/ah'zeuhr buy jahn", az'euhr buy jan"/; Russ. /u zyirdd buy jahn"/, n.
1. Also, Azerbaidzhan. Formerly, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. a republic in Transcaucasia, N of Iran and W of the Caspian Sea. 7,735,918; 33,430 sq. mi. (86,600 sq. km). Cap.: Baku.
2. a region of NW Iran, divided into two provinces in 1938: East Azerbaijan (4,114,084; Cap.: Tabriz) and West Azerbaijan (1,971,677; Cap.: Orumiyeh).

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Introduction Azerbaijan -
Background: Azerbaijan - a nation of Turkic Muslims - has been an independent republic since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Azerbaijani Nagorno- Karabakh enclave (largely Armenian populated). Azerbaijan has lost almost 20% of its territory and must support some 750,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict. Corruption is ubiquitous and the promise of widespread wealth from Azerbaijan's undeveloped petroleum resources remains largely unfulfilled. Geography Azerbaijan
Location: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 40 30 N, 47 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 86,600 sq km note: includes the exclave of Naxcivan Autonomous Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh region; the region's autonomy was abolished by Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet on 26 November 1991 water: 500 sq km land: 86,100 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maine
Land boundaries: total: 2,013 km border countries: Armenia (with Azerbaijan-proper) 566 km, Armenia (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave) 221 km, Georgia 322 km, Iran (with Azerbaijan-proper) 432 km, Iran (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave) 179 km, Russia 284 km, Turkey 9 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked); note - Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea (800 km, est.)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: dry, semiarid steppe
Terrain: large, flat Kur-Araz Ovaligi (Kura- Araks Lowland) (much of it below sea level) with Great Caucasus Mountains to the north, Qarabag Yaylasi (Karabakh Upland) in west; Baku lies on Abseron Yasaqligi (Apsheron Peninsula) that juts into Caspian Sea
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m highest point: Bazarduzu Dagi 4,485 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, nonferrous metals, alumina
Land use: arable land: 19.31% permanent crops: 3.04% other: 77.66% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 14,550 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: droughts Environment - current issues: local scientists consider the Abseron Yasaqligi (Apsheron Peninsula) (including Baku and Sumqayit) and the Caspian Sea to be the ecologically most devastated area in the world because of severe air, water, and soil pollution; soil pollution results from the use of DDT as a pesticide and also from toxic defoliants used in the production of cotton Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: both the main area of the country and the Naxcivan exclave are landlocked People Azerbaijan -
Population: 7,798,497 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.3% (male 1,122,340; female 1,082,355) 15-64 years: 64.3% (male 2,441,830; female 2,577,109) 65 years and over: 7.4% (male 228,735; female 346,128) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.38% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 18.84 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 9.61 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/ female total population: 0.95 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 82.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 63.06 years female: 67.53 years (2002 est.) male: 58.8 years
Total fertility rate: 2.29 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 500 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Azerbaijani(s) adjective: Azerbaijani
Ethnic groups: Azeri 90%, Dagestani 3.2%, Russian 2.5%, Armenian 2%, other 2.3% (1998 est.) note: almost all Armenians live in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region
Religions: Muslim 93.4%, Russian Orthodox 2.5%, Armenian Orthodox 2.3%, other 1.8% (1995 est.) note: religious affiliation is still nominal in Azerbaijan; percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower
Languages: Azerbaijani (Azeri) 89%, Russian 3%, Armenian 2%, other 6% (1995 est.)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97% male: 99% female: 96% (1989 est.) Government Azerbaijan -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Azerbaijan conventional short form: Azerbaijan local short form: none former: Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic local long form: Azarbaycan Respublikasi
Government type: republic
Capital: Baku (Baki) Administrative divisions: 59 rayons (rayonlar; rayon - singular), 11 cities* (saharlar; sahar - singular), 1 autonomous republic** (muxtar respublika); Abseron Rayonu, Agcabadi Rayonu, Agdam Rayonu, Agdas Rayonu, Agstafa Rayonu, Agsu Rayonu, Ali Bayramli Sahari*, Astara Rayonu, Baki Sahari*, Balakan Rayonu, Barda Rayonu, Beylaqan Rayonu, Bilasuvar Rayonu, Cabrayil Rayonu, Calilabad Rayonu, Daskasan Rayonu, Davaci Rayonu, Fuzuli Rayonu, Gadabay Rayonu, Ganca Sahari*, Goranboy Rayonu, Goycay Rayonu, Haciqabul Rayonu, Imisli Rayonu, Ismayilli Rayonu, Kalbacar Rayonu, Kurdamir Rayonu, Lacin Rayonu, Lankaran Rayonu, Lankaran Sahari*, Lerik Rayonu, Masalli Rayonu, Mingacevir Sahari*, Naftalan Sahari*, Naxcivan Muxtar Respublikasi**, Neftcala Rayonu, Oguz Rayonu, Qabala Rayonu, Qax Rayonu, Qazax Rayonu, Qobustan Rayonu, Quba Rayonu, Qubadli Rayonu, Qusar Rayonu, Saatli Rayonu, Sabirabad Rayonu, Saki Rayonu, Saki Sahari*, Salyan Rayonu, Samaxi Rayonu, Samkir Rayonu, Samux Rayonu, Siyazan Rayonu, Sumqayit Sahari*, Susa Rayonu, Susa Sahari*, Tartar Rayonu, Tovuz Rayonu, Ucar Rayonu, Xacmaz Rayonu, Xankandi Sahari*, Xanlar Rayonu, Xizi Rayonu, Xocali Rayonu, Xocavand Rayonu, Yardimli Rayonu, Yevlax Rayonu, Yevlax Sahari*, Zangilan Rayonu, Zaqatala Rayonu, Zardab Rayonu
Independence: 30 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaidzhan, 28 May (1918)
Constitution: adopted 12 November 1995
Legal system: based on civil law system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Heydar ALIYEV (since 18 June 1993) head of government: Prime Minister Artur RASIZADE (since 26 November 1996) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly elections: president elected by popular vote to a five-year term; election last held 11 October 1998 (next to be held NA October 2003); prime minister and first deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly election results: Heydar ALIYEV reelected president; percent of vote - Heydar ALIYEV 77.6%, Etibar MAMEDOV 11.8%, Nizami SULEYMANOV 8.2%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Milli Mejlis (125 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: last held 4 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2005) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NAP and allies 108, APF 6, CSP 3, PNIA 2, Musavat Party 2, CPA 2, APF "traditionalist" 1, Compatriot Party 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court Political parties and leaders: Azerbaijan Popular Front or APF [Ali KARIMLI, leader of "reform faction"; Mirmahmud FATTAYEV, leader of "traditionalist" faction]; Civic Solidarity Party or CSP [Sabir RUSTAMKHANLY]; Civic Union Party [Ayaz MUTALIBOV]; Communist Party of Azerbaijan or CPA [Ramiz AHMADOV]; Compatriot Party [Mais SAFARLI]; Democratic Party for Azerbaijan or DPA [Rasul QULIYEV, chairman]; Justice Party [Ilyas ISMAILOV]; Liberal Party of Azerbaijan [Lala Shvkat HACIYEVA]; Musavat [Isa GAMBAR, chairman]; New Azerbaijan Party or NAP [Heydar ALIYEV, chairman]; Party for National Independence of Azerbaijan or PNIA [Etibar MAMMADOV, chairman]; Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan or SDP [Zardust ALIZADE and Araz ALIZADE] note: opposition parties regularly factionalize and form new parties Political pressure groups and Sadval, Lezgin movement; self-
leaders: proclaimed Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic; Talysh independence movement International organization AsDB, BSEC, CCC, CE, CIS, EAPC,
participation: EBRD, ECE, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Hafiz Mir Jalal PASHAYEV chancery: 2741 34th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 FAX: [1] (202) 337-5911 telephone: [1] (202) 337-3500 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Ross
US: WILSON embassy: 83 Azadliq Avenue, Baku 370007 mailing address: American Embassy Baku, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-7050 telephone: [9] (9412) 98-03-35, 36, 37 FAX: [9] (9412) 90-66-71
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), red, and green; a crescent and eight-pointed star in white are centered in red band Economy Azerbaijan
Economy - overview: Azerbaijan's number one export is oil. Azerbaijan's oil production declined through 1997 but has registered an increase every year since. Negotiation of production- sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have thus far committed $60 billion to oilfield development, should generate the funds needed to spur future industrial development. Oil production under the first of these PSAs, with the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, began in November 1997. Azerbaijan shares all the formidable problems of the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its considerable energy resources brighten its long-term prospects. Baku has only recently begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced. An obstacle to economic progress, including stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector, is the continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is declining in importance while trade is building with Turkey and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices, the location of new pipelines in the region, and Azerbaijan's ability to manage its oil wealth.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $24.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 9.9% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,100 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 22% industry: 33% services: 45% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 64% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 2.8%
percentage share: highest 10%: 27.8% (1995) Distribution of family income - Gini 36 (1995)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 2.9 million (1997) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture and forestry 32%, industry 15%, services 53% (1997)
Unemployment rate: 20% (official rate is 1.3% for 2001) (1999 est.)
Budget: revenues: $888 million expenditures: $978 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: petroleum and natural gas, petroleum products, oilfield equipment; steel, iron ore, cement; chemicals and petrochemicals; textiles Industrial production growth rate: 5.1% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 17.6 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 91.37% hydro: 8.63% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 16.7 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 900 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 1.25 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cotton, grain, rice, grapes, fruit, vegetables, tea, tobacco; cattle, pigs, sheep, goats
Exports: $2 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: oil and gas 90%, machinery, cotton, foodstuffs
Exports - partners: Italy 43.7%, France 11.8%, Israel 7.7%, Turkey 6.0%, France 5.6% (2000)
Imports: $1.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, metals, chemicals
Imports - partners: Russia 21.3%, Turkey 11%, US 8.9%, Iran 5.8%, Germany 5.8% (2000)
Debt - external: $1.5 billion (2001) Economic aid - recipient: ODA, $113 million (1996)
Currency: Azerbaijani manat (AZM)
Currency code: AZM
Exchange rates: Azerbaijani manats per US dollar - 4,804 (11 February 2002), 4,656.58 (2001), 4,474.15 (2000), 4,120.17 (1999), 3,869 (1998), 3,985.38 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Azerbaijan - Telephones - main lines in use: 663,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 40,000 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate; requires considerable expansion and modernization; teledensity of 8.6 main lines per 100 persons is very low domestic: the majority of telephones are in Baku and other industrial centers - about 700 villages still without public telephone service; satellite service connects Baku to a modern switch in its exclave of Naxcivan international: the old Soviet system of cable and microwave is still serviceable; a satellite connection to Turkey enables Baku to reach about 200 additional countries, some of which are directly connected to Baku by satellite providers other than Turkey (1997) Radio broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 17, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios: 175,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 2 (1997)
Televisions: 170,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .az Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 12,000 (2001) Transportation Azerbaijan -
Railways: total: 2,125 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial lines broad gauge: 2,125 km 1.520-m gauge (1,278 km electrified) (1993 est.)
Highways: total: 36,700 km paved: 31,800 km (includes some all- weather gravel-surfaced roads) unpaved: 4,900 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: crude oil 1,130 km; petroleum products 630 km; natural gas 1,240 km
Ports and harbors: Baku (Baki)
Merchant marine: total: 54 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 246,051 GRT/306,756 DWT ships by type: cargo 12, petroleum tanker 40, roll on/roll off 2 (2002 est.)
Airports: 52 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 9 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 43 1,524 to 2,437 m: 7 914 to 1,523 m: 8 under 914 m: 28 (2001) Military Azerbaijan -
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 2,131,331 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 1,706,325 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching military males: 77,099 (2002 est.)
age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $121 million (FY99)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 2.6% (FY99)
GDP: Transnational Issues Azerbaijan - Disputes - international: Armenia supports ethnic Armenian secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh and militarily occupies almost one- fifth of Azerbaijan - Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continues to mediate dispute; Azerbaijan signed bilateral agreements with Russia delimiting the Caspian seabed, but littoral states are far from multilateral agreement on dividing the waters and seabed regimes - Iran insists on division of Caspian Sea into five equal sectors while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan have generally agreed upon equidistant seabed boundaries; Iran threatens to conduct oil exploration in Azerbaijani-claimed waters, while interdicting Azerbaijani activities; Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan await ICJ decision to resolve sovereignty dispute over oilfields in the Caspian Sea
Illicit drugs: limited illicit cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for CIS consumption; limited government eradication program; transshipment point for opiates via Iran, Central Asia, and Russia to Western Europe

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officially Republic of Azerbaijan

Country, Transcaucasia.

