1 Manat

Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan) is a country in Eurasia. Azerbaijan was known as "Caucasian Albania" in ancient times. The name, "Azerbaijan", is widely believed to have originated from the Arabicized form of the old Persian word, “Atropatakan” (aka Atropatena or Atropatene) - the country of Atropatos”.

Azerbaijan was an independent nation from 1918 to 1920 but was then part of the Soviet Union. It became a constituent (union) republic in 1936. Azerbaijan declared sovereignty on September 23, 1989, and independence on August 30, 1999 (after the fall of the Soviet Union). Since 1991, Azerbaijan has been involved in a heated struggle with Armenia for the autonomous (self-govern) Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is officially considered part of Azerbaijan yet is populated mostly by ethnic Armenians.

Salmon caviar. Azerbaijan exports a lot of this!

Azerbaijan is also known for its distinctive traditional exports of fine horses and caviar.

The currency of Azerbaijan is the Azerbaijani manat & the current president of Azerbaijan is Ilham Aliyev (since October 2003).

Where is Azerbaijan? edit

Location of Azerbaijan on a world map.

Azerbaijan is a country located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is located in the Eurasian region bordering north to Russia and Georgia, west to Armenia and Turkey, and south to Iran. Bordering to the east is the Caspian Sea, the largest lake in the world by surface area & the largest enclosed body of water on Earth.

The capital city of Azerbaijan is Baku (or Bakı in Azerbaijani). It is the largest city in the country and is located next to the Caspian Sea.

How many people live in Azerbaijan? edit

Russian settlers in the Mugan steppe of Azerbaijan, ca. 1905.

According to a 2023 estimate, Azerbaijan's population stands at 10,420,515 people. An estimated population of 91.6% are Azerbaijani natives, 2.0% are Lezgis, 1.3% are Armenians, 1.3% are Russians, 1.3% are Talyshs, and 2.4% of other minorities group (2009 census). The Nagorno-Karabakh region is populated by mostly ethnic Armenians.

What are the most common languages in Azerbaijan? edit

"Azerbaijan" in 3 types of writings

Azerbaijani, also called the Azeri, is the most widely spoken language in Azerbaijan. 93% of the population speaks Azeri. In modern times, the Azerbaijani alphabet has 32 letters, which is very similar to Latin letters except the following: ç, ə, ğ, ő, ş, ü.

It is a Turkic language, which means that it is related to languages such as Turkish, Kazakh, and Uzbek.

The Azerbaijani language has had a couple of major changes throughout history, where the Arabic script was introduced in the 7th century and was used until the early half of the 20th century. Movements aiming to reform the Azerbaijani alphabet are what caused the abolishment of the Arabic alphabet. In 1929, a new alphabet system based on the Latin script was introduced. This alphabet was used for Azerbaijani until 1939. The Cyrillic alphabet, Yanalif (new alphabet), was introduced by the Soviet Union. After independence, the Azerbaijani government switched Azerbaijani from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabet.

There are 2 distinct branches of Azerbaijani languages, namely the north Azerbaijani branch and the south Azerbaijani branch. They are sometimes classified as separate languages, although there is a fair degree of understanding between them.

North Azerbaijani is spoken in Azerbaijan, where it is the official language. It is also spoken in southern Dagestan (a republic of Russia), in the southern Caucasus Mountains, and in parts of Central Asia. The alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet.

South Azerbaijani is spoken mainly in the northwestern portion of Iran, where it is known as تورکی (Türki), and in parts of Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Syria. It is written with a version of the Arabic script and is known as Azeri Turk in Iran.

What is the most common religion in Azerbaijan? edit

The Bibi-Heybat Mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan.

According to a 2021 census, the most common religion practiced is Islam (96%), with 65% being Shia Muslims and 35% being Sunni Muslims. The remaining 4% are minority Christian sects, such as Russian Orthodox, Georgian Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic. The ethnic Azerbaijanis mostly practice Islam, while the Christian sects constitute the minority ethnic population.

What is the sport of Azerbaijan? edit

Azerbaijanis playing Chovgan

The national sport of Azerbaijan is chovgan. Chovgan shares resemblances to polo and is played on horseback. The sport's name comes from a type of curved stick traditionally used to catch sheep.

