Azerbaijan borders Georgia in the northwest, Armenia in the west, Iran in the south, Russia in the north and the Caspian Sea in the east. The Naxcivan exclave has an 11 km border with Turkey and is otherwise enclosed by Armenia in the north and northeast and in the south by Iran. The Nagorno-Karabakh region has been occupied by Armenia since 1991, after a war between the two countries. The conflict has not yet been resolved.
With 86,600 square kilometers, Azerbaijan is the largest and most populous of the South Caucasian countries. Its landscape diversity results from the enormous differences in altitude, which range from 28 meters below sea level on the Caspian Sea to over 4,000 meters in the Greater Caucasus. The highest elevation at 4,466 m is the Bazardüzü on the border with the Russian Republic of Dagestan.
Azerbaijan is often referred to as the “land of fire”. The modern Flame Towers, which shape the silhouette of the capital Baku, take this into account. Starting from Persia, the religion of Zoroastrianism came to Azerbaijan. In the monotheistic religion, which developed in the 7th to 4th centuries BC. Fire temples played an important role in the Iranian cultural area. Oil from the Abseron peninsula near Baku burned on its altars and was also used as the basis for the feared “Greek fire” of the Byzantines.
Of the 10 million inhabitants, 91.6% are Azerbaijani, 2% Lesgians, 1.3% Russians, 1.3% Armenians and 1.3% Talyschen. In addition, live Avars, Tatars, Turks, Ukrainians in the country.
The official language is Azerbaijani, a language that, like Turkish and Turkmen, belongs to the Oghusian Turkic languages and is written today in a Turkish Latin script. The majority of Azerbaijanis are Shiite Muslims, like in neighboring Iran, where around 20 million Azerbaijanis also live. Traces of the Albanians, a Christian people who lived in the region in the Middle Ages, can still be found in the form of churches, especially in the Sheki region.
Outside the historic city center, oil boom villas from the Wilhelminian era and increasingly modern buildings characterize the capital Baku on the Caspian Sea.
UNESCO World Heritage in Azerbaijan:
- Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace (2019)
- Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape (2007)
- Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower (2000)
Intangible Cultural Heritage in Azerbaijan:
- Heritage of Dede Qorqud/Korkyt Ata/Dede Korkut, epic culture, folk tales and music (2018)
- Art of crafting and playing with Kamantcheh/Kamancha, a bowed string musical instrument (2017)
- Dolma making and sharing tradition, a marker of cultural identity (2017)
- Flatbread making and sharing culture: Lavash, Katyrma, Jupka, Yufka (2016)
- Nawrouz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowrouz, Nawrouz, Nauryz, Nooruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Navruz (2016)
- Copper craftsmanship of Lahij (2015)
- Traditional art and symbolism of Kelaghayi, making and wearing women’s silk headscarves (2014)
- Craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar, a long-necked string musical instrument (2012)
- Traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2010)
- Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq (2009)
- Azerbaijani Mugham (2008)