Area: 33,400 sq mi (86,600 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 8,176,000. Capital: Baku. Most residents are of Turkic origin, dating from the 11th century AD. Later migrations during the Seljūq period brought further groups, including some speaking Persian; Russians are a minority. Languages: Azerbaijani (official), Russian. Religions: Islam, minority Orthodox Christianity. Currency: manat. Azerbaijan is characterized by a variety of landscapes. More than two-fifths of its territory is lowlands, while areas above 5,000 ft (1,500 m) occupy some one-tenth of the total area. The central part of the country is a plain through which flows the Kura River and its tributaries, including the Aras, whose upper course forms part of the boundary with Iran. The Caspian Sea serves Baku as a trade outlet. Agriculture, petroleum refining, and light manufacturing are economically important. Azerbaijan is a republic with one legislative body; its head of state and government is the president, assisted by the prime minister. Azerbaijan adjoins the Iranian region of the same name, and the origin of their respective inhabitants is the same. By the 9th century AD it had come under Turkish influence, and in ensuing centuries it was fought over by Arabs, Mongols, Turks, and Iranians. Russia acquired what is now independent Azerbaijan in the early 19th century. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Azerbaijan declared its independence; it was subdued by the Red Army in 1920 and became a Soviet Socialist Republic. It declared independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991. Azerbaijan has two geographic peculiarities. The exclave Naxçivan (Nakhichevan) is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory. Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan and is administered by it, has a Christian Armenian majority. Azerbaijan and Armenia went to war over both territories in the 1990s, causing many deaths and great economic disruption. Though a cease-fire was declared in 1994, the political situation remained unresolved.

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▪ 2009

86,530 sq km (33,409 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2008 est.): 8,178,000
Head of state and government:
President Ilham Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      In 2008 the Council of Europe's Venice Commission continued discussions begun in 2006 with the Azerbaijani authorities to amend the country's election law prior to the presidential balloting scheduled for October 15. The amended legislation that was passed by the parliament on June 2, however, not only failed to meet opposition demands for parity representation on election commissions but also shortened the election campaign from four months to 75 days. Even before the amendments were passed, the opposition Freedom bloc declared that it would boycott the election in light of restrictions on the independent media and on public meetings. The opposition New Equality Party and Eldar Namazov (of the movement In the Name of Azerbaijan) said in August that they would not participate in the elections. In early September, Freedom, the New Equality Party, and In the Name of Azerbaijan formed a Center for Opposition Cooperation.

      Only 7 of 21 would-be presidential candidates succeeded in registering for the ballot. Incumbent Pres. Ilham Aliyev was duly reelected for a second term, with 88.7% of the vote; Hope Party Chairman Iqbal Agazade placed second with 2.86%; and Great Creation Party chairman Fazil Gazanfaroglu came in third with 2.47%. Voter turnout was 75%. International observers registered some violations in the vote count and deplored the opposition boycott. On October 28 President Aliyev asked incumbent Prime Minister Artur Rasizade to head the new government. A factor cited in Aliyev's reelection was the booming economy. Despite falling world oil prices and Azerbaijani annual inflation that exceeded 20% for the second consecutive year, economic growth increased by 15% during the first nine months.

      The parliament failed to enact anticipated new legislation on freedom of assembly and free speech. Bowing to international pressure, however, President Aliyev pardoned five of eight jailed journalists in the last days of 2007. In October a human rights group asked him to free the three remaining journalists and release ill prisoners.

      On August 17 three people were killed in Baku following an explosion at the Abu-Bakr mosque, whose congregation included suspected Muslim radicals. On October 2 Azerbaijan's prosecutor general announced the arrest of 25 suspects who were identified as belonging to a group of militants with links to neighbouring Dagestan, a republic in southern Russia.

      Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev and Turkish Pres. Abdullah Gul visited Baku in July and September, respectively. Following visits in January and June to Armenia and Azerbaijan by Minsk Group mediators of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisyan, on November 2 signed a declaration in Moscow, together with President Medvedev, affirming their shared commitment to a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2008

86,530 sq km (33,409 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2007 est.): 8,120,000
Head of state and government:
President Ilham Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

 The political stagnation in 2006 that followed the crushing defeat of the opposition in the November 2005 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan persisted in 2007. Efforts by the opposition New Equality Party (YMP) to mobilize public protest in January against steep increases in the price of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline met with little success. Following a protracted and acrimonious dispute, the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (ADP) split in February and quit the opposition Freedom bloc. Supporters of party chairman and self-exiled former parliament speaker Rasul Guliyev founded a new party—Open Society—in April. Opposition representatives began consultations in early summer on possibly aligning behind a single candidate to challenge Pres. Ilham Aliyev in the presidential election due in October 2008, but they failed to reach any concrete agreement.

      Former health minister Ali Insanov and former economic development minister Farhad Aliyev (no relation to the president) were put on trial in February and May, respectively, following their arrest in October 2005 on suspicion of having plotted to overthrow the Azerbaijani leadership. They were charged with embezzlement and abuse of their official positions. Insanov was sentenced in April to 11 years' imprisonment. Farhad Aliyev was given a 10-year prison sentence on October 31.

      Economic growth continued, with an estimated 35% increase in GDP. Annual inflation reached 20%, however, and the consortium developing the huge Shah Deniz natural gas field in the Caspian Sea warned of a possible one-year delay in expanding output. In August a high-rise building under construction in Baku collapsed, killing 19 persons. During the recent building boom, many contractors had failed to secure official permits, and safety measures were being skirted.

      President Aliyev met in June in St. Petersburg with Armenian Pres. Robert Kocharyan to continue talks on how to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; Azerbaijani officials subsequently accused Armenia of intransigence and rejected the participation in future talks of representatives from the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. In a ballot not recognized as legal by the international community, former security service head Bako Sahakyan was elected on July 19 to succeed Arkady Ghukasyan as Nagorno-Karabakh president.

      Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin suggested on June 7 that the joint use by Russia and the U.S. of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan could obviate the need for the planned U.S. antimissile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Azerbaijani, Russian, and U.S. officials inspected the Gabala facility in early September, but no decision was made.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2007

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2006 est.): 8,474,000
Head of state and government:
President Ilham Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Embittered and demoralized by their overwhelming defeat in the November 2005 parliamentary elections, Azerbaijan's opposition parties fell victim in 2006 to infighting and internal dissent. The opposition Musavat Party quit the Azadlyq election bloc on February 9 in order to participate in the May 13 repeat elections in 10 constituencies. Its former allies, the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party and the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), boycotted. The ruling New Azerbaijan Party swept the board in the October 6 municipal elections. Tensions emerged between leading members of Musavat and the DPA. Many rank-and-file members quit the DPA to join Azerbaijan's Path, which was headed by Ilgar Gasymov. The Azerbaijan National Independence Party formally split into two rival factions. Opposition youth activist Ruslan Bashirli was sentenced on July 12 to seven years' imprisonment on charges of having conspired in 2005 with Armenian intelligence to overthrow the Azerbaijani government.

      The trial opened in July (on multiple murder and kidnapping charges) of former Interior Ministry official Hadji Mamedov, who testified that he had masterminded the March 2005 murder of opposition journalist Elmar Huseynov at the behest of former economic development minister Farhad Aliyev. Aliyev denied any role in Huseynov's killing.

      Azerbaijan registered a 34.5% increase in GDP during 2006. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil was formally inaugurated on July 13 and the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline in late December.

      Pres. Ilham Aliyev met Armenian Pres. Robert Kocharyan in February near Paris, in June in Bucharest, and in Minsk in late November, but the two failed to endorse a plan (drafted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group) for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On December 10, voters in Nagorno-Karabakh approved a new constitution in a referendum dismissed by Azerbaijan and the international community as not legally valid. President Aliyev made a state visit—his first—to the U.S. in April.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2006

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2005 est.): 8,381,000
Head of state and government:
President Ilham Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Seven opposition politicians jailed in November 2004 for violent protests following the October 2003 presidential election in Azerbaijan were pardoned and released in March 2005. Opposition parties aligned in two blocs to participate in the November 6 parliamentary elections. On March 18 the opposition Musavat and Democratic parties and the progressive wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party formed the Liberty Bloc, and in mid-April Eldar Namazov, a former adviser to the late president Heydar Aliyev, formed the New Policy, together with the Azerbaijan National Independence Party chairman, Ali Aliyev, and former president Ayaz Mutalibov. In August Ruslan Bashirli, leader of the youth organization Yeni Fikir, was arrested and charged with colluding with Armenian intelligence to provoke unrest.

      On May 11 and October 25, Pres. Ilham Aliyev issued decrees instructing local officials to ensure that the ballot was free and fair. Opposition candidates encountered few problems in registering as candidates, although some 500 of the initial 2,000 candidates later withdrew. Police resorted to violence to break up opposition rallies on September 25 and on October 1, 9, and 23.

      Former parliament speaker and parliamentary candidate Rasul Guliyev was detained in Ukraine on October 17 en route to Baku, but he was released after several days. Several senior officials were subsequently arrested and charged with conspiring with Guliyev to stage a coup, including former finance minister Fikret Yusifov, Economic Development Minister Farkhad Aliyev, Health Minister Ali Insanov, and former Academy of Sciences president Eldar Salayev. Salayev, 73, was released on bail on November 16.

      Opposition candidates won only 9 of the 125 seats in the parliament, and international monitoring organizations complained that the election did not meet international standards. Up to 20,000 people attended a series of protest rallies on November 9, 13, 19, and 26 to demand that the results be annulled and new elections held.

 GDP grew by 25.2% during the first 11 months of the year. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Baku in April, but rumours that the U.S. would establish a military base in Azerbaijan proved premature. An anticipated official visit by President Aliyev to Washington did not take place.

