Azerbaijan

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Azerbaijan

(ä'zĕrbījän`, ă'zər–), Iran. Azarbayejan, region, c.34,280 sq mi (88,785 sq km), NW Iran, divided into the provinces of East Azerbaijan (1996 pop. 3,325,540), West Azerbaijan (1996 pop. 2,496,320), and Ardabil (1996 pop. 1,168,011). The chief cities include TabrizTabriz
, city (1991 pop. 1,088,985), capital of East Azerbaijan prov., NW Iran, on the Aji Chai (Talkheh) River, in the foothills of Mt. Sahand, at an elevation of c.4,600 ft (1,400 m).
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 (the capital of East Azerbaijan), UrmiaUrmia
, formerly Rezaiyeh,
city (1991 pop. 357,399), capital of West Azerbaijan prov., NW Iran, near Lake Urmia. It is the trade center for a fertile agricultural region where fruit and tobacco are grown. A causeway and bridge across the lake connects Urmia with Tabriz.
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 (the capital of West Azerbaijan), ArdebilArdebil
, town (1991 pop. 311,022), NW Iran, near the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is a market center for a fertile agricultural region. Carpets and rugs are produced in the town. Ardebil was probably founded in the 5th cent. A.D. It became (10th cent.
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 (the capital of Ardabil), MaraghehMaragheh
, city (1991 pop. 117,388), East Azerbaijan prov., NW Iran, on the southern slopes of Mt. Sahand. It is the trade and transportation center of a fertile fruit-growing region; dried fruits are shipped from there. After the Arab conquest in the 7th cent.
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, and KhoyKhoy,
 Khoi
or Khvoy
, city (1991 pop. 137,885), West Azerbaijan prov., NW Iran. It is the trade center for a fertile, irrigated farm region that produces grain, fruit, and timber.
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 (Khvoy). The region is bounded in the N by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan (from which it is separated by the Aras River) and in the W by Turkey and Iraq.

Azerbaijan, which includes Lake Urmia, is mountainous, with deep valleys and fertile lowlands. Grains, fruits, cotton, rice, nuts, and tobacco are grown. Wool, carpets, and metalware are produced. Industries include food processing, cement, textiles, electric equipment, and sugar milling. An oil pipeline runs through the region. The majority of the people of Azerbaijan are Turkic-speaking Azeris, who are Shiite Muslims. There are also Armenians, Kurds, Jews, and Persians.

In ancient times Azerbaijan was dominated by the kings of Van and Urartu (in ArmeniaArmenia
, Armenian Hayastan, officially Republic of Armenia, republic (2005 est. pop. 2,983,000), 11,500 sq mi (29,785 sq km), in the S Caucasus. Armenia is bounded by Turkey on the west, Azerbaijan on the east (the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan is on its
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). By the 8th cent. B.C. it had been settled by the Medes (see MediaMedia
, ancient country of W Asia whose actual boundaries cannot be defined, occupying generally what is now W Iran and S Azerbaijan. It extended from the Caspian Sea to the Zagros Mts.
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), and it later formed the province of Media Minor in the Persian Empire. Azerbaijan is the traditional birthplace (7th cent. B.C.) of ZoroasterZoroaster
, c.628 B.C.–c.551 B.C., religious teacher and prophet of ancient Persia, founder of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster, the name by which he is ordinarily known, is derived from the Greek form of Zarathushtra (or Zarathustra) [camel handler?], his Persian name.
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, the religious teacher and prophet. After Alexander the Great conquered Persia, he appointed (328 B.C.) as governor the Persian general Atropates, who eventually established an independent dynasty. Later, the region, which came to be called Atropatene or Media Atropatene, was much disputed. In the 2d cent. B.C. it was taken by the Parthian Mithradates I, and c.A.D. 226 it was captured by the Sassanid Ardashir I. Shapur II enlarged Azerbaijan by adding territory in the north.

Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, briefly held the region in the 7th cent., just before the Arabs conquered it; they converted most of its people to Islam and made it part of the caliphate. The Seljuk Turks dominated the region in the 11th and 12th cent., and the Mongols under Hulagu Khan established (13th cent.) their capital at Maragheh. After being conquered by Timur in the 14th cent., Tabriz became an important provincial capital of the Timurid empire. It was out of Ardebil that the SafavidSafavid
, Iranian dynasty (1499–1736), that established Shiite Islam in Iran as an official state religion. The Safavid state provided both the territorial and societal foundations of modern Iran.
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 dynasty arose (c.1500) to renew the state of Persia. There was fierce fighting between the Ottoman Empire and Persia for Azerbaijan. After brief Ottoman control, Abbas I, shah of Persia, regained control of the region in 1603.

