The Republic of Azerbaijan is located in the eastern part of the South Caucasus, at the western coast of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan borders on Russian Federation in the North, Georgia in the North-West, Armenia and Turkey in the West and South-West, and Iran in the South. The country has a sea border with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani is the official language
Azerbaijan is a secular and unitary republic. The country features rich and beautiful nature with wildlife varying a lot among its major areas like Nakhchivan, Sheki, Zagatala, Gusar, Lerik, Shamakhy, Shusha, Aghdam. Azerbaijan is a true goldmine for archaeologists.
Excavations held in the cave of Azykh in Garabagh revealed human remnants exceeding 2 million years of age. This unique finding placed Azerbaijan on the map of the most ancient inhabitants of Europe.
Azerbaijan is also known for its deeply rooted history of science and education. The State University of Baku, established in 1919, and the institutes of the Academy of Sciences, founded in 1945, played a significant role in promoting science, education and culture in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is a country of ancient culture Azerbaijani carpets are world-famous. Some outstanding pieces of this art are currently cherished in the world's leading museums like Victoria & Albert (London), Textile Museum (Washington DC), Louvre (Paris), Topkapy (Istanbul), and Hermitage (St.Petersburg).
Deeply rooted music traditions are another feature of Azerbaijan. The tambourine stone (qavaldash) in the historic and archaeological site of Gobustan is the oldest musical instrument discovered in the country.
The art of mugham, being an inseparable part of Azerbaijan's musical legacy is included in UNESCO's World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
In the meantime, Azerbaijan is recognised as one of the cradles of classic music in the Orient with the first national opera (Uzeyir Hajibeyli's Leyli & Majnun) staged in 1908.
Besides this, the outstanding Azerbaijani opera singer Shovket Mammadova was the first Muslim woman who appeared on stage in April 1912. This was followed by the first ballet in the Muslim world (Afrasiyab Badalbeyli's Maiden Tower) in 1940.
In love with Azerbaijani cuisine
Azerbaijani cuisine is rich and versatile. Each region has its own variety of main national dishes.
While bread, meat and poultry feature prominently in all the food preparations, the national cuisine offers lots of choices for vegetarians and for people who prefer seafood.
Azerbaijani black tea is an indispensable element of the national cuisine served with a special ceremony.
First state formations on the territory of Azerbaijan date back to the 3rd Millennium B.C. However, the first independent state – Manna – was established in the 9th century B.C.
In the 4th century B.C., the fall of the empire of Alexander the Great resulted in formation of Atropatena in south Azerbaijan and Caucasian Albania in the north. T
he origin of the name Azerbaijan is assumed to be linked to the name of Atropatena. At that time local population worshipped fire.
In the 4th-5th centuries Christianity became the main religion in the mountainous regions of Caucasian Albania. A Christian church built in the 5th century in the village of Kish near the city of Sheki has survived till modern day.
The 52 letter alphabet developed in Caucasian Albania greatly fostered the development of education in the area.
In the middle of the 7th century the Arab conquest of Azerbaijan made Islam the main religion of the population. In the 20s-30s of the 9th century national liberation movement headed by Babek sped up the fall of the Arab caliphate.
Following the collapse of the caliphate, feudal states of Sajis, Salaries, Shirvanshahs, Ravvadids, and Shaddadids sprang up on the territory of Azerbaijan. In the 12th and 13th centuries the territory of Azerbaijan was under control of the Eldaniz (Atabeys) and in the 14th and 15th centuries – Qaragoyunlu and Aggoyunlu states.
In the 16th and 17th centuries the state of Sefevis left an important mark in the history of Azerbaijani statehood. The boundaries of the state spread to the rivers Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Euphrates and Tigris and to modern Georgia.
In the 18th and 19th centuries struggle over Azerbaijan between Russia and Iran was intensified. The Gulustan Treaty (1813) and the Turkmanchay Treaty (1828) divided the 18th century independent Azerbaijani khanates between Russia and Iran.
Thus, the territory of Azerbaijan was split into two parts creating Northern Azerbaijan and Southern Azerbaijan. In the second half of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century Baku produced almost 51% of the world's oil and 95% of Russia's oil.
Speaking of technical accomplishments of the country, one should notice the first oil tanker in the world, Zoroaster, built and brought to Baku in 1879 by the Nobel brothers.
The first Republic of Azerbaijan established in 1918 became the first secular republic in the Moslem East. For the first time in history the Republic of Azerbaijan announced equal voting rights among men and women.
Despite only twenty-three months of its existence since 1918 to 1920, the first republic left a great legacy for the modern state.
Since 1920 to 1991 Azerbaijan was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In spite of tough years following the regaining of independence in 1991, the Republic of Azerbaijan has recently gained a number of serious economic and cultural achievements.
In 2008 the World Bank declared Azerbaijan one of the top ten developing countries of the world. In 2012, Azerbaijan will host the Eurovision Song Contest.