Geography of Azerbaijan - History

Geography of  Azerbaijan - History

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Except for its eastern Caspian shoreline and some areas bordering Georgia and Iran, Azerbaijan is ringed by mountains. To the northeast, bordering Russia's Dagestan Autonomous Republic, is the Greater Caucasus range; to the west, bordering Armenia, is the Lesser Caucasus range. To the extreme southeast, the Talysh Mountains form part of the border with Iran. The highest elevations occur in the Greater Caucasus, where Mount Bazar-dyuzi rises 4,740 meters above sea level. Eight large rivers flow down from the Caucasus ranges into the central Kura-Aras lowlands, alluvial flatlands and low delta areas along the seacoast designated by the Azerbaijani name for the Mtkvari River and its main tributary, the Aras. The Mtkvari, the longest river in the Caucasus region, forms the delta and drains into the Caspian a short distance downstream from the confluence with the Aras. The Mingechaur Reservoir, with an area of 605 square kilometers that makes it the largest body of water in Azerbaijan, was formed by damming the Kura in western Azerbaijan. The waters of the reservoir provide hydroelectric power and irrigation of the KuraAras plain. Most of the country's rivers are not navigable. About 15 percent of the land in Azerbaijan is arable.

Climate: The climate varies from subtropical and dry in central and eastern Azerbaijan to subtropical and humid in the southeast, temperate along the shores of the Caspian Sea, and cold at the higher mountain elevations. Baku, on the Caspian, enjoys mild weather, averaging 4° C in January and 25° C in July. Because most of Azerbaijan receives scant rainfall--on average 152 to 254 millimeters annually--agricultural areas require irrigation. Heaviest precipitation occurs in the highest elevations of the Caucasus and in the Lenkoran' Lowlands in the far southeast, where the yearly average exceeds 1,000 millimeters.


Azerbaijan » City Info » Geography

Azerbaijan shares land borders with Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey and Iran which forms a total of 2,648 kms. Of that Armenia shares 1007 kms, Iran 756 kms, Georgia 480 kms, Russia 390 and Turkey 15 kms. The boundary which Azerbaijan shares with the Caspian Sea extends to a total of about 456 kms. The country measures 400 kms from north to south and 500 kms from east to west. 40% of the country is covered by mountain ranges, of which the three major ones are Greater and Lesser Caucasus and the Talysh. The highest mountain is Bazardüzü Dağı which lies in Greater Caucasus range. More than half of the mud volcanoes in the world are located in Azerbaijan.

There are nearly 8,350 rivers in the country of which only 24 are long enough to be counted. All the rivers ultimately meet the Caspian sea. The longest river is Kur measuring 1,515 kms in length, but it flows from Turkey through Georgia into Azerbaijan where it meets Aras river before flowing into the Caspian sea. Azerbaijan total territory also consists of four islands in the Caspian Sea which form an area of 30 sq.kms.

  • Land: 86,100 km²
  • Water: 500 km²
  • Lowest Point: Caspian Sea: -28 mtrs
  • Highest Point: Bazarduzu Dagi: 4,485 mtrs
  • Bulla, Çikil, Çilov, Gil, Glinyaniy, Nargin, Pirallah, Qara Su, Qum, Səngi Muğan, Vulf, Zənbil
  • Arable Land: 18%
  • Permanent crops: 5%
  • Permanent pastures: 25%
  • Forests and woodland: 11%
  • Other: 41%

The cold artic winds of Scandinavian and temperate winds from Siberia and Central Asia contribute the extreme temperature in Azerbaijan. The influence of these winds is somewhat reduced due to the Greater Caucasus mountain ranges, which block the cold winds, leading to a subtropical climate.

Nine out of eleven climate zones are present in Azerbaijan. Temperatures vary within the country depending upon the region’s proximity to sea, regional landscape and effect of artic and temperate winds. As we go towards the Caspian Sea temperatures do not seem so harsh due to the effect of nautical winds. But towards the mountains, warmth begins to lose its importance and temperature drops to an average of 4-5 °C. At its extreme, temperatures can reach a maximum of 46 °C, and in winters can get harsh at -33 °C.

Plant diversity is high in the Nakhchivan region where 60% of the plant species are found. Behind Nakhchivan are the regions of Kura-Araz plain, Davachi-Quba region, East of Greater Caucasus, Centre of Lesser Caucasus, Gobustan, Lenkoran region of Talysh Mountains and Absheron region where rest of the flora is found.

There are 400 species of plants, 15 species and 6 sub species of gobies and freshwater fish which are local to Azerbaijan. The government of Azerbaijan is trying to protect its forests by preserving 2.5 % of its land as state reserve. There are 16 state reserves in the country to protect the flora and fauna of Azerbaijan.

In the 7th century, Islam was introduced with the Arab conquest, which was important in the formation of a single nation and language in Azerbaijan, when the population became Muslim. A common religion for both Turkic and non-Turkic ethnic groups brought about the formation of common traditions, and the integration between the different ethnic groups living on the territory of Azerbaijan. By the middle of the 9th century, the Turkic ethnic group, the Azerbaijani people became the major ethnic group.

The establishment of a single state in Azerbaijan happened between the 15th century and the 18th century. This period is very important in the history of Azerbaijan. The ruler Shah Ismail Khatai (1501-1524) who was of Azerbaijani origin, united all the territories of Azerbaijan under his control. He founded the Safavid dynasty with Tabriz as its capital. During the rule of the Safavis, the Azerbaijani language also became the only official language. After the Safavid dynasty ended, Nadir Shah Afshar (1736-1747), an Azerbaijani commander founded the Afsharid dynasty (1736-1796) named after himself, and continued to rule over Azerbaijan's territories. He strengthened the borders and in 1739 invaded North India including Delhi. [1] After Nadir Shah's death, his dynasty weakened and in the second part of the 18th century resulted in the formations of new smaller states.

In the late 18th century, then, the government of Iran passed to the Qajar dynasty (1796-1925), who were also of Azerbaijani origin. Their main policy was to unite all the territories once ruled by their ancestors. This gave the start to several long wars between the Qajars and Russia, with both parties aiming to occupy the South Caucasus which Azerbaijan is a part of. Azerbaijan was divided between the two empires. The northern part of Azerbaijan was annexed to Russia, while the south went to Iran. This is the origin of today's political division between "North Azerbaijan" which today has become the Republic of Azerbaijan, and "South Azerbaijan", which today is a part of Iran.

Azerbaijan came under Russian rule after the Persian-Russian wars of 1804-1813. The country gained independence for a short period, however, towards the end of the First World War. After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, Azerbaijan, together with Armenia and Georgia formed the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. When this republic ended in May 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence as the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan on May 28, 1918, as the first modern and secular parliamentary republic in the Muslim World. However, the Red Army occupied the territory and annexed it to the newly formed Soviet Union and the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was founded on April 28, 1920.

During the Second World War and after, the Azerbaijan SSR, as a petroleum producer, was important in the energy policy of the Soviet Union. Following the politics of reforms called "glasnost", started by the leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, riots and ethnic fighting grew in various regions of the Soviet Union, including Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of the Azerbaijan SSR. The disturbances in Azerbaijan, in response to the Soviet government's lack of response to the already tense conflict between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians, resulted in calls for independence and secession, which resulted in the massacre known as "Black January" in the capital Baku in January 1990. Azerbaijan eventually declared independence on October 18, 1991. The Soviet Union was ended on December 25, 1991.

Where is Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan is located at the junction of Eastern Europe and Western Asia along the southern flanks of the Caucasus Mountains. It is situated both in the Northern and Eastern hemispheres of the Earth. Azerbaijan is bordered by Russia in the north, Georgia in the northwest, Armenia in the west, and Iran in the south. It is bounded in the east by the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan Bordering Countries: Georgia, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Armenia.

Regional Maps: Map of Asia

Azerbaijan, the land of fire!

One of Azerbaijan’s most famous sites is Yanar Dağ (or “Burning Mountain“), a natural glowing fire burning on a hillside along the Caspian Sea. True to its name, the mountain has been blazing for at least 65 years! Natural gases seeping through the ground underneath continuously feed the flames, so the fire never goes out. Whilst no one knows for sure where Azerbaijan gets its name from, it’s only fitting that Yanar Dağ sits in a country also known as “The Land of Fire“.

Geography of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan&rsquos geography covers a diverse collection of landscapes, from wetlands to high mountains, deserts to fertile valleys. The center of the country is taken up by a broad valley, centered around the Kura River. This valley is bordered to the north by the Greater Caucasus Mountains, and to the south by the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, and opens in the east to the Caspian Sea. The highest point in Azerbaijan is Bazarduzu Dagi, at 4,467 m (14,656 ft), and the lowest point is - 28 m (-92 ft), in the Caspian Sea.

The Caspian Sea is home to many species of fish, and the shores hold important wetlands, where numerous species of birds live. Even though the Caspian Sea is called a sea, it&rsquos actually the largest lake in the world. Long ago, it was connected to other seas (like the Mediterranean), though plate tectonics separated it about 5 million years ago. Now, the Caspian Sea is fed by great rivers, including the Kura, which flows through Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This keeps water flowing in, though the only way for water to leave is by evaporation. When the water evaporates, it leaves behind any salts or minerals, which is why the Caspian Sea is salty (though it&rsquos not as salty as the oceans). The Caspian Sea is also located below sea level, making Azerbaijan&rsquos lowest point 28 meters (92 ft) below sea level. There are beaches and resorts on the shores that are especially popular in the summer, as people come to swim and escape the summer heat. The Caspian Sea is also home to large oil reserves, and the first offshore oil wells in the world were built near Baku.

Heading west from the Caspian Sea, the easiest route follows the Kura River. This river starts in the mountains of Turkey, then crosses Georgia, gains water from rivers in Armenia (without ever crossing into the country), before crossing Azerbaijan to flow into the Caspian Sea. There is a dam near Mingachevir, creating the Mingachevir Reservoir, the largest lake in Azerbaijan. The land around the Kura River is irrigated and relatively fertile, though there are also large semi-desert areas in the flatter parts of Azerbaijan.

The geography in Azerbaijan is dominated by the mountains. With the Greater Caucasus in the northern part of the country, and the Lesser Caucasus in the southern part, there are a variety of mountain landscapes. The Caucasus Mountains are part of a larger system that spans from Europe to Asia, and indeed the watershed of the Caucasus Mountains forms the official border between Europe and Asia. Lots of snow and rain falls in the Caucasus Mountains, with this precipitation being the source of much of the drinking water in the region. The lower slopes are home to richer deciduous forests (with oak, maple and ash trees), and higher slopes are home to more pine forests, and glaciers and open areas at the highest of elevations.


