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{{Infobox country
{{Infobox country
|native_name=''Azərbaycan Respublikası''
|native_name=''Korslova Republicane''
|conventional_long_name =Republic of Azerbaijan
|conventional_long_name = Free State of Korslova
|common_name = Azerbaijan
|common_name = Korslavo
|national_motto = <!-- The Republic of Azerbaijan has NO official, constitutionally fixed motto, please do not insert Odlar Yurdu or something else -->
|national_motto = <!-- The Republic of Azerbaijan has NO official, constitutionally fixed motto, please do not insert Odlar Yurdu or something else -->
|national_anthem = ''[[National Anthem of Azerbaijan|Azərbaycan marşı]]''<small><br />({{lang-en|March of Azerbaijan}})</small><br>[[File:National Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan instrumental.ogg]]
|national_anthem = ''[[National Anthem of Korslova|Azərbaycan marşı]]''<small><br />({{lang-en|March of Korslova}})</small><br>[[File:National Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan instrumental.ogg]]
|image_flag = Flag of Azerbaijan.svg
|image_flag = Civil Flag of Serbia.svg
|image_coat = Coat of arms of Azerbaijan.svg
|image_coat = Coat of arms of Poland.svg
|symbol_type = Emblem
|symbol_type = Coat of Arms
|image_map = Azerbaijan (orthographic projection).svg
|image_map = Azerbaijan (orthographic projection).svg
| map_caption = Location of Azerbaijan
| map_caption = Location of Azerbaijan
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|leader_name2 = [[Artur Rasizade]]
|leader_name2 = [[Artur Rasizade]]
|sovereignty_type = [[History of Azerbaijan|Statehood formation]]
|sovereignty_type = [[History of Azerbaijan|Statehood formation]]
|established_event1 = [[Atabegs of Azerbaijan]]
|established_event1 = [[Atabegs of Korslava]]
|established_date1 = <br />1135
|established_date1 = <br />1135
|established_event2 = [[Azerbaijan Democratic Republic]]
|established_event2 = [[Korslava Democratic Republic]]
|established_date2 = <br />May 28, 1918
|established_date2 = <br />May 28, 1918
|established_event3 = [[Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic]]
|established_event3 = [[Anarchist State of Korslova]]
|established_date3 = <br />Aprel 28, 1920
|established_date3 = <br />April 28, 1920
|established_event4 = Independence<br />from the [[Soviet Union]]<div style="float:right;">Declared<br />Completed</div>
|established_event4 = Independence<br />from the [[Soviet Union]]<div style="float:right;">Declared<br />Completed</div>
|established_date4 = <br /><br />August 30, 1991<br />October 18, 1991
|established_date4 = <br /><br />August 30, 1991<br />October 18, 1991
Line 49: Line 49:
|GDP_PPP_per_capita = $10,032<ref name=imf2/>
|GDP_PPP_per_capita = $10,032<ref name=imf2/>
|GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank =
|GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank =
|GDP_nominal = $54.370 billion<ref name=imf2/>
|GDP_nominal = $14.370 billion<ref name=imf2/>
|GDP_nominal_rank =
|GDP_nominal_rank =
|GDP_nominal_year = 2010
|GDP_nominal_year = 2010
|GDP_nominal_per_capita = $6,008<ref name=imf2/>
|GDP_nominal_per_capita = $234<ref name=imf2/>
|GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank =
|GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank =
|Gini = 36.5<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=Distribution of family income – Gini index|work=The World Factbook|publisher=CIA|accessdate=2009-09-01}}</ref>
|Gini = 36.5<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=Distribution of family income – Gini index|work=The World Factbook|publisher=CIA|accessdate=2009-09-01}}</ref>
Line 59: Line 59:
|HDI_year = 2010
|HDI_year = 2010
|HDI = {{increase}} 0.713<ref name="HDI">{{cite web|url=|title=Human Development Report 2010|year=2010|publisher=United Nations|accessdate=4 November 2010}}</ref>
|HDI = {{increase}} 0.713<ref name="HDI">{{cite web|url=|title=Human Development Report 2010|year=2010|publisher=United Nations|accessdate=4 November 2010}}</ref>
|HDI_rank = 67th
|HDI_rank = 188th
|HDI_category = <span style="color:#090;">high</span>
|HDI_category = <span style="color:#090;">high</span>
|currency = [[Manat (Azerbaijan)|Manat]]
|currency = [[Manat (Azerbaijan)|Manat]]
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[[Azerbaijan Time|AZT]] ([[UTC+04]])
[[Azerbaijan Time|AZT]] ([[UTC+04]])
|utc_offset_DST= +5
|utc_offset_DST= +5
|demonym = [[Azerbaijanis]]
|demonym = [[Koslovan]]
|drives_on = [[Right- and left-hand traffic|right]]
|drives_on = [[Right- and left-hand traffic|right]]
|cctld = [[.az]]
|cctld = [[.az]]

Revision as of 23:31, 23 April 2011

Free State of Korslova
Korslova Republicane
Flag of Korslavo
Anthem: Azərbaycan marşı
(English: March of Korslova)

Location of Azerbaijan
Location of Azerbaijan
and largest city
Official languages Azerbaijani
Demonym Koslovan
Government Presidential republic
Ilham Aliyev
Artur Rasizade
Statehood formation


May 28, 1918

April 28, 1920
• Independence
from the Soviet Union

August 30, 1991
October 18, 1991
• Total
86,600 km2 (33,400 sq mi) (113th)
• Water (%)
• 2010 estimate
9,047,000[1] (90st)
• 1999 census
• Density
103/km2 (266.8/sq mi) (104th)
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
• Total
$90.790 billion[3]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
• Total
$14.370 billion[3]
• Per capita
Gini (2001) 36.5[4]
Error: Invalid Gini value
HDI (2010) Increase 0.713[5]
Error: Invalid HDI value · 188th
Currency Manat (AZN)
Time zone AZT (UTC+04)
• Summer (DST)
Drives on the right
Calling code 994
Internet TLD .az

Azerbaijan (/[invalid input: 'en-us-Azerbaijan.ogg']ˌæzərbˈɑːn/ AZ-ər-by-JAHN; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Respublikası) is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia,[6] it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bounded by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, while having a short borderline with Turkey to the northwest.

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world, was established in 1918, but was soon merged into the Soviet Union in 1920.[7][8] Azerbaijan regained independence in 1991. Shortly thereafter, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenia occupied the majority-Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh, and other Azerbaijani territory[9] including the enclaves of Karki, Yukhary Askipara, Barkhudarly and Sofulu. Nagorno-Karabakh continues to be not diplomatically recognised by any nation and is still considered a de jure part of Azerbaijan, but has been de facto independence since the end of the war.[10][11][12][13]

Azerbaijan, a nation with a majority Turkic[14][15] and Shia[16] population, is a secular and a unitary republic with an ancient and historic cultural heritage. Azerbaijan is one of the six independent Turkic states. Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations.[17] Azerbaijan is one of the founding members of GUAM and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and in September 1993 joined the Commonwealth of Independent States.[18] On 9 May 2006 Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly. The term of office began on 19 June 2006.[19] A Special Envoy of the European Commission is present in the country, which is also a member of the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. The country is also one of the active members of the Turkic Council and the TÜRKSOY community. Azerbaijan is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union and holds observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and World Trade Organization.[17]


The name of Azerbaijan derives from Atropates,[20][21] a Persian[22][23][24][25][26] satrap under the Achaemenid Empire, that was later reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia.[27][28] The original etymology of this name is thought to have its roots in the ancient Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism. In the Avesta, Frawardin Yasht ("Hymn to the Guardian Angels"), there is a mention of âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide, which literally translates from Avestan as "we worship the Fravashi of the holy Atare-pata".[29]

Atropates ruled over the region of Atropatene (present-day Iranian Azerbaijan). The name "Atropates" itself is the Greek transliteration of an Old-Iranian, probably Median, compounded name with the meaning "Protected by the (Holy) Fire". The Greek name is mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, and it is continued as ādurbādagān in the Middle Persian geographical text Shahrestānihā i Erānshahr.[30] The word is translatable as both "the treasury" and "the treasurer" of fire in Modern Persian.[31]



The Maiden Tower in Old Baku is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 11th–12th century.
File:Petroglyphs of Qobustan.jpg
Petroglyphs in Gobustan dating back to 10,000 BC indicating a thriving culture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of "outstanding universal value"

The earliest evidence of human settlement in the territory of Azerbaijan dates to the late Stone Age and is related to the Guruchay culture of the Azykh Cave, where archeological evidences promoted the inclusion of Azerbaijan into the map of the ascent man sites of Europe.[32] The Upper Paleolithic and late Bronze Age cultures are attested in the caves of Tağılar, Damcılı, Zar, Yataq-yeri and in the necropolises of Leylatepe and Saraytepe.

