The easternmost country of Europe, Azerbaijan was destined by its very location to bridge Europe with Asia. While Italy looks like an elegant shoe, Azerbaijan has a configuration of an eagle streaming from Europe eastwards. The capital and the Host City of the Eurovision Song Contest, Baku, has rapidly transformed itself into a highly developed modern city, the surrounding villages still remain untouched and archaic.
Azerbaijan is divided partially between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. On its eastern side lies the Caspian Sea, whilst the Russian Federation borders it on the north.
Other countries which share boundaries with Azerbaijan are Georgia in the west and north-west, Armenia in the south-west and Iran in the south. The Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan is bordered by Armenia to its north and east, while Iran lies to its south and south-west, and Turkey to its west. Many islands in the Caspian Sea are also part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan if formed of 65 regions and 69 cities of which Baku is the capital. While Azerbaijani is the official language spoken, due to Russia's rule for so many years, Russian and Turkish languages are widely spoken. In some regions, people also converse in English, German and Arabic.
Azerbaijan is a secular and unitary republic consisting mostly of Ethnic Azeri and Shia Muslims who form a major part of its population. Orthodox Christians and Jews also play their own role in the form of minorities.
Azerbaijan's economy mainly depends upon oil and natural gas production. Other industries that contribute to its economy include cotton and agricultural products.
Pancakes, soups and bread form a major part of the daily cuisine of the Azerbaijani's. Meat and poultry features prominently in all the food preparations in the form of kebabs, minced meat, etc. Among the fruits, locally apples, cherries, grapes, melons, raspberries, plums and peaches are produced. Sweet black tea is a very popular drink among the locals.
Azerbaijan has been inhabited by several tribes since ancient times. In fact, archeologically it is one of the oldest spots of human dwellings which can traced to the Azykh cave and number of other habitations dating to the Stone Age. Tribal formations in Azerbaijan started in the 3rd Millennium B.C. of which the Manna and Medes were very powerful and advanced tribes.
The Medes tribe invaded the Manna tribe in 6th century B.C who were eventually conquered, even after much resistance. The Medes tribes were of Indo-European origins and are ancestors of modern Kurds.
In developing the state of Azerbaijan, Atropatena and Caucasian Albania have played a foremost role. The origin of the name Azerbaijan has been denoted to the ruler of Atropatena- Atropat, which was later altered to its present name.
During the rule of Atropatena, Azerbaijan territory was being formed and around the same time Christianity arrived in the region (3rd to 5th century).
At the beginning of 6th century, Alabnic alphabet system was introduced which uplifted the education system.
In the 8th century the Arabs conquered Azerbaijan and made it a part of Arab Khalifat. Along with the Arab rulers, arrived Islam religion bringing with it new traditions and culture. The Azerbaijan's accepted Islam and began to be known as Muslims.
In the 18th century controversy between Turkey, Russia and Iran adversely affected Azerbaijan. The Turkmanchay Treaty between Russia and Iran in 1828 divided the country in two parts with the southern part consolidated in Iran and northern with Russia.
The 20th century turned out to be a 360 degree transformation for the country as oil exploration began on a large with 95% of Soviet Union's oil extraction depending upon Azerbaijan. In 1901, the city of Baku, produced almost 51% of the world's output in oil.
Speaking of technical accomplishments of the country, one should notice the first oil tanker in the world, Zoroaster, used since 1879. Almost 70 years later, the tanker was sunk to provide a base for the off-shore rigs also known as the Oil Rocks. The site was recently featured in James Bond's World Is Not Enough.
Last but not least, the first Republic of Azerbaijan established in 1918, appeared to be the first secular republic in the Muslim world. Despite only 23 months of its existence, it tried to introduce a number of daring novices.
After 70 years of Soviet rule, Azerbaijan's won their Independence on the 18th of October, 1991. After hard years, the situation has slowly improved and is improving with time as the World Bank declared the country as Top 10 reformer in 2008.
In 2012, Azerbaijan will host the Eurovision Song Contest.
Youtube Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ZAkUYTjcmMw
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