      The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group mediated talks held in January, April, and June between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers, at which progress was reportedly achieved on undisclosed aspects of a plan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. At a December 6 meeting, however, the two foreign ministers failed to reach agreement on a further meeting between President Aliyev and Armenian Pres. Robert Kocharian, who had met in Warsaw on May 15 and in Kazan, Russia, on August 27 to discuss that peace plan.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2005

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2004 est.): 8,343,000
Head of state and government:
President Ilham Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Despite persistent rumours of a rift within the top leadership, both veteran Prime Minister Artur Rasizade and presidential administration head Ramiz Mekhtiyev retained their posts in 2004. In September the weakened and demoralized opposition rejected an invitation from Pres. Ilham Aliyev to seek national reconciliation through dialogue. Opposition candidates fared poorly in local elections on December 17 that were marred by allegations of fraud. Aliyev dismissed Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev on April 2, naming Elmar Mammadyarov to succeed him, and on July 23 National Security Minister Namik Abbasov was replaced by Interior Ministry official Eldar Mahmudov.

      Under pressure from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, President Aliyev pardoned 129 prisoners in March, 363 in May, and 264 more in September, including Alikram Gumbatov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for having declared a secessionist republic on the border with Iran in 1993.

      The trial began on May 7 of seven prominent opposition figures accused of having instigated the violent clashes in Baku on October 15–16, 2003, between police and opposition supporters protesting the perceived falsification of the October 15 presidential election. They were sentenced on October 22 to between two and a half and five years' imprisonment.

      Azerbaijan's GDP grew by 10.6% during the first six months of 2004, but inflation also rose to 5.5%. The government's failure to enact key reforms impelled the IMF to withhold a loan tranche to have been released in April, but in November the government yielded to IMF pressure and raised domestic oil and gas prices.

      During four meetings held between April and August, Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan agreed on a proposed basis for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Aliyev and Armenian Pres. Robert Kocharyan discussed, but failed to endorse, that framework in September.

      Azerbaijan's relations with NATO proved problematic. In January three Armenian officers were denied visas to attend a planning conference in Baku for NATO-sponsored maneuvers scheduled for September, which NATO subsequently canceled when Armenian officers were denied visas to attend. Six members of the Karabakh Liberation Organization who staged a violent protest in June against the planned Armenian participation were sentenced in August to between three and five years' imprisonment; those sentences were suspended in September. In June Azerbaijan was formally included in the EU's European Neighbourhood Policy.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2004

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2003 est.): 8,235,000
Head of state and government:
Presidents Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade (Ilham Aliyev served as prime minister August 4–6 before Rasizade returned in an acting capacity), and, from October 31, Ilham Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Rasizade (acting until November 4)

      The long-awaited transition of power from Pres. Heydar Aliyev to his son, Ilham, took place in 2003. The elder Aliyev collapsed twice during a televised speech on April 21 and underwent medical treatment in Turkey May 3–11. He was again hospitalized in Turkey on July 8 and was then flown on August 6 to the U.S. for further treatment. He died on December 12. (See Obituaries (Aliyev, Heydar ).) On August 4 he appointed Ilham prime minister.

      Both Heydar and Ilham Aliyev were among the 12 candidates, of a total of 29 applicants, who succeeded in registering to contest the October 15 presidential elections. For several months leaders of the four main opposition parties discussed fielding a single opposition presidential candidate but finally failed to agree on anyone. Heydar Aliyev withdrew his candidacy on October 2, calling on the citizens to vote for his son.

      The election campaign was marred by police violence against opposition supporters. International observers registered widespread fraud during the October 15 ballot, which they and the U.S. government described as having fallen short of democratic standards. Supporters of opposition candidate and Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar clashed with police late on October 15 and again on October 16 after it was announced that Aliyev had won the ballot with 79% of the vote. Hundreds of demonstrators and journalists were arrested, together with numerous local election officials who refused to endorse fraudulent election returns. Musavat and several other opposition parties refused to accept the final results, which gave Aliyev 77% of the vote and Gambar 14%.

      Azerbaijan's GDP grew by 10.1% during the first seven months of 2003. In November the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development each pledged a $250-million loan toward the cost of the strategic Baku-Ceyhan oil-export pipeline. In March, Pres. Heydar Aliyev said that Azerbaijan hoped to join NATO, but on October 19 the younger Aliyev dismissed as premature any speculation that Azerbaijan would host a NATO military base. Officials of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe tasked with mediating a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict visited Baku and the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on December 5-6 but failed to present a new peace plan.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2003

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2002 est.): 8,176,000
Head of state and government:
President Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Pres. Heydar Aliyev's four-week hospitalization in the U.S. in February 2002 for prostate surgery fueled speculation that failing health would ultimately compel him to abandon his stated intention of seeking a third presidential term in 2003. In July Aliyev announced a nationwide referendum for August 24 on sweeping constitutional changes apparently intended to facilitate the election of his son Ilham to succeed him. Opposition parties staged a series of demonstrations in the spring and summer, some of them brutally dispersed by police, to demand Aliyev's resignation. The parties joined forces to monitor the August referendum, however. They registered widespread procedural violations that officials of the U.S., the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) condemned, and they called for the annulment of the official referendum results, according to which 88% of the electorate participated and overwhelmingly endorsed the proposed changes.

      Popular anger over unemployment and the lack of basic facilities triggered protests in the village of Nardaran in January–February and again in early June, when one resident was killed in clashes with police. Similar protests disrupted Aliyev's visit to Gyandja in September. Also in September 2,000 military cadets staged a protest against mediocre instruction and conditions of service.

      Bowing to Council of Europe pressure, the Azerbaijani authorities agreed to retry three prominent political prisoners. President Aliyev pardoned 43 more political prisoners in May.

      In August Azerbaijan's state oil company and seven foreign oil companies established a company to build and operate the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to export Azerbaijan's Caspian oil. Ground was broken for the project at a ceremony in Baku on September 18.

      President Aliyev visited Moscow twice, in January to sign an agreement permitting Russia to lease the Gabala radar station for 10 years and in September to agree on a delineation of the Caspian seabed. No major accords were signed, however, during his oft-postponed visit to Iran, which finally took place in May. Pope John Paul II made a brief visit to Azerbaijan in May. Despite visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan by the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen in March and late September, two rounds of talks in Prague in May and July between Armenian and Azerbaijani deputy foreign ministers, and face-to-face talks in late August between Aliyev and Armenian Pres. Robert Kocharyan, no progress was registered toward resolving the Karabakh conflict. Arkady Ghukasyan was reelected as the enclave's president on August 11 with 89% of the vote.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2002

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq-km (2,100-sq-mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq-km (1,700-sq-mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2001 est.): 8,105,000
Head of state and government:
President Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Speculation over who would succeed 78-year-old Pres. Heydar Aliyev intensified in 2001. Media reports identified presidential administration chief Ramiz Mekhtiyev as a potential rival to Ilham Aliyev, the president's son and preferred successor. The authorities continued to suppress opposition activity, evicting the Azerbaijan National Independence Party from its headquarters and either closing or bringing libel proceedings against independent and opposition media outlets. Nine participants of a hunger strike in February by war invalids demanding an increase in their pensions that degenerated into fighting with police were tried and sentenced to up to six years' imprisonment. New restrictions were imposed on all religious organizations and communities. In late December President Aliyev proposed measures to loosen constraints on the media.

      Four international consortia engaged in oil extraction in Azerbaijan's sector of the Caspian Sea reported that trial wells failed to yield hydrocarbons. Disagreements over transit tariffs delayed the planned signing of an agreement with Georgia on the export of natural gas to Turkey from late July to late September. Cooperation in the Caspian with international oil companies was called into question in July after Iranian military aircraft and gunboats threatened a prospecting vessel leased to British Petroleum, which promptly suspended operations. A long-proposed visit by President Aliyev to Iran was postponed yet again. Also postponed until early in 2002 was a visit by Aliyev to Moscow during which an agreement allowing Russia to continue leasing the Gabala radar facility was expected to be signed.

      The unauthorized publication in February of confidential Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe proposals for resolving the conflict over Azerbaijan's Armenian-populated breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region triggered widespread demands for a military campaign to reconquer the region. Talks between Pres. Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharyan, in Paris in March and in Florida in early April were billed as heralding a formal agreement ending the conflict, but Aliyev subsequently denied that any agreement in principle had been reached. In January Azerbaijan was admitted to full membership of the Council of Europe.

      As of August 1, Azerbaijan gave up the Cyrillic alphabet and adopted Latin letters (in a variant similar to Turkish) for the national language, Azeri. The changeover caused substantial confusion, especially because of a lack of computer fonts and keyboards.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2001

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq km (2,100-sq mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq km (1,700-sq mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(2000 est.): 8,051,000
Head of state and government:
President Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Politics in Azerbaijan in 2000 centred on the November 5 parliamentary elections. Talks in the spring between the government, opposition parties, and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) resulted in amendments that rendered the draft election legislation more democratic but preserved the authorities' control over electoral commissions at all levels.

      The opposition showed less cohesion than it had during the presidential election campaign of 1998. Former president Abulfaz Elchibey's death of cancer in August (see Obituaries (Elchibey, Abulfaz )) precipitated the split of his Azerbaijan Popular Front Party into two factions, and differences between them led to the collapse in October of the 10-party opposition Democratic Congress.

      An abortive aircraft hijacking in August served as the pretext for the arrest of Rauf Arifoglu, editor of the opposition Musavat party's newspaper; he was released on bail six weeks later. Musavat and seven other opposition parties were initially refused registration to contend the parliamentary ballot, but in early October, under pressure from the U.S. government, Pres. Heydar Aliyev ordered that ban lifted. The poll was nonetheless marred by numerous violations, and candidates from the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party or independents loyal to the authorities won over 100 of the 125 mandates. Contrary to expectations, however, President Aliyev's son Ilham was not elected speaker of the new legislature. Almost all opposition candidates who won election decided to boycott the new legislature, and the opposition convened demonstrations in Baku and several other cities on November 18 to protest the falsification and demand repeat elections.The Council of Europe would review its June decision to accept Azerbaijan into full membership after repeat elections were held in 11 constituencies on Jan. 7, 2001.

      Neither five meetings between Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharyan, nor continuing mediation by the OSCE's Minsk Group yielded progress toward resolving the Karabakh conflict. The unrecognized enclave's president, Arkady Gukasyan, was severely injured in an assassination attempt in March. Throughout the year Azerbaijan repeatedly signaled its desire to improve relations with Moscow, agreeing to increase the amount of Azerbaijani oil exported via Russia.

      The failing health of 77-year-old Pres. Heydar Aliyev, who underwent cataract surgery in the U.S. in February and whose return to an American clinic in September provoked rumours of his death, remained a concern.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 2000

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq km (2,100-sq mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq km (1,700-sq mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh
(1999 est.): 7,650,000
Head of state and government:
President Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Political developments in Azerbaijan in 1999 were overshadowed by concern over the failing health of 76-year-old Pres. Heydar Aliyev. Aliyev was hospitalized for two weeks in Turkey in mid-January with acute bronchitis, and in late April he underwent heart bypass surgery in the United States. Afterward he set about trying to ensure the succession as president of his son Ilkham, who was vice president of Azerbaijan's state oil company. Plagued by internal dissent and charges of corruption, the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party failed to reach consensus on an alternative candidate. As widely anticipated, Ilkham was elected a deputy chairman of Yeni Azerbaycan at the party's first congress in late December.

