Geographic Location, Climate, Natural Resources
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic is situated in the southeastern part of Caucasus Minor. The landscape of the republic is extremely rugged and mountainous, but it includes the eastern part of the Karabakh plateau, inclining from west to the east and merging with the Artsakh valley, a major part of the Kur-Araks lowland.
Due the incline, almost all the rivers of Nagorno Karabakh flow from the western and southwestern mountains to the east and southeast into the Artsakh valley.
Over centuries, these fast-flowing mountainous rivers
formed deep canyons and picturesque valleys. Most significant among
them are the valleys of Tartar, Khachen, Ishkhanaget, Varanda, Honashen,
Karkar, Inja and Kavart rivers. The biggest is the valley of the Tartar
River in the Jraberd province (former Martakert). The eastern parts
of Jraberd and Varanda provinces (former Martakert and Martuni respectively)
have relatively low altitude. The average altitude of the territory
of Nagorno Karabakh is 3600 ft. above see level.
The Artsakh Highland, like the entire Armenian Highland is seismically active. Volcanic formations like limestone and other sedimentary rocks originated in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods are common here.
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic's climate is mild and mostly subtropical. The annual average temperature is 51 F (11 C). The hottest months are July and August, when the average temperatures are 72 F (22 C) and 71 F (21C) respectively. The warmest parts of Nagorno Karabakh are the lowlands of Varanda and Jraberd provinces.
During the winter, in the months of January and February, the temperature fluctuates between 32-30 F (-1-0 C). During these winter months a relatively cold belt embraces the Mrav Mountain Range, especially in its northern part, although no lengthy periods of cold or heat are usually observed. The coldest temperature in the lowlands drops down to 3 F (-16 C), -2 F (-19 C) on the foothills and - 4-9 F (-20 - 23 C) in the highlands. The highest temperature rises up to 104 F (40 C) in the lowlands and on the foothills, and 90-99 F (32-37 C) on the highlands.
Mountainous and valley winds dominate and severe thunderstorms are common in the spring and summer. Average annual precipitation fluctuates between 19 and 28 inches (48-71 cm) depending on the zone. The least precipitation occurs in the valleys - in the lowlands of Jraberd and Varanda provinces and constitutes 16-19 inches (41-48 cm). The highlands get a great deal of precipitation - 22-33 inches (56-84 cm), mostly in May and June. Torrential rains and hail are common in this period. It is foggy 100-125 days a year.
The flora of Nagorno Karabakh is rich. About 2,000 different kinds of plants grow here. Bare rocks appear only in the highland regions. Artsakh's mountains are covered with forests, bushes or grasses.
In the steppes, which are elevated 984-1148 feet above the sea-level, semi-dessert plants generally dominate. Wormwood and other plants grow here. The foothills and mid-mountain areas are grassy.
Artsakh is also rich with forests. They constitute more than 36% of the territory of the republic (395,200 acres). Jraberd, Khachen and Dizak regions are the most forested with oak, hornbeam, linden, ash, birch and other trees.
In the forest clearings flowers grow - violets, tulips, wild roses, lilies, carnations, and water lilies. Blackberry bushes are abundant. Above the forest belt, on the altitude of 7,544 ft above sea-level, alpine plants grow, while on the highlands, tundra plants are more common.
The animal world of Nagorno Karabakh is also rich. Wild goats, pigs and deer live in the plains. Brown bears, wolves, wild cats, bobcats, foxes, hares, moles and boars inhabit the forests. Birds include wild geese, ducks, partridges, magpies, crows, sparrows, doves, kites, cuckoos, turtledoves, woodpeckers, larks, owls, and others. Turtles, hedgehogs and different kinds of snakes are abundant in the lowlands and on rocky foothills. There are different types of locusts, bugs and butterflies in Nagorno Karabakh. Most large rivers have significant fish populations.
Different metals and non-metals may be found in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, but to date, its territory has not been well explored.
Evidence of coal was found near the villages of Maghavuz, Nareshtar and Kolatak of Jraberd province. Many types of metals have been discovered in Karabakh including zinc, lead, copper, gold, sulfuric pyrites and iron. They are mostly rested near the villages of Mehmana, Drmbon, Gyulatagh, Kusapat, Vank, Ghazanchi, Lisagor, Zardanashen, Mets Tagher, Tsor and Maghavuz, between the rivers of Tartar and Khachen and in the foothills of Mrov mountain.
Artsakh is also rich with non-metals. There are deposits of marble and marbleized limestone of different colors near the towns of Stepanakert and Shushi, and Karaglukh village.
Granite, basalt, tuf, limestone, as well as raw material for cement, graphite, lithograph stone, gypsum, sand and high-quality clay can be found in the republic.
Nagorno Karabakh Republic is rich with mineral water. Some springs are known from the ancient times. Sources of mineral water, located within 10-11 miles from Shushi, in the villages of Lisagor, Berdadzor, Tum, Kolatagh and near the Goris-Stepanakert highway, have special medicinal value, since they have a large composition of iron. In the Shrlan village of Shushi province a clinic was built near a mineral water spring.
Healing mineral water, a mild climate, clean air, clear rivers, fruitful forests, picturesque valleys and waterfalls make Nagorno Karabakh a beautiful place for vacationers.