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Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus and variously considered part of Europe or Asia. The country lies on the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran and is bordered to the west by Georgia and Armenia. The autonomous exclave of Nakhchivan lies between Armenia and Iran with a short border with Turkey.
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Ever at the cross-roads between east and west, Azerbaijan has seen the comings and goings of several great empires.
Some of the country's best attractions are the Gobustan petroglyphs. These are the markings of people who lived in the area 40,000 - 5,000 years ago. Scythians and Iranian Medes occupied the area in around 900–700 BC. The Achaemenids made things interesting by introducing Zoroastrianism in around 550 BC. Later, the area was on the fringes of Alexander the Great's empire, and also the Romans'.
Christianity came in fourth century but left when the area became part of the second Islamic (Umayyad) Caliphate in the seventh century. Various local kingdoms emerged after the Caliphate fell in 750 AD, before the Mongols took charge in the 11th century.
After the various Mongol empires withdrew, the area fell to the Persians. Persian control was not great and highly independent khanates controlled the region until the Russian Empire expanded southward in the early 19th century. Oil was first drilled here in the late 19th century.
The fall of the Russian Empire saw the brief emergence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918. However, Lenin realized that the region's oil was vital to the Soviet army and, along with Georgia (country) and Armenia, Azerbaijan was rolled into the USSR by the 1920s. The Azerbaijan's oil was vital again to the Soviets in the Second World War, which saw 250,000 of the country's 3.4 million people killed at the front.
As Soviet control weakened in 1991, the ethnic Armenia Nagorno-Karabakh region, backed by Armenia, fought for independence from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost 20% of its territory and gained some 800,000 refugees and internally displaced. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh has yet to be fully resolved and relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan are far from cordial. Armenian troops continue to ensure Karabakh remains beyond Azeri control, and occasional minor skirmishes continue to break the cease-fire agreement.
Azerbaijan is known for having nine of the 11 existing ecological zones. Much of the country is temperate year-round. Nation-wide the average temperature for the year is 14-15°C (57-59°F). The Caucasus Mountains protect the country from the Arctic air masses that affect Russia in winter while the Caspian Sea shields it from the hot, dry air of Central Asia in the summer. Temperatures in the winter are mild (0-15°C/32-59°F) at lower altitudes and along the coast and drops moderately as you head inland and drastically as you head into the mountains (-20°C/-4°F) is possible in the Caucasus Mountains). Summers range from warm to hot(20-40°C/68-104°F) throughout most of the country, although breezes off the Caspian make life pleasant along the coast. Nakhchivan is quite different, high and arid, summers here can easily surpass 40°C (104°F) while winter nights often drop below -20°C (-4°F)...in fact the country's extreme minimum and maximum (-33°C/-27°F & 46°C/115°F) were both recorded in southern Nakhchivan!
Snow is rare in Baku and along the coast in general while common inland and copious in the mountains, where many villages may be cut off during the winter. The southern forests are the wettest part of the country, with plenty of rain in late autumn and early spring. The western central coast is fairly dry. Lankaran receives the most annual precipitation (1600–1800 mm/63–71 in) while the region around Baku averages 600 mm (24 in). Baku is very breezy, much like Chicago or Wellington, most of the year.
- Visit Maiden Tower for wonderful views of the city
- Try to attend an Azerbaijani Wedding
- Take in the breathtaking views of Flag Square, Baku Crystal Hall and the Caspian Sea from Martyr's Alley
- Wander around the Old Town aimlessly - really try to get lost and soak up the atmosphere in this wonderful old town
- Visit the beautiful Palace of the Shirvanshahs (entry free 2 manat, extra for camera)
- Walk along the promenade, just as the locals do
- Contrary to reports, Azeri wine is more than drinkable, and whilst not as tasty as their Georgian or Armenian counterparts, is still a pleasant treat! Find a local drinking-hole and while away the hours!
- Buy local souvenirs and carpets. Don't be put off by the pestering stall-keepers. Persevere and get some really wonderful bargains!