Early Iranian settlements included the Scythians in the ninth century BC.[33] Following the Scythians, Iranian Medes came to dominate the area to the south of the Aras.[28] The Medes forged a vast empire between 900–700 BC, which was integrated into the Achaemenids Empire around 550 BC.

The area was conquered by the Achaemenids around 550 BC, leading to the spread of Zoroastrianism. Later it became part of Alexander the Great's Empire and its successor, the Seleucid Empire. Caucasian Albanians, the original inhabitants of the area, established an independent kingdom around the fourth century BC.

During this period, Zoroastrianism spread in the Caucasus and Atropatene. Ancient Azaris spoke the Ancient Azari language, which belonged to the Iranian branch of Indo-European languages.[34]

Middle Ages

File:Sabayil castle.jpg
Artistic model of 13th century Sabayil castle near Baku Bay, also known as the "Atlantis of the Caspian Sea"
The ornamented gate of Shirvanshah Mausoleum in the Palace of the Shirvanshahs

The Sassanids turned Caucasian Albania into a vassal state in AD 252, while King Urnayr officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in the fourth century. Despite numerous conquests by the Sassanids and Byzantines, Albania remained an entity in the region until the ninth century. The Islamic Umayyad Caliphate repulsed both the Sassanids and Byzantines from the region and turned Caucasian Albania into a vassal state after the Christian resistance, led by Prince Javanshir, was suppressed in 667.

The power vacuum left by the decline of the Abbasid Caliphate was filled by numerous local dynasties such as the Sallarids, Sajids, Shaddadids, Rawadids and Buyids. At the beginning of the 11th century, the territory was gradually seized by waves of Turkic Oghuz tribes from Central Asia. The first of these Turkic dynasties was the Ghaznavids, which entered the area now known as Azerbaijan by 1030.

The turkification of the Azeris was not completed until the late 19th century. The old Iranic speakers were to be found solely in tiny isolated recesses of the mountains or other remote areas (such as Harzand, Galin Guya, Shahrud villages in Khalkhal and Anarjan). This Turkic-speaking population is still known as Azeris.[35]

Locally, the possessions of the subsequent Seljuq Empire were ruled by atabegs, who were technically vassals of the Seljuq sultans, being sometimes de facto rulers themselves. Under the Seljuq Turks, local poets such as Nizami Ganjavi and Khagani Shirvani gave rise to a blossoming of Persian literature on the territory of present-day Azerbaijan. The next ruling state of the Jalayirids was short-lived and fell under the conquests of Timur.

The local dynasty of Shirvanshahs became a vassal state of Timur's Empire and assisted him in his war with the ruler of the Golden Horde Tokhtamysh. Following Timur's death two independent and rival states emerged: Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu. The Shirvanshahs returned, maintaining a high degree of autonomy as local rulers and vassals from 861 until 1539. During their persecution by the Safavids, the last dynasty imposed Shia Islam upon the formerly Sunni population,[citation needed] as it was battling against the Sunni Ottoman Empire.

Modern era

Map of Azerbaijani khanates in the early XIX century.
File:Ayriliq Korpusu.jpg
The Bridge of Separation (Ayrılıq körpüsü) on the Azerbaijan-Iran border. The treaties of Gulistan and Turkemenchay divided the Azerbaijani people.[36]

After the Safavids, the area was ruled by the Iranian dynasties of Afshar and Zand and briefly by the Qajars. However, while under Persian sovereignty[37] de facto self-ruling khanates[38][39][40][41][42] emerged in the area, especially following the collapse of the Zand dynasty and in the early Qajar era. The brief and successful Russian campaign of 1812 was concluded with the Treaty of Gulistan, in which the shah's claims to some of the Khanates of the Caucasus were dismissed by Russia on the ground that they had been de facto independent long before their Russian occupation.[43]

The khanates exercised control over their affairs via international trade routes between Central Asia and the West.[44] Engaged in constant warfare, these khanates were eventually incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1813, following the two Russo-Persian Wars. The area to the North of the river Arax, amongst which the territory of the contemporary republic of Azerbaijan were Iranian territory until they were occupied by Russia.[45][46][47][48][49]

Under the Treaty of Turkmenchay, Persia recognized Russian sovereignty over the Erivan Khanate, the Nakhchivan Khanate and the remainder of the Lankaran Khanate.

In 2007, during the construction of the stadium, constructors discovered Guba mass grave. Studies of Azerbaijani and foreign scientists have confirmed that human remains found there to be local residents of various nationalities, including Jews and Lezgins who have been in 1918 massacre.[50] To date, 600 human remains found, including about 50 children and 100 women.[51]

Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

Mammed Amin Rasulzade, one of the founding leaders and speaker of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918, widely regarded as the national leader of Azerbaijan.

After the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War I, Azerbaijan, together with Armenia and Georgia became part of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. When the republic dissolved in May 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). The ADR was the first modern parliamentary republic in the Muslim World.[52]

Among the important accomplishments of the Parliament was the extension of suffrage to women, making Azerbaijan the first Muslim nation to grant women equal political rights with men. In this accomplishment, Azerbaijan also preceded the United Kingdom and the United States. Another important accomplishment of ADR was the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first modern-type university founded in Muslim East.[53]

By March 1920, it was obvious that Soviet Russia would attack the much-needed Baku. Vladimir Lenin said that the invasion was justified as Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil.


Map of Azerbaijan issued at Paris Peace Conference in 1919

Independent Azerbajian lasted only 23 months until the Bolshevik 11th Soviet Red Army invaded it, establishing the Azerbaijan SSR on April 28, 1920.

Although the bulk of the newly formed Azerbaijani army was engaged in putting down an Armenian revolt that had just broken out in Karabakh, Azeris did not surrender their brief independence of 1918–20 quickly or easily. As many as 20,000 Azerbaijani soldiers died resisting what was effectively a Russian reconquest.[56]

Despite existing for only two short years, the multi party Azerbaijani Parliamentary republic and the coalition governments managed to score a number of achievements in national statehood, army building and foreign policy.

Soviet Azerbaijan

On October 13, 1921, the Soviet republics of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia signed an agreement with Turkey known as the Treaty of Kars. The previously independent Naxicivan SSR would also become autonomous ASSR within Azerbaijan by the treaty of Kars. On the other hand, Armenia was awarded the region of Zangezur and Turkey agreed to return Gyumri (then known as Alexandropol).

Azerbaijanis digging entrenchments and antitank obstacles near Baku during World War II. Painting by Enver Aliyev, 1976.

