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Azerbaijan (/ˌæzərbˈɑːn/ AZ-ər-by-JAHN; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan [ɑːzæɾbɑjˈd͡ʒɑn]), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Respublikası [ɑːzæɾbɑjˈd͡ʒɑn ɾespublikɑˈsɯ]), is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bound by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, and has an 11 km long border with Turkey in the north west.

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first democratic state in the Muslim-oriented world. The country was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, prior to the official dissolution of the USSR in December 1991. In September 1991, the Armenian majority of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region seceded to form the Republic of Artsakh. The region and seven adjacent districts outside it became de facto independent with the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994. These regions are internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan pending a solution to the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh, found through negotiations facilitated by the OSCE.

Azerbaijan is a unitary semi-presidential republic. The country is a member state of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. It is one of six independent Turkic states, an active member of the Turkic Council and the TÜRKSOY community. Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It is one of the founding members of GUAM, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A member of the United Nations since 1992 after its independence, Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 May 2006. Its term of office began on 19 June 2006. Azerbaijan is also a member state of the Non-Aligned Movement, holds observer status in World Trade Organization, and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union.

The Constitution of Azerbaijan does not declare an official religion and all major political forces in the country are secularist. However, the majority of the population are of Muslim background. More than 89% of the population is Shia. Most Azerbaijanis, however, do not actively practice any religion, with 53% stating religion has little to no importance in their lives, according to Pew Research Center and Gallup polls. Alcohol and non-Islamic places are also permitted. Azerbaijan has a high level of human development which ranks on par with most Eastern European countries. It has a high rate of economic development and literacy, as well as a low rate of unemployment. However, the ruling party, the New Azerbaijan Party, has been accused of authoritarianism and human rights abuses.

Featured article

The Azerbaijanis (/æzəbˈɑːnɪ/; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycanlılar) are an ethnic group mainly found in northwestern Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis, commonly referred to as Azeris, live in a wider area from the Caucasus to the Iranian plateau. The Azeris are typically at least nominally Muslim and have a mixed cultural heritage of Turkic, Iranian, and Caucasian elements. Despite living on both sides of an international border, the Azeris form a single group. However, northerners and southerners differ due to nearly two centuries of separate social evolution in Russian/Soviet-influenced Azerbaijan and Iranian Azerbaijan.

Selected picture

The Oil Rocks, a full town on the Caspian Sea was created in 1947 and was the pearl of Soviet and Azeri ambition in the 1950s.
Credit: Interfase

The Oil Rocks, a full town on the Caspian Sea was created in 1947 and was the pearl of Soviet and Azeri ambition in the 1950s.

Selected article

The Gobustan National Park (Azerbaijani: Qobustan Milli Parkı) is a national historical landmark of Azerbaijan. It is located west of the settlement of Gobustan, about 40 miles (64 km) southwest of the centre of Baku on the west bank of the Caspian Sea. With thousands of ancient carvings, relics, mud volcanoes and gas-stones, the park is a major archaeological site.

In 2007 Gobustan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of "outstanding universal value" for the quality and density of its rock art engravings, for the substantial evidence the collection of rock art images presents for hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times and for the cultural continuity between prehistoric and medieval times that the site reflects.

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Azerbaijan news

  • June 26, 2009: Azerbaijani Armed Forces mark its 91 years. The first military unit – the special corps was established by the decision of the government of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic on June 26, 1918. After the occupation of Azerbaijan by the Bolshevik Russia in April 1920 and fall of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the National Army was abolished by the Bolshevik government. 15 of 21 army generals were shot dead by Bolsheviks. 71 years later, when Azerbaijan restored its independence, the Defense Ministry was established on September 5, 1991. (APA)
  • May 17, 2009: Azerbaijani/Iranian duo AySel and Arash ranked third in Eurovision Song Contest 2009. Alexander Rybak won the 54th Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Fairytale". Norway is followed by Yohanna from Iceland and Azerbaijan’s AySel & Arash. (Today.Az)
  • April 30, 2009: A young man armed with an automatic pistol and clips of ammunition rampaged through a prestigious institute in the Azerbaijani capital Thursday, killing 13 people and wounding others before killing himself as police closed in, the government said. The suspect, Farda Gadirov, entered the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy in Baku and climbed five floors of the building, shooting everyone he met along the way. (msnbc)
  • April 22, 2009: Commemorative event of Azerbaijani Turks killed by Armenian Dashnak committees in Igdir in 1915-1918 has been held today in Alican village of Igdir, 1km far from Turkey-Armenia border. Head of Society for Struggle against Groundless Armenian Genocide Claims, Goksel Gurbey made a keynote speech at the event. He said that Armenians committed genocide in various regions of Anatolia in 1915-1918. “One of the places, where they committed slaughters more, is Igdir. 16 mass burial sites were found here. Mass burial sites in Oba, Hagmehmet, Gedikli and Tashburun were opened, genocide was proved,” he said. (APA)
  • April 22, 2009: Caspian littoral states - Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Russia - have drawn closer to reaching agreement on a document defining the legal status of the basin, a Russian official has said following another round of talks on the issue that has long remained unresolved. (AzerNEWS)