      Opposition parties won only a handful of the approximately 22,000 seats on local councils in municipal elections on December 12 that international observers said were marred by widespread procedural violations. The authorities continued selective reprisals against journalists and lawsuits against opposition politicians.

      Azerbaijan repeatedly stated its willingness to cooperate militarily with NATO, Turkey, and the U.S. This precluded an improvement of relations with Iran, including a possible visit by Aliyev. Throughout the fall Azerbaijan was subjected to repeated Russian accusations, which it rejected, that it was abetting militants in Chechnya.

      President Aliyev met six times during the year with his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharyan, for confidential talks that both said could expedite a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Aliyev's warning that such a settlement would necessitate mutual compromises met with outraged rejection from the opposition in Baku and probably precipitated the resignations in October of foreign policy adviser Vafa Guluzade and two other presidential aides.

      Azerbaijan signed three new contracts worth $10 billion with U.S. oil companies in April, but three other groups terminated their Azerbaijani operations after failing to locate oil in commercially viable quantities. In April the first Azerbaijani crude was exported to Supsa on Georgia's Black Sea coast, and in November Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey signed framework agreements on the use of the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil-export pipeline. The discovery in July of huge quantities of offshore gas threatened to jeopardize an agreement signed with Turkmenistan in March on construction of a trans-Caspian gas-export pipeline.

Elizabeth Fuller

▪ 1999

      Area: 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq km (2,100-sq mi) exclave of Nakhichevan and the 4,400-sq km (1,700-sq mi) disputed region (with Armenia) of Nagorno-Karabakh

      Population (1998 est.): 7,650,000

      Capital: Baku

      Head of state and government: President Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Political developments in 1998 revolved around the presidential election in October. Fearful lest Pres. Heydar Aliyev mobilize all available state resources to engineer his reelection for a second five-year term, some 30 political parties and organizations joined to form the Movement for Democratic Elections, with the stated objective of ensuring equally fair conditions for all candidates. Neither that organization nor the tiny opposition minority within the legislature could prevent the National Assembly from adopting election-related laws that were viewed as favouring the incumbent. In June five of the country's most influential opposition figures—former president Abulfaz Elchibey (Azerbaijan Popular Front Party), Isa Gambar (Musavat Party), Ilyas Ismailov (Democratic Party of Azerbaijan), Lala Shovket Gajiyeva (Liberal Party), and exiled former National Assembly speaker Rasul Guliyev—issued a joint statement affirming their intention to boycott rather than participate in an undemocratic election.

      Under pressure from the opposition and international organizations, Aliyev instructed the National Assembly to amend the election legislation and issued a decree abolishing media censorship, but he rejected opposition demands for broader political liberalization. The opposition then organized unsanctioned demonstrations and protest marches in Baku and other cities to demand that the election be postponed. On September 12 dozens of people were hurt in clashes between protesters and police, and dozens more were arrested.

      Aliyev ultimately defeated five rival candidates, winning 76% of the vote in an election that international monitors said did not meet international standards. Three of the defeated candidates refused to accept the outcome as valid and organized demonstrations in Baku on November 7 and 8, in which participants, demanding that the election results be annulled, again clashed with police. Twenty independent newspaper editors launched a hunger strike in November to protest official reprisals against the press.

      The forced resignation in early February of Pres. Levon Ter-Petrosyan of Armenia and the subsequent election of Robert Kocharyan, the former president of the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, as his successor delayed the resumption of the ongoing international efforts to mediate a settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, an area within Azerbaijan but with a population about 80% Armenian. Following Aliyev's reelection the mediators put forward a new peace proposal in November that provided for Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh to form a common state. Azerbaijan rejected that proposal but said it was prepared to resume talks based on the 1997 peace proposal that Nagorno-Karabakh had rejected.

      Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Kazakstan affirmed their support for routing the main export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil from Baku to Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. The largest Western oil consortium operating in Azerbaijan, however, postponed choosing between that route and an alternative to Georgia's Black Sea port of Supsa. (See Spotlight: Central Asian Oil Conflicts (Central Asian Oil Conflicts ).)


▪ 1998

      Area: 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi), including the 5,500-sq km (2,100-sq mi) exclave of Nakhichevan

      Population (1997 est.): 7,617,000 (including 326,000 in Nakhichevan)

      Capital: Baku

      Head of state and government: President Heydar Aliyev, assisted by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade

      Despite domestic political setbacks in the early spring, 1997 was in many respects a year of triumph for Azerbaijan and for Pres. Heydar Aliyev personally. In January National Security Minister Namik Abbasov announced the arrest of some 40 people who had allegedly planned a coup at the beginning of the year, and in February historian Ziya Bunyadov, a prominent member of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party and a close associate of Aliyev, was assassinated. During the summer, however, Aliyev was lionized in Washington for his "distinguished career of public service," and he presided over the signing of oil contracts worth $8 billion with three U.S.-led consortia to exploit separate Caspian Sea oil fields.

      A preliminary agreement concluded in July with two major Russian oil companies to develop the Serdar Caspian oil field was suspended after Turkmenistan protested that Serdar lay in its sector of the Caspian and threatened to contest ownership of Serdar and one other Caspian deposit in an international court. In December, however, Aliyev and Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov of Turkmenistan agreed to set up a working group to designate the division between their national sectors.

      In November the first oil to be extracted by one of the eight international consortia to begin operations in Azerbaijan began flowing northward from Baku to the Russian port of Novorossiysk. U.S. and Turkish government officials expressed their support for construction of an export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish port of Ceyhan that would minimize Azerbaijan's dependence on Moscow in shipping its oil to international markets. The Azerbaijanis also conducted intensive talks with Georgia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania about possible alternative oil-export routes.

      Mindful of his country's increased international profile, Aliyev issued a decree in September that abolished military censorship of the media; it was, however, not implemented. Leading members of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front were prevented several times during the summer from visiting former president Abulfaz Elchibey, who had fled to his native village in the exclave of Nakhichevan during a bloodless coup in July 1993. In early November, though, Elchibey was permitted to return to Baku.

      Harassment of less-prominent opposition political figures continued, as did the trials of former police officials charged with complicity in earlier failed coup attempts. Three opposition women politicians were accused of spying for Western intelligence services.

      Beginning in May the cochairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, charged with mediating a political settlement of the deadlocked Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, undertook several missions to the region in an attempt to persuade the two nations to agree to a peace plan that provided for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory and bestowed on the disputed enclave broad autonomy within Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan agreed to the proposals unconditionally, and Armenia accepted them as a basis for further talks.

      Arkady Gukasyan, the former Karabakh foreign minister who was elected president of the enclave in August, continued, however, to insist on a "package" solution to the conflict that would resolve all contentious issues within one framework document.

      This article updates Axerbaijan, history of (Azerbaijan).

▪ 1997

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Azerbaijan borders Russia on the north, the Caspian Sea on the east, Iran on the south, Armenia on the west, and Georgia on the northwest. The 5,500-sq km exclave of Nakhichevan to the southwest is separated from Azerbaijan proper by a strip of Armenia. Area (including Nakhichevan): 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 7,570,000. Cap.: Baku (Azerbaijani: Baki). Monetary unit: manat, with (Oct. 11, 1996) an official rate of 4,304 manat to U.S. $1 (6,780 manat = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Heydar Aliyev; prime ministers, Fuad Kuliyev until July 19, Artur Rasizade (acting) from July 20, and, from November 26, Rasizade.

      Pres. Heydar Aliyev's authoritarian rule showed no signs of weakening in 1996. Proposed tactical alliances between small opposition parties and a failed attempt in February by the parliamentary opposition to force a vote of no confidence in the government had no impact on policy. Delegates to a People's Convention held in April to assess the political aftereffects of the March 1995 insurrection by Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Javadov castigated the opposition as a threat to the country's sovereignty, which thereby intensified the climate of oppression.

      Political trials of persons accused of trying to overthrow or assassinate President Aliyev continued. Three senior government officials were sentenced to death in February and March for their roles in an alleged coup attempt in October 1994. Also in March, 26 former police officers were sentenced in connection with the March 1995 insurrection, and the trial of 37 more on similar charges began in October. Twenty-one people, including three former army generals, went on trial in October on charges of planning to assassinate Aliyev in July 1995.

      In July Prime Minister Fuad Kuliyev stepped down, ostensibly for health reasons, and several other ministers—with responsibility for economic affairs, privatization, and transport—were fired or cautioned for inefficiency. Artur Rasizade, named acting prime minister, was confirmed in that post in November. Parliament Speaker Rasul Guliyev resigned in September after his criticism of the government's economic policy incurred harsh censure from the parliament; an elderly academic, Murtuz Alesqerov, was chosen as his successor.

      Despite several rounds of negotiations mediated by Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, no progress was made toward a settlement of the conflict with Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The selection in November of Robert Kocharyan as president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh was condemned as potentially destabilizing by both the Azerbaijani leadership and the international community. The Lezgins, an ethnic minority whose traditional homeland straddles the Russian-Azerbaijani frontier, continued to agitate for an independent state.

      Russia's ongoing refusal to open its frontiers with Azerbaijan (closed in December 1994 when Russian troops invaded Chechnya) soured bilateral relations and contributed to economic stagnation. Relations with Iran were clouded by the arrest in April-May of five leading members of the pro-Iranian Islamic Party of Azerbaijan. In June Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a bilateral agreement on military cooperation.


      This article updates Axerbaijan, history of (Azerbaijan).

▪ 1996

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Azerbaijan borders Russia on the north, the Caspian Sea on the east, Iran on the south, Armenia on the west, and Georgia on the northwest. The 5,500-sq km exclave of Nakhichevan to the southwest is separated from Azerbaijan proper by a strip of Armenia. Area (including Nakhichevan): 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 7,525,000. Cap.: Baku (Azerbaijani: Baki). Monetary unit: manat, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 4,440 manat to U.S. $1 (7,019 manat = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Heydar Aliyev; prime minister, Fuad Guliyev.

      Azerbaijan's Pres. Heydar Aliyev maintained his hold on power in 1995 by continuing his policy of heavy-handed repression of any political unrest. Some 70 people were killed in March when a purported uprising by the head of the security police was forcibly suppressed. Procuracy officials implicated the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front and arrested some 200 people, including former interior minister Iskander Hamidov, who in September was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment for embezzlement and abuse of his official position. The March incident was subsequently offered as the rationale for the arrest in October of former foreign minister and prominent opposition leader Tofik Gasymov. In August several high-ranking military officials were accused of planning to assassinate Aliyev.

      Despite Western protests, the influential Musavat Party was banned from contesting the November 12 parliamentary elections, as were the Communist and Islamic parties. Widespread procedural violations led international observers to condemn the voting as undemocratic. Aliyev's New Azerbaijan party won a clear majority in the new 125-member parliament; the names of over half the new deputies figured on a list of the composition of the new parliament leaked to the press prior to the actual voting. Also on November 12, a new constitution increasing the powers of the president was adopted by referendum. Five young journalists jailed in October for publishing materials allegedly satirizing the president were formally pardoned by Aliyev on the eve of the elections, but censorship remained in force.

      Economic decline continued in 1995: gross domestic product for the period January-August fell by 19% and industrial output by 26.6% compared with 1994; inflation for the same period was 790%. A short-term privatization program adopted by the parliament in July was not systematically implemented.