On March 12, 1922 the Azerbaijan, Armenian, and Georgian Soviet Socialist Republics were merged to form the Transcaucasian SFSR. This was the first attempt at a union of Soviet republics, preceding the USSR. The Union Council of TSFSR consisted of the representatives of the three republics – Nariman Narimanov (Azerbaijan), Polikarp Mdivani (Georgia), and Aleksandr Fyodorovich Miasnikyan (Armenia). The First Secretary of the Transcaucasian Communist Party was Sergo Ordzhonikidze. In 1936, TSFSR was dissolved and Azerbaijan SSR became one of the constituent member states of the Soviet Union. Between 1926–1939 the proportion of ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan grew from 9.5% to 16.5%.[57]

During World War II, Azerbaijan played a crucial role in the strategic energy policy of Soviet Union, with most of the Soviet Union's oil on the Eastern Front being supplied by Baku. By the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in February 1942, the commitment of more than 500 workers and employees of the oil industry of Azerbaijan was awarded orders and medals. Operation Edelweiss carried out by the German Wehrmacht targeted Baku because of its importance as the energy (petroleum) dynamo of the USSR.[58] Some 800,000 Azerbaijanis fought well in the ranks of the Soviet Army of which 400,000 died and Azeri Major-General Azi Aslanov was awarded twice Hero of the Soviet Union.

Restoration of independence

Waving Azerbaijani flags at Azadlyg Square, after being banned since 1920. Black January is seen as the rebirth of the Azerbaijan Republic as it escalated the Azerbaijani independence movement.

Following the politics of glasnost, initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, civil unrest and ethnic strife grew in various regions of the Soviet Union, including Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of the Azerbaijan SSR. The disturbances in Azerbaijan, in response to Moscow's indifference to already heated conflict, resulted in calls for independence and secession, which culminated in Black January in Baku. At this time, Ayaz Mütallibov was appointed as the First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party.

Later in 1990, the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR dropped the words "Soviet Socialist" from the title, adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic and restored flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as a state flag. On 8 September 1991, Ayaz Mütallibov was elected president in nationwide elections in which he was the only candidate.

On 18 October 1991, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan adopted a Declaration of Independence which was affirmed by a nationwide referendum in December 1991, when the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. The early years of independence were overshadowed by the Nagorno-Karabakh War with neighboring Armenia. By the end of hostilities in 1994, Azerbaijan lost control of up to 16% of its territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh itself.[59][60] An estimated 30,000 people had been killed and more than a million had been displaced.[61]

File:Freedom Square Baku 1990.jpg
Azerbaijani people at Azadlyg Square, after the Black January, 1990

Four United Nations Security Council Resolutions (822, 853, 874, and 884) called for "the withdrawal of occupying forces from occupied areas of the Azerbaijani Republic".[62] In 1993, democratically elected president Abülfaz Elçibay was overthrown by a military insurrection led by Colonel Surat Huseynov, which resulted in the rise to power of the former leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev.

The ruins of Ashaghi Govhar Agha Mosque, one of the many historical landmarks that were destroyed during Nagorno-Karabakh War.

In 1994, Surat Huseynov, by that time a prime minister, attempted another military coup against Heydar Aliyev, but Huseynov was arrested and charged with treason. In 1995, another coup attempt against Aliyev, by the commander of the OMON special unit, Rovshan Javadov, was averted, resulting in the killing of the latter and disbanding of Azerbaijan's OMON units.

During his presidency, Aliyev managed to reduce the country's unemployment, rein in criminal groups, establish the fundamental institutions of independent statehood, and brought stability, peace and major foreign investment. At the same time, the country was tainted by rampant corruption in the governing bureaucracy.[citation needed] In October 1998, Aliyev was reelected for a second term. Despite the much improved economy, particularly with the exploitations of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field and Shah Deniz gas field, Aliyev's presidency was criticised due to suspected vote fraud and corruption.

21st century

In 2007, during the construction of a stadium in Guba, workers discovered the Guba mass grave. Studies of Azerbaijani and foreign scientists have confirmed the human remains found there to be local residents of various nationalities, including Jews and Lezgins who were killed in the 1918 massacre.[50] To date, 600 human remains have been found, including about 50 children and 100 women.[51]

On May 20, 2010, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, adopted the resolution on "The need for an EU Strategy for the South Caucasus" on the basis of the report by Evgeni Kirilov, Bulgarian member of the Parliament.[63][64] The resolution states in particular, that "the occupied Azerbaijani regions around Nagorno-Karabakh must be cleared as soon as possible".[65][66][67]


The highland settlement of Khinalug, one of the most ancient inhabited places in the world

Azerbaijan is in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It lies between latitudes 38° and 42° N, and longitudes 44° and 51° E.

Three physical features dominate Azerbaijan: the Caspian Sea, whose shoreline forms a natural boundary to the east; the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north; and the extensive flatlands at the country's center.

The total length of Azerbaijan's land borders is 2,648 km (1,645 mi), of which 1007 are with Armenia, 756 with Iran, 480 with Georgia, 390 with Russia and 15 with Turkey.[68] The coastline stretches for 800 km (497 mi), and the length of the widest area of the Azerbaijani section of the Caspian Sea is 456 km (283 mi).[68] The territory of Azerbaijan extends 400 km (249 mi) from north to south, and 500 km (311 mi) from west to east.

The three mountain ranges are the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, and the Talysh Mountains, together covering approximately 40% of the country.[69] The highest peak of Azerbaijan is mount Bazardüzü (4,466 m), while the lowest point lies in the Caspian Sea (−28 m). Nearly half of all the mud volcanoes on Earth are concentrated in Azerbaijan, which is also among nominees for New7Wonders of Nature.[70]

The main water sources are the surface waters. However, only 24 of the 8,350 rivers are greater than 100 km (62 mi) in length.[69] All the rivers drain into the Caspian Sea in the east of the country.[69] The largest lake is Sarysu (67 km²), and the longest river is Kur (1,515 km), which is transboundary. Azerbaijan's four main islands in the Caspian Sea have a combined area of over thirty square kilometres.


Mount Bazarduzu, the highest peak of Azerbaijan, as seen from Mount Shahdagh
The Five Finger Mountain at 520 meters is located on the road north from Baku to Guba. The oddly-shaped mountains and unusual rock formations have inspired many folk legends.

Azerbaijan is home to a vast variety of landscapes. Over half of Azerbaijan's land mass consists of mountain ridges, crests, yailas, and plateaus which rise up to hypsometric levels of 400–1000 meters (including the Middle and Lower lowlands), in some places (Talis, Jeyranchol-Ajinohur and Langabiz-Alat foreranges) up to 100–120 metres, and others from 0 – 50 meters and up (Qobustan, Absheron). The rest of Azerbaijan's terrain consist of plains and lowlands. Hypsometric marks within the Caucasus region vary from about −28 metres at the Caspian Sea shoreline up to 4,466 metres (Bazardüzü peak).[71]


Azerbaijan's southern Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests is created by the moisture captured from the Caspian Sea

The formation of climate in Azerbaijan is influenced particularly by cold arctic air masses of Scandinavian anticyclone, temperate of Siberian anticyclone, and Central Asian anticyclone.[72] Azerbaijan's diverse landscape affects the ways air masses enter the country.[72]

The Greater Caucasus protects the country from direct influences of cold air masses coming from the north. That leads to the formation of subtropical climate on most foothills and plains of the country. Meanwhile, plains and foothills are characterized by high solar radiation rates.

9 out of 11 existing climate zones are present in Azerbaijan.[73] Both the absolute minimum temperature ( −33 °C (−27.4 °F)* ) and the absolute maximum temperature ( 46 °C (114.8 °F)* ) were observed in Julfa and Ordubad.[73] The maximum annual precipitation falls in Lankaran (1,600 to 1,800 mm) and the minimum in Absheron (200 to 350 mm).[73]


The first reports on the richness and diversity of animal life in Azerbaijan can be found in travel notes of Eastern travelers. Animal carvings on architectural monuments, ancient rocks and stones survived up to the present times. The first information on the animal kingdom of Azerbaijan was collected during the visits of naturalists to Azerbaijan in 17th century. Unlike fauna, the concept of animal kingdom covers not only the types of animals, but also the number of individual species.

