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Azerbaijan (äˌzĕrbījänˈ, ăˌzər–), Iran. Azarbayejan, region, c.34,280 sq mi (88,785 sq km), NW Iran, divided into the provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Ardabil. The chief cities include Tabriz (the capital of East Azerbaijan), Urmia (the capital of West Azerbaijan), Ardebil (the capital of Ardabil), Maragheh, and Khoy (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 Armenia). By the 8th cent. B.C. it had been settled by the Medes (see Media), and it later formed the province of Media Minor in the Persian Empire. Azerbaijan is the traditional birthplace (7th cent. B.C.) of Zoroaster, 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 Safavid 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.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the ancient Greek name for a region of southern Azerbaijan covering an area that includes the Talysh Mountains, the Araks River, and Lake Urmia.

The designation Atropatene is usually traced to the name Atropat, a satrap of the Achaemenids who ruled this region in the fourth century B.C. In the opinion of some investigators, the designation Atropatene is linked with the title of atropate(theocratic ruler). The atropates placed themselves as kings at the head of Atropatene. The information provided by ancient authors about Atropatene permits it to be considered an early slave-owning state and one of the main centers of the Zoroastrian religion. The capital of Atropatene was the city of Hazak. In the third century B .C. under the leadership of Artabazan, Atropatene participated actively in the struggle against the expansionist policies of the Seleucids, and subsequently—especially in the last centuries B.C.—in the struggle against Roman expansion. In the early second century B.C., Atropatene included the territory of the city of Nakhichevan on the Araks River. In the seventh century A.D. Atropatene was conquered by the Arab caliphate.


Istoriia Azerbaidzhana, vol. 1. Baku, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
72 the Alani again devastated Media Atropatene and Armenia,(17) and some three years later Volagases I of Parthia proposed a joint Roman/Parthian expedition against the Alani, to be led by one of Vespasian's sons; the latter's younger son was extremely disappointed when the proposal came to nothing (Suetonius, Dom.
The idea of comparing the emperor with Vologeses I of Parthia and his brother Pacorus, ruler of Media Atropatene, seems to be Tacitus' own work,(44) and the reason for bringing up Pacorus too appears to lie in a wish to balance |inermem et senem', itself an expression by no means as innocent as it looks: Plutarch, and almost certainly the common source, had used these words to characterise one of Galba's first victims, Petronius Turpilianus.(45) In any event, the comparison throws |inermem et senem' into the strongest relief: little as we know about Vologeses, he was surely a good deal younger than Galba (he reigned until 79),(46) and if faced with the threat of being driven from |avito Arsacidarum solio', he would no doubt have armed himself to the teeth.