1902 Encyclopedia > Shusha, South Caucasus

South Caucasus

SHUSHA, a town, formerly a fortress, of Russia, in the Caucasian government of Elisabethpol, lies in 39° 46' N. lat. and 46° 25' E. long., 230 miles south-east of Tiflis, on an isolated rocky eminence, 3860 feet high. The town, which is accessible only on one side, occupies but a small part of the plateau, whence there is a splendid view over the surrounding mountain gorges and defiles. In 1873 the population was 24,552 (males 13,666, females 10,886), of whom 13,504 were Armenians and 10,804 Tatars. Instead of flat earthen roofs, as in most other towns of Transcaucasia, the houses have very high steep roofs, covered with shingle. The streets are sinuous, and are intersected by 'ravines. Shusha was formerly the capital of the khanate of Karabagh. The town is locally renowned for its carpet manufactures, and the district for its excellent breed of Karabagh horses.

The fortress, formed in 1789 by Pana Khan, has a wall on one side, and is defended naturally on the other three sides. In 1795 Shusha successfully withstood a siege by Agha Mohammed of Persia, but was constrained to surrender two years afterwards. In 1805 Ibrahim Khan of Karabagli invoked the protection of Russia, but the annexation was completed only in 1822. The present district of Shusha (2934 square miles) forms only a part of the -former khanate of Karabagh. In 1873 it had (exclusive of Shusha) a population of 80,913 (males 45,163, females 35,750), Armenians numbering 43,562 and Tatars 37,351. Agriculture and cattle-breeding are almost the sole occupations of the inhabitants. General culture is very low ; there is no enterprise, and but inadequate security for life and property.

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