There are 106 species of mammals, 97 species of fish, 363 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians and 52 species of reptiles which have been recorded and classified in Azerbaijan. The symbolic representative of Azerbaijani fauna is the Karabakh horse, a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse endemic to Azerbaijan. The Karabakh horse has a reputation for its good temper, speed, elegance and intelligence. It is one of the oldest breeds, with ancestry dating to the ancient world. The horse was originally developed in the Azerbaijani Karabakh region in the 5th century and is named after it.[74]

Azerbaijan's flora consists of more than 4,500 species of higher plants. Due the unique climate in Azerbaijan, the flora is much richer in the number of species than the flora of the other republics of the South Caucasus.[75] About 67% of the species growing in the whole Caucasus can be found in Azerbaijan.

Water bodies

File:Lake Khalakhi.jpg
Lake Khalakhi in the foothills of Zaqatala.
A waterfall in Lerik

Rivers and lakes form the principal part of the water systems of Azerbaijan, they were formed over a long geological timeframe and changed significantly throughout that period. This is particularly evidenced by remnants of ancient rivers found throughout the country. The country's water systems are continually changing under the influence of natural forces and human introduced industrial activities. Artificial rivers (canals) and ponds are a part of Azerbaijan's water systems.

There are 8,359 rivers of various lengths within Azerbaijan. Of them 8,188 rivers are less than 25 kilometers in length. Only 24 rivers are over 100 kilometers long.

The Kura and Aras are the most popular rivers in Azerbaijan, they run through the Kura-Aras Lowland. The rivers that directly flow into the Caspian Sea, originate mainly from the north-eastern slope of the Major Caucasus and Talysh Mountains and run along the Samur-Devechi and Lenkeran lowlands.

From the water supply point, Azerbaijan is below the average in the world with approximately 100,000 m³/year of water per km².[73] All big water reservoirs are built on Kur. The hydrography of Azerbaijan basically belongs to the Caspian Sea basin.


Glaciers in Gemigaya open-air museum in Nakhchivan

Since the independence of Azerbaijan in 1991, the Azerbaijani government has taken drastic measures to preserve the environment of Azerbaijan. But national protection of the environment started to truly improve after 2001 when the state budget increased due to new revenues provided by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Within four years protected areas doubled and now make up eight percent of the country's territory.

Since 2001 the government has set up seven large reserves and almost doubled the sector of the budget earmarked for environmental protection.[76]

Administrative divisions

Azerbaijan is divided into 10 economic regions; 66 rayons (rayonlar, singular rayon) and 77 cities (şəhərlər, singular şəhər) of which 11 are under the direct authority of the republic.[77] Moreover, Azerbaijan includes the Autonomous Republic (muxtar respublika) of Nakhchivan.[15] The President of Azerbaijan appoints the governors of these units, while the government of Nakhchivan is elected and approved by the parliament of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

Note: The cities under the direct authority of the republic in italics.

Major cities

Below are the 20 most populous cities of Azerbaijan:

Government and politics

The structural formation of Azerbaijan's political system was completed by the adoption of the new Constitution on 12 November 1995. According to the Article 23 of Constitution, the state symbols of the Azerbaijan Republic are the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem. The state power in Azerbaijan is limited only by law for internal issues, but for international affairs is additionally limited by the provisions of international agreements.

The government of Azerbaijan is based on the separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The legislative power is held by the unicameral National Assembly and the Supreme National Assembly in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Parliamentary elections are held every five years, on the first Sunday of November. The Yeni Azerbaijan Party, and independents loyal to the ruling government, currently hold almost all of the Parliament's 125 seats. During the 2010 Parliamentary election, the opposition parties, Musavat and Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, failed to win a single seat. European observers found numerous irregularities in the run up to the election and on election day.[78]

The executive power is held by the President, who is elected for a 5-year term by direct elections. The president is authorized to form the Cabinet, an inferior executive body, subordinated to him. The Cabinet of Azerbaijan consists primarily of the Prime Minister, his Deputies and Ministers. The president does not have the right to dissolve the National Assembly, but he has the right to veto its decisions. To override the presidential veto, the parliament must have a majority of 95 votes. The judicial power is vested in the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and the Economic Court. The President nominates the judges in these courts.

The Security Council is the deliberative body under the president, and he organizes it according to the Constitution. It was established on 10 April 1997. The administrative department is not a part of the president's office but manages the financial, technical and pecuniary activities of both the president and his office.

Although Azerbaijan has held several elections since regaining its independence and it has many of the formal institutions of democracy, it remains classified as "not free" (on border with "partly free") in Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2009 survey.[79]

Foreign relations

The short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with six countries, sending diplomatic representatives to Germany and Finland.[80] The process of international recognition of Azerbaijan's independence from the collapsing Soviet Union lasted roughly one year. The most recent country to recognize Azerbaijan was Bahrain, on 6 November 1996.[81] Full diplomatic relations, including mutual exchanges of missions, were first established with Turkey, Pakistan, the United States, Iran[80] and Israel.[82] Azerbaijan has placed a particular emphasis on its "Special Relationship" with Turkey.[83][84]

Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries so far and holds membership in 38 international organizations.[17] It holds observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union.[17] The Azerbaijani diaspora is found in 36 countries,[85] and in turn there are dozens of centers for ethnic minorities inside Azerbaijan, including the (German cultural society "Karelhaus", Slavic cultural center, Azerbaijani-Israeli community, Kurdish cultural center, International Talysh Association, Lezgin national center "Samur", Azerbaijani-Tatar community, Crimean Tatars society, etc.).[86] On 9 May 2006 Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly. The term of office began on 19 June 2006.[19]

Foreign policy priorities of Azerbaijan include: first of all, the restoration of its territorial integrity; elimination of the consequences of the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other regions of Azerbaijan;[87] development of good-neighbourly and mutually advantageous relations with neighbouring countries; promotion of security and stability in the region; integration into European and Transatlantic security and cooperation structures; and promotion of transregional economic, energy and transportation projects.[88]

The Azeri Government, in late 2007, stated that the long-standing dispute over the Armenian-occupied territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is almost certain to spark a new war if it remains unresolved.[89] The Government is in the process of increasing its military budget, as its oil and gas revenues bring a torrent of cash into its coffers. Furthermore, economic sanctions by Turkey to the west and by Azerbaijan itself to the east have combined to greatly erode Armenia's economy, leading to steep increases in prices for basic commodities and a great decline in the Armenian state revenues.[90]

Azerbaijan is an active member of international coalitions fighting international terrorism. The country is contributing to peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Azerbaijan is an active member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. It also maintains good relations with the European Union and could potentially one day apply for membership.


The miniature of Shaki Khanate army defending Shaki from foreign invaders.