Variations of the name Nakhchivan include Nakhichevan, [6] Naxcivan, [7] Naxçivan, [8] Nachidsheuan, [9] Nakhijevan, [10] Nuhișvân, [11] Nakhchawan, [12] Nakhitchevan, [13] Nakhjavan, [14] and Nakhdjevan. [15] Nakhchivan is mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography and by other classical writers as "Naxuana". [16] [17]

The 19th-century language scholar Johann Heinrich Hübschmann wrote that the name "Nakhijevan" in Armenian literally means "the place of descent" (նախ (nax) "first" & իջեւան (ijevan) "abode"), a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah's Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. Armenian tradition says that Nakhchivan was founded by Noah. [4]

First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also wrote about Nakhchivan, saying that its original name "Αποβατηριον, or Place of Descent, is the proper rendering of the Armenian name of this very city". [18] Hübschmann noted, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity, and that the present-day name evolved to "Nakhchivan" from "Naxčawan". The prefix "Naxč" derives from Naxič or Naxuč (probably a personal name) and "awan" (the modern transcription of Hübschmann's "avan") is Armenian for "place, town". [5]

Early history Edit

The oldest material culture artifacts found in the region date back to the Neolithic Age. On the other hand, Azerbaijani archaeologists have found that the history of Nakhchivan dates back to the Stone Age (Paleolithic). As a result of archaeological diggings, archaeologists discovered a great number of Stone-Age materials in different regions of Nakhchivan. [19] These materials were useful to study the Paleolithic age in Azerbaijan. Pollen analysis conducted in Gazma Cave (Sharur District) suggests that humans in the Middle Palaeolithic (Mousterian) lived not only in the mountain forests but also in the dry woodlands found in Nakhchivan. [20] Several archaeological sites dating from the Neolithic have also been found in Nakhchivan, including the ancient town of Ovchular Tepesi, which also includes some of the oldest salt mines in the world. [19]

The region was part of the states of Urartu and later Media. [21] It became part of the Satrapy of Armenia under Achaemenid Persia c. 521 BC. After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC several generals of the Macedonian army, including Neoptolemus, attempted but failed to take control of the region, and it was ruled by the native Armenian dynasty of Orontids until Armenia was conquered by Antiochus III the Great (ruled 222–187 BC). [22]

In 189 BC, Nakhchivan became part of the new Kingdom of Armenia established by Artaxias I. [23] Within the kingdom, the region of present-day Nakhchivan was part of the Ayrarat, Vaspurakan and Syunik provinces. [24] According to the early medieval Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, from the 3rd to 2nd centuries, the region belonged to the Muratsyan nakharar family but after disputes with central power, King Artavazd I massacred the family and seized the lands and formally attached it to the kingdom. [25] The area's status as a major trade center allowed it to prosper as a result, many foreign powers coveted it. [12] According to the Armenian historian Faustus of Byzantium (5th century), when the Sassanid Persians invaded Armenia, Sassanid King Shapur II (310–380) removed 2,000 Armenian and 16,000 Jewish families in 360–370. [26] In 428, the Armenian Arshakuni monarchy was abolished and Nakhchivan was annexed by Sassanid Persia. In 623, possession of the region passed to the Byzantine Empire [21] but was soon left to its own rule. Sebeos referred to the area as Tachkastan. Nakhchivan is said by his pupil, Koriun Vardapet, to be the place where the Armenian scholar and theologian Mesrob Mashtots finished the creation of the Armenian Alphabet and opened the first Armenian schools. It happened in the province of Gokhtan, which corresponds to Nakhchivan's modern Ordubad district. [27] [28]

From 640 on, the Arabs invaded Nakhchivan and undertook many campaigns in the area, crushing all resistance and attacking Armenian nobles who remained in contact with the Byzantines or who refused to pay tribute. In 705, after suppressing an Armenian revolt, Arab viceroy Muhammad ibn Marwan decided to eliminate the Armenian nobility. [29] In Nakhchivan, several hundred Armenian nobles were locked up in churches and burnt, while others were crucified. [13] [29]

The violence caused many Armenian princes to flee to the neighboring Kingdom of Georgia or the Byzantine Empire. [29] Meanwhile, Nakhchivan itself became part of the autonomous Principality of Armenia under Arab control. [30] In the 8th century, Nakhchivan was one of the scenes [21] of an uprising against the Arabs led by Persian [31] [32] [33] revolutionary Babak Khorramdin of the Iranian Khorram-Dinān ("those of the joyous religion" in Persian). [34] Nakhchivan was finally released from Arab rule in the 10th century by Bagratuni King Smbat I and handed over to the princes of Syunik. [23] This region also was taken by Sajids in 895 and between 909 and 929, Sallarid between 942 and 971 and Shaddadid between 971 and 1045.

About 1055, the Seljuk Turks took over the region. [21] In the 12th century, the city of Nakhchivan became the capital of the state of Atabegs of Azerbaijan, also known as Ildegizid state, which included most of Iranian Azerbaijan and a significant part of the South Caucasus. [35] The magnificent 12th-century mausoleum of Momine Khatun, the wife of Ildegizid ruler, Great Atabeg Jahan Pehlevan, is the main attraction of modern Nakhchivan. [36] At its heyday, the Ildegizid authority in Nakhchivan and some other areas of South Caucasus was contested by Georgia. The Armeno-Georgian princely house of Zacharids frequently raided the region when the Atabeg state was in decline in the early years of the 13th century. It was then plundered by invading Mongols in 1220 and Khwarezmians in 1225 and became part of Mongol Empire in 1236 when the Caucasus was invaded by Chormaqan. [21] In the 13th century during the reign of the Mongol horde ruler Güyük Khan Christians were allowed to build churches in the strongly Muslim town of Nakhchivan, however the conversion to Islam of Gazan khan brought about a reversal of this favor. [37] The 14th century saw the rise of Armenian Catholicism in Nakhchivan, [12] though by the 15th century the territory became part of the states of Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu. [21]

Iranian rule Edit

In the 16th century, control of Nakhchivan passed to the Safavid dynasty. Until the demise of the Safavids, it remained as an administrative jurisdiction of the Erivan Province (also known as Chokhur-e Sa'd). [38] Because of its geographic position, it frequently suffered during the wars between the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire, from the 16th to 18th centuries. Turkish historian İbrahim Peçevi described the passing of the Ottoman army from the Ararat plain to Nakhchivan:

On the twenty-seventh day they reached the plain of Nakhichevan. Out of fear of the victorious army, the people deserted the cities, villages, houses, and places of dwelling, which were so desolate that they were occupied by owls and crows and struck the onlooker with terror. Moreover, they [the Ottomans] ruined and laid waste all of the villages, towns, fields, and buildings along the road over a distance of four or five days' march so that there was no sign of any buildings or life. [23]

In 1604, Shah Abbas I of Iran, concerned that the skilled peoples of Nakhchivan, its natural resources, and the surrounding areas could get in danger due to its relatively close proximity to the Ottoman-Persian frontline, decided to institute a scorched earth policy. He forced the entire hundreds of thousands of local population—Muslims, Jews and Armenians alike—to leave their homes and move to the provinces south of the Aras River. [39] [40] [41]

Many of the Armenian deportees were settled in the neighborhood of Isfahan that was named New Julfa since most of the residents were from the original Julfa. The Turkic Kangerli tribe was later permitted to move back under Shah Abbas II (1642–1666) to repopulate the frontier region of his realm. [42] In the 17th century, Nakhchivan was the scene of a peasant movement led by Köroğlu against foreign invaders and "native exploiters". [21] In 1747, the Nakhchivan Khanate emerged in the region after the death of Nader Shah Afshar. [21]

Passing to Imperial Russian rule Edit

After the last Russo-Persian War and the Treaty of Turkmenchay, the Nakhchivan Khanate passed into Russian possession in 1828 due to Iran's forced ceding as a result of the outcome of the war and treaty. [43] With the onset of Russian rule, the Tsarist authorities encouraged resettlement of Armenians to Nakhchivan and other areas of the Caucasus from the Persian and Ottoman Empires. Special clauses of the Turkmenchay and Adrianople treaties allowed for this. [44] Alexandr Griboyedov, the Russian envoy to Persia, stated that by the time Nakhchivan came under Russian rule, there had been 290 native Armenians families in the province excluding the city of Nakhchivan, the number of Muslim families was 1,632, and the number of the Armenian immigrant families was 943. The same numbers in the city of Nakhchivan were 114, 392 and 285 respectively. With such a dramatic influx of Armenian immigrants, Griboyedov noted friction arising between the Armenian and Muslim populations. He requested Russian army commander Count Ivan Paskevich to give orders on resettlement of some of the arriving people further to the region of Daralayaz to quiet the tensions. [45]

The Nakhchivan Khanate was dissolved in 1828 the same year it came into Russian possession, and its territory was merged with the territory of the Erivan khanate and the area became the Nakhchivan uyezd of the new Armenian oblast, which later became the Erivan Governorate in 1849. According to official statistics of the Russian Empire, by the turn of the 20th century Azerbaijanis made up 57% of the uyezd's population, while Armenians constituted 42%. [16] At the same time in the Sharur-Daralagyoz uyezd, the territory of which would form the northern part of modern-day Nakhchivan, Azeris constituted 70.5% of the population, while Armenians made up 27.5%. [46] During the Russian Revolution of 1905, conflict erupted between the Armenians and the Azeris, culminating in the Armenian-Tatar massacres which saw violence in Nakhchivan in May of that year. [47]

War and revolution Edit

In the final year of World War I, Nakhchivan was the scene of more bloodshed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, who both laid claim to the area. By 1914, the Armenian population had decreased slightly to 40% while the Azeri population increased to roughly 60%. [48] After the February Revolution, the region was under the authority of the Special Transcaucasian Committee of the Russian Provisional Government and subsequently of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. When the TDFR was dissolved in May 1918, Nakhchivan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur (today the Armenian province of Syunik), and Qazakh were heavily contested between the newly formed and short-lived states of the Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). In June 1918, the region came under Ottoman occupation. [21] The Ottomans proceeded to massacre 10,000 Armenians and razed 45 of their villages. [12] Under the terms of the Armistice of Mudros, the Ottomans agreed to pull their troops out of the Transcaucasus to make way for the forthcoming British military presence. [49]

