|Republic of Azerbaijan
|Anthem: Azərbaycan Marşı
(English: March of Azerbaijan)
Location of Azerbaijan (green)
on the European continent (dark grey) — [Legend]
(and largest city)
|-||Prime Minister||Artur Rasizade|
|Formation and independence|
|-||Atabegs of Azerbaijan||
|-||Azerbaijan Democratic Republic established||
May 28, 1918
|-||Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic||
April 28, 1920
from the Soviet Union
August 30, 1990
October 18, 1991
|-||Total||86,600 km2 (113th)
33,436 sq mi
|-||2010 estimate||9,000,000 (90st)|
|GDP (PPP)||2008 estimate|
|-||Total||$74.856 billion (71st)|
|-||Per capita||$8,634 (70th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2008 estimate|
|-||Total||$46.378 billion (72nd)|
|-||Per capita||$5,349 (74th)|
|Gini (2006)||36.5 (58th)|
|HDI (2007)||▲ 0.787 (medium) (86th)|
|Time zone||AZT (UTC+04)|
|Drives on the||right|
Azerbaijan (pronounced /ˌæzərbaɪˈdʒɑːn/ ( listen) az-ər-bye-JAHN; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan), formally the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Respublikası), is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, 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 Nakhichevan 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 majority-Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh region in the southwest of Azerbaijan declared itself independent from Azerbaijan in 1991, but it is not diplomatically recognised by any nation and is still considered a de-jure part of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan, a nation with a majority Turkic and Shi‘ite Muslim population, is a secular and a unitary republic with an ancient and historic cultural heritage. Azerbaijan was the first successful attempt to establish a democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world. Azerbaijan is one of the founder members of GUAM and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in September 1993. 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 name of Azerbaijan derives from Atropates, a Persian satrap under the Achaemenid Empire, that was later reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia. The original etymology of this name is thought to have its roots in the ancient Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism. In Avestan Frawardin Yasht ("Hymn to the Guardian Angels"), there is a mention of âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide, which literally translates from Old Persian as "we worship the Fravashi of the holy Atare-pata".
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 Pahlavi geographical text Shahrestānihā i Erānshahr. The word is translatable as both "the treasury" and "the treasurer" of fire in Modern Persian.
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. 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. The area was conquered by the Achaemenids around 550 B.C.E., leading to the spread of Zoroastrianism.
Later it became part of Alexander the Great's Empire and its successor Seleucid Empire. Caucasian Albanians, the original inhabitants of the area, established an independent kingdom around the fourth century B.C.E.
Early Iranian settlements included the Scythians in the ninth century BC. Following the Scythians, Iranian Medes came to dominate the area to the south of the Aras. The Medes forged a vast empire between 900–700 BC, which was integrated into the Achaemenids Empire around 550 BC.
In 252 C.E., the Sassanids turned it into a vassal state, 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 eleventh 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.
Turkification of Azaris was completed only By the late 1800s. The old Iranic speakers found solely in tiny isolated recesses of the mountains or other remote areas (such as Harzand, Galin Guya, Shahrud villages in Khalkhal and Anarjan). Today, this Turkic speaking population is also known as Azeris.
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, as it was battling against the Sunni Ottoman Empire.
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 de facto self-ruling khanates 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. The khanates exercised control over their affairs via international trade route between Central Asia and the West. Engaged in constant warfare, these khanates were eventually incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1813, following 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.
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.
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.
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. Independent Azerbajian lasted only 23 months until the Bolshevik 11th Soviet Red Army invaded it and 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.
Despite existing for only two short years, the multi party Azerbaijani Parliamentary republic and the coalition governments managed to achieve a number of measures on national and state building, education, creation of an army, independent financial and economic systems, international recognition of the ADR as a de facto state pending de jure recognition, official recognitions and diplomatic relations with a number of states, and preparing of a Constitution, equal rights for all. This has laid an important foundation for the re-establishment of independence in 1991.
In 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 Zhangezur and Turkey agreed to return Alexandropol (Gymri).
In March 12, 1922, under heavy pressure from Moscow, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenian, and Georgian Soviet Socialist Republics established a union known as 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.
During World War II, Azerbaijan played a crucial role in the strategic energy policy of Soviet Union, much of the Soviet Union's oil on the Eastern Front was 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. 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.