The history of the modern Azerbaijan army dates back to Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918, when the National Army of the newly formed Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was created on 26 June 1918.[91][92] When Azerbaijan gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan were created according to the Law on the Armed Forces of 9 October 1991.[93] The original date of the establishment of the short-lived National Army is celebrated as Army Day (26 June) in today's Azerbaijan.[94]

As of 2002, Azerbaijan had 95,000 active personnel in its armed forces. There are also 17,000 paramilitary troops.[95] The armed forces have three branches: the Land Forces, the Air Forces and the Navy. Additionally the armed forces embrace several military sub-groups that can be involved in state defence when needed. These are the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Border Service, which includes the Coast Guard as well.[96] The Azerbaijan National Guard is a further paramilitary force. It operates as a semi-independent entity of the Special State Protection Service, an agency subordinate to the President.[97]

Azerbaijan adheres to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and has signed all major international arms and weapons treaties. Azerbaijan closely cooperates with NATO in programs such as Partnership for Peace and Individual Partnership Action Plan. Azerbaijan has deployed 151 of its Peacekeeping Forces in Iraq and another 184 in Afghanistan.[98]

The military expenditures of Azerbaijan for 2011 are set at $4.46 billion USD.[99] Azerbaijani defense industry manufactures small arms, artillery systems, tanks, armors and noctovision devices, aviation bombs, pilotless vehicles, various military vehicles and military planes and helicopters.[100][101][102][103] Azerbaijan's Armed Forces have a training cooperation partnership with the Oklahoma Army National Guard.[104]


The Nobel Brothers' oil wells in Balakhani, late 19th century

After gaining independence in 1991, Azerbaijan became a member of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.[105] The banking system of Azerbaijan consists of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, commercial banks and non-banking credit organizations. The National (now Central) Bank was created in 1992 based on the Azerbaijan State Savings Bank, an affiliate of the former State Savings Bank of the USSR. The Central Bank serves as Azerbaijan's central bank, empowered to issue the national currency, the Azerbaijani manat, and to supervise all commercial banks. Two major commercial banks are the state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan and the UniBank.

Pushed up by spending and demand growth, the 2007 Q1 inflation rate reached 16.6%.[106] Nominal incomes and monthly wages climbed 29% and 25% respectively against this figure, but price increases in non-oil industry encouraged inflation in the country.[106] Azerbaijan shows some signs of the so-called "Dutch disease" because of the fast growing energy sector, which causes inflation and makes non-energy exports more expensive.

Azneft Square in downtown Baku, named after historical Azneft (AzOil) trust

In the early years of this century the chronically high inflation was brought under control and this led to the launch of a new currency, the new Azerbaijani manat, on January 1, 2006, to cement the acquisition of the economic reforms and erase the vestiges of an unstable economy.[107][108]

In 2008, Azerbaijan was cited as one of the top 10 reformers by the World Bank's Doing Business Report.[109]

Azerbaijan led the world as the top reformer in 2007/08, with improvements on seven out of 10 indicators of regulatory reform. Azerbaijan started operating a one-stop shop in January 2008 that halved the time, cost and number of procedures to start a business. Business registrations increased by 40% in the first six months. Azerbaijan also eliminated the minimum loan cutoff of $1,100, more than doubling the number of borrowers covered by the credit registry. Also, taxpayers can now file forms and pay their taxes online. Azerbaijan’s extensive reforms moved it far up the ranks, from 97 to 33 in the overall ease of doing business.

Azerbaijan is also ranked 57th in the Global Competitiveness Report for 2010–2011, which is above other CIS countries.[110]


Oil Rocks, the first operating offshore oil platform in the world.

Two thirds of Azerbaijan is rich in oil and natural gas.[111] The region of the Lesser Caucasus accounts for most of the country's gold, silver, iron, copper, titanium, chromium, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum, complex ore and antimony.[111] In September 1994, a 30-year contract was signed between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and 13 oil companies, among them Amoco, BP, ExxonMobil, Lukoil and Statoil.[105] As Western oil companies are able to tap deepwater oilfields untouched by the Soviet exploitation, Azerbaijan is considered one of the most important spots in the world for oil exploration and development.[112] Meanwhile the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan was established as an extra-budgetary fund to ensure the macroeconomic stability, transparency in the management of oil revenue, and the safeguarding of resources for future generations.

Azeriqaz, a sub-company of SOCAR, intends to ensure full gasification of the country by 2021.[113]


File:Azeri Square.JPG
The Central Bank building in downtown Baku

Banking system is considered an important element of financial system of Azerbaijan. An advanced two-stepped banking system, which is based on market principles, (the Central Bank of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the first step, in the second one commercial banks and other non-bank credit organizations) functions in the republic.

Since 2002 important stage of restructuring of banking system started to be carried out. Taking into consideration entry of big oil revenues in the country, as a logical result of successful oil strategy, and in this base, as the banks were ready to an effective transfer of their financial resources to the strategic goals, development strategy was made for 2002-2005.

By April 1, 2010, 47 banks, 631 bank branches function in Azerbaijan. One of banks was founded with participation of state capital, 23 of foreign capital. To the same date, 98 non-bank credit organizations operate in the republic along with banks.

Growth of real money incomes of population, development of trust in bank system, improving the legal bases of protection of interests of creditors and depositors, in particular launch of ‘Deposits Insurance Fund’ were the criteria characterizing rapid growth of deposits of population. As of April 1, 2010, bank deposits of population were equal to 2,4 billion AZN. 33,3% of them were long-term deposits (higher than a year). Along with population, bank deposits of corporative customers increase dynamically. By April 1, 2010, bank deposits of corporative customers is 2,1 bn AZN.

Dynamic development of volume of special and involved funds of the banks has created effective conditions for enlargement of active operations. As of April 1, 2010, the volume of bank assets is 12 bn AZN.

Crediting plays special role in structure of bank assets. As of April 1, 2010, bank credits to customers is 8.5 bn AZN, which makes 70.5% of bank assets. Special weight of private sector in structure of credit investments is higher than 82% (7 bn AZN).


At the beginning of 2007 there were 4,755,100 hectares of utilized agricultural area.[114] In the same year the total wood resources counted 136 million m³.[114] Azerbaijan's agricultural scientific research institutes are focused on meadows and pastures, horticulture and subtropical crops, green vegetables, viticulture and wine-making, cotton growing and medicinal plants.[115] In some lands it is profitable to grow grain, potatoes, sugar beets, cotton and tobacco. Livestock, dairy products, and wine and spirits are also important farm products. The Caspian fishing industry is concentrated on the dwindling stocks of sturgeon and beluga. In 2002 the Azerbaijani merchant marine had 54 ships.[116]

Some portions of most products that were previously imported from abroad have begun to be produced locally (among them are Coca Cola by Coca Cola Bottlers LTD, beer by Baki-Kastel, parquet by Nehir and oil pipes by EUPEC Pipe Coating Azerbaijan).[117]


Tourism is an important part of the economy of Azerbaijan. The country's large abundance of natural and cultural attractions make it an attractive destination of visitors. The country was a well-known tourist spot in the 1980s, yet, the Nagorno-Karabakh War during the 1990s crippled the tourist industry and negatively impacted the image of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination.[118]

It was not until 2000s that the tourism industry began to recover, and the country has since experienced a high rate of growth in the number of tourist visits and overnight stays.[119] In the recent years, Azerbaijan has also becoming a popular destination for religious, spa, and health care tourism.[120]

The Government of Azerbaijan has set the development of Azerbaijan as an elite tourist destination a top priority. It is a national strategy to make tourism a major, if not the single largest, contributor to the Azerbaijani economy.[121] These activities are regulated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan.


The aircraft of national flag carrier AZAL in Heydar Aliyev International Airport

The convenient location of Azerbaijan on the crossroad of major international traffic arteries, such as the Silk Road and the South-North corridor, highlights the strategic importance of transportation sector for the country’s economy.

Azerbaijan is also an important economic hub in the transportation of raw materials. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) became operational in May 2006 and extends more than 1,774 kilometres (1,102 mi) through the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The BTC is designed to transport up to 50 million tons of crude oil annually and carries oil from the Caspian Sea oilfields to global markets. The South Caucasus Pipeline, also stretching through the territory of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, became operational at the end of 2006 and offers additional gas supplies to the European market from the Shah Deniz gas field. Shah Deniz is expected to produce up to 296 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year. Azerbaijan also plays a major role in the EU-sponsored Silk Road Project.