Azerbaijan remained entirely in the possession of the shahs until the northern part was ceded to Russia in the treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turkmanchai (1828). The remainder was organized as a province of Persia; in 1938 the province was divided into two parts. In 1941, Soviet troops occupied Iranian Azerbaijan; they were withdrawn (May, 1946) after a Soviet-supported, autonomous local government had been created. Iranian troops occupied the region in Nov., 1946, and the autonomous movement was suppressed.


Azerbaijan

(ä'zərbījän`, ă'zər–), Azeri Azərbaycan, officially Republic of Azerbaijan, republic (2005 est. pop. 7,912,000), 33,428 sq mi (86,579 sq km), in Transcaucasia. Strategically situated at the gateway to SW Asia, Azerbaijan is bounded by Iran on the south, where the Aras (Araks) River divides it from Iranian Azerbaijan; by the Caspian Sea on the east; by Russia's Dagestan Republic on the north; and by Armenia on the west. Bakı(Baku) is the capital; other major cities include GanjaGanja
, formerly Kirovabad
, city (1989 pop. 278,000), in NW Azerbaijan, on the Ganja River. The largest Azerbaijani industrial center after Bakı, Ganja produces cotton and silk textiles, building materials, carpets, cottonseed oil, agricultural implements, copper
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 and SumqayitSumqayit
or Sumgait
, city (1989 pop. 231,104), E central Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea at the mouth of the Sumqayit River. Once a major industrial center, it became heavily polluted and most of its industries had closed by the early 1990s. It was founded in 1948.
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.

Land and People

Azerbaijan occupies the western ranges of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus and the Kura River valley. The republic includes the Nakhchivan Autonomous RepublicNakhchivan Autonomous Republic
or Naxçivan Autonomous Republic
, autonomous republic (1990 est. pop. 310,000), 2,124 sq mi (5,501 sq km), an exclave of Azerbaijan, bordered on the south by Iran and Turkey and on the north by Armenia, which separates Nakhchivan
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 (or Naxçivan, an exclave separated from Azerbaijan proper by Armenia) and Nagorno-KarabakhNagorno-Karabakh
, region (1990 pop. 192,000), 1,699 sq mi (4,400 sq km), SE Azerbaijan, between the Caucasus and the Karabakh range. Khankendi (the capital, formerly Stepanakert) and Shusha are the chief towns.
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 (an ethnically Armenian region that now has de facto independence; see under History). The Azeri (Azerbaijani), a Turkic-speaking, Shiite Muslim people of Persian culture, make up about 90% of the republic's population; Dagestanis, Russians, and Armenians (largely in Nagorno-Karabakh) are the largest minorities; Azerbaijani (Azeri) is the country's official language. The republic's educational institutions include Bakı State Univ., Khazar Univ. and the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences.

Economy

The Kura River valley is the region's chief agricultural zone. Wheat, barley, corn, fruits and vegetables, wine grapes, and potatoes are the leading food crops, and cotton, silk, and tobacco the foremost industrial crops. The subtropical Lankaran Lowland produces tea and rice. The Absheron peninsula is one of the richest oil regions of the world. Although production of Caspian Sea oil and gas had declined for several years, it began growing again in the late 1990s under production-sharing agreements with multinational corporations. The republic's other mineral resources include natural gas, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, limestone, pyrites, cobalt, and alumina. Widespread salt springs have enabled health resorts to flourish. Among the chief manufactures are petroleum products, oilfield equipment, steel, chemicals and petrochemicals, and textiles. The old craft of carpet weaving is still practiced. Azerbaijan's main trading partners are Italy, Russia, and Turkey.

Government

Azerbaijan is governed under the constitution of 1995 as amended. The president is the head of state and is elected by popular vote to a five-year term. He appoints the prime minister, who is the head of government; the prime minister is confirmed by the National Assembly. The members of the popularly elected, 125-seat unicameral National Assembly serve five-year terms. The country is divided into 59 administrative divisions or rayons, 11 cities, and one autonomous republic.