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, then led to the Pogrom of Armenians in Baku, and subsequently culminated in the events of 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 the modified 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. An estimated 30,000 people had been killed and more than a million had been displaced.
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". 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.
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 Militsiya special unit, Rovshan Javadov, was averted, resulting in the killing of the latter and disbanding of Azerbaijan's OMON units.
Although during his presidency Aliyev managed to reduce the country's unemployment, reined in criminal groups, established the fundamental institutions of independent statehood, and brought stability, peace and major foreign investment, the country was tainted by rampant corruption in the governing bureaucracy. 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 became unpopular due to vote fraud, widespread corruption and objection to his autocratic regime. The same harsh criticism followed the elections of former Prime Minister Ilham Aliyev, the second leader of New Azerbaijan Party after the death of his father Heydar.
Azerbaijan is in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe. 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. 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). 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. 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.
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. All the rivers drain into the Caspian Sea in the east of the country. 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.
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 4466 metres, (Bazardüzü peak).
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. Azerbaijan's diverse landscape affects the ways air masses enter the country.
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.
Nine out of eleven existing climate zones are present in Azerbaijan. 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. The maximum annual precipitation falls in Lankaran (1,600 to 1,800 mm) and the minimum in Absheron (200 to 350 mm).
Azerbaijan has a very rich flora, more than 4,500 species of higher plants have been registed in the country. 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.
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 symbol of Fauna in Azerbaijan is the Karabakh horse which is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse which can only be found in 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.
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. All big water reservoirs are built on Kur. The hydrography of Azerbaijan basically belongs to the Caspian Sea basin.
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.
Azerbaijan is divided into 59 rayons (rayonlar, singular rayon), 11 city districts (şəhərlər, singular şəhər), and one autonomous republic (muxtar respublika) of Nakhchivan, which subdivides into 7 rayons and a city. 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: City districts in italics.
Below are the 20 most populous cities of Azerbaijan:
|1||Baku (Bakı)||Absheron||2,039,000||11||Khankendi (Xankəndi)||Yukhari-Garabagh||55,282|
|2||Ganja (Gəncə)||Ganja-Qazakh||323,760||12||Lankaran (Lənkəran)||Lankaran-Astara||50,534|
|3||Sumqayit (Sumqayıt)||Absheron||282,280||13||Rasulzadə (Rəsulzadə)||Absheron||48,716|
|4||Mingachevir (Mingəçevir)||Orta Kur||100,778||14||Baladjary (Biləcəri)||Absheron||45,678|
|6||Shirvan (Şirvan)||Orta Kur||76,648||16||Agdam (Ağdam)||Yukhari-Garabagh||42,587|
|7||Nakhchivan City (Naxçıvan)||Nakhchivan||75,972||17||Barda (Bərdə)||Orta Kur||40,741|
|9||Shaki (Şəki)||Shaki-Zaqatala||65,616||19||Jalilabad (Cəlilabad)||Lankaran-Astara||39,974|
|10||Yevlakh (Yevlax)||Orta Kur||57,449||20||Hövsan||Absheron||38,675|
|Note: Population figures are given according to 2009 estimates|
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 accuracy of the election results is checked and confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The laws enacted by the National Assembly, unless specified otherwise, go into effect on the day of their publication.
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.
The short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with six countries, sending diplomatic representatives to Germany and Finland. 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. Full diplomatic relations, including mutual exchanges of missions, were first established with Turkey, Pakistan, the United States, Iran and Israel.
Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries so far and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It holds observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union. The Azerbaijani diaspora is found in 36 countries, 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.). 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.
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; 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.
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. 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.
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 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. When Azerbaijan gained independence after the collapse 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. The original date of the establishment of the short-lived National Army is celebrated as Army Day (26 June) in today's Azerbaijan.
Initially, the equipment and facilities of Azerbaijan's army were those of the Soviet 4th Army. The Armed Forces have three branches, according to the CIA World Fact Book: Land Forces, Air Force and Air Defence Force (a united branch), Navy. Besides the Armed Forces there are 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 forces of the State Border Service, which includes the Coast Guard as well. 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.
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.
