Established in 1924, the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is a 2,124 square mile region, separated from Azerbaijan by a small strip of Armenian territory, and bordered by Turkey and Iran to the south and Armenia to the north. The land is almost totally mountainous and rocky, with only a small cultivated area of the lowlands. Earthquakes are a constant problem, disrupting one of the sole gateways to trade between Russia and Iran.

The civilization in the region was burned to the ground by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C., and after resettlement, control of the area passed to the Persians. In the beginning of the 7th century, the Arabs took control, until losing the area to the Seljuk Turks in the 9th century. The Mongols took over 400 years later and the subsequent centuries of resistance by the local people led to the development of a Nakhchivan Khanate by the middle of the 18th century. In 1804, the Khanate was occupied by Russia during its war with Persia, and by treaty the region was handed over to Russian control in 1828. The population of 350,000 is divided mainly betweem the three cities of the republic, the capital, Nakhichevan, Ordubad, and Dzhulfa. The population consists mainly of Azeris, with small Russian and Armenian minorities.

The lowlands produce cotton, rice, wheat, and fruit. As altitude increases the economy relies more on production of wine and silk, and the mining of salt, lead, and molybdenum.

The main exports are processed cotton, wine, and mineral water. The region also is a major center of trade for business passing between Iran, Turkey, and Russia.

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