Azerbaijan is the amalgamation of a nascent nation with the antiquity that dates back for millennia. A country where modernity and tradition have always intertwined in a seamless manner and this new nation is forging ahead leaving behind all the ruins and memories of the war torn pre-Soviet era. With a sanguine spirit boosted by the oil industry, the country is once again emerging on its own to claims its rightful place in the geopolitical world map. Azerbaijan has witnessed a history of exodus of people that include the Turkic tribe, Shiite Muslims with Persian origins, and the Russian dominion. The 19th century marked the dawn of modernization and development of the oil industry that the Soviet Union exploited during its rule. The 19th century also saw national awakening that led to a brief independence in 1918 which was ended by the invasion of the Red Army in 1920. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan became the first country to have declared independence. Independence was short-lived euphoria for the young nation as a war on Nagorno-Karabakh broke out against Armenia. Pains of the war still hurt the young and old citizens alike yet leaving behind the past is prudent recourse people have taken for constructing a great nation. Check out some of the interesting facts about the amazing country in the write-up below.
Largest City: Baku
Official Language: Azerbaijani
Religion: Shia branch of Islam
Legislature: Presidential republic
Independence: Declared: 30 August 1991
Completed: 18 October 1991
Area: 86,600 sq. km
Population: 9,165,000 (2011 estimates)
Currency: Manat (AZN)
National Animal: Karabakh horse
Interesting And Fun Facts About Azerbaijan
- Located in the south of Russia, Azerbaijan faces the Caspian Sea towards the west while the Caucasus Mountains demarcate the northwestern border.
- Atropates, the Persian satrap was used to coin the name of this country, Azerbaijan. The treasure or the treasury of fire or the land of fire can be replaced with the word Azerbaijan.
- In the oil rich cosmopolitan capital of Baku, the areas in the south and west are extensive lowlands sometimes even below the sea level.
- The western region of Azerbaijan has the autonomous administrative division Naxçivan that is separated by Armenia and has a population of about 300,000 people.
- Azerbaijan is home to the first known fireplace and one of the ancient proto-human habitations in the human history that date back to 700,000 to 500,000 years ago. The Azikh Cave, which is also the largest cave in Azerbaijan covering eight thousand square meters, is one of the proto-human sites in Azerbaijan.
- In Sheki, there is a beautiful Khan’s Palace where one might chance upon a man named Cumay who sits beside a covered object. Upon coming closer, Cumay will unravel the stuffed head of a wolf. When a tourist offers a donation the eyes of the wolf lights up brightly.
- The industrial settlement of Neft Dashlar, which means oil rocks, is the first and the largest town on stilts that was constructed on the Caspian Sea. The construction commenced in 1947 and was built in phases.
- Some of the superstitions related to the Azeri culture include, “Do not lend money or bread at night”, “Leaving scissors with opened blades brings misfortune and even death”, and “If you meet a person with empty buckets, you are bound for misfortune.”
- The people of Azerbaijan love to drink tea. The drink is served in a traditional pear shaped glass and also sipped through lumps of sugar or jam that are held in the mouth.
- In 1879, the Nobel brothers, founders of Nobel Prize, set up their oil company in Azerbaijan as The Nobel Brothers Petroleum country. The Nobel brothers from Sweden acquired much of their wealth from Azerbaijan’s oil industry.
- The Absheron peninsula in Azerbaijan has the rare geological wonder of Burning Mountain, where due to natural gas, the mountains burn through out the year.
- The former world chess champion Garry Kasparov hails from Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The country is also home to the world’s youngest International Grand Master Teymur Rajabov who is just 14 years old.
- On January 1st 2012, Azerbaijan was selected to be the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
- The highest point in Azerbaijan is Bazarduzu Dagi, which is 4,485 m above the sea level.
- The famous Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl was interested in drawing similarities between the pictorial carving on rock of the reed boats near Baku and the pictorial carving on rock of Alta, Norway,
- It is believed that prophet Zoroaster, the founder of the Zoroastrism, was born in Azerbaijan, which was the part of the Persian Empire at that time.
- Azerbaijan is also referred to as “the land of fire” which may be due to the large deposits of oil in the land that might have ignited from time to time.
- Prior to eighteenth century, Azerbaijan was a Christian country and it was only later that the inhabitants were converted into Islam.
- Three of the oldest centers of trade of Azerbaijan are Sheki, Nakhchivan, and Ganja.
- Capital city of Baku was once very important commercial center on the Silk Route, the trading passage way from Europe to China.
- The world’s first oil well was drilled near Baku. The well was drilled somewhere around the middle of the nineteenth century.
- Regional powers like the Ottoman Empire, Persia and Russia competed against each other to hold the possession of Azerbaijan.
- In 1828, a treaty between Persia (Iran) and Russia called the Treaty of Turkmanchai, outlining the sharing of the Azerbaijan territory between the two countries.
- Soviet Russia in 1924 carved out the Autonomous Province of Nagorno-Karabakh that comprised of the main population of the ethnic Armenians. The region was within Azerbaijan but ever since the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1994, it has remained under the Armenian control.
- 16% of Azerbaijan’s territory is under the Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Azerbaijan became part of the USSR in 1922. It declared independence from the Soviet Union on August 30, 1991.
- The United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) is an American non-profit organization which was created to promote the co-operation and trade between America and Azerbaijan.
- The 1,768 kilometer long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that was opened in 2006 brings crude oil from the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey’s port on the Mediterranean coast.
- “Republic of Azerbaijan” is the official name of Azerbaijan.
- Azerbaijan’s official language is Azerbaijani that is spoken by more than 95% of the population. Besides, Azerbaijani there are 13 other native languages in the country while English and Russian are the major languages of education and communication in the country.
- Azerbaijani language has many dialects but the major ones are divided into two varieties—The North Azerbaijani and the South Azerbaijani.
- Azerbaijan is the largest and most populous country in the South Caucasus region.
- The Gobustan Nature Park has got thousands of rock paintings that give a peek into the lives of the pre-historic inhabitants of Azerbaijan.
- A special broth made from meat and sheep fat is considered to be the staple diet of Azerbaijanis.
- Azerbaijan is the first Muslim country to have operas and theater plays.
- The Azerbaijan Constitution does not declare any religion as official to the country, but majority of people adhere to the Shia branch of Islam.
- Novruz is the oldest national holiday of Azerbaijan, which celebrates the New Year and the coming of spring.
- TV channels in Azerbaijan run on three languages, namely, Azeri, Russian, and Turkish.