Under British occupation, Sir Oliver Wardrop, British Chief Commissioner in the South Caucasus, made a border proposal to solve the conflict. According to Wardrop, Armenian claims against Azerbaijan should not go beyond the administrative borders of the former Erivan Governorate (which under prior Imperial Russian rule encompassed Nakhchivan), while Azerbaijan was to be limited to the governorates of Baku and Elisabethpol. This proposal was rejected by both Armenians (who did not wish to give up their claims to Qazakh, Zangezur and Karabakh) and Azeris (who found it unacceptable to give up their claims to Nakhchivan). As disputes between both countries continued, it soon became apparent that the fragile peace under British occupation would not last. [50]

In December 1918, with the support of Azerbaijan's Musavat Party, Jafargulu Khan Nakhchivanski declared the Republic of Aras in the Nakhchivan uyezd of the former Erivan Governorate assigned to Armenia by Wardrop. [21] The Armenian government did not recognize the new state and sent its troops into the region to take control of it. The conflict soon erupted into the violent Aras War. [50] British journalist C. E. Bechhofer Roberts described the situation in April 1920:

You cannot persuade a party of frenzied nationalists that two blacks do not make a white consequently, no day went by without a catalogue of complaints from both sides, Armenians and Tartars [Azeris], of unprovoked attacks, murders, village burnings and the like. Specifically, the situation was a series of vicious cycles. [51]

By mid-June 1919, however, Armenia succeeded in establishing control over Nakhchivan and the whole territory of the self-proclaimed republic. The fall of the Aras republic triggered an invasion by the regular Azerbaijani army and by the end of July, Armenian troops were forced to leave Nakhchivan City to the Azeris. [50] Again, more violence erupted leaving some ten thousand Armenians dead and forty-five Armenian villages destroyed. [12] Meanwhile, feeling the situation to be hopeless and unable to maintain any control over the area, the British decided to withdraw from the region in mid-1919. [52] Still, fighting between Armenians and Azeris continued and after a series of skirmishes that took place throughout the Nakhchivan district, a cease-fire agreement was concluded. However, the cease-fire lasted only briefly, and by early March 1920, more fighting broke out, primarily in Karabakh between Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijan's regular army. This triggered conflicts in other areas with mixed populations, including Nakhchivan.

Sovietization Edit

In July 1920, the 11th Soviet Red Army invaded and occupied the region and on July 28, declared the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with "close ties" to the Azerbaijan SSR. In November, on the verge of taking over Armenia, the Bolsheviks, to attract public support, promised they would allot Nakhchivan to Armenia, along with Karabakh and Zangezur. This was fulfilled when Nariman Narimanov, leader of Bolshevik Azerbaijan issued a declaration celebrating the "victory of Soviet power in Armenia", proclaimed that both Nakhchivan and Zangezur should be awarded to the Armenian people as a sign of the Azerbaijani people's support for Armenia's fight against the former DRA government: [53]

As of today, the old frontiers between Armenia and Azerbaijan are declared to be non-existent. Mountainous Karabagh, Zangezur and Nakhchivan are recognised to be integral parts of the Socialist Republic of Armenia. [54] [55]

Vladimir Lenin, while welcoming this act of "great Soviet fraternity" where "boundaries had no meaning among the family of Soviet peoples", did not agree with the motion and instead called for the people of Nakhchivan to be consulted in a referendum. According to the formal figures of this referendum, held at the beginning of 1921, 90% of Nakhchivan's population wanted to be included in the Azerbaijan SSR "with the rights of an autonomous republic". [54] The decision to make Nakhchivan a part of modern-day Azerbaijan was cemented on March 16, 1921 in the Treaty of Moscow between Soviet Russia and the newly founded Republic of Turkey. [56] The agreement between Soviet Russia and Turkey also called for attachment of the former Sharur-Daralagezsky Uyezd (which had a solid Azeri majority) to Nakhchivan, thus allowing Turkey to share a border with the Azerbaijan SSR. This deal was reaffirmed on October 13, in the Treaty of Kars. Article V of the treaty stated the following:

The Turkish Government and the Soviet Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan are agreed that the region of Nakhchivan, within the limits specified by Annex III to the present Treaty, constitutes an autonomous territory under the protection of Azerbaijan. [57]

So, on February 9, 1924, the Soviet Union officially established the Nakhchivan ASSR. Its constitution was adopted on April 18, 1926. [21]

Nakhchivan in the Soviet Union Edit

As a constituent part of the Soviet Union, tensions lessened over the ethnic composition of Nakhchivan or any territorial claims regarding it. Instead, it became an important point of industrial production with particular emphasis on the mining of minerals such as salt. Under Soviet rule, it was once a major junction on the Moscow-Tehran railway line [58] as well as the Baku-Yerevan railway. [21] It also served as an important strategic area during the Cold War, sharing borders with both Turkey (a NATO member state) and Iran (a close ally of the West until the Iranian Revolution of 1979).

Facilities improved during Soviet times. Education and public health especially began to see some major changes. In 1913, Nakhchivan only had two hospitals with a total of 20 beds. The region was plagued by widespread diseases including trachoma and typhus. Malaria, which mostly came from the adjoining Aras River, brought serious harm to the region. At any one time, between 70% and 85% of Nakhchivan's population was infected with malaria, and in the region of Norashen (present-day Sharur) almost 100% were struck with the disease. This situation improved dramatically under Soviet rule. Malaria was sharply reduced and trachoma, typhus, and relapsing fever were completely eliminated. [21]

During the Soviet era, Nakhchivan saw great demographic shift. In 1926, 15% of region's population was Armenian, but by 1979, this number had shrunk to 1.4%. [59] Azeris made up 85% in 1926, but 96% in 1979 (leaving the small remainder mixed or other). Three factors were involved: Armenians emigrated to the Armenian SSR a higher than Armenian Azeri birth rate existed and immigration of Azeris took place from Armenia. [59]

Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh noted similar though slower demographic trends and feared an eventual "de-Armenianization" of the area. [56] When tensions between Armenians and Azeris were reignited in the late-1980s by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan's Popular Front managed to pressure the Azerbaijan SSR to instigate a partial railway and air blockade against Armenia, while another reason for disruption of rail service to Armenia were attacks of Armenian forces on the trains entering the Armenian territory from Azerbaijan, which resulted in railroad personnel refusing to enter Armenia. [60] [61] This effectively crippled Armenia's economy, as 85% of the cargo and goods arrived through rail traffic. In response, Armenia closed the railway to Nakhchivan, thereby strangling the exclave's only link to the rest of the Soviet Union.

December 1989 saw unrest in Nakhchivan as its Azeri inhabitants moved to physically dismantle the Soviet border with Iran to flee the area and meet their ethnic Azeri cousins in northern Iran. This action was angrily denounced by the Soviet leadership and the Soviet media accused the Azeris of "embracing Islamic fundamentalism". [62]

Declaring independence Edit

In January 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Nakhchivan ASSR issued a declaration stating the intention for Nakhchivan to secede from the USSR to protest the Soviet Union's actions during Black January (January 19–20, 1990). It was the first part of the Soviet Union to declare independence, preceding Lithuania's declaration by only a few weeks. Subsequently, Nakhchivan was independent from Moscow and Baku but was then brought under control by the clan of Heydar Aliyev. [63]

Nakhchivan in the post-Soviet era Edit

Heydar Aliyev, the future president of Azerbaijan, returned to his birthplace of Nakhchivan in 1990, after being ousted from his position in the Politburo by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Soon after returning to Nakhchivan, Aliyev was elected to the Supreme Soviet by an overwhelming majority. Aliyev subsequently resigned from the CPSU and after the failed August 1991 coup against Gorbachev, he called for complete independence for Azerbaijan and denounced Ayaz Mütallibov for supporting the coup. In late 1991, Aliyev consolidated his power base as chairman of the Nakhchivan Supreme Soviet and asserted Nakhchivan's near-total independence from Baku. [64]

Nakhchivan became a scene of conflict during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. On May 4, 1992, Armenian forces shelled the raion of Sadarak. [65] [66] [67] The Armenians claimed that the attack was in response to cross-border shelling of Armenian villages by Azeri forces from Nakhchivan. [68] [69] David Zadoyan, a 42-year-old Armenian physicist and mayor of the region, said that the Armenians lost patience after months of firing by the Azeris. "If they were sitting on our hilltops and harassing us with gunfire, what do you think our response should be?" he asked. [70] The government of Nakhchivan denied these charges and instead asserted that the Armenian assault was unprovoked and specifically targeted the site of a bridge between Turkey and Nakhchivan. [69] "The Armenians do not react to diplomatic pressure," Nakhchivan foreign minister Rza Ibadov told the ITAR-Tass news agency, "It's vital to speak to them in a language they understand." Speaking to the agency from the Turkish capital Ankara, Ibadov said that Armenia's aim in the region was to seize control of Nakhchivan. [71] According to Human Rights Watch, hostilities broke out after three people were killed when Armenian forces began shelling the region. [72]

The heaviest fighting took place on 18 May, when the Armenians captured Nakhchivan's exclave of Karki, a tiny territory through which Armenia's main north–south highway passes. The exclave presently remains under Armenian control. [73] After the fall of Shusha, the Mütallibov government of Azerbaijan accused Armenia of moving to take the whole of Nakhchivan (a claim that was denied by Armenian government officials). However, Heydar Aliyev declared a unilateral ceasefire on 23 May and sought to conclude a separate peace with Armenia. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian expressed his willingness to sign a cooperation treaty with Nakhchivan to end the fighting and subsequently a cease-fire was agreed upon. [72]

The conflict in the area caused a harsh reaction from Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Çiller announced that any Armenian advance on the main territory of Nakhchivan would result in a declaration of war against Armenia. Russian military leaders declared that "third party intervention into the dispute could trigger a Third World War". Thousands of Turkish troops were sent to the border between Turkey and Armenia in early September. Russian military forces in Armenia countered their movements by increasing troop levels along the Armenian-Turkish frontier and bolstering defenses in a tense period where war between the two seemed inevitable. [74] The tension reached its peak, when Turkish heavy artillery shelled the Nakhchivan side of the Nakhchivan-Armenian border, from the Turkish border for two hours. Iran also reacted to Armenia's attacks by conducting military maneuvers along its border with Nakhchivan in a move widely interpreted as a warning to Armenia. [75] However, Armenia did not launch any further attacks on Nakhchivan and the presence of Russia's military warded off any possibility that Turkey might play a military role in the conflict. [74] After a period of political instability, the Parliament of Azerbaijan turned to Heydar Aliyev and invited him to return from exile in Nakhchivan to lead the country in 1993.

