The recent news that 15 people have died during renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh probably prompted most Westerners, if they noticed the report at all, to ask “What or where is Nagorno-Karabakh?” One of the side effects of travel is a heightened awareness of how many people have suffered and died for tracts of land that barely register on the world’s radar screen. Such is Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian enclave under that country’s control contained wholly within the boundaries of Azerbaijan. Its current configuration is the result of a six-year war between the neighboring countries that ended with an uneasy truce in 1994.
As a traveler to the region in 2006 I experienced Nagorno-Karabakh simply as a curiosity represented by an increased military presence as we skirted its borders. The only casualty of the conflict was my Lonely Planet guide: before heading to the Azerbaijani border we were obliged to remove any maps in our possession showing the breakaway enclave as a part of Armenia.