The sports' rules are as follows: The game is made up of horse riders who are divided into two teams. Each team gets on horseback and tries to score more goals than its opposing team.

The entire game is divided into 2 half-times. The duration of the game consists of six periods lasting 7 minutes. Each time period is called a “chukka” or “chukker”.

To initiate the game, each team's players remain on their horses in a uniformed row behind a middle line in the middle of the field. Then, the referee throws the ball in between the two teams to begin the game (approximately 6.5 meters away from each team). Players begin riding towards the ball, trying to get the ball in the other team's net. If the other team commits a foul or a break has begun between the two "chukkas", the game is momentarily paused.

The most popular sport in Azerbaijan is football (or soccer).

What are some important sites? edit

The Palace of Shirvanshahs edit

Palace of the Shirvanshahs in Baku.

The Palace of Shirvanshahs (The King of Shirvans, a royal title used during the medieval Islamic period) is an elegant palace located in Baku, Azerbaijan. It is composed of several distinct sections, the divanhane (main reception hall), the shah's mosque accompanied by a minaret, the tomb of Seyid Yahya Bakuvi (a 15th-century Azerbaijani philosopher), a portal in the eastern sphere of the palace known as Murad's Gate, a reservoir (a large ovdan that provided drinking-water) and the remnants of the bath-house.

In the 15th century, the Shirvanshah dynasty moved the country's capital from Shemakha to Baku. The palace's construction was done under Shirvanshah Ibrahim I, who ruled from 1411 to 1465, in the new capital. During his rule, the palace was used as a royal residence, center of government, and center of culture. Located in the inner city of Baku, it proved to be the perfect place for the king to rule over his domain. The multi-building complex would've been a great abode for the king, containing a mosque, a private hammam (bath), and a large cistern (water tank).

As of 2023, the palace is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Qiz Qalasi (Maiden Tower)

Maiden Tower (Qiz Qalasi) edit

The Maiden Tower is a round bastion tower. The tower is made of red brick and contains only one entrance, located right below the face of the tower. Once inside, the tower shows its spiral yet narrow staircase that leads to the top. Inside the tower, the central, cylindrical void is divided by shallow vaults into eight floors, each containing a single room. Once one goes up to the top of the tower, a ravishing view of Baku awaits.

Built in the 12th century, the tower was originally built on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Due to land reclamation (the process of making more land artificially), the tower is no longer within the eyesight of the Caspian Sea. It originally served as a watch tower. The importance of the Maiden Tower is evident in the country's currency notes, where it makes a noticeable appearance. The Azer name, Qiz Qalasi, contains a fascinating tale behind its unique name.

Legend says that a foreign prince fell in love with an Azerbaijani king's daughter & wanted to marry her. The princess was not on the same page as the prince, so she instructed her father to build the biggest tower he could build in order to delay the wedding. When the tower completed construction, the princess rose up the tower, taking in the breathtaking view of the sea, and threw herself into the passing waves crashing against the tower walls.

Gobustan Rock Art edit

Petroglyphs in Gobustan Rock Art

The Gobustan Rock Art is a showcase of ancient artistic brilliance. It is a vast area of rocky outcrops covered in prehistoric rock art, including petroglyphs (rock carvings made by pecking away from the surface of the rock), pictograms (a picture that serves as a symbol), and geoglyphs (a large drawing made on the earth floor). The rock art dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period and provides a cool glimpse into the lives & culture of the people who inhabited the Gobustan region over 40,000 years ago.

The rock art shows a lot of subjects, including hunting, fishing, animal husbandry, and religious ceremonies. Other depictions include animals, such as bulls, goats, and deer. The art is surprisingly detailed and provides a lot of information about the people who lived in Gobustan.

The petroglyphs were accidentally discovered by stone quarry workers in the 1930s. In 1939, a group of Azerbaijani archaeologists began the first archeological study of rock art. From 1940 to 1965, various archeological teams identified and documented approximately 3,500 individual rock paintings on 750 different rocks. The most ancient petroglyph goes back to the 8th century BC.

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