The beautiful mountainous province of Azerbaijan, once a part of the former Soviet Republic, lies in the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran, and shares its borders with Armenia and Georgia to the west. The autonomous republic of Nakhchivan falls between Iran and Armenia with a small border with Turkey. Amazingly, only 7% of the entire region is arable land, with the Kura River Valley being the prominent agricultural zone.
Previously known as Caucasian Albania during ancient times, Northern Azerbaijan was full of conflicts between the Arabs, Turks and the Kazars in the olden days. The Turks dominated the region after the 11th century and thereafter the region became a stronghold of the Shiite Muslims. In 1813, the territory of Soviet Russia was acquired by Russia from Persia following the Treaty of Gulistan and the Treaty of Turkamanchai in 1828. The territory declared independence in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution, and Azerbaijan was declared independent in 1991 following the decline of the Soviet Union. The country follows a constitutional republic political framework and the executive powers of the state lies in the hands of the President.
The predominant and the official religion of Azerbaijan is Islam with more than 95% followers of the religion. The Russian Orthodox constitutes a minor 3% of believers, while the other independent beliefs are less than 2%. The official language of the state is Azerbaijani or Azeri, which is spoken by more than 90% of the citizens, while Russian is spoken by a meagre 2.5% of the population, followed by other minor dialects. The climate in Azerbaijan is temperate throughout the year.
Azerbaijan is a beautiful country brimming with historic attractions and rich, old traditions that are sure to charm tourists. Baku is the capital and the largest city of Azerbaijan, and is a treasure trove packed with many tourist attractions like the Atesgah of Baku, a 16th century fire temple, the Maiden Tower which offers wonderful sights of the city, the Baku Crystal Hall, the Flag Square, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, among others.
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