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Religion in Artsakh

Religion in Artsakh (2015)[1]

  Armenian Apostolic (98.02%)
  Evangelical (0.37%)
  Russian Orthodox (0.15%)
  Other (0.14%)
  Irreligion (0.43%)
  Undecided (0.24%)

Religion in Artsakh is characterized by a largely homogeneous Armenian Apostolic population. Prior to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict a large population of Shia Islamic Azerbaijanis also populated the area. While ownership is disputed, most of the region is claimed and governed by the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh.


Arrival of Islam

Islam arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh with Arabs in the seventh century, gradually increasing as Islamic nations ruled the region.

Safavid Dynasty

In the sixteenth century, the first shah of the Safavid Dynasty, Ismail I (r. 1486-1524) established Shia Islam as the state religion. The Safavid Dynasty would have a strict policy of enforcing Shia Islam, which would bring political conflict with the Sunnis of the neighbouring Ottoman Empire.

Russian Empire

In 1806, Northern Azerbaijan was annexed by the Russian Empire from the Persian Qajar Dynasty, this region also included Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

In 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918 - 1920) declared independence from Russia during the Russian Civil war. But was promptly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920.

Soviet era

During the Soviet era, state atheism was enforced, which resulted in all of Nagorno-Karabakh's Churches and Mosques being closed.

After the collapse of USSR

After the collapse of USSR, the Nagorno-Karabakh War began. During which most of the local Sunni Azeri population was deported by Armenian forces. The Azeri's which had stayed soon after emigrated back to Azerbaijan.

Religious places

See also List of mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh and Category:Churches in the Republic of Artsakh