Selected biography

Chingiz Mustafayev (Azerbaijani: Çingiz Fuad oğlu Mustafayev); 1960 - 1992) was one of the most noted independent Azerbaijani journalists, granted the state order of the National Hero of Azerbaijan posthumously. Although the corpus of his journalistic work spans slightly over a year, with no formal journalistic training, Chingiz created a video anthology of the early stages of Nagorno-Karabakh War, documented from the front lines ultimately at a cost of his own life.

He was the man behind the TV camera, who filmed the scene of Khojaly Massacre in 1992. To make the footage Chingiz had to travel on an army helicopter, and despite coming under fire he managed to film the evidence of the Khojaly Genocide showing hundreds of dead bodies strewn across snow-covered fields. The pictures are accompanied by the sound of Chingiz’ – no stranger to the sight of corpses – sobbing uncontrollably as he filmed. His film was the irrefutable evidence that there had been a full-scale massacre, with the perpetration of which Human Rights Watch and Russian Memorial society blamed the Armenian forces.

In the course of eight months, Chingiz shot 18 documentaries about the war in Karabakh, leaving behind a substantial historical archive. Chingiz was known for his patriotic work and was considered to have risked everything to expose the truth.

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Azerbaijan-related topics

History History of Azerbaijan, History of the name Azerbaijan, History of Baku, History of Nagorno-Karabakh, Shirvanshah, Caucasian Albania, Artsakh, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Soviet Socialist Republic, Black January, Mihranids, Arsacid Dynasty of Caucasian Albania, Shirvan, Arran, Nizami, Khaqani
Politics Foreign relations of Azerbaijan, Politics of Azerbaijan, OSCE Minsk Group
Geography Geography of Azerbaijan, Caspian Sea, Kura, Araks, Baku, Ganja, Nakhichevan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Shirvan, Khinalyg, Shusha, Lankaran, Nature of Azerbaijan, State Reserves of Azerbaijan, National Parks of Azerbaijan, State Game Reserves of Azerbaijan, Orography of Azerbaijan, Climate of Azerbaijan, Flora of Azerbaijan, Fauna of Azerbaijan, Karabakh, Bodies of water of Azerbaijan, Environmental issues in Azerbaijan
Economy Economy of Azerbaijan, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Azerbaijani manat, State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, Cotton production in Azerbaijan
Culture Culture of Azerbaijan, Architecture of Azerbaijan, Cinema of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani cuisine, Azerbaijani dances, Azerbaijani literature, Music of Azerbaijan, Religion in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani rug, Karabakh carpet, Meykhana, Ashik, Mugham, Karabakh, Culture of Nagorno-Karabakh
Education Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, Azerbaijan Technical University, Azerbaijan State Economic University, Azerbaijan University of Languages, Baku State University, Baku Slavic University, Khazar University, Western University, Azerbaijan Medical University
Azerbaijani people Nesîmî, Fuzûlî, Khatā'ī, Heydar Aliyev, Ilham Aliyev, Abulfaz Elchibey, Fikret Amirov, Rustam Ibragimbekov, Kerim Kerimov, Tahir Salahov, Muslim Magomayev, Chingiz Abdullayev, Alexander Kazembek, Hussein Khan Nakhichevanski, Samedbey Mehmandarov, Ali-Agha Shikhlinski, Ibrahim bek Aslanbekov, Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, Farman Salmanov, Vagit Alekperov, Lotfi Asker Zadeh, Rashid Behbudov, Azi Aslanov, Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Gara Garayev, Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, Umm-El-Banine Assadoulaeff, Teimour Radjabov
Sights Fire Temple of Baku, Momine Khatun Mausoleum, Nezami Mausoleum, Palace of the Shirvanshahs, Pir Huseyn Khanqah, Yanar Dag, Maiden Tower
Sport Azerbaijan Premier League, Sport in Azerbaijan, Rashad Sadygov
Transport Baku Metro, Heydar Aliyev International Airport
See also: Alphabetical List of Azerbaijan-related topics

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