History

The Republic of Azerbaijan comprises the Transcaucasian or northern part of the historic region called Azerbaijan. Long inhabited, it is the site of archaeological remains dating back over a million years. Known to the ancients as Albania, the area was located at the crossroads of East and West on the historic Silk RoadSilk Road,
ancient overland trade route linking Asia and Europe, consisting of a network of caravan routes running from China across central Asia to the shores of the Mediterranean.
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. Conquered by Alexander the Great and later by the Roman PompeyPompey
(Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus) , 106 B.C.–48 B.C., Roman general, the rival of Julius Caesar. Sometimes called Pompey the Great, he was the son of Cnaeus Pompeius Strabo (consul in 89 B.C.), a commander of equivocal reputation.
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, it was linked to the history of ArmeniaArmenia
, Armenian Hayastan, officially Republic of Armenia, republic (2005 est. pop. 2,983,000), 11,500 sq mi (29,785 sq km), in the S Caucasus. Armenia is bounded by Turkey on the west, Azerbaijan on the east (the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan is on its
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 and PersiaPersia
, old alternate name for the Asian country Iran. The article Iran contains a description of the geography and economy of the modern country and a short account of its history since the Arab invasion of the 7th cent.
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, particularly after its conquest (4th cent.) by Shapur IIShapur II
or Sapor II,
310–79, king of Persia (310–79), of the Sassanid, or Sassanian, dynasty. He was the posthumous son of Hormuz II and therefore was born king. His long reign was marked by great military success.
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. The area was invaded by Muslim Arabs in the 7th cent. and was a province of the Arab caliphate for the next two centuries. In the 11th cent. it became part of the Turkish Seljuk Empire. Overrun by Mongols in the 13th cent., it was divided after the fall (15th cent.) of TimurTimur
or Tamerlane
, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan.
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 into several principalities (notably Shirvan).

At the beginning of the 19th cent. Russia began its occupation, acquiring the territory of the present Azerbaijan from Persia through the treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turkamanchai (1828). By the latter date, the territory had been split into two parts, the N portion of which constitutes modern Azerbaijan. The area became a major oil producer in the middle of the 19th cent.

Soon after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (see Russian RevolutionRussian Revolution,
violent upheaval in Russia in 1917 that overthrew the czarist government. Causes

The revolution was the culmination of a long period of repression and unrest.
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), Russian Azerbaijan joined Armenia and Georgia to form the anti-Bolshevik Transcaucasian Federation. After its dissolution (May, 1918), Azerbaijan proclaimed itself an independent state with a democratic and secular government, but it was conquered by the Red Army in 1920 and made into a Soviet republic. In 1922, Azerbaijan joined the USSR as a member of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Republic. With the administrative reorganization of 1936, it became a separate republic. Immediately after World War II, Azerbaijan was used as a base for Communist rebels in Iranian Azerbaijan; Azeri nationalists still press claims to Iran's Azerbaijan province.

Azerbaijan declared itself independent of the USSR in Aug., 1991, and became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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. In 1992, Abulfaz Elchibey, leader of the Popular Front party, was elected president, but he was ousted by the parliament a year later, after a military mutiny. Heydar AliyevAliyev, Heydar
, 1923–2003, Azerbaijani political leader, president of Azerbaijan (1993–2003), b. Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, grad. Azerbaijan State Univ. (1957).
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, leader of the Azerbaijan Communist party from 1969 to 1982, assumed power and was confirmed in office by an election. Aliyev promoted exploitation of the country's oil resources through agreements with Russia and several Western oil companies for development of oil fields in the Caspian Sea. In the Nov., 1995, elections, which were condemned by outside observers as rigged, voters elected a new parliament that was dominated by Aliyev's party and approved constitutional changes that expanded his power. Aliyev was reelected in 1998, and his New Azerbaijan party retained power in the Nov., 2000, parliamentary elections, which like the 1995 balloting was not regarded as free and fair.

In Aug., 2003, the ailing president appointed his son, Ilham AliyevAliyev, Ilham
, 1961–, Azerbaijani political leader, president of Azerbaijan (2003–), b. Baku; son of President Heydar Aliyev. He earned a degree in history from Moscow State Univ. in 1985 and taught there until 1990.
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, as the country's prime minister. The president withdrew from the Oct., 2003, election in favor of his son, who was elected by a landslide; the balloting was criticized by independent observers as neither free nor fair. The elder Aliyev died two months after the election. Parliamentary elections in Nov., 2005, returned the governing party to power, albeit with a reduced majority, but the vote was again criticized by European observers and denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.

Prior to the vote the government had blocked the return of exiled opposition leader Rasul Guliyev by having him held in Ukraine on corruption charges, and then arrested several current and former members of the government and others, charging them with plotting a coup against the government with Guliyev. These and subsequent government changes (into 2006) were seen as attempts by the president to consolidate his power. In the 2008 presidential election Aliyev was reelected by a landslide, but the vote was boycotted by the main opposition parties and marred by irregularites. The opposition also boycotted a referendum in 2009 that ended the presidential two-term limit.