Recent times Edit

Today, Nakhchivan retains its autonomy as the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and is internationally recognized as a constituent part of Azerbaijan governed by its own elected legislative assembly. [76] A new constitution for Nakhchivan was approved in a referendum on November 12, 1995. The constitution was adopted by the republic's assembly on April 28, 1998 and has been in force since January 8, 1999. [77] However, the republic remains isolated, not only from the rest of Azerbaijan, but practically from the entire South Caucasus region. Vasif Talibov, who is related by marriage to Azerbaijan's ruling family, the Aliyevs, serves as the current parliamentary chairman of the republic. [78] He is known for his authoritarian [78] and largely corrupt rule of the region. [79] Most residents prefer to watch Turkish television as opposed to Nakhchivan television, which one Azerbaijani journalist criticised as "a propaganda vehicle for Talibov and the Aliyevs." [78]

Economic hardships and energy shortages (due to Armenia's continued blockade of the region in response to the Azeri and Turkish blockade of Armenia [ citation needed ] ) plague the area. There have been many cases of migrant workers seeking jobs in neighboring Turkey. "Emigration rates to Turkey," one analyst said, "are so high that most of the residents of the Besler district in Istanbul are Nakhchivanis." [78] When speaking to British writer Thomas de Waal the mayor of Nakhchivan City, Veli Shakhverdiev, spoke warmly of a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict and of Armenian-Azeri relations during Soviet times. "I can tell you that our relations with the Armenians were very close, they were excellent," he said. "I went to university in Moscow and I didn't travel to Moscow once via Baku. I took a bus, it was one hour to Yerevan, then went by plane to Moscow and the same thing on the way back." [58] Recently Nakhchivan made deals to obtain more gas exports from Iran, and a new bridge on the Aras River between the two countries was inaugurated in October 2007 the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev and the First Vice-President of Iran, Parviz Davoodi also attended the opening ceremony. [80] [81]

In 2008, the National Bank of Azerbaijan minted a pair of gold and silver commemorative coins for the 85th anniversary of the creation of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. [82]

As part of the ceasefire agreement which ended the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Armenia, in the context of all economic and transport connections in the region to be unblocked, agreed "to guarantee the security of transport connections between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to arrange unobstructed movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in both directions". As part of the agreement, these transport communications are to be patrolled by Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation [83]

Nakhchivan is subdivided into eight administrative divisions. Seven of these are raions. The capital city (şəhər) of Nakhchivan City is treated separately.

Map ref. Administrative division Capital Type Area (km 2 ) Population (August 1, 2011 estimate) [84] Notes
1 Babek (Babək) Babek District 749,81 [84] 66,200 [84] Formerly known as Nakhchivan renamed after Babak Khorramdin in 1991
2 Julfa (Culfa) Julfa District 1012,75 [84] 43,000 [84] Also spelled Jugha or Dzhulfa.
3 Kangarli (Kəngərli) Givraq District 711,86 [84] 28,900 [84] Split from Babek in March 2004
4 Nakhchivan City (Naxçıvan Şəhər) n/a Municipality 191,82 [84] 85,700 [84] Split from Nakhchivan (Babek) in 1991
5 Ordubad Ordubad District 994,88 [84] 46,500 [84] Split from Julfa during Sovietization [12]
6 Sadarak (Sədərək) Heydarabad District 153,49 [84] 14,500 [84] Split from Sharur in 1990 de jure includes the Karki exclave in Armenia, which is de facto under Armenian control
7 Shahbuz (Şahbuz) Shahbuz District 838,04 [84] 23,400 [84] Split from Nakhchivan (Babek) during Sovietization [12] Territory roughly corresponds to the Čahuk (Չահւք) district of the historic Syunik region within the Kingdom of Armenia [85]
8 Sharur (Şərur) Sharur District 847,35 [84] 106,600 [84] Formerly known as Bash-Norashen during its incorporation into the Soviet Union and Ilyich (after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin) from the post-Sovietization period to 1990 [12]
Total 5,500 [84] 414,900 [84]

  1. ^ Records prior to 1918 used the word Tatar (Russian for Turkic people), who are the ancestors of modern-day Azerbaijani Turks.
  2. ^Russians, Kurds, Turks, Ukrainians, Georgians, Persians etc.
  3. ^ abc Azerbaijanis combined with other Muslims.

As of January 1, 2018, Nakhchivan's population was estimated to be 452,831. [96] Most of the population are Azerbaijanis, who constituted 99% of the population in 1999, while ethnic Russians (0.15%) and a minority of Kurds (0.6%) constituted the remainder of the population. [97]

The Kurds of Nakhchivan are mainly found in the districts of Sadarak and Teyvaz. [98] The remaining Armenians were expelled by Azerbaijani forces during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the forceful exchange of population between Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to a 1932 Soviet estimate, 85% of the area was rural, while only 15% was urban. This urban percentage increased to 18% by 1939 and 27% by 1959. [12] As of 2011, 127,200 people of Nakhchivan's total population of 435,400 live in urban areas, making the urban percentage 29.2% in 2014. [99]

Nakhchivan enjoys a high Human Development Index its socio-economic prowess far exceeds that of the neighbouring countries except Turkey, as well as Azerbaijan itself. According to the report of Nakhchivan AR Committee of Statistics on June 30, 2014 for the end of 2013, some socio-economical data, including the following, are unveiled:

Variable Value
Population 452,831 [99]
GNI (PPP) per Capita $15,300 [100]
Life Expectancy at Birth 76.1 years [101]
Mean Years of Schooling 11.2 years [102]
Expected Years of Schooling 11.8 years [102]

Making use of the Human Development Index calculation method according to the new UNHD 2014 method, [103] the above values change into these:

Variable Value
Income Index 0.7599
Life Expectancy Index 0.8630
Education Index 0.7011

Further, the value of the HDI becomes to

Were it a country, Nakhchivan would be ranked between Malaysia (62nd) [103] and Mauritius (63rd) [103] for its HDI. Also, compare it to Iran with HDI 0.749 (75th), Turkey with 0.759 (69th), or Azerbaijan with 0.747 (76th). [103]

Nakhchivan is a semi-desert region that is separated from the main portion of Azerbaijan by Armenia. The Zangezur Mountains make up its border with Armenia while the Aras River defines its border with Iran. The Araz reservoir located on that river supplies water for agricultural needs and the hydroelectric dam generates power for both Azerbaijan and Iran. [ citation needed ]

Nakhchivan is extremely arid and mountainous. Its highest peak is Mount Kapudzhukh 3,904 m (12,808 ft) and its most distinctive is Ilandag [az] (Snake Mountain) 2,415 m (7,923 ft), which is visible from Nakhchivan City. According to legend, the cleft in its summit was formed by the keel of Noah's Ark as the floodwaters abated. [104] Qazangödağ 3,829 m (12,562 ft) is another major peak.

Industry Edit

Nakhchivan's major industries include the mining of minerals such as salt, molybdenum, and lead. Dryland farming, developed during the Soviet years, has allowed the region to expand into the growing of wheat (mostly cultivated on the plains of the Aras River), barley, cotton, tobacco, orchard fruits, mulberries, and grapes for producing wine. Other industries include cotton ginning/cleaning, silk spinning, fruit canning, meat packing, and, in the drier regions, sheep farming.

Processing of minerals, salt, radio engineering, farm ginning, preserving, silk products, meat and dairy, bottling of mineral waters, clothing, and furniture are the principal branches of Nakhchivan's industry.

Nakhchivan Automobile Plant(Azerbaijani: Naxçıvan Avtomobil Zavodu), better known as NAZ, is an automobile manufacturer in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan.

The economy suffered a severe blow in 1988 with the loss of access to both raw materials and markets, due to the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. Although new markets are emerging in Iran and Turkey, this isolation still persists to this day, impairing development. The economy of Nakhchivan is based on agriculture, mining, and food processing, however, 75% of the republic's budget is supplied by the central government in Baku. [ citation needed ]

The Republic is rich in minerals. Nakhchivan possesses deposits of marble, lime, and gypsum. The deposits of the rock salt are exhausted in Nehram, Nakhchivan, and Sustin. The important molybdenum mines are currently closed as a consequence of the exclave's isolation. There are a lot of mineral springs such as Badamli, Sirab, Nagajir, Kiziljir where water contains arsenic.

About 90% of the agricultural land is now in private hands. However, agriculture has become a poorly capitalized, backyard activity. Production has dropped sharply and large-scale commercial agriculture has declined.

Over two-thirds of the land are rocky slopes and deserts, therefore the area of arable lands is quite limited. The main crops – cotton and tobacco – are cultivated in the PriAraz plain, near Sharur and Nakhchivan City. Three-quarters of the grain production, especially winter wheat is concentrated on the irrigated lands of the Sharur plain and in the basin of the Nakhchivan river.

Vine growing in Nakhchivan has an ancient tradition, in the Araz valley and foothills. Very hot summers and long warm autumns make it possible to grow such highly saccharine grapes as bayan-shiraz, tebrizi, shirazi. Wines such as "Nakhchivan" "Shahbuz", "Abrakunis", at "Aznaburk" are of reasonable quality and very popular. Fruit production is quite important, mainly of quince, pear, peach, apricot, fig, almonds, and pomegranate.

