Azerbaijan -- Geography --
Official Name:Republic of Azerbaijan
Capital City: Baku
Official Currency: Manat
Religions: Muslim,Christians, others
Population: 8 676 000(2008)
Land Area: 86 600 sq km
Landforms: Azerbaijan is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea at the southeast extremity of the Caucasus. The region is a mountainous country, and The Kura River Valley is the area's major agricultural zone.There are more than 8000 rivers in Azerbaijan with the Kura river being the longest.The highest point in the country is 4466m and the lowest - (-28m).Azerbaijan is divided into 59 regions,11 cities and tha Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.
Azerbaijan -- History --
Northern Azerbaijan was known as Caucasian Albania in ancient times. The area was the site of many conflicts involving Arabs, Kazars, and Turks. After the 11th century, the territory became dominated by Turks and eventually was a stronghold of the Shiite Muslim religion and Islamic culture. The territory of Soviet Azerbaijan was acquired by Russia from Persia through the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkamanchai in 1828.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, Azerbaijan declared its independence from Russia in May 1918. The republic was reconquered by the Red Army in 1920 and was annexed into the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922. It was later reestablished as a separate Soviet Republic on Dec. 5, 1936. Azerbaijan declared independence from the collapsing Soviet Union on Aug. 30, 1991.
Since 1988, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been feuding over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The majority of the enclave's inhabitants are Armenian Christians agitating to secede from the predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan and join with Armenia. War broke out in 1988 when Nagorno-Karabakh tried to break away and annex itself to Armenia, and 30,000 died before a cease-fire agreement was reached in 1994, with Armenia regaining its hold over the disputed enclave. Final plans on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh have yet to be determined.
Azerbaijan -- Economy --
After gaining independence in 1991, Azerbaijan became a member of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Pushed up by spending and demand growth, the 2007 Q1 inflation rate reached 16.6%. Nominal incomes and monthly wages climbed 29% and 25% respectively against this figure, but price increases in non-oil industry encouraged inflation in the country. Azerbaijan shows some signs of the so-called "Dutch disease" because of the fast growing energy sector, which causes inflation and makes non-energy exports more expensive.
Two thirds of Azerbaijan is rich in oil and natural gas. The region of the Lesser Caucasus accounts for most of the country's gold, silver, iron, copper, titanium, chromium, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum, complex ore and antimony. Azerbaijan is considered one of the most important spots in the world for oil exploration and development. At the beginning of 2007 there were 4,755,100 hectares of utilized agricultural area. In the same year the total wood resources counted 136 million m³. Azerbaijan's agricultural scientific research institutes are focused on meadows and pastures, horticulture and subtropical crops, green vegetables, viticulture and wine-making, cotton growing and medicinal plants. In some lands it is profitable to grow grain, potatoes, sugar beets, cotton and tobacco. The Caspian fishing industry is concentrated on the dwindling stocks of sturgeon and beluga. In 2002 the Azerbaijani merchant marine had 54 ships.
Some portions of most products that were previously imported from abroad have begun to be produced locally (among them are Coca Cola by Coca Cola Bottlers LTD, beer by Baki-Kastel)
Azerbaijan is also an important economic hub in the transportation of raw materials. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) became operational in May 2006 and extends more than 1,774 kilometers through the territories of Azerbaijan (440 km), Georgia (260 km) and Turkey (1114 km). The BTC is designed to transport up to 50 million tons of crude oil annually and carries oil from the Caspian Sea oilfields to global markets. The South Caucasus Pipeline, also stretching through the territory of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, became operational in 2007 and offers additional gas supplies to the European market from the Shah Deniz gas field. It is expected to produce up to 296 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year. Azerbaijan also plays a major role in the EU-sponsored Silk Road Project.
In 2008, Azerbaijan was cited as one of the top 10 reformers by the World Bank's Doing Business report:
Azerbaijan led the world as the top reformer in 2007/08, with improvements on seven out of 10 indicators of regulatory reform. Azerbaijan started operating a one-stop shop in January 2008 that halved the time, cost and number of procedures to start a business. Business registrations increased by 40% in the first six months. Azerbaijan also eliminated the minimum loan cutoff of $1,100, more than doubling the number of borrowers covered by the credit registry. Also, taxpayers can now file forms and pay their taxes online. Azerbaijan’s extensive reforms moved it far up the ranks, from 97 to 33 in the overall ease of doing business.
Transportation and communications :
The convenient location of Azerbaijan on the crossroad of major international traffic arteries, such as the Silk Road and the South-North corridor, highlights the strategic importance of transportation sector for the country’s economy.
In 2002 the Azerbaijani government established the Ministry of Transport with a broad range of policy and regulatory functions. The highest priority being; upgrading the transport network and transforming transportation services into one of the key comparative advantages of the country, as this would be highly conducive to the development of other sectors of the economy.