The military expenditures of Azerbaijan for 2009 are set at $2.46 billion USD. Azerbaijan has its own Defense Industry, which manufactures small arms, artillery systems, tanks, armors and noctovision devices, aviation bombs, pilotless vehicles, various military vehicles and military planes and helicopters. Azerbaijan's Armed Forces have a training cooperation partnership with the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
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. 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 United Universal Joint-Stock Bank.
Pushed up by spending and demand growth, the 2007 Q1 inflation rate reached 16.6%. 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. 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.
Two thirds of Azerbaijan is rich in oil and natural gas. 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. 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, Exxon, LUKoil and Statoil. 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. Meanwhile the State Oil Fund 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.
At the beginning of 2007 there were 4,755,100 hectares of utilized agricultural area. In the same year the total wood resources counted 136 million m³. 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. In some lands it is profitable to grow grain, potatoes, sugar beets, cotton and tobacco. The Caspian fishing industry is concentrated on the dwindling stocks of sturgeon and beluga. In 2002 the Azerbaijani merchant marine had 54 ships.
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).
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 kilometers through the territories of Azerbaijan (440 km), Georgia (260 km) and Turkey (1114 km). 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. It 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
The transport sector in Azerbaijan includes roads, railways, aviation, and maritime transport.
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. A boom in oil and gas exports has boosted the economy, reducing the country’s dependence on international aid.
In 2002 Azerbaijan led the way in per capita mobile phone use within the CIS. 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 2005, there were 1,091,400 main telephone lines and 1,036,000 internet users. There are three GSM: Azerfon (Nar Mobile), Bakcell and Azercell mobile network operators and one CDMA.
|Ethnic composition (1999)|
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%). 51% of the total population were female. The sex ratio for total population in that year was therefore 0.94 males per female.
The 2006 population growth rate was 0.66%, compared to 1.14% worldwide. 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. In 2006 Azerbaijan saw migration of −4.38/1,000 persons. The highest morbidity in 2005 was from respiratory diseases (806.9 diseases per 10,000 of total population).
In 2005, the highest morbidity for infectious and parasitic diseases was noted among influenza and acute respiratory infections (4168,2 per 100,000 population). 2007 estimate for total life expectancy is 66 years, 70.7 years for women and 61.9 for men. 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.
The ethnic composition of the population according to the 1999 population census: 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), 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. According to the statistics, about 390,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1989.
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. Some of these languages are very small communities, others are more vital. 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). The changes in alphabet have been largely molded by religious and political forces.
|Rank||Core City||Administrative division||Pop.|
|7||Nakhchivan City||Nakhchivan City||74,500|
Approximately 95% of the population of Azerbaijan is Muslim. There are many 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 comprise 3% to 4% of the population, of whom most are Russian, Georgian and Armenian Orthodox (Almost all Armenians live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh).
In 2003 there were 250 Roman Catholics. Other Christian denominations as of 2002 include Lutherans, Baptists and Molokans. 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. Zoroastrianism had a long history in Azerbaijan, evident in sites such as the Fire Temple of Baku, and along with Manichean. It is estimated that the Zoroastrian community of Azerbaijan numbers around 2,000.
According to the recent Gallup Poll Azerbaijan is one of the most irreligious countries in the world with about 50% of respondents indicating the importance of religion in their life as little or none. Even so, religious tolerance has been threatened in Azerbaijan, though it continues a signatory to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. A number of nationals who are Jehovah's Witnesses have been harassed, detained, jailed and in some cases physically assaulted by police because of their religious activity. Jehovah's Witnesses are entitled to protection of freedom of religion under Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the aforementioned Convention. In some cases the defendants have been cleared of all charges.
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. Some local radio stations in Balakən and Xaçmaz organize broadcasts in Avar and Tat. In Baku several newspapers are published in Russian, Kurdish (Dengi Kurd), Lezgin (Samur) and Talysh languages. Jewish society "Sokhnut" publishes the newspaper Aziz.
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 medieval architectural treasures reflecting the influence of several schools are the Shirvan Shahs' palace in Baku, the palace of the Shaki Khan's in the town of Shaki in north-central Azerbaijan, the Surakhany Temple on the Absheron Peninsula, a number of bridges spanning the Aras River, and several mausoleums. In the nineteenth and early twentieth 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.