Cattle ranching is another traditional branch of Nakhchivan farming. Due to the dry climate, pastures in Nakhchivan are unproductive, therefore sheep breeding prevails over other livestock production. Winter pastures stretch on the PriAraz plain, on the foothills and mountainsides to the altitude of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). But the summer pastures go up on the high-mountain area to an altitude of 2,300–3,200 metres (7,500–10,500 ft). The most widespread sheep variety is "balbas". These sheep are distinguished by their productivity and snow-white silky wool which is widely used in the manufacture of carpets. Horned and small cattle are bred everywhere, especially in the environs of Sharur and Nakhchivan. Buffaloes are also bred here. [ citation needed ]

Although intentions to facilitate tourism have been declared by the government, it is still at best incipient. Until 1997 tourists needed special permission to visit, which has now been abolished, making travel easier. Facilities are very basic and heating fuel is hard to find in the winter, but the arid mountains bordering Armenia and Iran are magnificent. In terms of services, Nakhchivan offers very basic facilities and lacks heating fuel during the winter. [21]

In 2007 the Poldasht-Shah Takhti Bridge, which connects Poldasht, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran, and Shah Takhti in Nakhchivan, was completed, allowing residents of the republic to access Azerbaijan proper via Iran without having to cross Armenian territory. [105]

Status of Armenian cultural monuments Edit

In November 2020, the British The Guardian wrote about Azerbaijan's campaign of comprehensive “cultural cleansing” in Nakhchivan:

Satellite imagery, extensive documentary evidence and personal accounts showed that 89 churches, 5,840 khachkars and 22,000 tombstones were destroyed between 1997 and 2006, including the medieval necropolis of Djulfa, the largest ancient Armenian cemetery in the world. The Azerbaijani response has consistently been to simply deny that Armenians had ever lived in the region." [106]

The number of named Armenian churches known to have existed in the Nakhchivan region is over 280. In as early as 1648 French traveller Alexandre de Rhodes reported seeing more than ten thousand Armenian tombstones made of marble in Julfa. [107] The number of ecclesiastical monuments still standing in Nakhchivan in the 1980s is estimated to be between 59 and 100. The author and journalist Sylvain Besson believe them to have all been subsequently destroyed as part of a campaign by the Government of Azerbaijan to erase all traces of Armenian culture on its soil. [108]

When the 14th-century church of St. Stephanos at Abrakunis was visited in 2005, it was found to have been recently destroyed, with its site reduced to a few bricks sticking out of loose, bare earth. Similar complete destruction had happened to the 16th century St. Hakop-Hayrapet church in Shurut. The Armenian churches in Norashen, Kırna and Gah that were standing in the 1980s had also vanished. [109] [110] [111]

The most publicised case of mass destruction concerns gravestones at a medieval cemetery in Julfa, with photographic, video and satellite evidence supporting the charges. [112] [113] [114] In April 2006 British The Times wrote about the destruction of the cemetery in the following way:

A Medieval cemetery regarded as one of the wonders of the Caucasus has been erased from the Earth in an act of cultural vandalism likened to the Taleban blowing up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001. The Jugha cemetery was a unique collection of several thousand carved stone crosses on Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran. But after 18 years of conflict between Azerbaijan and its western neighbour, Armenia, it has been confirmed that the cemetery has vanished." [115]

The Armenians have long been sounding the alarm that the Azerbaijanis intend to eliminate all evidence of Armenian presence in Nakhchivan and to this end have been carrying out massive and irreversible destruction of Armenian cultural traces. "The irony is that this destruction has taken place not during a time of war but at a time of peace," Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told The Times. [115] Azerbaijan has consistently denied these accusations. For example, according to the Azerbaijani ambassador to the US, Hafiz Pashayev, the videos and photographs "show some unknown people destroying mid-size stones", and "it is not clear of what nationality those people are", and the reports are Armenian propaganda designed to divert attention from what he claimed was a "state policy (by Armenia) to destroy the historical and cultural monuments in the occupied Azeri territories". [116]

A number of international organizations have confirmed the complete destruction of the cemetery. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting reported on April 19, 2006, that "there is nothing left of the celebrated stone crosses of Jugha." [117] According to the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), the Azerbaijan government removed 800 khachkars in 1998. Though the destruction was halted following protests from UNESCO, it resumed four years later. By January 2003 "the 1,500-year-old cemetery had completely been flattened" according to Icomos. [118] [119] On December 8, 2010, the American Association for the Advancement of Science released a report entitled "Satellite Images Show Disappearance of Armenian Artifacts in Azerbaijan". [120] The report contained the analysis of high resolution satellite images of the Julfa cemetery, which verified the destruction of the khachkars.

The European Parliament has formally called on Azerbaijan to stop the demolition as a breach of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. [121] According to its resolution regarding cultural monuments in the South Caucasus, the European Parliament "condemns strongly the destruction of the Julfa cemetery as well as the destruction of all sites of historical importance that has taken place on Armenian or Azerbaijani territory, and condemns any such action that seeks to destroy cultural heritage." [122] In 2006, Azerbaijan barred a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) mission from inspecting and examining the ancient burial site, stating that it would only accept a delegation if it also visited Armenian-occupied territory. "We think that if a comprehensive approach is taken to the problems that have been raised," said Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Tahir Tagizade, "it will be possible to study Christian monuments on the territory of Azerbaijan, including in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic." [123]

A renewed attempt was planned by PACE inspectors for August 29 – September 6, 2007, led by British MP Edward O'Hara. As well as Nakhchivan, the delegation would visit Baku, Yerevan, Tbilisi, and Nagorno Karabakh. [124] The inspectors planned to visit Nagorno Karabakh via Armenia however, on August 28, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE released a demand that the inspectors must enter Nagorno Karabakh via Azerbaijan. On August 29, PACE Secretary-General Mateo Sorinas announced that the visit had to be cancelled because of the difficulty in accessing Nagorno Karabakh using the route required by Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Armenia issued a statement saying that Azerbaijan had stopped the visit "due solely to their intent to veil the demolition of Armenian monuments in Nakhijevan". [125]

Recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Edit

In the late 1990s the Supreme Assembly issued a non-binding declaration recognising the sovereignty of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and calling upon Azerbaijan to do so. While sympathetic to the TRNC, Azerbaijan has not followed suit because doing so could prompt the Republic of Cyprus to recognise the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Close relations between Nakhchivan and Turkey probably initiated this recognition. [126] [127]

Azerbaijan: 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 Road. Conquered by Alexander the Great and later by the Roman Pompey, it was linked to the history of Armenia and Persia, particularly after its conquest (4th cent.) by Shapur II. 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 Timur 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 Revolution), 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 States. 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 Aliyev, 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 Aliyev, 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 and 2020 parlimentary elections were handily won the ruling party but were criticized for shortcomings and, in 2020, irregularities. A referendum in 2016 approved several changes to the constitution, including increasing the presidential term from five to seven years, that greatly increased the powers of the president.

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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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Baku is long attested under the Perso-Arabic name باکو (Bākū). Early Arabic sources also refer to the city as Bākuh and Bākuya, [13] all of which seem to come from a Persian name. The further etymology is unclear.

A popular etymology [14] in the 19th century considered it to be derived from Persian بادکوبه (Bâd-kube, meaning "wind-pounded city", a compound of bād, "wind", and kube, which is rooted in the verb کوبیدن kubidan, "to pound", thus referring to a place where wind would be strong and pounding, [15] as is the case of Baku, which is known to experience fierce winter snow storms and harsh winds). This popular name (Badkubə in modern Azerbaijani script) gained currency as a nickname for the city by the 19th century (e.g., it is used in Akinchi, volume 1, issue 1, p. 1), and is also reflected in the city's modern nickname as the "City of Winds" (Azerbaijani: Küləklər şəhəri). Another and even less probable folk etymology explains the name as deriving from Baghkuy, meaning "God's town". Baga (now بغ bagh) and kuy are the Old Persian words for "god" and "town" respectively the name Baghkuy may be compared with Baghdād ("God-given") in which dād is the Old Persian word for "give".

During Soviet rule, the city was spelled in Cyrillic as "Бакы" in Azerbaijani (while the Russian spelling was and still is "Баку", Baku). The modern Azerbaijani spelling, which has been using the Latin alphabet since 1991, is Bakı the shift from the Perso-Arabic letter و (ū) to Cyrillic "ы" and, later, Latin "ı" may be compared to that in other Azerbaijani words (e.g. compare قاپو qāpū in old Perso-Arabic spelling with modern Azerbaijani qapı, "door") or in suffixes, as و was often used to transcribe the vowel harmony in Azerbaijani (which was also the practice in Ottoman Turkish). (See also Azerbaijani alphabet.)

Antiquity Edit

Around 100,000 years ago, savanna rich in flora and fauna covered the territory of present-day Baku and Absheron. [ citation needed ] Traces of human settlement go back to the Stone Age. Bronze-Age rock carvings have been discovered near Bayil, and a bronze figure of a small fish in the territory of the Old City. These have led some to suggest the existence of a Bronze-Age settlement within the city's territory. [16] Near Nardaran, a place called Umid Gaya features a prehistoric observatory, with images of the sun and of various constellations are carved into rock together with a primitive astronomic table. [17] Further archeological excavations have revealed various prehistoric settlements, native temples, statues and other artifacts within the territory of the modern city and around it.

In the 1st century AD, the Romans organised two Caucasian campaigns and reached Baku. Near the city, in Gobustan, Roman inscriptions dating from 84 to 96 CE survive - some of the earliest written evidences for Baku. [18]

Rise of the Shirvanshahs and the Safavid era Edit

Baku was the realm of the Shirvanshahs during the 8th century AD. The city frequently came under assault from the Khazars and (starting from the 10th century) from the Rus'. Shirvanshah Akhsitan I built a navy in Baku and successfully repelled a Rus' assault in 1170. After a devastating earthquake struck Shamakhi, the capital of Shirvan, Shirvanshah's court moved to Baku in 1191. [19]

The Shirvan era greatly influenced Baku and the remainder of present-day Azerbaijan. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, massive fortifications were built in Baku and the surrounding towns. The Maiden Tower, the Ramana Tower, the Nardaran Fortress, the Shagan Castle, the Mardakan Castle, the Round Castle and also the famous Sabayil Castle on the island of the Bay of Baku date from this period. The city walls of Baku were also rebuilt and strengthened.

By the early 16th century Baku's wealth and strategic position attracted the attention of its larger neighbours in the previous two centuries, it was under the rule of the Iran-centred Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu. The fall of the Ak Koyunlu brought the city immediately into the sphere of the newly formed Iranian Safavid dynasty, led by king (shah) Ismail I ( r . 1501–1524 ). Ismail I laid siege to Baku in 1501 and captured it he allowed the Shirvanshahs to remain in power, under Safavid suzerainty. His successor, king Tahmasp I ( r . 1524–1576 ), completely removed the Shirvanshahs from power and made Baku a part of the Shirvan province. Baku remained as an integral part of his empire and of successive Iranian dynasties for the next centuries, until ceded to the Russian Empire through the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan. The House of Shirvan, which had ruled Baku since the 9th century, was extinguished in the course of Safavid rule.

