Opening with the National Anthem of Artsakh (the Armenian name of Upper Qarabagh), this 70-map atlas which has also been published in Armenian and in Russian, is according to its Editors “a complex historical-geographical and scientifically based cartographical work, which gives a complete idea about the two decades of the Upper Qarabagh Republic.” “It informs about the present and the past of this Armenian land, as well as about the possibilities of the development of the second Armenian state which is progressing based on democratic principles and creating statehood, simultaneously fixing social and economic achievements.”

As always, the publication of a national atlas is not only aimed to depict a state of geographic knowledge, but also a political affirmative action of asserting a nation’s existence to the world. Thus, on the eve of the twentieth century Finland, which had not yet acquired full independence, published the first contemporary national atlas, and created a model that was soon followed by Canada (1906) and Poland (1919). In the 1960s, the publication of republican atlases in the Soviet Union was undoubtedly one of the signals of the Thaw in nationalities policy which gave way to the expression of long-hidden national aspirations.

The Atlas of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic follows this path with a set of not only classical geographical maps, but also historical and cultural maps underlining the Armenian identity and shared past with other Armenian regions since time immemorial and the obstinate “national liberation struggle” since the eighteenth century, “to accomplish the century dream to live freely and independently.” One third of the book is devoted to the cartography of geopolitical and military-political events since the proclamation of independence in 1991. Apart from the important amount of data that it provides, this Atlas also constitutes a part of the state-building process and has to be analysed also as such. This was made clear during its official presentation at the Qarabagh State University on October 1, 2010, when President Bako Sahakyan stressed that the Atlas which presents the “territorial integrity of the country, [. . .] touches upon the issues of state security and should be a bench-mark for all undertakings.”

Claire Mouradian, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-2.3-81