Cabbage, grape leaves, and eggplant wrapped meat (kelem, yarpaq, badimjan - dolmasi), kabab (kebab), rice with different variety of toppings (plov - It is said that plov is the king of Azerbaijani cuisine), gutabs and meatballs (kufta) are some of the several specialties of Azerbaijan.
Yarpaq dolmasi is often considered to be the national dish.
Bread is a staple, and is quite revered by the people of Azerbaijan.
Georgian food, in particular kajpuri (a cheese-filled bread), along with some Russian staples (borsh, creps) have become common throughout Azerbaijan. Other cuisines such as Turkish, Italian, Asian, Western & fast food, along with Asian food can be found in Baku.
Some local drinks include ayran (a yogurt drink based on sour milk) and sherbet (made from rose petals or saffron). There are also different sorts of quite decent wines produced from local grapes and a wide array of mineral waters from natural springs. In some areas of Azerbaijan the markets offer lemonades (limonat/dushes) made from pears or taragon.
Currency: New Azerbaijani manat ("Yeni Manat")
Currency code: AZN
Due to inflation, the "old" manat AZM, were replaced by "New Azerbaijani manat" on 1 January 2007, but the transition is still continuing and old manat can still be swapped for new.
New banknotes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 New Azerbaijani manat and metal coins of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 New Azerbaijani manat and 50 gapik (AZN0.5) circulate. The banknotes are of a uniform design somewhat reminiscent of euro banknotes since the same designer also did work for the current Syrian hereditary dictator.
The new Azerbaijani manat (AZN) symbol, , has been assigned to U+20BC in Unicode but m. or man. are sometimes used as a substitute for the manat symbol on price tickets and in local publications.
On 14 July 2013:
- GBP1 = AZN1.191
- €1 = AZN1.026
- US$1 = AZN0.785
For more rates, please visit the web page of the Central Bank of The Republic Of Azerbaijan
Keep in mind that import and export of New Azerbaijani manat is strictly forbidden. (Collectors can export small quantities of old manat banknotes - but not coins - with relative impunity)
Azerbaijan's number one export is oil. Azerbaijan's oil production declined through 1997 but has registered an increase every year since. Negotiation of production-sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have thus far committed $60 billion to oilfield development, should generate the funds needed to spur future industrial development.
Azerbaijan shares all the formidable problems of the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its considerable energy resources brighten its long-term prospects.
Baku has only recently begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced. An obstacle to economic progress, including stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector, is the continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is declining in importance while trade is building with Turkey and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices, the location of new pipelines in the region and Azerbaijan's ability to manage its oil wealth.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Azerbaijan on Wikivoyage.
Cities in Azerbaijan
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Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan.
- Palace of the Shirvan Shahs
- Maiden\'s Tower
- Sabir Park
- Fountain Square
- Nizami Museum
1 hotels in this place
Points of Interest in Azerbaijan
- There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country; The Walled city of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower as well as the Rock Art Cultural Landscape of Gokustan.
- Neft Daşları—City above the sea, the first operating offshore oil platform in the world, located 55 km from the nearest shore in the Caspian Sea.
- Mud volcanoes which spout up in over 300 locations nationwide, constitute more than half the total throughout the world, each site with its own character
- Caspian Hyrcanian forests found near the Iranian border
- Tears of Kyapaz a string of seven idyllic mountain lakes near Mount Kyapaz and Nagorno-Karabakh
Palace of the Shirvan Shahs - Baku
Petroglyphs of Gobustan - Qobustan
Maiden\'s Tower - Baku
Sabir Park - Baku
Fountain Square - Baku
Nizami Museum - Baku
Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre - Baku
Heydar Aliyev Palace - Baku
Baku State University - Baku
Baku Crystal Hall - Baku
Tofik Bakhramov Stadium - Baku
Haydar Aliyev Cultural Center - Baku
Atashgah Fire Temple - Baku
Yanar Dagh - Baku