At this time the city was enclosed within lines of strong walls, which were washed by the sea on one side and protected by a wide trench on land. The Ottomans briefly gained control over Baku as a result of the Ottoman-Safavid War of 1578–1590 by 1607, it came under Iranian control again. [20] In 1604 Shah Abbas I ( r . 1588–1629 ) destroyed Baku fortress.

Baku had a reputation as a focal point for traders from all across the world during the Early modern period, commerce was active and the area prospered. Notably, traders from the Indian subcontinent established themselves in the region. These Indian traders built the Ateshgah of Baku during 17th–18th centuries the temple was used as a Hindu, Sikh, and Zoroastrian place of worship. [21]

Downfall of the Safavids and the Khanate of Baku Edit

The Safavids temporarily lost power in Iran in 1722 Emperor Peter the Great of Russia took advantage of the situation and invaded the Safavids were forced to cede Baku to Russia. [22] By 1730 the situation had deteriorated for the Russians the successes of Nader Shah ( r . 1736–1747 ) led them to sign the Treaty of Ganja near Ganja on 10 March 1735, ceding the city and all other conquered territories in the Caucasus back to Iran. [23]

The eruption of instability following Nader Shah's death in 1747 gave rise to the various Caucasian khanates. The semi-autonomous Persian-ruled [24] [25] Baku Khanate (1747-1806) was one of these. Initially ruled by Mirza Muhammed Khan ( r . 1747–1768 ), it soon became a dependency of the much stronger Quba Khanate. During this time, the population of Baku remained small (approximately 5,000), and the economy suffered as a result of constant warfare. [ citation needed ]

Russo-Persian Wars and Iran's forced cession Edit

From the late 18th century, Imperial Russia switched to a more aggressive geopolitical stance towards its two neighbours and rivals to the south, namely Iran and the Ottoman Empire. In the spring of 1796, by Catherine II's order, General Valerian Zubov's troops started a large campaign against Qajar Persia. [26] Zubov had sent 13,000 men to capture Baku, and it was overrun subsequently without any resistance. On 13 June 1796, a Russian flotilla entered Baku Bay, and a garrison of Russian troops was stationed inside the city. Later, however, Emperor Pavel I of Russia (reign | 1796 | 1801>>) ordered the cessation of the campaign and the withdrawal of Russian forces following the death of his predecessor, Catherine the Great. In March 1797 the tsarist troops left Baku and the city became part of Qajar Iran again.

In 1813, following the Russo-Persian War of 1804–1813, Qajar Iran had to sign the Treaty of Gulistan with Russia this provided for the cession of Baku and of most of Iran's territories in the North Caucasus and South Caucasus to Russia. During the next and final bout of hostilities between the two, the Russo-Persian War of 1826–1828, the Iranians briefly recaptured Baku. However, the militarily superior Russians ended this war with a victory as well, and the resulting Treaty of Turkmenchay (1828) made Baku's inclusion in the Russian Empire definite. [27] When Baku was occupied by the Russian troops during the war of 1804–13, nearly the entire population of some 8,000 people was ethnic Tat. [28]

Discovery of oil Edit

The Russians built the first oil-distilling factory in Balaxani in 1837. The first person to drill oil in Baku was Baku Armenian Ivan Mirzoev, who is also known as a 'founding father of Baku's oil industry.' [29] [30] Digging for oil began in the mid-1800s, with the first oil well drilled in the Bibi-Heybat suburb of Baku in 1846. [31] It was mechanically drilled, [ citation needed ] though a number of hand-dug wells pre-dated it. Large-scale oil exploration started in 1872 when Russian imperial authorities auctioned parcels of oil-rich land around Baku to private investors. The pioneer of oil extracting from the bottom of the sea was the Polish geologist Witold Zglenicki. Soon after, investors appeared in Baku, including the Nobel Brothers in 1873 and the Rothschilds in 1882. An industrial area of oil refineries, better known as Black Town (Russian: Чёрный город ), developed near Baku by the early 1880s. [32]

Professor A. V. Williams Jackson of Columbia University wrote in his work From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam (1911):

Baku is a city founded upon oil, for to its inexhaustible founts of naphtha it owes its very existence, its maintenance, its prosperity. At present Baku produces one-fifth of the oil that is used in the world, and the immense output in crude petroleum from this single city far surpasses that in any other district where oil is found. Verily, the words of the Scriptures find illustration here: 'the rock poured me out rivers of oil. Oil is in the air one breathes, in one's nostrils, in one's eyes, in the water of the morning bath (though not in the drinking water, for that is brought in bottles from distant mineral springs), in one's starched linen – everywhere. This is the impression one carries away from Baku, and it is certainly true in the environs. [33]

By the beginning of the 20th century, half of the oil sold in international markets was extracted in Baku. [34] The oil boom contributed to the massive growth of Baku. Between 1856 and 1910 Baku's population grew at a faster rate than that of London, Paris or New York.

Unrest at the time of the 1905 Revolution resulted in massacres among the population and the destruction of many oil facilities.

World War I Edit

In 1917, after the October Revolution and amidst the turmoil of World War I and the breakup of the Russian Empire, Baku came under the control of the Baku Commune, led by the veteran Bolshevik Stepan Shahumyan. Seeking to capitalize on the existing ethnic conflicts, by spring 1918, Bolsheviks inspired and condoned civil warfare in and around Baku. During the famous March Days of 1918, Bolsheviks and Dashnaks, seeking to establish control over Baku streets, faced armed Azerbaijani groups. The Azerbaijanis suffered defeat from the united forces of the Baku Soviet and were massacred by Dashnak teams in what was called the March Days. An estimated 3,000–12,000 Azerbaijanis were killed in their own capital. [35] [36] After the massacre, on 28 May 1918, the Azerbaijani faction of the Transcaucasian Sejm proclaimed the independence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) in Ganja, thereby founding the first Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic. [37] The newly independent Azerbaijani republic, being unable to defend the independence of the country on their own, asked the Ottoman Empire for military support in accordance with clause 4 of the treaty between the two countries. Shortly after, Azerbaijani forces, with support of the Ottoman Army of Islam led by Nuru Pasha, started their advance on Baku, eventually capturing the city from the loose coalition of Bolsheviks, SRs, Dashnaks, Mensheviks and British forces under the command of General Lionel Dunsterville on 15 September 1918.

After the Battle of Baku of August–September 1918, the Azerbaijani irregular troops, with the tacit support of the Turkish command, conducted four days of pillaging and killing of 10,000 to 30,000 [38] of the Armenian residents of Baku. This pogrom became known as the "September Days". Shortly after this, Baku was proclaimed the new capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

The Ottoman Empire, recognising defeat in World War I by October 1918, signed the Armistice of Mudros with the British (30 October 1918) this meant the evacuation of Turkish forces from Baku. Headed by General William Thomson, some 5,000 British troops, including parts of the former Dunsterforce, arrived in Baku on 17 November. Thomson declared himself military governor of Baku and implemented martial law in the city until "the civil power would be strong enough to release the forces from the responsibility to maintain the public order". British forces left before the end of 1919. [39]

Soviet period Edit

The independence of the Azerbaijani republic was a significant but short-lived chapter in Baku's history. On 28 April 1920, the 11th Red Army invaded Baku and reinstalled the Bolsheviks, making Baku the capital of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

The city underwent many major changes. As a result, Baku played a great role in many branches of Soviet life. Baku was the major oil city of the Soviet Union. From about 1921 the city was headed by the Baku City Executive Committee, commonly known in Russian as Bakgorispolkom. Together with Baku Party Committee (known as the Baksovet), it developed the economic significance of the Caspian metropolis. From 1922 to 1930 Baku became the venue for one of the major trade fairs of the Soviet Union, serving as a commercial bridgehead to Iran and the Middle East. [40]

World War II Edit

The major powers continued to note Baku's growing importance as a major energy hub. During World War II (1939-1945) and particularly during the 1942 Nazi German invasion of the southwestern Soviet Union, Baku became of vital strategic importance to the Axis powers. In fact, capturing the oil fields of Baku was a primary goal of the Wehrmacht's Operation Edelweiss, carried out between May and November 1942. However, the German Army reached only a point some 530 kilometres (329 miles) northwest of Baku in November 1942, falling far short of the city's capture before being driven back during the Soviet Operation Little Saturn in mid-December 1942.

Fall of the Soviet Union and later Edit

After the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, Baku embarked on a process of restructuring on a scale unseen in its history. [41] Thousands of buildings from the Soviet period were demolished [ by whom? ] to make way for a green belt on its shores parks and gardens were built on the land reclaimed by filling up the beaches of the Baku Bay. Improvements were made in general cleaning, maintenance, and garbage collection, and these services are now [ when? ] at Western European standards. The city is growing dynamically and developing at full speed on an east–west axis along the shores of the Caspian Sea. Sustainability has become a key factor in future urban development. [42]

Baku is situated on the western coast of Caspian Sea. In the vicinity of the city there are a number of mud volcanoes (Keyraki, Bogkh-bogkha, Lokbatan and others) and salt lakes (Boyukshor, Khodasan and so on).

Climate Edit

Baku has a temperate semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification: BSk) with hot and humid summers, cool and occasionally wet winters, and strong winds all year long. However, unlike many other cities with such climate features, Baku does not see extremely hot summers and substantial sunshine hours. This is largely because of its northerly latitude and the fact that it is located on a peninsula on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Baku, and the Absheron Peninsula on which it is situated, is the most arid part of Azerbaijan (precipitation here is around or less than 200 mm (8 in) a year). The majority of the light annual precipitation occurs in seasons other than summer, but none of these seasons is particularly wet. During Soviet times, Baku, with its long hours of sunshine and dry healthy climate, was a vacation destination where citizens could enjoy beaches or relax in now-dilapidated spa complexes overlooking the Caspian Sea. The city's past as a Soviet industrial centre left it one of the most polluted cities in the world, as of 2008 [update] . [43]

At the same time Baku is noted as a very windy city throughout the year, hence the city's nickname the "City of Winds", and gale-force winds, the cold northern wind khazri and the warm southern wind gilavar are typical here in all seasons. Indeed, the city is renowned for its fierce winter snow storms and harsh winds. [15] The speed of the khazri sometimes reaches 144 km/h (89 mph), which can cause damage to crops, trees and roof tiles. [44]

The daily mean temperature in July and August averages 26.4 °C (79.5 °F), and there is very little rainfall during that season. During summer the khazri sweeps through, bringing desired coolness. Winter is cool and occasionally wet, with the daily mean temperature in January and February averaging 4.3 °C (39.7 °F). During winter the khazri sweeps through, driven by polar air masses temperatures on the coast frequently drop below freezing and make it feel bitterly cold. Winter snow storms are occasional snow usually melts within a few days after each snowfall.