The economy of Azerbaijan has been markedly stronger in recent years with GDP= $53.26 billion (2008) , unemployment=0.8% (2008) and $6 billion foreign investment (2008)
Azerbaijan -- Culture --
One of the world's most ancient nations - the nation of Azerbaijan - has the right to feel proud for its history, material and cultural monuments, literature, arts and music heritage.
Wonderful nature, climate, natural resources of the country produced a significant impact on artistic thinking and creation skills of Azerbaijani people as well.
Quite obviously, the style of life, aesthetic tastes, the national image and qualities, are strongly reflected in folk arts. One can easily come across numerous wonderful models of Azerbaijani folk arts in the world's largest museums. The pieces of arts created by the skillful hands of Tabriz, Nakhichevan, Gandja, Gazakh, Guba, Naku, Shaki, Shamakhi and Nagorny Kharabakh can be found in large museum collections of Victoria and Albert of London, Louvers of Paris, Metropoliten of Vashington and Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Istanbul, Tehran, Cairo museums.
The history of folk arts in Azerbaijan has a long and interesting history. Works of art made from metal are approximately 5000 years old. Crockery, weapons and adornments found there are not historical facts alone, but valuable sources which testify the skills of the master.
Bronze needles and awls from the beginning of the bronze epoch (III millennium B.C ) were found during archeological excavations in Azerbaijan as well. These findings prove that the ancient population of Azerbaijan could sue clothes for themselves. Little clay statues founded from Kultapa and Mingachevir (III millennium B.C) and seals of the V century B.C found in Mingachevir provided opportunities to have a certain idea of garments of that time.
Horse-cloth with flowers on clay figure of horse (II millennium B.C.), found in Maku in South Azerbaijan, golden basin with picture of line (I millennium B.C), found in Hasanli hill near the Urmiya lake, and other findings show the ancient history of carpet-making, one of the branches of folk art in Azerbaijan.
Carpets, weaved by separate carpet-making schools of Azerbaijan (Guba, Baku, Shirvan, Gandja, Gazakh, Nagorny Karabakh, Tabriz) in different periods, amaze people till nowadays. Most of them kept in well-known museums of the world.
Gobustan rock pictures, pictures, belonged to the early of bronze epoch (III millennium B.C) in Aychingilli and Parichingil mountains near the Zalkha lake in Kalbacar region, have exception importance among the most old patterns of fine art. Pictures about ancient people's mode of life, welfare, labour, carved in the Gobustan rockeries, represent special interest. Different subjects, scenes on hunting, cattle breeding, planting and other branches of household, human and animal pictures were carved in dynamic way. The Gobustan rock pictures - pictograms cover multi-centuries old history from primitive communal order to feudalism.
Motherland of Azerbaijan people possessed rich musical and cultural heritage is famous as Land of flames.
Azerbaijan music, enriching world musical culture with its rare pearls, has multi-centuries old traditions. Creators of folk music, handed over these traditions to generations, have great role in development of Azerbaijan music.
Mugams are foundation of Azerbaijan national music. It is not accidental that UNESCO entered Azerbaijan mugam into the list of world cultural heritage.
Works of art, created by classics and contemporaries, take honorable place in world cultural treasure. Works by M.F.Akhundov, N.Vazirov, M.S.Ordubadi, G.Zakir, M.A.Sabir, J.Mammadguluzade, M.P.Vagif, M.V.Vidadi and other poets and writers hasn't lost their aesthetic importance.
Azerbaijan -- Political system, law and government --
The political system of the Republic of Azerbaijan reflects the characteristics of the national and historical profile. Its establishment was and still is influenced by a variety of factors. Another important factor is the political culture of the population.
The structural formation of Azerbaijan's political system was completed by way of the acceptance of the new Constitution of Azerbaijan on November 12th, 1995. The constitution established Azerbaijan as a democratic, constitutional, secular and unitary republic. The Republic of Azerbaijan is ruled by the people. The sovereign duty of the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan is to determine its future fate and the form of independent and free ruling. The power in Azerbaijan is divided into the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Each of them acts in accordance with the constitution and legislative acts. The president is the head of the state.
The legislative power is held by Milli Majlis. Executive power is carried out by the president, while the judicial power is held by the courts of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has a specific unitarity due to the status of the state authority in the autonomous republic of Nakhchevan. The constitution defines the autonomous Republic of Nakhchyvan as an autonomous state within the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its legislative power is held by the Supreme Mejlis of the Nakhchevan Autonomous Republic, executive power - by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Nakhchevan Autonomous Republic, and the judicial power is vested in the courts of the autonomous republic of Nakhchevan. The chair of the Supreme Medjis of Nakhichevan AR is the senior official of the autonomous republic.
Self-governing municipalities also play an important role in the political system of Azerbaijan. These are newly established, yet highly prospective institutions.
Like all contemporary political systems, the political system of Azerbaijan is characterized by pluralism - the existence of more than one political party. The political parties participate in political life through representatives in the legislative and local self-governing bodies.