The film industry in Azerbaijan dates back to 1898. In fact, Azerbaijan was among the first countries involved in cinematography. When the Lumière brothers of France premiered their first motion picture footage in Paris on December 28, 1895, little did they know how rapidly it would ignite a new age of photographic documentation. These ingenuous brothers invented an apparatus, patented in February 1895, which they called the "Cinématographe" (from which the word "cinematography" is derived).
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. In 1919, during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, a documentary called 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.
In 1991, after Azerbaijan gained its independence from the Soviet Union, first Baku International Film Festival East-West was held in Baku.
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.
Azerbaijani cuisine is an important part of the country's culture. 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.
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. 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.
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.
The Azeris 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.
Music of Azerbaijan builds on folk traditions that reach back nearly 1,000 years. For centuries Azerbaijani music has evolved under the badge of monody, producing rhythmically diverse melodies. Azerbaijani music has a branchy mode system, where chromatisation of major and minor scales is of great importance. 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."
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. In contrast to the mugam traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugam is more free-form and less rigid; it is often compared to the improvised field of jazz. UNESCO proclaimed the Azerbaijani mugam 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 fourteen string instruments, eight percussion instruments and six wind instruments.
Ashik 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. 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.
Azerbaijan made its debut appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008, and placed 8th among 43 contestants. The country's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 by AySel and Arash won the 3rd place.
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 (soccer) and chess.
Backgammon, a game that has ancient roots in Persian Empire, plays a major role in Azerbaijani culture. This game is very popular in Azerbaijan and is widely played among the local public. There are also different variations of backgammon developed and analysed by Azerbaijani experts.
Azerbaijan is known as one of the chess superpowers; despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, chess is still extremely popular. 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.
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 also advanced to the semi-finals of UEFA Futsal Cup in 2010.
Other Azerbaijani well-known athletes are Namig Abdullayev, Rovshan Bayramov, Mariya Stadnik and Farid Mansurov in wrestling, Ramil Guliyev 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.
|Institute for Economics and Peace ||Global Peace Index||114 out of 144|
|United Nations Development Programme||Human Development Index||86 out of 182|
|Transparency International||Corruption Perceptions Index||143 out of 180|
|World Economic Forum||Global Competitiveness Report||51 out of 133|
Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Respublikası), is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Its capital is Baku, the Caspian Sea coastal city. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, 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 Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (an exclave of Azerbaijan) borders Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest. The Nagorno-Karabakh region in the southwest of Azerbaijan proper declared itself independent from Azerbaijan in 1991, but it is not recognized by any nation and considered a legal part of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is a secular state, and and has been a member of the Council of Europe since 2001. The Azerbaijani people (or simply Azeris) are the majority population, most of whom (about 70%) are traditionally adherents of Shi'a Islam. The remaining Muslims are Sunni. Other religions include Russian Orthodoxy(2.5%), Armenian Orthodoxy (2.3%), other (6%). The country is formally an emerging democracy, but with strong authoritarian rule.
Its official language is Azerbaijani.
|Currency||Azerbaijani manat (AZN)|
|Population||8,832,000 (July 2009 est.)|
|Language||Azerbaijani (Azeri) 93.4%, Russian 2.5%, other 4.1%|
|Religion||Muslim 95.4%, Russian Orthodox 2.8%, other 1.8%; note: religious affiliation is still nominal in Azerbaijan; percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower|
|Electricity||220V/50Hz (European plug)|
Azerbaijan  is a Turkic state in the Caucasus of Southeastern Europe and Asia. Most inhabitants are Shia Muslim, a faith it shares with neighboring Iran. It achieved independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It has borders with Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey as well as a Caspian Sea coastline.
Conflict has been ongoing with neighbouring Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, and the country is regarded by some as something of a kleptocracy. The ruling Aliyev family and their allies are making limited democratic concessions to posture for a potential European Union accession bid along with their neighbor, Georgia, but at the same time have consolidated greater power among themselves.
Azerbaijan regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Azerbaijan has lost 13% of its territory and must support some 800,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict.
Corruption is ubiquitous and the promise of widespread wealth from Azerbaijan's undeveloped petroleum resources remains largely unfulfilled.
These are the nationally recognized holidays for people living in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is known for having nine of the 11 existing ecological zones, although a great deal of it is dry and semiarid steppe.