Climate data for Baku
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.4
Average low °C (°F) 2.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 21
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 6 6 5 4 3 2 1 2 2 6 6 6 49
Average snowy days (≥ 1 cm) 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 10
Mean monthly sunshine hours 89.9 89.0 124.0 195.0 257.3 294.0 313.1 282.1 222.0 145.7 93.0 102.3 2,207.4
Source 1: World Meteorological Organisation (UN), [45] Hong Kong Observatory [46] for data of sunshine hours
Source 2: Meoweather (Snowy days) [47]

Today, Baku is divided into 12 rayonlar (sub-rayons) (administrative districts) and 5 settlements of city type. [48] [49] (Azeri spellings are in brackets.)

Until 1988, Baku had very large Russian, Armenian, and Jewish populations which contributed to cultural diversity and added in various ways (music, literature, architecture and progressive outlook) to Baku's history. With the onset of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War and the pogrom against Armenians starting in January 1990, the city's large Armenian population was expelled. [50] [51] Under Communism, the Soviets took over the majority of Jewish property in Baku and Kuba. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev returned several synagogues and a Jewish college, nationalised by the Soviets, to the Jewish community he encouraged the restoration of these buildings. Renovation has begun on seven of the original 11 synagogues, including the Gilah synagogue, built in 1896, and the large Kruei Synagogue. [52]

Year Azerbaijanis % Russians % Armenians % Jews % Others % Total
1851 [53] more than 5,000 405 5.5% 7,431
1886 [54] 37,530 43.3 21,390 24.7 24,490 28.3 391 0.5 2,810 3.2 86,611
1897 [55] 40,341 36 37,399 33.4 19,099 17.1 3,369 3 11,696 10.5 111,904
1903 [56] 44,257 28.4 59,955 38.5 26,151 16.8 n.a. n.a. 28,513 18.3 155,876
1913 [56] 45,962 21.4 76,288 35.5 41,680 19.4 9,690 4.5 41,052 19.1 214,672
1926 [57] 118,737 26.2 167,373 36.9 76,656 16.9 19,589 4.3 70,978 15.7 453,333
1939 [58] 215,482 27.4 343,064 43.6 118,650 15.1 31,050 3.9 79,377 10.1 787,623
1959 [59] 211,372 32.9 223,242 34.7 137,111 21.3 24,057 3.7 56,725 8.7 652,507
1970 [60] 586,052 46.3 351,090 27.7 207,464 16.4 29,716 2.3 88,193 6.9 1,262,515
1979 [61] 530,556 52.4 229,873 22.7 167,226 16.5 22,916 2.3 62,865 6.2 1,013,436
1999 [62] 1,574,252 88 119,371 6.7 378 0.02 5,164 0.3 89,689 5 1,788,854
2009 [63] 1,848,107 90.3 108,525 5.3 104 0.01 6,056 0.6 83,023 4.1 2,045,815

Ethnic groups Edit

Today the vast majority of the population of Baku are ethnic Azerbaijanis (more than 90%). The intensive growth of the population started in the middle of the 19th century when Baku was a small town with a population of about 7,000 people. The population increased again from about 13,000 in the 1860s to 112,000 in 1897 and 215,000 in 1913, making Baku the largest city in the Caucasus region. [64]

Baku has been a cosmopolitan city at certain times during its history, meaning ethnic Azerbaijanis did not constitute the majority of population. [65] In 2003 Baku additionally had 153,400 internally displaced persons and 93,400 refugees. [66] [67]

Religion Edit

The religion with the largest community of followers is Islam. The majority of the Muslims are Shia Muslims, and the Republic of Azerbaijan has the second highest Shia population percentage in the world after Iran. [69] The city's notable mosques include Juma Mosque, Bibi-Heybat Mosque, Muhammad Mosque and Taza Pir Mosque.

There are some other faiths practised among the different ethnic groups within the country. By article 48 of its Constitution, Azerbaijan is a secular state and ensures religious freedom. Religious minorities include Russian Orthodox Christians, Catholic Levantines, Georgian Orthodox Christians, Albanian-Udi Apostolic Christians, Lutherans, Ashkenazi Jews and Sufi Muslims. Baku is the seat of the Catholic Apostolic Prefecture of Azerbaijan.

Zoroastrianism, although extinct in the city as well as in the rest of the country by the present time, had a long history in Azerbaijan and the Zoroastrian New Year (Nowruz) continues to be the main holiday in the city as well as in the rest of Azerbaijan.

Baku's largest industry is petroleum, and its petroleum exports make it a large contributor to Azerbaijan's balance of payments. The existence of petroleum has been known since the 8th century. In the 10th century, the Arabian traveler, Marudee, reported that both white and black oil were being extracted naturally from Baku. [70] By the 15th century, oil for lamps was obtained from hand-dug surface wells. Commercial exploitation began in 1872, and by the beginning of the 20th century the Baku oil fields were the largest in the world. Towards the end of the 20th century much of the onshore petroleum had been exhausted, and drilling had extended into the sea offshore. By the end of the 19th century skilled workers and specialists flocked to Baku. By 1900 the city had more than 3,000 oil wells, of which 2,000 were producing oil at industrial levels. Baku ranked as one of the largest centres for the production of oil industry equipment before World War II. The World War II Battle of Stalingrad was fought to determine who would have control of Baku oil fields. Fifty years before the battle, Baku produced half of the world's oil supply. [71]

The oil economy of Baku is undergoing a resurgence, with the development of the massive Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field (Shallow water Gunashli by SOCAR, deeper areas by a consortium led by BP), development of the Shah Deniz gas field, the expansion of the Sangachal Terminal and the construction of the BTC Pipeline.

The Baku Stock Exchange is Azerbaijan's largest stock exchange, and largest in the Caucasian region by market capitalization. A relatively large number of transnational companies are headquartered in Baku. One of the more prominent institutions headquartered in Baku is the International Bank of Azerbaijan, which employs over 1,000 people. International banks with branches in Baku include HSBC, Société Générale and Credit Suisse. [72]

Tourism and shopping Edit

Baku is one of the most important tourist destinations in the Caucasus, with hotels in the city earning 7 million euros in 2009. [73] Many sizable world hotel chains have a presence in the city. Baku has many popular tourist and entertainment spots, such as the downtown Fountains Square, the One and Thousand Nights Beach, Shikhov Beach and Oil Rocks. Baku's vicinities feature Yanar Dag, an ever-blazing spot of natural gas. On 2 September 2010 with the inauguration of National Flag Square, Baku set the world record for tallest flagpole [74] [75] on 24 May 2011, the city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan set a new record with a 3 metres (9.8 feet)-higher flagpole. [76] A few years later, the Flag Pole was dismantled and the National Flag Square was closed off with fences.

Baku has several shopping malls the most famous city centre malls are Port Baku, Park Bulvar, Ganjlik Mall, Metro Park, 28 MALL, Aygun city and AF MALL. The retail areas contain shops from chain stores up to high-end boutiques.

The city is listed 48th in the 2011 list of the most expensive cities in the world conducted by the Mercer Human Resource Consulting. [77] Its Nizami Street and also the Neftchilar Avenue are among the most expensive streets in the world.

In 2007 the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, was opened. [78] Baku also has many museums such as Baku Museum of Modern Art and Azerbaijan State Museum of History, most notably featuring historical artifacts and art. Many of the city's cultural sites were celebrated in 2009 when Baku was designated an Islamic Culture Capital. [79] Baku was chosen to host the Eurovision Dance Contest 2010. It has also become the first city hosting the first European Games in 2015. [80]

Theatres Edit

Among Baku's cultural venues are Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall, Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. The main movie theatre is Azerbaijan Cinema. Festivals include Baku International Film Festival, Baku International Jazz Festival, Novruz Festival, Gül Bayramı (Flower Festival) and the National Theater Festival. [81] [82] International and local exhibitions are presented at the Baku Expo Centre.

As of 2012 [update] , the city along with Ganja and Lankaran participates in Earth Hour movement. [83] [84]

Museums Edit

Libraries Edit

Architecture Edit

Baku has wildly varying architecture, ranging from the Old City core to modern buildings and the spacious layout of Baku port. Many of the city's landmarks were built during the early 20th century, when architectural elements of the European styles were combined in eclectic style. [85] Baku has an original and unique appearance, earning it a reputation as the 'Paris of the East'. [86] Baku joined UNESCO's Network of Creative Cities as a Design City on 31 October 2019 on the occasion of World Cities' Day. [87]

Hamams Edit

There are a number of ancient hamams in Baku dating back to the 12th, 14th and 18th centuries. Hamams play a very important role in the architectural appearance of Baku. [88]

Teze Bey Hamam Edit

Teze Bey is the most popular hamam (traditional bath) in Baku. It was built in 1886 in the centre of Baku and in 2003 it was fully restored and modernised. Along with its modern amenities, Teze Bey features a swimming pool and architectural details inspired by Oriental, Russian and Finnish baths.

Gum Hamam Edit

Gum Hamam was discovered during archaeological excavations underneath the sand hence the name: Gum hamam (sand bath). It was built sometime during the 12th–14th centuries.

Bairamali hamam Edit

In ancient times Bairamali Hamam was called "Bey Hamam". The original structure was built sometime during the 12th–14th centuries and was reconstructed in 1881.

Agha Mikayil Hamam Edit

Agha Mikayil Hamam was constructed in the 18th century by Haji Agha Mikayil on Kichik Gala Street in the Old City (Icherisheher). It is still operating in its ancient setting. The Hamam is open to women on Mondays and Fridays and to men on the other days of the week.