      Hopes for an economic upswing continued to be predicated on Western investment in the oil sector. A decision reached in late 1994 to cede to Iran one-quarter of Azerbaijan's 20% stake in a multinational consortium to develop three offshore Caspian oil fields was reversed in March under pressure from the U.S. As a result of energetic Western lobbying, and to Russia's displeasure, the consortium opted in October to export the first oil from these fields through two pipelines, one through Russia and a second through Georgia. In November a second major agreement was signed with Russian, U.S., and Italian companies on joint exploitation of a fourth Caspian oil field.

      Relations with Russia remained strained for much of the year, partly as a result of Moscow's closure of the Russian-Azerbaijan frontier in December 1994, allegedly in order to preclude the clandestine transport of arms and mercenaries from Azerbaijan to Chechnya. Tensions were exacerbated in August when a senior Azerbaijani foreign policy adviser gave a talk in Washington in which he characterized Russia as the single most serious threat to Azerbaijan's independence. The coolness in relations with Iran that resulted from the Azerbaijani leadership's backtracking on the oil deal was compounded by Iranian expressions of displeasure over Azerbaijan's increased cooperation with Israel and by the article in the new constitution stipulating that Azerbaijan is a secular state.

      The cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh mediated by Russia in May 1994 remained in force, with sporadic minor exchanges of fire, throughout 1995. Virtually no progress was made, however, toward a political solution of the conflict despite seven separate rounds of talks chaired jointly by Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This updates the article Axerbaijan, history of (Azerbaijan).

▪ 1995

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Azerbaijan borders Russia on the north, the Caspian Sea on the east, Iran on the south, Armenia on the west, and Georgia on the northwest. The 5,500-sq km exclave of Nakhichevan to the southwest is separated from Azerbaijan proper by a strip of Armenia. Area (including Nakhichevan): 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 7,424,000. Cap.: Baku (Azerbaijani: Baki). Monetary unit: manat, with (Sept. 27, 1994) a free rate (from May 24) of 1,632 manat to U.S. $1 (2,595 manat = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Heydar Aliyev; prime ministers, Surat Husseynov and, from October 6 (acting), Fuad Guliyev.

      Chronic political instability forced the cancellation of a Turkic summit scheduled to take place in Baku in January and impeded progress toward democratization and economic reform. Throughout the year the Azerbaijani leadership implemented a systematic policy of repression; police intimidated journalists, detained opposition activists, raided the premises of several opposition parties, and forcibly prevented protest demonstrations. In early October Interior Ministry troops took the prosecutor-general hostage to protest the arrest of three security police officers in connection with the assassination of two close associates of Pres. Heydar Aliyev but later released him. On the following day, supporters of Prime Minister Surat Husseynov temporarily seized control of several provincial cities but were swiftly overpowered by government forces. The population of Baku took to the streets to demonstrate in support of Aliyev. Despite protestations of his innocence, Husseynov was fired and charged with treason; he later fled to Russia. Aliyev imposed a two-month state of emergency, arrested several government ministers suspected of complicity in the putsch, and purged numerous officials.

      The economic situation continued to deteriorate faster than predicted. During the first six months, the gross national product fell by 25%, industrial production by 27%, and agricultural output by 13%. Annual inflation was estimated at 880%. The parliament failed to enact legislation on privatization. Oil-sector workers went on strike in August to protest a deterioration in living conditions.

      The tension in relations with Turkey resulting from former president Abulfez Elchibey's ouster was dispelled in February when Aliyev traveled to Ankara to sign a 10-year treaty of friendship and cooperation and 15 other documents. Similar agreements were signed with Britain later that month. Azerbaijan joined NATO's Partnership for Peace in May and held talks on joining the Council of Europe.

      In February Russia brokered a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh that finally took effect in mid-May and was further extended in late July, thereby lending new impetus to the rival Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) effort to mediate a settlement of the conflict. Despite intensive diplomatic activity by both Russia and the CSCE and an appeal by Aliyev to the UN General Assembly in August, progress toward a political settlement was obstructed by Azerbaijan's refusal to condone the deployment of predominantly Russian peacekeeping troops on its territory, its insistence on the withdrawal of Karabakh Armenian forces from all occupied Azerbaijani territory (about 20% of the country), and the inability of the CSCE to persuade Western governments to provide peacekeeping troops to monitor the cease-fire.

      After protracted negotiations, in September Aliyev signed a $7.4 billion contract giving seven Western oil companies a 70% share in developing Azerbaijan's Caspian oil fields. Although Azerbaijan had earlier ceded 10% of its own 30% share to the leading Russian oil company, Lukoil, the Russian government promptly denounced the contract, arguing that any decisions on exploitation of mineral reserves had to be coordinated with all Caspian littoral states. Azerbaijan ceded a further 5% of its share to Iran in November in exchange for considerable financial and technical assistance. (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This updates the article Axerbaijan, history of (Azerbaijan).

▪ 1994

      A republic of Transcaucasia, Azerbaijan borders Russia on the north, the Caspian Sea on the east, Iran on the south, Armenia on the west, and Georgia on the northwest. The 5,500-sq km exclave of Nakhichevan to the southwest is separated from Azerbaijan proper by a strip of Armenia. Area (including Nakhichevan): 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 7,398,000. Cap.: Baku (Azerbaijani: Baky). Monetary unit: manat, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a par value of 10 Russian rubles to 1 manat (free rates of 116.50 manat = U.S. $1 and 176.50 manat = £ 1 sterling). Presidents in 1993, Abulfez Elchibey to June 24 and, acting from June 24 and official from October 10, Geidar Aliev; prime ministers, Rakhim Guseynov to January 26, Ali Masimov to April 28, Panakh Guseynov to June 7, and, from June 27, Suret Guseynov.

      High-level corruption, oppression of the political opposition, failure to counter plummeting living standards, and, above all, Armenian territorial and military gains in Nagorno-Karabakh combined to erode popular support for the leadership of pro-Turkish Pres. Abulfez Elchibey during spring 1993. Suret Guseynov, a leading army commander, was dismissed in February amid rumours he was planning a coup. In June his men deflected an attack on their headquarters by government forces and occupied Gyandzha, Azerbaijan's second city. Guseynov then demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Panakh Guseynov and parliament chairman Isa Gambarov and marched unchallenged on Baku, precipitating Elchibey's flight into internal exile. Nakhichevan parliament chairman Geidar Aliev (see BIOGRAPHIES (Aliev, Geidar )) was elected parliament chairman and then acting president. Aliev strengthened his position by holding a referendum in August in which the population overwhelmingly expressed their lack of confidence in Elchibey. In October, Aliev was elected president with 98.8% of the vote.

      In April Armenian forces occupied Kelbadzhar, effectively consolidating control of the region between the western border of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier and displacing tens of thousands of refugees. Karabakh forces later took advantage of the political turmoil in June-July to occupy Agdam. A UN Security Council resolution calling on the Armenians to withdraw from occupied territory gave new momentum to the stalled Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) negotiations on a political settlement of the conflict. Successive drafts of a timetable for demilitarization, although accepted by both the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments, were rejected by the Armenian authorities in Stepanakert. A CSCE Conference late in the year failed to break the impasse.

      Aliev distanced himself from the CSCE Karabakh mediation effort, possibly under Russian pressure, and embarked upon direct talks with the Karabakh Armenian authorities, which resulted in the signing in late July of a cease-fire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh but did not prevent a new Armenian offensive south of the enclave in August. Iran deployed troops along its border with Azerbaijan to prevent tens of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees from entering its territory and subsequently financed camps and humanitarian aid for them within Azerbaijan. In November Nagorno-Karabakh parliament chairman Karen Baburyan proposed withdrawing from occupied Azerbaijani territory south and east of Nagorno-Karabakh in return for official recognition by Azerbaijan of the enclave's independence.

      Aliev's advent to power signaled the end of Turkey's privileged relationship with Azerbaijan and a rapprochement with Russia and Iran. In early September Aliev traveled to Moscow for talks with Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin and leading government officials on political and economic cooperation. Later that month, after several postponements, the Azerbaijani National Assembly voted in favour of Azerbaijan's rejoining the Commonwealth of Independent States. A visit to Baku in October by Iranian Pres. Ali Akbar Rafsanjani likewise focused on economic cooperation, specifically in the oil sector.

      Economic decline continued; hopes for recovery in 1994 were predicated on Western investment in the oil sector. A draft agreement with eight Western companies on joint exploitation of three offshore oil fields, suspended by Aliev in June, was renegotiated on terms more favourable to Azerbaijan. (ELIZABETH FULLER)

      This updates the article Axerbaijan, history of (Azerbaijan).

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also spelled  Azerbaidzhan,  officially  Azerbaijani Republic,  Azerbaijani  Azärbayjan Respublikasi,  
Azerbaijan, flag of country of eastern Transcaucasia. Occupying an area that fringes the southern flanks of the Caucasus Mountains, it is bounded on the north by Russia, on the east by the Caspian Sea, on the south by Iran, on the west by Armenia, and on the northwest by Georgia. The exclave of Naxçıvan ( Nakhichevan) is located southwest of Azerbaijan proper, bounded by Armenia, Iran, and Turkey. Azerbaijan includes within its borders the predominantly Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which from 1988 was the focus of intense conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Its capital is the ancient city of Baku (Bakı), whose harbour is the best on the Caspian Sea.

 In addition to its variegated and often strikingly beautiful terrain, Azerbaijan offers a blend of traditions and modern development. The proud and ancient people of its remoter areas retain many distinctive folk traditions, but the lives of its inhabitants have been much influenced by accelerating modernization characterized by industrialization, the development of power resources, and the growth of the cities, in which more than half the people now live. Industry dominates the economy, and more diversified pursuits have supplemented the exploitation of oil, of which Azerbaijan was the world's leading producer at the beginning of the 20th century. Fine horses and caviar continue as some of the more distinctive traditional exports of the republic.

      Azerbaijan was an independent nation from 1918 to 1920 but was then incorporated into the Soviet Union. It became a constituent (union) republic in 1936. Azerbaijan declared sovereignty on Sept. 23, 1989, and independence Aug. 30, 1991.

The land

Relief, drainage, and soils

      As a result of its broken relief, drainage patterns, climatic differences, and sharply defined altitudinal zoning of vegetation, Azerbaijan is characterized by a wide variety of landscapes. More than two-fifths of its territory is taken up by lowlands, about half lies at 1,300 to 4,900 feet (400 to 1,500 metres), and areas above 4,900 feet occupy a little more than one-tenth of the total area.

      The highest peaks are Bazardyuzyu (Bazardüzü; 14,652 feet [4,466 metres]), Shakhdag, and Tufan, all part of the Greater Caucasus range, the crest of which forms part of Azerbaijan's northern boundary. Magnificent spurs and ridges, cut into by the deep gorges of mountain streams, make this part of Azerbaijan a region of great natural beauty. At the same time, it lies within a region characterized by a high degree of seismic activity.

      The spurs of the Lesser Caucasus, in southwestern Azerbaijan, form the second important mountain system, which includes the Shakhdag, Murovdag, and Zangezur ranges, their summits rising to nearly 13,000 feet, and also the Karabakh Upland. The large and scenic Lake Geygyol lies at an altitude of 5,138 feet.