In 2002, the Azerbaijani government established the Ministry of Transport with a broad range of policy and regulatory functions. In the same year, the country became a member of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.[122] The highest priority being; upgrading the transport network and transforming transportation services into one of the key comparative advantages of the country, as this would be highly conducive to the development of other sectors of the economy.

In 2012, the construction of Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway expected to provide transportation between Asia and Europe through connecting the railways of the People's Republic of China and Kazakhstan in the east with Turkey's Marmaray to the European railway system in the west.[123]

Broad gauge railways in 2005 stretched for 2,957 km (1,837 mi) and electrified railways numbered 1,278 km (794 mi).[124] By 2006, there were 36 airports and one heliport.[124]

The transport sector in Azerbaijan includes roads, railways, aviation, and maritime transport.

Science and technology

Small model of AzerSat 1.

The economy of Azerbaijan has been markedly stronger in recent years and, not surprisingly, the country has been making progress in developing its telecoms sector. Nonetheless, it still faces problems. These include poor infrastructure and an immature telecom regulatory regime. The Ministry of Communications & Information Technologies (MCIT), as well as being an operator through its role in Aztelekom, is both a policy-maker and regulator.

In 2002 Azerbaijan led the way in per capita mobile phone use within the CIS.[125] Public pay phones are available for local calls and require the purchase of a token from the telephone exchange or some shops and kiosks. Tokens allow a call of indefinite duration. As of 2009, there were 1,397,000 main telephone lines[126] and 1,485,000 internet users.[127] There are three GSM: Azerfon (Nar Mobile), Bakcell and Azercell mobile network operators and one CDMA.

In the 21st century a number of prominent Azerbaijani geodynamics and geotectonics scientists, inspired by the fundamental works of Elchin Khalilov and others, designed hundreds of earthquake prediction stations and earthquake-resistant buildings that now constitute the bulk of The Republican Center of Seismic Service.[128][129][130]

The Azerbaijan National Aerospace Agency is planning to launch its first satellite into orbit in July or August 2012 from Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana at orbital positions 46° East.[131][132][133] The satellite will cover Europe and significant part of Asian countries and Africa and will have transmission for TV, radio broadcasting and the internet.[134] The launch of its own satellite on orbit will be Azerbaijan's first action in realizing prospective projects to turn itself into a country with a space industry.[135][136]

In 2000s, the wave of a new oil and gas boom, helped to improve the situation in the Azerbaijan's science and technology sectors, and the government launched a campaign aimed into modernisation and innovation. Government estimates say, in the future, profits from the information technology and communication industry will grow and become comparable with those from oil production.[137]


Ethnic composition (1999)[2]
Azerbaijani 90.6%
Lezgins 2.2%
Russians 1.8%
Armenians 1.5%
Talysh 1.0%
Turks[138] 0.6%
Georgians 0.2% [139]
Other nations 2.3%

From the total population of about 8 million people as of April 2006, there were 4,380,000 (nearly 51%) city dwellers and a rural population of 4,060,000 (49%).[140] 51% of the total population were female.[140] The sex ratio for total population in that year was therefore 0.94 males per female.[141]

The 2006 population growth rate was 0.66%, compared to 1.14% worldwide.[141] A significant factor restricting the population growth is rather a high level of migration. As many as 3 million Azeris, many of them guest workers, live in Russia.[142] In 2006 Azerbaijan saw migration of −4.38/1,000 persons.[141] With 800,000 refugees and IDPs, Azerbaijan has the largest internally displaced population in the region, and, as of 2006, had the highest per capita IDP population in the world.[143]

Ethno-linguistic groups in Azerbaijan and Caucasus region

The highest morbidity in 2005 was from respiratory diseases (806.9 diseases per 10,000 of total population).[144] In 2005, the highest morbidity for infectious and parasitic diseases was noted among influenza and acute respiratory infections (4168,2 per 100,000 population).[145] 2007 estimate for total life expectancy is 66 years, 70.7 years for women and 61.9 for men.[146]

The Azerbaijani diaspora is found in 42 countries[147] and in turn there are many centers for ethnic minorities inside Azerbaijan, including the German cultural society "Karelhaus", Slavic cultural center, Azerbaijani-Israeli community, Kurdish cultural center, International Talysh Association, Lezgin national center "Samur", Azerbaijani-Tatar community, Crimean Tatars society, etc.[86] The ethnic composition of the population according to the 1999 population census:[2] 90.6% Azeris, 2.2% Lezgins, 1.8% Russians, 1.5% Armenians (Almost all live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh), 1.0% Talysh (disputed as too low by Talysh nationalists),[148][149] 0.6% Avars, 0.5% Turks, 0.4% Tatars, 0.4% Ukrainians, 0.2% Tsakhur, 0.2% Georgians, 0.13% Kurds, 0.13% Tats, 0.1% Jews, 0.05% Udins, other 0.2%. Many Russians left Azerbaijan during the 1990s. According to the 1989 census, there were 392,000 ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan, or 5.6% of the population.[150] According to the statistics, about 390,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1989.[151]

Although Azerbaijani (also called Azeri) is the most widely spoken language in the country and is spoken by about a quarter of the population of Iran, there are 13 other languages spoken natively in the country.[152] Some of these languages are very small communities, others are more vital.[153] Azerbaijani is a Turkic language which belongs to the Altaic family and is mutually intelligible with Turkish. The language is written with a modified Latin alphabet today, but was earlier written in the Arabic alphabet (until 1929), in the Uniform Turkic Alphabet (1929–1939), and in the Cyrillic alphabet (1939–1991).[154] The changes in alphabet have been largely molded by religious and political forces.

Iranian Azeris are the largest minority in Iran. The CIA World Factbook estimates Iranian Azeris as comprising nearly 16 million, or 24% of Iran's population.[155]


Dome of 13th century Bibi-Heybat Mosque. The mosque was built over the tomb of a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.[156]

Around 99% of the population are Muslims.[157] Majority of the Muslims are Shia Muslims and the republic of Azerbaijan has the second highest Shia population percentage in the world after Iran.[158] Zoroastrianism had a long history in Azerbaijan, evident in sites such as the Fire Temple of Baku[159] or ceremonies like Nowruz, and along with Manichean.

There are some other faiths practiced among the different ethnic groups within the country. By article 48 of its Constitution, Azerbaijan is a secular state and ensures religious freedom. Of the nation's religious minorites, Christians are mostly Russian, Georgian and Armenian Orthodox (Almost all Armenians live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh).[160]

In 2003 there were 250 Roman Catholics.[161] Other Christian denominations as of 2002 include Lutherans, Baptists and Molokans.[162] There are also Jewish, Bahá'í, Hare Krishna and Jehovah's Witnesses communities, as well as adherents of the Nehemiah Church, Star in the East Church and the Cathedral of Praise Church.[162]


Map showing locations of Azerbaijani speakers

The official language is Azerbaijani, which belongs to the Turkic language family, spoken in southwestern Asia, primarily in Azerbaijan and Iranian Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani is member of the Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages and is closely related to Turkish, Qashqai and Turkmen.

The Azerbaijani language is divided into two varieties, North Azerbaijani[163] and South Azerbaijani,[164] and a large number of dialects. Turkic Khalaj,[165] Qashqa'i,[166] and Salchuq[167] are considered by some[168] to be separate languages in the Azerbaijani language group.

Azerbaijani served as a lingua franca throughout most parts of Transcaucasia (except the Black Sea coast), in Southern Dagestan,[169][170][171] Eastern Turkey, and Iranian Azerbaijan from the 16th century to the early 20th century.[172][173]


Azerbaijani youth, in traditional clothing, celebrating Novruz.

Azerbaijani culture has developed as a result of many influences. Today, Western influences, including globalized consumer culture, are strong.

