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Azj'Aqir was not the first empire of the aqir and existed around 16,000 years before the First War. It is sometimes used as the name of this insect race. The races of the nerubians and qiraji were once one people until the qiraji warred with the Gurubashi and Amani troll empires, and after their culture was shattered, the nerubians had to flee north.
Azj'Aqir fell apart into two different city-states/empires called Azjol-Nerub, in the northern wastes, and Ahn'Qiraj, in the southern desert. The nerubians eventually faced the Lich King in Northrend, while the qiraji fought the night elves in Silithus after the Sundering.
The aqir were intelligent insectoids who ruled the lands of the far west. These clever insectoids were greatly expansionistic and incredibly evil. The aqir were obsessed with eradicating all non-insect life from the fields of Kalimdor. The trolls fought them for many thousands of years but never succeeded in winning a true victory over the aqir. Eventually, due to the trolls' persistence, the aqiri kingdom split in half as its citizens fled to separate colonies in the far northern and southern regions of the continent.