      The southeastern part of Azerbaijan is bordered by the Talish (Talysh (Talish Mountains)) Mountains, consisting of three longitudinal ranges, with Mount Kyumyurkyoy as the highest peak (8,176 feet), and the Länkäran Lowland, along the Caspian coast. This lowland, an extension of the Kura-Aras Lowland, reaches the Iranian border near Astara.

      The Kura-Aras Lowland is named for the main river, the Kura (Kür), and its tributary the Aras (Araz). The Shirvan, Milskaya, and Mugan plains are part of this lowland and have similar soils and climate. Gray soils and saline solonchaks (aridisols) and, in higher regions, gray alkaline solonetz and chestnut soils (mollisols) prevail.

      A well-developed network of canals between the Kura (Kura River) and Aras rivers (Aras River) makes it possible to irrigate a major part of the lowland. The Upper Karabakh Canal, 107 miles (172 kilometres) long, provides a vital link between the Aras River and the Mingäçevir Reservoir on the Kura River. The reservoir has a surface area of 234 square miles and a maximum depth of 246 feet. The Upper Karabakh Canal alone irrigates more than 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) of fertile land and in addition supplies the Aras River with water during dry summer periods. The Upper Shirvan Canal, the second most important canal, is 76 miles in length and also irrigates about 250,000 acres.

      The dry subtropical climate of central and eastern Azerbaijan is characterized by a mild winter and a long (four to five months) and very hot summer, with temperatures averaging about 81° F (27° C) and maximum temperatures reaching 109° F (43° C).

      Southeastern Azerbaijan is characterized by a humid subtropical climate with the highest precipitation in the country, some 47 to 55 inches (1,200 to 1,400 millimetres) a year, most of it falling in the cold months.

      A dry continental climate, with a cold winter and a dry, hot summer, prevails in Naxçıvan at altitudes of 2,300 to 3,300 feet. Moderately warm, dry, or humid types of climate are to be found in other parts of Azerbaijan. The mountain forest zone has a moderately cold climate, while an upland tundra climate characterizes elevations of 10,000 feet and above. Frosts and heavy snowfalls make the passes at such altitudes inaccessible for three or four months of the year.

Plant and animal life
      Natural vegetation zones vary according to altitude. Steppe and semidesert conditions prevail in the lowlands and the foothills of the mountain regions. The slopes of the mountains are covered with beech, oak, and pine forests. Higher up there is a zone of alpine meadows. The Länkäran region of southern Azerbaijan has evergreen vegetation and thick beech and oak forests.

      In the lowlands the animal life includes gazelles, jackals, and hyenas as well as reptile and rodent species. The mountain regions are inhabited by Caucasian deer, roe deer, wild boar, brown bear, lynx, European bison (wisent), chamois, and leopard, though the latter is rare. Mild winters draw many birds to the Caspian coast, and nature reserves provide a resting home for flamingos, swans, pelicans, herons, egrets, sandpipers, and partridges.

Settlement patterns
      More than half of the country's population lives in urban areas. The most densely populated region is the Abşeron Peninsula, on the western coast of the Caspian Sea. Baku, Azerbaijan's largest city and the most important industrial city in Transcaucasia, is located on this peninsula, as are other industrial towns, including Sumqayıt.

      Baku is a large and attractive city situated on natural terraces running down to a gulf of the Caspian Sea. The city has a 2-mile- (3.2-kilometre-) long picturesque boulevard and many historic sites.

      Other areas of dense population occur in certain lowland and foothill regions. Gäncä is the second largest town and the main urban centre of the interior.

      The highest density of rural population is found in Länkäran and Masallı in the southeast. The Talysh, or Talishi—Iranian people who form the bulk of the local population—have preserved many of their old customs and traditions.

The people (Azerbaijan)
      Azerbaijan has a growing and youthful population. Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanis (Azerbaijani) (Azeris) make up some four-fifths of the country's population; the remaining population comprises only small concentrations of minorities—among them, Lezgians (who speak a Caucasian language (Caucasian languages)), Russians, and Armenians. Ethnic Azerbaijanis combine in themselves the dominant Turkic strain, which arrived in Azerbaijan especially during the Oghuz Seljuq migrations of the 11th century, with mixtures of older inhabitants—Iranians and others—who had lived in Transcaucasia since ancient times. At the end of the 20th century, about 13 million Azerbaijanis lived abroad, most of them in Iran.

      At the beginning of the 21st century, the population of the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxçıvan (Nakhichevan) (lying wholly within Armenia) was almost entirely ethnic Azerbaijani, whereas the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (lying wholly within Azerbaijan) was predominantly ethnic Armenian. In the Soviet era there were several disagreements regarding the status of the two territories' placement. After a number of reversals, the Soviet government provided that Naxçıvan was to be recognized as an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (A.S.S.R.) with close ties to Azerbaijan, while Karabakh was to remain within the Azerbaijan S.S.R. but with significant autonomy. In the early 1920s the region, including its mountainous zone, was confirmed as the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.

      In the late 1980s, sizable Azerbaijani and Armenian populations were driven from each other's countries as a result of ethnic conflict and disputes over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In addition, full-scale combat in the early 1990s, as well as territorial expansion by the ethnic Armenians (Armenian) within Azerbaijan, resulted in the displacement of a significant number of Azerbaijanis. Conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno-Karabakh, which persisted into the 21st century, was complicated by an official declaration of independence by the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1992 (a claim that failed to gain recognition from the international community).

      The Azerbaijani language is a member of the West Oghuz group of the southwestern (Oghuz) branch of the Turkic languages. The literary tradition dates to the 14th century. The Arabic script was used until the 20th century; the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced in 1939. In 1992 the Azerbaijani government switched from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet as its official orthography.

      Azerbaijan is predominantly a Muslim country; about three-fifths of the population are Shīʿite, and about one-fourth are Sunni (Sunnite). A very small percentage of the population are members of Russian or Armenian Orthodox churches.

The economy
      Azerbaijan is a developed industrial and agrarian country. The emphasis on heavy industry has considerably expanded two traditional industries—petroleum and natural gas—but engineering, light industry, and food production are also of growing importance.

      In the early 1990s Azerbaijan began a transition to a market economy. Prices of most goods were liberalized, and some state-owned enterprises were privatized. Land privatization, however, proceeded slowly.

      At the beginning of the 20th century Azerbaijan was the world's leading petroleum producer, and it was also the birthplace of the oil-refining industry. In 1901, for example, Azerbaijan produced 11.4 million tons of oil, more than the United States; it accounted for more than half of world production. As the 20th century progressed, however, Azerbaijan's role in oil production decreased as the industry developed in other regions of the U.S.S.R. and elsewhere in the world.

      During the 1990s exploitation of the vast oil fields under the Caspian Sea was complicated by political instability in Azerbaijan, ethnic conflict throughout the region, Russian claims on the Caspian fields, and disputes over the location of new pipelines.

      Azerbaijan has other natural resources, including natural gas, iodobromide waters, lead, zinc, iron, and copper ores, nepheline syenites utilized in the production of aluminum, common salt, and a great variety of building materials, including marl, limestone, and marble.

      Azerbaijan's agriculture developed considerably in the latter part of the 20th century. Almost half of the country's total area is suitable for agriculture, and some two-fifths of this is under cultivation.

      Grain is the leading agricultural product, with raw cotton the second most valuable crop. Favourable conditions for grapes have contributed to the development of viticulture. Most of the grape varieties grown in Azerbaijan are used for making wine, almost all of which is exported. Other crops include vegetables (particularly early varieties), fruits, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Some districts, particularly those around the cities of Şäki, Zaqatala, and Göyçay, are—as they have been traditionally—engaged in silkworm breeding.

      High commodity output is not characteristic of Azerbaijan's animal husbandry.

      Azerbaijani fisheries are of particular importance because of the sturgeon of the Caspian Sea; sturgeon roe is made into internationally renowned caviar. Sturgeon stocks are being depleted, however, as a result of pollution of Caspian waters.

      Azerbaijan has a diversified industrial base, with the leading branches of heavy industry—power, manufacturing, and chemical production—predominating. Branches of the processing industry, producing mineral fertilizers, gasoline, kerosene, herbicides, industrial oils, synthetic rubber, and plastics, have developed, and Sumqayıt has emerged as the major centre of this industry, as well as of ferrous metallurgy.

      The country's manufacturing industries have grown considerably in the late 20th century. Azerbaijan manufactures equipment for the oil and gas industry, electrical equipment of all kinds, and many appliances and instruments. This type of industry is located mostly in Baku, Gäncä, and Mingäçevir.

      Light industrial manufactures include cotton and woolen textiles, knitwear, traditional household items and souvenirs, footwear, and other consumer goods. Şäki, Xankändi, Gäncä, Mingäçevir, and Baku are the main centres of this industry. Food-processing plants are distributed fairly evenly throughout the republic.

      The development of Azerbaijan's industry created a demand for fuel and power supplies. All electricity is produced at thermoelectric power stations burning fossil fuels, which have been built throughout the country.

      Azerbaijan exports chemicals, machinery, food (particularly grapes and other fruits and vegetables), beverages, petroleum and natural gas, iron and steel, nonferrous metals, and other products; its imports include iron and steel, machinery, and food and beverages, particularly meat and milk. Azerbaijan's primary trading partners are Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Ukraine; the country also has trade links with Georgia, Belarus, Britain, and the Central Asian republics. Azerbaijan has no trade with Armenia because of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

      Few of the rivers of Azerbaijan are navigable, and most freight—including that transported out of the country—is carried by rail and truck. Considerable portions of the rail network are electrified. The principal goods carried are oil products, building materials, timber, and grain. A major railway line traverses the Kura valley and connects Baku with Tʿbilisi and Batʿumi in Georgia. Another parallels the Caspian Sea north of Baku.

      Motor transport is used extensively for both freight and passengers. Roads connect various parts of the country and are often the only means of land communication between remote mountain districts and the administrative centres and large cities.

      Baku, on the Caspian, is a busy seaport, handling such goods as oil, timber, grain, and cotton. The ferry link between Baku and Türkmenbashy (also on the Caspian, in Turkmenistan) augments considerably the amount of cargo passing through Azerbaijan. Air routes connect Baku with many European and Asian cities.

Economic regions
      The Abşeron region includes the Abşeron Peninsula and several other areas of eastern Azerbaijan. As a result of its advantageous geographic position, it is crossed by freight routes connecting Azerbaijan and the whole of Transcaucasia with the North Caucasus and Central Asia. Highways run from the peninsula to every corner of the republic.

      Although it is on the shores of the Caspian Sea, the Abşeron region nevertheless remains one of the most arid parts of Azerbaijan. Its main natural wealth is mineral, including oil, natural gas, iodobromide waters, and limestone used in building and cement production. Baku owes its modern growth to the development of the oil industry; oil derricks encircle the city, and the oil refineries and processing plants attract workers from many areas. Modern Sumqayıt, 22 miles (35 kilometres) northwest of Baku, is currently a centre of the iron and steel, nonferrous metallurgical, and chemical industries, although the development of light engineering is envisaged.

 The Länkäran region of southern Azerbaijan is well endowed by nature; warm-climate crops, such as tea, feijoa (a fruit-bearing shrub), rice, grapes, tobacco, and citrus trees, flourish there. The region also produces spring and winter vegetables. The towns of Länkäran, Astara, and Masallı are small, and local industry is mostly concerned with the processing of agricultural goods, while in the mountains the Talysh people make colourful rugs and carpets.