In 2010 the parliamentary elections were again marred by fraud and other irregularities and were criticized by European observers; the ruling party increased its majority, and other government supporters won nearly all of the rest of the seats. Aliyev was reelected in 2013, again by a landslide. Although he benefited from improved living standards under his rule, the election was again marred by significant irregularities. The 2015 parlimentary elections were handily won the ruling party but were criticized for shortcomings.

During the late 1980s ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region had pressed for its unification with Armenia, leading to a guerrilla war. A large-scale conflict broke out between the two republics in 1992; the Armenian side gained effective control of the region and adjoining Azerbaijani territory to the south and west by 1994, when a cease-fire was reached with Russian mediation. Some one million Azeris were made refugees within Azerbaijan as a result of the conflict. Attempts to resolve the conflict have proved unsuccessful, and sometimes intense border clashes have recurred since 1994. Azerbaijan has offered the region a high degree of autonomy, but the Armenians there have insisted on independence or union with Armenia. Following Turkey's signing of protocols with Armenia that called for the establishment of relations between the two nations, Azerbaijan's relations with Turkey became strained. Though Turkey seemed unlikely to ratify the protocols in the absence of progress toward resolution the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Azerbaijan threatened to end sales of subsidized natural gas to Turkey.

Relations with Russia and Iran have also been strained at times. Russia has forcefully sought Azeribaijan's cooperation on military and other matters, which Azerbaijan has resisted giving. Iran has supported Islamic groups in Azerbaijan and has challenged the country's right to drill for oil in parts of the Caspian.

Bibliography

See T. Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 1905–1920 (1985).

Azerbaijan

 

monthly literary and sociopolitical journal; organ of the Union of Writers of the Azerbaijan SSR. Published in Baku since 1923. From 1923 to 1927 it was called Maarif vämädäniyyät (Education and Culture); from 1928 to 1936 (nos. 1–5), Ingilab va mädäniyyät (Revolution and Culture); from 1936 to 1941, Revolyusiya vä kul’tura (Revolution and Culture); from 1941 to 1946, Vätän ughrunda (For the Homeland); from 1946 to 1952, Ingilab vämädäniyyät (Revolution and Culture); and since 1953 Azerbaijan. The journal discusses the main events of Azerbaijani cultural life and the development of social and literary critical thought. In its pages are printed works by Azerbaijani writers, translations from Russian and other foreign languages, and historical literary materials.

IA. KARAEV

Azerbaijan

Official name: Republic of Azerbaijan

Capital city: Baku

Internet country code: .az

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), red, and green; a crescent and eight-pointed star in white are centered in the red band

National anthem: “Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan!” lyrics by Ahmed Javad, music by Useyir Hajibeyov

Geographical description: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia, with a small European portion north of the Caucasus range

Total area: 33,436 sq. mi. (86,600 sq. km.)

Climate: Dry, semiarid steppe

Nationality: noun: Azerbaijani(s) or Azeri(s); adjective: Azer­

baijani or Azeri

Population: 8,120,247 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Azeri 90.6%, Dagestani 2.2%, Russian 1.8%, Armenian 1.5%, other 3.9%

Languages spoken: Azerbaijani (Azeri) 90.3%, Lezgi 2.2%, Russian 1.8%, Armenian 1.5%, other and unspecified 4.3%

Religions: Muslim 93.4%, Russian Orthodox 2.5%, Armen­ian Orthodox 2.3%, other 1.8%

Legal Holidays:

Army and Navy DayJun 26
Constitution DayNov 12
Day of National RevivalNov 17
Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis throughout the WorldDec 31
Day of the MartyrsJan 20
International Women's DayMar 8
National Independence DayOct 18
National Salvation DayJun 15
New Year's DayJan 1
Novruz BayramiMar 21
Republic DayMay 28
Victory in World War II DayMay 9

Azerbaijan

1. a republic in NW Asia: the region was acquired by Russia from Persia in the early 19th century; became the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936 and gained independence in 1991; consists of dry subtropical steppes around the Aras and Kura rivers, surrounded by the Caucasus; contains the extensive Baku oilfields. Language: Azerbaijani (or Azeri). Religion: Shiite Muslim. Currency: manat. Capital: Baku. Pop.: Pop.: 8 447 000 (2004 est.). Area: 86 600 sq. km (33 430 sq. miles)
2. a mountainous region of NW Iran, separated from the republic of Azerbaijan by the Aras River: divided administratively into Eastern Azerbaijan and Western Azerbaijan. Capitals: Tabriz and Orumiyeh. Pop.: 2 119 524 (2002 est.)