Azerbaijan folk consists of Azerbaijanis, the representative part of society, as well as of nations and ethnic groups, compactly living in various areas of the country. Azerbaijani national and traditional dresses are the Chokha and Papakhi. There are radio broadcasts in Russian, Armenian, Georgian, Kurdish, Lezgin and Talysh languages, which are financed from the state budget.[86] Some local radio stations in Balakən and Xaçmaz organize broadcasts in Avar and Tat.[86] In Baku several newspapers are published in Russian, Kurdish (Dengi Kurd), Lezgin (Samur) and Talysh languages.[86] Jewish society "Sokhnut" publishes the newspaper Aziz.[86]


Decorated pediment of the State Museum of Art.

Azerbaijani architecture typically combines elements of East and West. Many ancient architectural treasures such as the Maiden Tower and Palace of the Shirvanshahs in the Walled City of Baku survive in modern Azerbaijan. Entries submitted on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list include the Gobustan State Reserve, the Fire Temple of Baku, the Momine Khatun Mausoleum and the Palace of Shaki Khans in Shaki.

Among other architectural treasures are Quadrangular Castle in Mardakan, Parigala in Yukhary Chardaglar, a number of bridges spanning the Aras River, and several mausoleums. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, little monumental architecture was created, but distinctive residences were built in Baku and elsewhere. Among the most recent architectural monuments, the Baku subways are noted for their lavish decor.

Cinema, animation and media

The first film studio in Baku, early 1920s.

The film industry in Azerbaijan dates back to 1898. In fact, Azerbaijan was among the first countries involved in cinematography. Therefore It's not surprising that this apparatus soon showed up in Baku – at the turn of the 19th century, this bay town on the Caspian was producing more than 50 percent of the world's supply of oil. Just like today, the oil industry attracted foreigners eager to invest and to work.[174]

In 1919, during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, a documentary The Celebration of the Anniversary of Azerbaijani Independence was filmed on Azerbaijan's independence day, May 28, and premiered in June 1919 at several theatres in Baku.

After the Soviet power was established in 1920, Nariman Narimanov, Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan, signed a decree nationalizing Azerbaijan's cinema. This also influenced the creation of Azerbaijani animation.

In 1991, after Azerbaijan gained its independence from the Soviet Union, first Baku International Film Festival East-West was held in Baku. In December 2000, the former President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, signed a decree proclaiming August 2 professional holiday of filmmakers of Azerbaijan.

Now that the USSR does not exist anymore, Azerbaijani filmmakers are again dealing with issues similar to those faced by cinematographers prior to the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1920. Once again, both choice of content and sponsorship of films are largely left up to the initiative of the filmmaker.


Azerbaijani grape leaf dolma (yarpaq dolması). Many different types of dolma are popular in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani cuisine, throughout the centuries, has been influenced by the foods of different cultures due to political and economic processes in Azerbaijan. Still, today's Azerbaijani cuisine has distinctive and unique features. Many foods that are indigenous to the country can now be seen in the cuisines of other cultures. For the Azerbaijanis, food is an important part of the country's culture and is deeply rooted in the history, traditions and values of the nation.

The traditional cuisine is famous for an abundance of vegetables and greens used seasonally in the dishes. Fresh herbs, including mint, cilantro (coriander), dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, leeks, chives, thyme, marjoram, green onion, and watercress, are very popular and often accompany main dishes on the table.

Climatic diversity and fertility of the land are reflected in the national dishes, which are based on fish from the Caspian Sea, local meat (mainly mutton and beef), and an abundance of seasonal vegetables and greens. Saffron-rice plov is the flagship food in Azerbaijan and black tea is the national beverage.


Uzeyir Hajibeyov merged traditional Azerbaijani music styles with Western styles in early 20th century.

Music of Azerbaijan builds on folk traditions that reach back nearly 1,000 years.[175] For centuries Azerbaijani music has evolved under the badge of monody, producing rhythmically diverse melodies.[176] Azerbaijani music has a branchy mode system, where chromatisation of major and minor scales is of great importance.[176] According to The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion the Azeri are musically much closer to Iran than Turkey."[177]

Mugham, meykhana and ashik art are one of the many musical traditions of Azerbaijan. Mugham is usually a suite with poetry and instrumental interludes. When performing Mugam, the singers have to transform their emotions into singing and music. Mugham singer Alim Qasimov is revered as one of the five best singers of all time.[178] In contrast to the mugham traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugham is more free-form and less rigid; it is often compared to the improvised field of jazz.[179] UNESCO proclaimed the Azerbaijani mugham tradition a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003.

Meykhana is a kind of traditional Azeri distinctive folk unaccompanied song, usually performed by several people improvising on a particular subject. Among national musical instruments there are 14 string instruments, eight percussion instruments and six wind instruments.[180]

Ashik combines poetry, storytelling, dance and vocal and instrumental music into a traditional performance art that stands as a symbol of Azerbaijani culture. It is a mystic troubadour or traveling bard who sings and plays the saz. This tradition has its origin in the Shamanistic beliefs of ancient Turkic peoples.[181] Ashiks' songs are semi-improvised around common bases. Azerbaijan’s ashik art was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO on September 30, 2009.[182]

Azerbaijan made its debut appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008, subsequent country's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 gained the 3rd place.

Folk dance

File:Mugham Festival 2008.jpg
Azerbaijani dancers performing yalli during Mugham Festival in Shaki.

There are a number of Azerbaijani dances, these folk dances of the Azerbaijani people are old and extremely melodious. It is performed at formal celebrations and the dancers wear festival clothes or Chokha cloaks. It has a very fast rhythm, so the dancer must have inherent skill.[183] Azerbaijan’s national dance shows the characteristics of the Azerbaijani nation. These dances differ from other dances with its quick temp and optimism. And this talks about nation’s braveness. The national clothes of Azerbaijan are well preserved within the national dances.[184]

Azerbaijan is a country where national traditions are well preserved. In Azerbaijan where are a lot of traditions. Novruz holiday (novruz is translated as "a new day") is the most ancient and cherished holiday of a New Year and spring. It is celebrated on the day of vernal equinox – March 21–22. Novruz is the symbol of nature renewal and fertility. Agrarian peoples of Middle East have been celebrating Novruz since ancient times.

Folk art

Traditional copper utensil from Lakhij.

Azerbaijanis have a rich and distinctive culture, a major part of which is decorative and applied art. This form of art is represented by a wide range of handicrafts, such as chasing, jeweler, engraving in metal, carving in wood, stone and bone, carpet-making, lasing, pattern weaving and printing, knitting and embroidery. Each of these types of decorative art, evidence of the and endowments of the Azerbaijan nation, is very much in favor here. Many interesting facts pertaining to the development of arts and crafts in Azerbaijan were reported by numerous merchants, travelers and diplomats who had visited these places at different times.

The Azerbaijani carpet is a traditional handmade textile of various sizes, with dense texture and a pile or pile-less surface, whose patterns are characteristic of Azerbaijan’s many carpet-making regions. In November 2010 the Azerbaijani carpet was proclaimed a Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.[185][186] Azerbaijan has been since the ancient times known as a center of a large variety of crafts. The archeological dig on the territory of Azerbaijan testifies to the well developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working, pottery and ceramics, and last but not least carpet-weaving that date as far back as to the 2nd millennium BC. Azerbaijani carpets can be categorized under several large groups and a multitude of subgroups. The true scientific research of the Azerbaijani carpet is connected with the name of Latif Kerimov, a prominent scientist and artist. It was his classification that related the four large groups of carpets with the four geographical zones of Azerbaijan, Guba-Shirvan, Ganja-Kazakh, Karabakh and Tabriz.


Khurshidbanu Natavan was the daughter of the last ruler of the Karabakh khanate and is considered one of the best lyrical poets of Azerbaijan.