      The Quba-Xaçmaz region lies to the north of Abşeron. Its coastal lowlands specialize in grain and vegetable production, while vast orchards surround the towns of Quba and Qusar. The mountain slopes are used for grazing. Special breeds of sheep are raised; their skins are used in the local fur industry.

      The Shirvan region, an industrially and agriculturally developed part of Azerbaijan, is centred on the Shirvan Plain. The Mingäçevir hydroelectric station is located there. The area also has a well-developed network of roads. Industry is generally engaged in the processing of such agricultural products as cotton, grapes, and fruit. The most important vineyards lie in the vicinity of Şamaxı, a town famed for its wines, notably Matrasa and Shemakha, which are, respectively, dry red and sweet. In Kürdämir a fragrant dessert wine is produced. The best varieties of pomegranates are grown near Göyçay.

      The Mugano-Salyan region, lying south of the Kura River and within the boundaries of the Mili and Mugan plains, specializes in cotton growing (under irrigation), producing about seven-tenths of the gross cotton output of Azerbaijan. Cotton-ginning plants are located in Bärdä, Salyan, and Äli-Bayramlı, all of which, in addition to being on the Kura River, have the advantage of being located on railways and motor roads. A thermal power station stands near Äli-Bayramlı.

      The southwestern region includes Nagorno-Karabakh and the Laçin, Füzuli, and Qubadlı administrative districts. Because the average altitude is 4,900 feet, it is one of the areas in the country where broken relief impedes the development of transport, industry, and agriculture. Agricultural production is concentrated in the mountain valleys. Animal husbandry constitutes a large percentage of the gross agricultural output, the leading branches being sheep and pig raising. Grapes, tobacco, and grain are the main crops; wine-making, silk-making, and electrical engineering are the main industries.

      The Gäncä-Qazax region is situated in the centre of Transcaucasia near the junction of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. The region has conditions favourable both for human life and for intensive agriculture. Trade routes have crossed this part of Azerbaijan from time immemorial, and the ancient town of Ganja (Gäncä) was founded here. It is an industrial centre, with food, engineering, chemical, and nonferrous metallurgical industries. Naftalan is a health resort.

      The Şäki-Zaqatala region includes the towns of Şäki, Zaqatala, and Balakän. Its territory borders the Greater Caucasus range, which shelters it from cold northern winds. The numerous mountain rivers provide ample supplies of water, and the region is densely populated. Agricultural products include tobacco, aromatic plants (mint, basil, and roses), rice, corn (maize), and various fruits. The area is also a major producer of hazelnuts and walnuts.

      The Naxçıvan region is a typical semidesert, although irrigation has made it possible to cultivate grapes, cotton, and grain. There are several sources of mineral water in the foothill areas.

Administration and social conditions

      Azerbaijan has not adopted a new constitution to replace its 1978 Soviet-era constitution, although this document has been revised or superseded by the 1991 Act of Independence and by presidential and parliamentary decree. The head of state is a directly elected president, whose authority was expanded in 1993. The 450-member Supreme Soviet was abolished in 1992 and replaced with a 50-member National Assembly (Milli Majlis). Azerbaijan experienced political instability after independence: its first two elected presidents were deposed, partly as a result of popular protests over Azerbaijan's military failures in Nagorno-Karabakh.

      Major political parties include the pro-Turkish, nationalist Azerbaijan Popular Front, the Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party of Azerbaijan (banned in 1991 but relegalized in 1993), the Muslim Democratic Party, and the Azerbaijani Movement for Democratic Reforms.

      In 1992 Azerbaijan joined the United Nations, and in 1993 it formally became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Armed forces and security
      Azerbaijan formed a national military in 1991, including an army (consisting partly of personnel and matériel from the Soviet 4th Army), navy, and air force. Russian forces completed their withdrawal from Azerbaijan in 1993. Azerbaijan's navy serves under the command of the CIS. A conscription law requires at least 17 months of service from adult males. The conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh dominated Azerbaijani military planning during the 1990s.

      The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is responsible for internal security and general police work, was reorganized in 1993. Crime rates in Azerbaijan rose during the 1990s, exacerbated by the social dislocation that accompanied the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

      Education at all levels is supported by taxes levied upon working people and firms and is available without tuition charge. The country has had obligatory eight-year education since 1959. In the Soviet period illiteracy was virtually eradicated, and a network of institutes of higher education, research centres, and similar bodies was established.

      The Azerbaijan State University (founded 1919), located in Baku, has 12 faculties; it offers evening and correspondence courses. The Azerbaijan Polytechnic Institute (founded 1950) is also in Baku. The Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences (founded 1945) coordinates the activities of research centres, including institutes of cybernetics, physics, theoretical problems of chemical technology, petrochemical processes, and genetics.

Health and welfare
      Azerbaijan has a well-established health service with some specialized clinics and medical research institutes. Medical services, provided free to patients, are supported by general taxation on individual workers and by taxes on income of factories and other firms. Even so, levels of social and cultural benefits are comparatively low.

Cultural life
      In the course of its long history, Azerbaijan has given the world a number of outstanding thinkers, poets, and scientists. Among the medieval scientists and philosophers, Abul Hasan Bakhmanyar (11th century), the author of numerous works on mathematics and philosophy, and Abul Hasan Shirvani (11th–12th centuries), the author of Astronomy, may be noted. The poet and philosopher Nẹzāmī, called Ganjavī after his place of birth, Ganja, was the author of Khamseh (“The Quintuplet”), composed of five romantic poems, including “The Treasure of Mysteries,” “Khosrow and Shīrīn,” and “Leyli and Mejnūn.”

      The people of Azerbaijan have retained their ancient musical tradition. For example, the art of ashugs, who improvise songs to their own accompaniment on a stringed instrument called a kobuz, remains extremely popular. Mugams, vocal and instrumental compositions, are also widely known, the town of Shusha being particularly renowned for this art.

      Azerbaijan's cultural institutions, including museums, theatres, and public libraries, are located in Baku. Many of them were established after World War II. The city has museums devoted to the art, history, and literature of Azerbaijan. In Nagorno-Karabakh there is a museum with material on the history and archaeology of the Armenian people of the region.

      The opera and ballet are widely attended. Some of Azerbaijan's composers, notably Uzeir Hajjibekov (the operas Ker-Ogly and Leyli and Mejnūn and the operetta Arshin Mal ʾAlan) and Kara Karayev (the ballets Seven Beauties and The Path of Thunder), have international reputations. The latter's symphonic music is also well known abroad.

      Throughout the Soviet period Azerbaijani literature was controlled by a system that saw mortal danger in even a modicum of creative freedom. Azerbaijani writers and other intellectuals were closely supervised and subjected to varying degrees of persecution.

      Azerbaijan has no private publishing; several government firms publish scientific books and magazines as well as books and magazines about art and literature in Azerbaijani, Russian, and other languages. In 1992 the Azerbaijani government switched from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet.

      The magazines Literaturny Azerbaydzhan (in Russian), Azerbaijan Gadïnï (“Azerbaijan Woman,” in Azerbaijani), and Azerbaydzhanskoye neftyanoye khozyaystvo (“Azerbaijan Petroleum Economy,” in Russian) have the highest circulation.

      Baku has several radio stations, a television studio, and a film studio.

Evgeny Dmitrievich Silaev Edward Allworth G. Melvyn Howe

      In ancient and early medieval times, eastern Transcaucasia was populated by Iranian speakers, nomadic Turkic tribes, Kurds, and the Caucasian Albanians, who converted to Christianity in the 4th century and came under the cultural influence of the Armenians. After Arab incursions in the 7th century, Islamic polities were established under local rulers called shāhanshāhs. The Seljuq invasions in the 11th century changed the composition of the local population and resulted in the linguistic dominance of Oghuz Turkic languages. But, unlike the Ottoman Turks who came to dominate Anatolia, the Caucasian Muslims (Islāmic world) of Azerbaijan in the early 16th century became Shīʿite, rather than Sunni, Muslims, and they continued to develop under Persian social and cultural influence. Persian-ruled khanates in Shirvan (Şamaxı), Baku, Ganja (Gäncä), Karabakh, and Yerevan dominated this frontier of Ṣafavid Iran.

Russian suzerainty
      After a series of wars between the Russian Empire and Iran, the treaties of Golestān (Gulistan; 1813) and Turkmenchay (Torkmānchāy; 1828) established a new border between the empires. Russia acquired Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Nakhichevan (Naxçıvan), and Yerevan. Henceforth the Azerbaijani Turks of Caucasia were separated from the majority of their linguistic and religious compatriots, who remained in Iran. Azerbaijanis on both sides of the border remained largely rural, though a small merchant class and working class appeared in the second half of the 19th century. As Baku became the major source of oil for Russia, tens of thousands of Iranian, Armenian, and Russian workers streamed to the Abşeron Peninsula in search of employment, and Russian economic and political influence could be felt in both parts of Azerbaijan. As the source of employment and the home of the nascent Azerbaijani intelligentsia and revolutionary movement, Baku radiated its influence in Iranian Azerbaijan as well as north of the Aras (Araz) River. No specifically Azerbaijani state existed before 1918, and, rather than seeing themselves as part of a continuous national tradition, like the Georgians and Armenians, the Muslims of Transcaucasia saw themselves as part of the larger Muslim world, the ummah. They were referred to as “Tatars” by the Russians; the ethnonym Azerbaijani (azarbayjanli) came into use in the prerevolutionary decades at first among urban nationalist intellectuals. Only in the Soviet period did it become the official and widely accepted name for this people.

      Incorporation into the Russian Empire provided a new outlet for educated Azerbaijanis, some of whom turned from their religious upbringing to a more secular outlook. Prominent among the early scholars and publicists who began the study of the Azerbaijani language were ʿAbbās Qolī Āghā Bāqıkhānlı (Bakikhanov), who wrote poetry as well as histories of the region, and Mīrzā Fatḥ ʿAlī Ākhūndzādeh (Akhundov), author of the first Azerbaijani plays. Though eventually these figures would be incorporated into a national narrative as predecessors of the Turkic revival, a variety of conflicting impulses stimulated early Azerbaijani intellectuals—loyalty to the tsarist empire, the continuing influence of Persian culture, and a longing for Western learning. Although no single coherent ideology or movement characterized the Azerbaijani intelligentsia, by 1905 a growing number of writers and journalists adopted the program of the nationalist intellectual ʿAlī Bay Huseynzadeh: “Turkify, Islamicize, Europeanize” (“Turklashtirmak, Islamlashtirmak, Avrupalashtirmak”).

      The town of Baku, which by 1901 produced more than half of the world's output of petroleum, was complexly segregated, with Russians and Armenians in the central part of the town and Muslims clustered in distinct districts. As social resentments festered, particularly in times of political uncertainty, ethnic and religious differences defined the battle lines; bloody clashes between Azerbaijanis and local Armenians took place in 1905 and 1918. A hierarchy of skills, education, and wages placed Muslims on the bottom and Christians at the top. By virtue of a quota on non-Christian representation and a system of suffrage based on property holdings, the Baku city duma (legislative council) remained in the hands of wealthy Armenians and Russians. Azerbaijanis remained on the fringe of the labour movement and were indifferent to or ignorant of the aspirations of both their socialist and nationalist intellectuals. None of the small parties and political groups that arose after 1905 commanded much of a following beyond the intelligentsia, though Musavat (“Equality”), founded in 1911 and led by Mehmed Emin Rasulzadeh, proved most enduring. Anxiety about the Armenian “threat,” a perception of their own distance from and hostility to this privileged element within their midst, and a feeling that Azerbaijanis were connected in important ways to other Muslims, particularly Turks, became part of an Azerbaijani sense of self.