Large, flat Kur-Araz Ovaligi (Kura-Araks Lowland) (much of it below sea level) with Great Caucasus Mountains to the north, Qarabag Yaylasi (Karabakh Upland) in west; Baku lies on Abseron Yasaqligi (Apsheron Peninsula) that juts into Caspian Sea.
Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Azerbaijan.
Additionally, some older buildings may be still equipped with Soviet-era outlets. The Soviet GOST-7396 standard was very similar to the current European CEE-7/7 "Schuko plug", but the pins were of a 4.0 mm diameter, while the Schuko features 4.8 mm pins. As such, the pins of a Schuko may be too large to fit into a Soviet-era outlet, although the smaller Europlug will still fit. Although the Soviet-era outlets have largely been phased out, travelers who are particularly concerned with having the ability to plug in at all times may consider packing an adapter for the Soviet-era outlets too, just in case.
Also, make sure to bring your own automated voltage adapter because the electricity in Azerbaijan short circuits and "jumps" a lot and many items may get shocked if you don't bring the adapter.
The political, economic, and cultural center of Azerbaijan
The territory controlled by the unrecognized government of Nagorno-Karabakh, remains under dispute and ceasefire
An exclave bordering Turkey to the west
An ethnically diverse region in the Greater Caucasus mountains covered with lush green forests
A beautiful green mountainous region bordering Georgia, containing Azerbaijan's loveliest city
Note that if your passport shows any evidence of travel to the separatist republic of Nagorno Karabakh, such as a Karabakh visa and entry stamps and with any other evidence of visiting Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijani consulates will deny you a visa. Even if you already have an Azerbaijan visa, you will be turned away and deported, or possibly arrested, and the visa will be revoked, if you attempt to enter the country with a Karabakh visa and entry stamp in your passport. If you do intend to visit Karabakh, the authorities there can issue the visa on a separate piece of paper at your request, although sometimes they forget to do this even if instructed to do so. Entry will be refused to citizens of Armenia and to all foreign citizens of Armenian descent and ancestry and those with Armenian names and surnames, as well as any products made in Armenia and with Armenian labeling, etc.
A passport and visa are required. Travelers may obtain single-entry visas for USD 131 by mail or in person from either the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, DC or any other Azerbaijani embassy offering consular services. Travelers may also obtain single-entry, 30-day visas at the airport upon arrival for USD 131. Visas are not available at the land borders with Georgia or Russia. Double-entry, 90-day visas (cost: USD 131) and one-year multiple-entry visas (cost: USD 250) are only available through an Azerbaijani embassy or through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A letter of invitation from a contact in Azerbaijan is required, and travelers who expect to travel in the region should request a one-year, multiple-entry visa. According to Azerbaijani law, foreign nationals intending to remain in Azerbaijan for more than 30 days must register with local police within three days of their arrival. Foreign citizens should approach the passport section of the local district police office and fill out an application form. The registration fee is AZN 9.90 (approximately USD 12).
To enter Azerbaijan, an entry visa is required for most countries. If you have the luxury of time and are planning your visit from your home country, it is a good idea to try to get your visa from an Azerbaijani consulate. Multiple visas are generally not issued for tourists outside of Azerbaijan. The best deal you may get abroad is a 3 month double entry. However since April 2009 an invitation letter is required. Single entry tourist visas can also be obtained without an invitation at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku. (From July 2009 invitations should become compulsory also here.) You will need to have two passport size photographs ready for this visa. EU nationals generally pay 60 AZN for any visa from 1 to 3 months length. For Information on visa requirements visit the relevant page in the web site of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. .
National air company AZAL (Azerbaijan Airlines) is the main carrier which flies to Ganja, Nakhchivan, Yevlakh, Lenkoran, Tbilisi, Aktau, Tehran, Tel-Aviv, Ankara, Istanbul, Trabzon, Antalya, Aleppo, Dubai, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Nizhniy Novgorod, Rostov-na-Donu, Urumqi, Mineralniye Vodi, Milan, London and Paris. BMI flies seven days a week to Baku. Lufthansa also has several flights a week to Baku. Turkish Airlines is another carrier connecting Baku with and via Istanbul. Also, there are several Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Iranian, and Austrian airlines connecting Baku with several cities of the world.
