest running as it does through the Martakert region. The highest peaks are Gomshasar (3724m) and Mrav (3343m), which are situated in the northwest of the region. Other notable high mountains are Forty Girls (2828m) in Askeran region, peaks of Great Kirs (2725m) and Dizapait (2480m) located in the Karabakhian ridge. The Great Kirs is situated in the junction of Shushi and Hadrout regions Dizapait - in Hadrout region.
Artsakh plateau like all Armenian plateaus is characterized by active seismics. Volcanic rocks that appeared in ancient times are gaining ground: limestone and other sedimentary rocks from the Jurassic and cretaceous period.
The NKR's climate is mild and temperate. The great part of the territory has dry subtropical climate.
The average annual temperature here is +10.5. The hottest months are July and August, the average temperature of which is +21.7 and +21.4. The hottest districts in the territory of NKR are the low-lying zones of Martouni and Martakert regions.
In the winter the average temperature in January-February vacillates from –0.2 to – 0.9. In winter months it is relatively cold in the alpine regions, in particular the northern part of Mrav ridge.
There are rarely sustained periods of either hot or cold weather in the territory of the Republic. The lowest temperature in low-lying area is recorded at –16, in the foothills at –19, and in alpine regions– from –20 to –23. The highest temperature recorded in low-lying and foothill districts reaches +40, in middle mountainous and mountainous districts from +32 to +37.
The mountainous-valley winds predominate over the territory of Republic. In spring and summer months, there are often heavy storms. The average annual amount of precipitation ranges from 480 to 700 mm. The lowest precipitation falls in plain zones – in lowest parts of Martakert and Martouni districts and averages 410-480 mm a year. The greatest precipitation is recorded in alpine zone and averages 560-830 mm a year. Most rainfall is recorded in the months of May-June. It is usually very heavy tropical type rain often accompanied by hail. On average some 100-125 days in a year are foggy.
The flora and fauna
The vegetable kingdom of Nagorno Karabagh is varied. There are recorded some two thousand variants of plants. It is only in extreme alpine districts where one will find bare rocks not given to the growth of flora or fauna. The mountainous massifs of Artsakh are covered with forests, bushes or grasses.
The plants of semi-desert predominate, in particular, in steppe zones, situated at a height of 300-350 meters above sea level. In general, wormwood, camel’s bur, blue-brand and other numerous kinds. Grasses are numerous in foothill and middle mountainous zones.
Artsakh is also rich in forests. They comprise more than 36% of the territory of Republic or 160 thousand hectares. The most wooded areas are the regions of Martakert, Askeran and Hadrout. Here grow oak, hornbill, linden, ash-tree, birch and many other kinds of trees.
In wood fields there are many plants with aromatic flowers – violet, tulip, forest rose, lily, pink and water lily. One can also see many bushes of blackberries. Above the tree line at a height of 2300m above sea level it is alpine, and in these high mountainous parts there are plants characteristic of tundra.
The fauna of region is various. We can see wild goats and pigs in the plains. There are fulvous bears, wolves, wild cats, trots, foxes, hares, squirrels, moles and boars in the forests. Amongst the birds there are wild geese, ducks, partridges, magpies, crows, sparrows, pigeons, vultures, cuckoos, woodpeckers, larks, owls and others. There are many kinds of snakes, tortoise and hedgehog in both the plain and stony alpine zones.
There are also many kinds of locusts, beetles and butterflies. Fish are found in most of the large rivers.
There are a number of metals and nonmetals in Nagorno Karabagh Republic. The geology-research of the territory has not been the subject of in depth study. Among the mineral fuels discovered is that of coal near the villages Maghavuz, Nareshtar and Kolatak in the Martakert region. In Karabagh even from ancient times the discovery of deposits and development of many kinds of metals took place. In particular the metals zinc, lead, copper, gold, sulfuric pyrites and gland. Most are to be found near the villages Mehmana, Drmbon, Gyulatagh, Kousapat, Van, Khazanchi, Lisagor, Zardanashen, Mets Tager, Tsor and Maghavouz, between the Tartar and Khachen rivers, and also on the slopes of the mountain Mrav.
Artsakh is also rich in nonmetals. In particular, there are many deposits of marble and marbled limestone with various colored shades. They are to be found near the cities of Stepanakert and Shushi also near the village Karaglukh. Within the territory of the Republic there are supplies of granite, basalt, tuff, limestone, and the raw materials for the production of cement, graphite, lithographic stone, gypsum, sand and high quality loam.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is also rich in mineral water resources. Some sources are known from ancient times. The sources of mineral water, situated in 16-18 km from Shushi, in Lisagor, near the road Goris -Stepanakert have a very practical position. They contain iron and are valued for their medicinal properties.
A sanatorium was built on the base of one of the mineral water sources, near the village of Shirlan of Shushi region.
Karabakh offers a wealth of tranquility and beauty to the visitor. The soft climate, the pure air, the clear running waters of its rivers, the rich and varied forests, the healing mineral waters, the valleys carved by nature and the tumbling water falls provide for all a haven of peace and relaxation. A rest home of stunning majestic beauty.