The earliest known figure in Azerbaijani literature was Hasanoghlu or Pur Hasan Asfaraini, who composed a divan consisting of Persian and Turkic ghazals.[187][188] In Persian ghazals he used his pen-name, while his Turkic ghazals were composed under his own name of Hasanoghlu.[187]

Classical literature in Azerbaijani was formed in 14th century based on the various dialect Early Middle Ages dialects of Tabriz and Shirvan. Among the poets of this period were Gazi Burhanaddin, Haqiqi (pen-name of Jahan-shah Qara Qoyunlu), and Habibi.[189] The end of 14th century was also the period of starting literary activity of Imadaddin Nesimi,[190] one of the greatest Turkic[191][192][193] Hurufi mystical poets of the late 14th and early 15th centuries[194] and one of the most prominent early Divan masters in Turkic literary history,[194] who also composed poetry in Persian[192][195] and Arabic.[194] The Divan and Ghazal styles, introduced by Nesimi in Azeri poetry in 15th century, were further developed by poets Qasim al-Anvar, Fuzuli and Khatai (pen-name of Safavid Shah Ismail I). The acclaimed Book of Dede Korkut consists of two manuscripts copied in the 16th century,[196] was not written earlier than the 15th century.[197][198] It is a collection of 12 stories reflecting the oral tradition of Oghuz nomads.[198] Since the author is buttering up both the Akkoyunlu and Ottoman rulers, it has been suggested that the composition belongs to someone living between the Akkoyunlu and Ottoman empires.[197] The 16th century poet, Muhammed Fuzuli produced his timeless philosophical and lyrical Qazals in Arabic, Persian, and Azeri. Benefiting immensely from the fine literary traditions of his environment, and building upon the legacy of his predecessors, Fizuli was destined to become the leading literary figure of his society. His major works include The Divan of Ghazals and The Qasidas. In the same century, Azerbaijani literature further flourished with the development of Ashik (Azerbaijani: Aşıq) poetic genre of bards. During the same period, under the pen-name of Khatāī (Arabic: خطائی‎ for sinner) Shah Ismail I wrote about 1400 verses in Azeri,[199] which were later published as his Divan. A unique literary style known as qoshma (Azerbaijani: qoşma for improvisation) was introduced in this period, and developed by Shah Ismail and later by his son and successor, Shah Tahmasp.

In the span of the 17th century and 18th century, Fizuli's unique genres as well Ashik poetry were taken up by prominent poets and writers such as Qovsi of Tabriz, Shah Abbas Sani, Agha Mesih Shirvani, Nishat, Molla Vali Vidadi, Molla Panah Vagif, Amani, Zafar and others. Along with Turks, Turkmens and Uzbeks, Azeris also celebrate the Epic of Koroglu (from Azerbaijani: kor oğlu for blind man's son), a legendary folk hero.[200] Several documented versions of Koroglu epic remain at the Institute for Manuscripts of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.[188]

Modern literature in Azerbaijan is based on the Shirvani dialect mainly, while in Iran it is based on the Tabrizi one. The first newspaper in Azerbaijani, Akinchi was published in 1875. In mid-19th century it was taught in the schools of Baku, Ganja, Shaki, Tbilisi, and Yerevan. Since 1845, it has also been taught in the University of Saint Petersburg in Russia.

National holidays

A man dressed as an ancient Azerbaijani soldier, during Novruz celebrations in Baku.

The most celebrated traditional Azerbaijani holiday is Novruz Bayram, which is the traditional celebration of the ancient New Year. Novruz is a family holiday. In the evening before the holiday the whole family gathers around the holiday table laid with various dishes to make the New Year rich. The holiday goes on for several days and ends with festive public dancing and other entertainment of folk bands, contests of national sports. In rural areas crop holidays are marked.[201]

During the Soviet Union, celebration of Novruz was generally unofficial, and at times even prohibited.[202] Since the independence of Azerbaijan, Novruz is an official public holiday. In accordance with Article 105 of the Labour Code of Azerbaijan passed in 2006, workers receive five days off for Novruz.[203] Usually preparation for Novruz begins a month prior to the festival. Each of forthcoming 4 weeks is devoted to one of the four elements and called accordingly in Azerbaijan. Each Tuesday people celebrate the day of one of the four elements - water, fire, earth and wind.[204] People do house cleaning, plant trees, make new dresses, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shakarbura, pakhlava and a great variety of national cuisine.[205] Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts (govurga). As a tribute to fire-worshiping every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday kids jump over small bonfires and candles are lit. On the holiday eve the graves of relatives are visited and tended.[206]

Other public and traditional holidays include. Women's Day, Ramazan Bayrami, Gurban Bayrami, Republic Day, Constitution Day, Victory Day, Armed Forces Day, Salvation Day, Flag Day[207] and more.

Commemoration and remembrance days include Black January, Khojaly Massacre and the March Days.

State symbols of Azerbaijan include the Eight-pointed star, combined with fire element in the Azerbaijan coat of arms. Azerbaijani flag dates from the late Azerbaijan Democratic Republic period and became widely used since modern times. Azerbaijan National Anthem contains words by Ahmad Javad, and the music was composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyov.


In the Soviet era, literacy and average education levels rose dramatically from their very low starting point, despite two changes in the standard alphabet, from Arabic to Roman in the 1920s and from Roman to Cyrillic in the 1930s. According to Soviet data, 100 percent of males and females (ages nine to forty-nine) were literate in 1970.

Since independence, the Azerbaijani system has undergone little structural change. Initial alterations have included the reestablishment of religious education (banned during the Soviet period) and curriculum changes that have reemphasized the use of the Azerbaijani language and have eliminated ideological content. In addition to elementary schools, the education institutions include thousands of preschools, general secondary schools, and vocational schools, including specialized secondary schools and technical schools. Education through the eighth grade is compulsory.


Khazar Lankaran fans during a football match.

Sport in Azerbaijan has ancient roots, and even now, both traditional and modern sports are still practiced. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Azerbaijan's national sport, however today, the most popular sports in Azerbaijan are football and chess. The national football team of Azerbaijan demonstrates relatively low performance in the international arena compared to the nation football clubs. It is mainly because of the foreign footballers playing in the clubs. However, the newly opened Azerbaijan Football Academy in February 2009 is a huge step in the development of the youth football.[208] The most successful Azerbaijani football clubs are Neftchi Baku, FK Baku, Inter Baku, FK Karabakh and Khazar Lankaran. On March 19, 2010, Azerbaijan won the bid to host the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.[209]

Futsal is another popular sport in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan national futsal team reached the fourth place in 2010 UEFA Futsal Championship, while domestic club Araz Naxçivan clinched bronze medals at 2009–10 UEFA Futsal Cup.[210][211]

Backgammon, a game that has ancient roots in Persian Empire, plays a major role in Azerbaijani culture.[212] This game is very popular in Azerbaijan and is widely played among the local public.[213] There are also different variations of backgammon developed and analysed by Azerbaijani experts.[214]

Rashad Sadygov, one of Azerbaijan's most recognizable footballers and the captain of the national team.

Azerbaijan is known as one of the chess superpowers; despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, chess is still extremely popular.[215][216] Notable Azerbaijani chess players include Teimour Radjabov, Shahriyar Mammadyarov, Vladimir Makogonov, Gary Kasparov, Vugar Gashimov and Zeinab Mamedyarova. Azerbaijan has also hosted many international chess tournaments and competitions and became European Team Chess Championship winners in 2009.[217][218]

Other Azerbaijani well-known athletes are Namig Abdullayev, Rovshan Bayramov, Mariya Stadnik and Farid Mansurov in wrestling, Ramil Guliyev and Hayle Ibrahimov in athletics, Elnur Mammadli and Movlud Miraliyev in judo, Rafael Aghayev in karate, Valeriya Korotenko and Natalya Mammadova in volleyball and K-1 fighter Zabit Samedov.

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