Never pay more than 15 Manat for the taxi to the center. Negotiate in advance. Go out of the airport and ask the cabbies in the parking lot. Ignore all people offering a ride to you in the airport building. A normal price to the center is 10, 12 or 15 Manat. Don't let cabbies renegotiate the price with you. Insist on the price agreed in advance.
For 5 Manat you can take a cab from the airport to Metro Azizbeyov. From there it's four to six stations to the city center - but only from 6AM until midnight.
There are trains that run daily from Georgia to Azerbaijan.
There are roads to all cities of Azerbaijan. They are not really wide and most of them have only two lanes. Local travel agents can arrange private cars to the borders. Some Georgian travel agents such as Exotour can arrange pickup in Baku to delivery in Tbilisi. Although more expensive than bus or train, it will be faster and can be combined with sightseeing along the way. Pay attention to the fact that Azerbaijani customs will request you to pay a deposit of several thousand US dollars for your car.
There is a ferry to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Buses, minibuses (marshrutka), and taxis connect most cities. There is often a hub such as a bus station near the bazaar in these cities. The fares for buses and minibuses are posted usually in both old and new manat(qupik). Taxies on the other hand require negotiating skills, and this usually takes a proficiency in the language that ordinary non-Azeri/Russian/Turkish speakers do not have.
Azeri is the official language. This is a Turkic language, related to Turkish itself. However, English is spoken in some places frequented by Westerners. Many people also speak Russian (which is now declining and slowly being replaced by English), especially in the capital city, Baku.
Currency: New Azerbaijani manat (Yeni Manat)
Currency code: AZN
Exchange rates (approximate, jul-aug 2009):
For more rates please visit web page of Central Bank of Azerbaijan Republic
Keep in mind that import and export of manat is strictly forbidden.
Economy - overview: Azerbaijan's number one export is oil. Azerbaijan's oil production declined through 1997 but has registered an increase every year since. Negotiation of production-sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have thus far committed $60 billion to oilfield development, should generate the funds needed to spur future industrial development. Oil production under the first of these PSAs, with the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, began in November 1997. Azerbaijan shares all the formidable problems of the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its considerable energy resources brighten its long-term prospects. Baku has only recently begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced. An obstacle to economic progress, including stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector, is the continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is declining in importance while trade is building with Turkey and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices, the location of new pipelines in the region and Azerbaijan's ability to manage its oil wealth.
Cabbage, grape leaves, and eggplant wrapped meat (kelem, yarpaq, badimjan - dolmasi), kabab (kebab), rice with chicken and other stuff (plov - It is said that plov is the king of Azerbaijani cuisine), gutabs and meatballs (kufta) are some of the specialties of Azerbaijan. Bread is a staple, and is quite revered by the people of Azerbaijan.
Some local drinks include ayran (a yogurt drink based on sour milk) and sherbet (made from rose petals or saffron). There are also different sorts of quite decent wines produced from local grapes and a wide array of mineral waters from natural springs. In some areas of Azerbaijan the markets offer lemonades (limonat/dushes) made from pears, antibiotics and green tea.
There is a good selection of hotels in Baku, including many Western chains, but options elsewhere in the country are limited. Prices for the hotels start from $60 and higher. Rental apartments might be a good choice as they are cheaper than hotels and sometimes are even more comfortable.
You can get the information you need about Azerbaijan from the hotels where you will stay. They have different guides for Azerbaijan. Also at some new bus stations in Baku there are maps of the capital.
There is a great deal of work to be done in Azerbaijan from teaching and NGO work to work in the oil and tourism sectors.
Corruption is widespread. But as westerner you have a fairly strong position in refusing to pay "hörmet" (bribe). Do it - never give any bribe. Often Azeris are so ashamed of their corruption economy, that they might hide it from you anyway.
Only use licensed taxis. Watch out for beggars. Also, the international soft drinks (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.) may be homemade and contaminated, so watch out when buying such drinks. To make sure they are safe, buy them from big supermarkets and stores.
Make sure to get your shots a couple weeks before departure. The air in the cities where oil is produced isn't as clean as in other countries so that results in diseases. Some meats are also old or spoiled, so make sure to buy them from a clean, respected place and watch out for roadside sellers.
