Artsakh is located in the southern part of the Lesser Caucasus range, at the eastern edge of the Armenian Highlands, encompassing the highland part of the wider geographical region known as Karabakh. Under Russian and Soviet rule, the region came to be known as Nagorno-Karabakh, meaning "Mountainous Karabakh" in Russian. The name Karabakh itself (derived from Turkic and Persian, and literary meaning "Black Vineyard") was first employed in Georgian and Persian sources from the 13th and 14th centuries to refer to an Armenian principality known by modern historians as the Kingdom of Artsakh or Khachen.
Currently, most of this area is under the control of the de facto Artsakh Republic, which has economic, political, and military support from Armenia, but the region is de jure recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The final status of the region is still a subject of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This article encompasses the history of the region from the ancient to the modern period.