Modern architecture Edit

Late modern and postmodern architecture began to appear in the early 2000s. With economic development, old buildings such as Atlant House were razed to make way for new ones. Buildings with all-glass shells have appeared around the city, the most prominent examples being the International Mugham Center, Azerbaijan Tower, Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Flame Towers, Baku Crystal Hall, Baku White City, SOCAR Tower and DENIZ Mall. These projects also caught the attention of international media as notable programmes such as Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering did pieces focusing in on changes to the city. [89]

The Old City of Baku, also known as the Walled City of Baku, refers to the ancient Baku settlement. Most of the walls and towers, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survived. This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings: the cobbled streets past the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, two caravansaries, the baths and the Juma Mosque (which used to house the Azerbaijan National Carpet and Arts Museum but is now a mosque again). The old town core also has dozens of small mosques, often without any particular sign to distinguish them as such.

In 2003, UNESCO placed the Inner City on the List of World Heritage in Danger, citing damage from a November 2000 earthquake, poor conservation as well as "dubious" restoration efforts. [90] In 2009 the Inner City was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. [91]

Visual arts Edit

The three main institutions for exhibiting modern and contemporary art in Baku are:

Music and media Edit

The music scene in Baku can be traced back to ancient times and villages of Baku, generally revered as the fountainhead of meykhana and mugham in the Azerbaijan. [93] [94]

In recent years, the success of Azerbaijani performers such as AySel, Farid Mammadov, Sabina Babayeva, Safura and Elnur Hüseynov in the Eurovision Song Contest has boosted the profile of Baku's music scene, prompting international attention. Following the victory of Azerbaijan's representative Eldar & Nigar at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011, Baku hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. [95] [96]

2005 was a landmark in the development of Azerbaijani jazz in the city. It has been home to legendary jazz musicians like Vagif Mustafazadeh, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, Rafig Babayev and Rain Sultanov. [97] [98] Among Baku's prominent annual fairs and festivals is Baku International Jazz Festival, which features some of the world's most identifiable jazz names. [99] [100]

Baku also has a thriving International Centre of Mugham, which is located in Baku Boulevard, Gulustan Palace and Buta Palace, one of the principal performing arts centres and music venues in the city. [101]

The majority of Azerbaijan's media companies (including television, newspaper and radio, such as, Azad Azerbaijan TV, Ictimai TV, Lider TV and Region TV) are headquartered in Baku. The films The World Is Not Enough and The Diamond Arm are set in the city, while Amphibian Man includes several scenes filmed in Old City.

The city's radio stations include: Ictimai Radio, Radio Antenn, Burc FM, Avto FM, ASAN Radio and Lider FM Jazz

Some of Baku's newspapers include the daily Azadliq, Zaman (The Time), Bakinskiy Rabochiy (Baku Worker), Echo and the English-language Baku Today.

Baku is also featured in the video game Battlefield 4. [102]

Nightlife Edit

Many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. Clubs with an eastern flavour provide special treats from the cuisine of Azerbaijan along with local music. Western-style clubs target younger, more energetic crowds. [103] Most of the public houses and bars are located near Fountains Square and are usually open until the early hours of the morning.

Baku is home to restaurants catering to every cuisine and occasion. Restaurants range from luxurious and expensive to ordinary and affordable. [104]

In the Lonely Planet "1000 Ultimate Experiences", Baku placed 8th among the top 10 party cities in the world. [11] [105]

Parks and gardens Edit

Baku has large sections of greenery either preserved by the National Government or designated as green zones. The city, however, continues to lack a green belt development as economic activity pours into the capital, resulting in massive housing projects along the suburbs. [106]

Baku Boulevard is a pedestrian promenade that runs parallel to Baku's seafront. The boulevard contains an amusement park, yacht club, musical fountain, statues and monuments. The park is popular with dog-walkers and joggers and is convenient for tourists. It is adjacent to the newly built International Centre of Mugham and the musical fountain.

Other parks and gardens include Heydar Aliyev Park, Samad Vurgun Park, Narimanov Park, Alley of Honor and the Fountains Square. The Martyrs' Lane, formerly the Kirov Park, is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and also to the 137 people killed on Black January.

Sports Edit

Baku hosts a Formula One race on the Baku City Circuit. The first was the 2016 European Grand Prix, with the track going around the old city. The track measures 6.003 km (3.735 mi), and it has been on the Formula One calendar since its 2016 debut.

The city will also host three group games and one quarter-final of the UEFA Euro 2020 European Football Championship. [107]

Since 2002, Baku has hosted 36 major sporting events and selected to host the 2015 European Games. [108] Baku is also to host the fourth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017.

Baku is also one of world's leading chess centres, having produced famous grandmasters like Teimour Radjabov, Vugar Gashimov, Garry Kasparov, Shahriyar Mammadyarov and Rauf Mammadov, as well as the arbiter Faik Hasanov. The city also annually hosts the international tournaments such as Baku Chess Grand Prix, President's Cup, Baku Open and bidding to host 42nd Chess Olympiad in 2014. [109] [110]

The Synergy Baku Cycling Project participates in the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan a 2.2 multi-stage bicycle race on the UCI Europe Tour.

Baku made a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2020 Summer Olympics, [114] but failed to become a Candidate City both times. [115]

The largest sports hub in the city is Baku Olympic Stadium with 68,700 seating capacity whose construction was completed in 2015. UEFA Europa League Final 2019 was played at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on 29 May 2019 between English sides Chelsea and Arsenal. [116] The city's three main football clubs are Neftchi Baku, Inter Baku and Qarabağ FK of whom first has eight Premier League titles making Neftchi the most successful Azerbaijani football club. Baku also has several football clubs in the premier and regional leagues, including AZAL and Ravan in Premier League. The city's second largest stadium, Tofiq Bahramov Stadium hosts a number of domestic and international competitions and was the main sports centre of the city for a long period until the construction of Baku Olympic Stadium.

Throughout history the transport system of Baku used the now-defunct horsecars, trams and narrow gauge railways. As of 2011 [update] , 1,000 black cabs are ordered by Baku Taxi Company, and as part of a programme originally announced by the Transport Ministry of Azerbaijan, there is a plan to introduce London cabs into Baku. [117] [118] The move was part of £16 million agreement between Manganese Bronze subsidiary LTI Limited and Baku Taxi Company. [119] [120]

Local rail transport includes the Baku Funicular and the Baku Metro, a rapid-transit system notable for its art, murals, mosaics and ornate chandeliers. Baku Metro was opened in November 1967 and includes 3 lines and 25 stations at present 170 million people used Baku Metro over the past five years. [121] In 2008, the Chief of Baku Metro, Taghi Ahmadov, announced plans to construct 41 new stations over the next 17 years. These will serve the new bus complex as well as the international airport. [122] In 2019, the Baku suburban railway opened.

BakuCard is a single Smart Card for payment on all types of city transport. The intercity buses and metro use this type of card-based fare-payment system. [123] [124]

Baku Railway Station is the terminus for national and international rail links to the city. The Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway, which directly connects Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, began to be constructed in 2007 and opened in 2017. [125] The completed branch will connect Baku with Tbilisi in Georgia, and from there trains will continue to Akhalkalaki, and Kars in Turkey. [126]

Sea transport is vital for Baku, as the city is practically surrounded by the Caspian Sea to the east. Shipping services operate regularly from Baku across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) in Turkmenistan and to Bandar Anzali and Bandar Nowshar in Iran. [127] The commuter ferries, along with the high-speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz Avtobusu), also form the main connection between the city and the Absheron peninsula. [128]

Baku Port was founded in 1902 and claims to be the largest Caspian Sea port. It has six facilities: the main cargo terminal, the container terminal, the ferry terminal, the oil terminal, the passenger terminal and the port fleet terminal. The port's throughput capacity reaches 15 million tonness of liquid bulk and up to 10 million tons of dry cargoes. [129] In 2010, the Baku International Sea Trade Port is began reconstruction. The construction was planned to take place in three stages and to be completed by 2016. The estimated costs were 400 Million US$. [130] From April to November Baku Port is accessible to ships loading cargoes for direct voyages from Western European and Mediterranean ports. The State Road M-1 and the European route E60 are the two main motorway connections between Europe and Azerbaijan. The motorway network around Baku is well developed and is constantly being extended. The Heydar Aliyev International Airport is the only commercial airport serving Baku. The new Baku Cargo Terminal was officially opened in March 2005. It was constructed to be a major cargo hub in the CIS countries and is actually now one of the biggest and most technically advanced in the region. [131] There are also several smaller military airbases near Baku, such as Baku Kala Air Base, intended for private aircraft, helicopters and charters. [132]

Baku State University, the first established university in Azerbaijan was opened in 1919 by the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. In the early years of the Soviet era, Baku already had Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, Azerbaijan Medical University and Azerbaijan State Economic University. In the post-WWII period, a few more universities were established such as Azerbaijan Technical University, Azerbaijan University of Languages and the Azerbaijan Architecture and Construction University. After 1991 when Azerbaijan gained independence from the Soviet Union, the fall of communism led to the development of a number of private institutions, including Qafqaz University and Khazar University which are considered the most prestigious academic institutions. Apart from the private universities, the government established the Academy of Public Administration, the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy and various military academies. The largest universities according to the student population are Baku State University and Azerbaijan State Economic University. In addition, there are the Baku Music Academy and the Azerbaijan National Conservatoire in Baku established in the early 1920s. Publicly run kindergartens and elementary schools (years 1 through 11) are operated by local wards or municipal offices. [ citation needed ]

The Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, the main state research organisation in Azerbaijan is locating in Baku as well. Moreover, Baku has numerous libraries, many of which contain vast collections of historic documents from the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Soviet periods, as well as from other civilisations of the past. The most important libraries in terms of historic document collections include the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature, the National Library of Azerbaijan, the Mirza Alakbar Central Library, the Samad Vurgun Library and Baku Presidential Library. [ citation needed ]

Secondary schools Edit

According to the Ministry of Healthcare, healthcare facilities in Baku are "highly developed compared with the regions and doctors are waiting to work there, The regions, meanwhile, lack both doctors and clinics providing specialized medical treatment." Resulting in citizens travelling for many hours to Baku to receive adequate medical treatment. [133]

Lotfi A. Zadeh, artificial intelligence researcher, founder of fuzzy mathematics, fuzzy set theory, and fuzzy logic

Muslim Magomayev, one of the most famous singers of the USSR.

Yuli Gusman, film director and actor, founder and CEO of the Nika Award.

Other prominent residents include: Academy Award winners Rustam Ibrahimbeyov and Vladimir Menshov, and famous musicians such as Gara Garayev and Vagif Mustafazadeh. [ citation needed ]


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