When going to someone's home, make sure to bring them a gift. Anything is fine from wines to flowers to chocolate. When you arrive at the house take off your shoes and if you really want their respect, compliment their yard or house. When inside the house, don't ask for anything for they will surely offer it. The host will make sure to make you feel at home, so don't take advantage of their kindness. Most people in Azerbaijan respect older people, so in a bus or in a subway young people will always offer you a place to sit if you are an older person, or if you are pregnant or have kids with you. Azerbaijan has a Turkic and majority-Muslim population.
There are three mobile operators: Azercell, Bakcell, Nar Mobile. Azercell is the largest one. To dial an Azercell number you need to dial (050) and then the number. Only with Azercell can you talk in the metro(subway) in Baku. Nar Mobile is pretty cheap but doesn't work in some regions. For dialing Nar Mobile numbers you need to dial (070) and then the number. Bakcell is ok. It works almost everywhere and is cheaper that Azercell. To dial a Bakcell number you need to dial (055) and then the number. The numbers have a 3 digit code (different for each operator) + 7 digits number. For example (050)xxx xx xx, or (055)xxx xx xx, or (070)xxx xx xx You can buy cards for use with different operators almost in every store.
City Code Agjabedi 113 Agdam 192 Agdash 193 Agsu 198 Agstafa 244 Ali-Bayramli 197 Astara 195 Babek 136 Baku 12 Balaken 119 Berde 110 Beylagan 152 Bilesuvar 159 Dashkesen 216 Devechi 115 Fizuli 141 Gedebey 232 Genje 22 Goranboy 234 Goychay 167 Hajigabul 140 Horadiz 141 İmishli 154 İsmayilli 178 Jebrayil 118 Jelilabad 114 Julfa 36 Kelbejer 137 Kurdemir 145 Lachin 146 Lenkeran 171 Lerik 157 Masalli 151 Mereze 150 Mingechevir 147 Nabran 156 Naftalan 255 Nakhchivan 136 Neftchala 153 Oguz 111 Ordubad 136 Gakh 144 Gazakh 279 Gazi Memmed 140 Gebele 160 Gobustan 150 Guba 169 Gubadli 133 Gusar 138 Saatli 168 Sabirabad 143 Shahbuz 136 Salyan 163 Shamakhi 176 Samukh 265 Sederek 136 Sheki 177 Shemkir 241 Sherur 136 Siyezen 190 Sumgayit 18-64 Shusha 191 Terter 246 Tovuz 231 Ujar 170 Khachmaz 172 Khankendi 162 Khanlar 230 Khizi 199 Khojali 102 Khudat 172 Yardimli 175 Yevlakh 166 Zagatala 174 Zengilan 196 Zerdab 135
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| Azərbaycan Respublikası|
Republic of Azerbaijan
|National motto:|| "Odlar Yurdu"|
("Land of the Eternal Fire")
|National anthem:|| Azərbaycan Respublikasının Dövlət Himni|
(March of Azerbaijan)
|About the people|
|Population: (# of people)|
|- Total:||9,000,000 (in 2010) (ranked 90)|
|- Density:||103 per km²|
|Geography / Places|
|[[Image:|250px|none|country map]] Here is the country on a map.|
|- Total:||86,600 (ranked 114)|
|- Water:||- km² (-%)|
|Politics / Government|
|Established:|| Independence from the Soviet Union (August 30, 1991)|
formerly Azerbaijan SSR
|Leaders:|| President Ilham Aliyev|
Prime Minister Artur Rasizade
|Economy / Money|
(Name of money)
|Telephone dialing code:||994|
Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan), or Republic of Azerbaijan, is a country in South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is next to Russia in the north, Georgia, Armenia, in the west, Iran in the south, and Caspian Sea on the east.
Most of Azerbaijan's land is located in Western Asia and is called an Asian country by the United Nations.
Ancient Azerbaijan was named "Caucasian Albania" and was relatively independent under Roman/byzantine (Roman Azerbaijan) and Persian control.
After the arab conquest the country has been always under Muslim influence until the Russian empire entered the Caucasus region.
Since the XX century many Russians settled in Azerbaijan, but after the end of Soviet Russia the independent Azerbaijanis are back in control and europeans are leaving the country.
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