Independent Azerbaijan
      With the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Revolution (Russian Revolution of 1917) of 1917 and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Caucasian front during World War I (1914–18), Azerbaijani leaders joined Armenians and Georgians in a brief experiment in Transcaucasian autonomy (February to April 1918). An even briefer attempt at unity in an independent federative republic of Transcaucasia (April to May) fell apart, and finally three separate independent republics were established. Azerbaijan was declared an independent state on May 28, 1918, but Baku remained in the hands of a communist government, assisted by local Armenian soldiers, who had put down a Muslim revolt in March. Allied with the advancing Turkish army, in September 1918 the Azerbaijani nationalists secured their capital, Baku, and engaged in a massacre of the Armenians.

      However, even as they secured control of Baku, the Azerbaijani nationalists were faced with a mixed population of Russian, Armenian, and Muslim workers who had undergone a long socialist and trade-unionist education. Among the peasantry on whom they depended, national consciousness was still largely absent, and the nationalists were never fully secure in Baku, where Bolshevism had deep roots. With the end of World War I, the Turks withdrew; they were replaced by the British, who remained until August 1919. The fragile republic received de facto recognition from the Allies on January 15, 1920, but when the Red Army marched into Baku in April 1920 there was little resistance.

The Soviet (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and post-Soviet periods
      The Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic lasted 71 years. It was part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic from 1922 until 1936 and, like Georgia and Armenia, it experienced considerable economic development, urbanization, and industrialization. Although education in Azerbaijan was promoted and Azerbaijanis were placed in positions of power, the republic was tightly controlled by Moscow, especially during the years of Joseph Stalin's rule (1928–53) when M.A. Bagirov headed the Azerbaijani Communist Party. Becoming a more urban, educated, and socially mobile society, Azerbaijan was divided between more traditional, underdeveloped rural areas and the cosmopolitan city of Baku. After the death of Stalin, the republic enjoyed somewhat greater autonomy, and the national political and intellectual elites flourished.

      When conflict with the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region within Azerbaijan broke out in February 1988, these elites provided the leaders both for the oppositional Azerbaijan Popular Front and for their communist opponents. Violent protests and interethnic clashes targeting both Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the late 1980s, anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait in 1988 and in Baku in 1990, as well as continual warfare between the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, led to military action by Moscow against the republic in January 1990. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union late the following year, the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh was declared; following a referendum indicating popular support for independence, as well as an election in December, the republic's independence was officially proclaimed in the first days of 1992, a move unrecognized by the international community. The full-scale conflict that exploded between the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijanis shortly thereafter was finally halted by a 1994 cease-fire, which, though periodically violated, largely managed to hold.

      The Communist Party of Azerbaijan retained its power until 1992. After the abortive coup against the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail) in Moscow in August 1991, Azerbaijan declared itself independent, and the head of the party, Ayaz Mutalibov, was elected its first president. In May 1992 the Azerbaijan Popular Front overthrew Mutalibov and forced new elections, in which its candidate, Abulfez Elchibey, emerged victorious on a platform of separating from the Commonwealth of Independent States and maintaining control over Nagorno-Karabakh. Elchibey was himself overthrown in June 1993 by Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB official and leader of the Azerbaijani Communist Party who had adopted the rhetoric of Azerbaijani nationalism.

Ronald Grigor Suny
      Over the next decade, the Aliyev government maintained control—reportedly through intimidation of the press and opposition groups and through manipulation of elections—but was unable to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, despite numerous summit meetings between Aliyev and Armenian leaders. Complicating the discussions was the 1992 declaration of independence that had been issued by the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave held periodic elections thereafter, the results of which were soundly rejected by Azerbaijan as illegal under international law. In addition, the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in the displacement of substantial populations of both Armenians and Azerbaijanis, and, by the time of the 1994 cease-fire, the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians had expanded their hold over Azerbaijani territory.

      At the beginning of the 21st century, roughly one-seventh of Azerbaijan's territory remained outside its control, and significant populations remained displaced, particularly in the case of the Azerbaijanis, many of whom also remained displaced internally. Tensions were further inflamed in the late 1990s by the appointment of a former president of Nagorno-Karabakh to the post of prime minister in Armenia; in Azerbaijan the move was largely viewed as a deliberate provocation, and talks were hampered further. Relations were also strained with Russia, which felt that the government in Azerbaijan was doing little to stop Chechen rebels from operating out of Azerbaijani territory.

      In the meantime, oil (petroleum) revenues in Azerbaijan began to soar, as new fields were discovered and new contracts were signed with Western companies for their exploitation. In 2003 the elderly Aliyev died and was succeeded by his son, Ilham, whom Aliyev had been grooming for succession. Scandalized by the apparent accession to power of a hereditary line, opposition political groups staged a series of violent protests that failed to keep the younger Aliyev from the presidency. During the course of his term, Aliyev directed income from the boom in Caspian oil in part toward developing Azerbaijani military capacity, which in 2006 was described as nearing the capability needed to challenge the forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. That same year, Nagorno-Karabakh passed a referendum approving a new constitution, and, in the year that followed, it held its fourth round of elections. Though leadership in the disputed region had hoped that such shows of democratic rule would support the territory's claim to sovereignty, neither Azerbaijan nor the remainder of the international community recognized the region's claims to independence.

      Aliyev secured reelection in the presidential vote of October 2008 amid an opposition boycott against the election's restrictive measures. International observers indicated concerns that the proceedings were not sufficiently free and fair, partly because of media restrictions and a lack of robust competition. Early in his second term, Aliyev signed an agreement with Armenian Pres. Serzh Sarkisyan that pledged to intensify the countries' efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


Additional Reading
The geography, economy, culture, and history of the region are explored in Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Country Studies (1995). The Turkic-speaking Shīʿite Muslims of Azerbaijan are discussed in Shirin Akiner, Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union, 2nd ed. (1986). A broad analysis of the social and political situation is presented in Audrey L. Altstadt, The Azerbaijani Turks: Power and Identity Under Russian Rule (1992). The incorporation of the Azerbaijani region into the Russian Empire as a result of the wars between Russia and the native peoples of the Caucasus is studied in Muriel Atkin, Russia and Iran, 1780–1828 (1980); and John F. Baddeley, The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus (1908, reprinted 1969). The prerevolutionary years are surveyed in Jeyhoun Bey Hajibeyli, “The Origins of the National Press in Azerbaijan,” The Asiatic Review, 26:757–765 (1930). Coverage of the revolutionary years is offered in Firuz Kazemzadeh, The Struggle for Transcaucasia, 1917–1921 (1951, reprinted 1981); and Richard Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917–1923, rev. ed. (1964); and the informative article by Richard G. Hovanissian, “The Armeno-Azerbaijani Conflict over Mountainous Karabagh, 1918–1919,” The Armenian Review, 24(2):3–39 (Summer 1971). Gerald J. Libaridian (ed.), The Karabagh File: Documents and Facts on the Region of Mountainous Karabagh, 1918–1988 (1988), provides documentary background to the conflict and in particular to the decision to attach the region first to Armenia and then to Azerbaijan. Ronald Grigor Suny, The Baku Commune, 1917–1918: Class and Nationality in the Russian Revolution (1972), examines the labour and nationalist movements during the first years of revolution. Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 1905–1920: The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim Community (1985), is a major study of the intellectual and social sources of national identity and nationalism, with the principal focus on the pre-Soviet period and the impact of Russian conquest on the society, economy, and culture.G. Melvyn Howe Ronald Grigor Suny

also spelled  Azarbaijan , or  Azarbayjan , Persian  Āarbāyjān,  

      geographic region that comprises the extreme northwestern portion of Iran. It is bounded on the north by the Aras River, which separates it from independent Azerbaijan and Armenia; on the east by the Iranian region of Gīlān and the Caspian Sea; on the south by the Iranian regions of Zanjān and Kordestān; and on the west by Iraq and Turkey. Azerbaijan is about 40,000 square miles (100,000 square km) in area.

      Iranian Azerbaijan was a centre of several ancient civilizations. It formed part of Urartu and later of Media. In the 4th century BC it was conquered by Alexander the Great and was named Atropatene after one of Alexander's generals, Atropates, who established a small kingdom there. The area returned to Persian (Iranian) rule under the Sāsānians in the 3rd century AD. The Arabs controlled Azerbaijan from the 7th century until Turkish nomads overran it in the 11th century. Thenceforth the inhabitants of the region were Turkish speakers. The region was overrun by the Mongols in the 13th century, and, under the ruler Hülegü, Azerbaijan became the centre of a Mongol empire extending from Syria on the west to the Oxus River (now Amu Darya) on the east. Tabrīz, the region's largest city, was the capital of this empire and became a centre of cultural and commercial life.

      Tabrīz was subsequently the capital of the Turkman dynasties of the Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu (1378–1502). In the early 16th century Azerbaijan was the cradle of the Ṣafavid dynasty, and subsequently the area was fought over by the Ottoman Turks and the Iranians until Nādir Shāh expelled the Turks in the 1740s. During the 18th century the Russians gradually encroached on the area, but the Iranians managed to retain control.

      In the early 20th century Azerbaijan was the cradle of the revolutionary movement that gave Iran its constitution in 1906. The area was briefly occupied by the Turks in World War I and was held by the Soviet Union during World War II. In 1945 the Soviets set up the short-lived Kurdish Republic in western Azerbaijan and the communist-dominated Sovereign Republic of Azerbaijan in western Azerbaijan, but Iranian forces regained control of the region in 1946–47 once the Soviet armed forces had withdrawn back across their border.

      Iranian Azerbaijan is composed of high plateaus with elevations from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 m) and lower-lying depressions averaging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet (900 to 1,500 m) in elevation. The eastern part of the Zagros Mountains run north-south through Azerbaijan, and the overall effect is of a stair-step topography, with fault scarps defining a number of basins and lowland depressions. Large volcanic cones, such as Sabalān (15,787 feet [4,812 m]) and Sahand (12,172 feet [3,710 m]), dot the high plateau, and the region is subject to earthquakes.

      Rainfall is relatively heavy over much of the plateau, and perennial streams have cut gorgelike valleys in places. The average annual precipitation varies from 12 to 35 inches (300 to 900 mm). Azerbaijan is thus one of the few regions in Iran that receives enough rainfall to permit farming without the use of irrigation. The major rivers are the Aras in the north, with its tributary, the Qareh Sū; the Qezel Owzan in the east, with its tributaries, the Qarānqū and Aidughmish; and the Zarrīneh (Jaghātū). The climate is extreme, with hot, dry summers alternating with cold, snowy winters. In western Azerbaijan is Lake Urmia (Urmia, Lake), a shallow, highly saline lake that covers anywhere from 1,750 to 2,300 square miles (4,500 to 6,000 square km), depending on the season.

      The population consists mainly of Azeri-speaking Turks who use an Arabic script and are Shīʿite Muslims. There are also some Kurds and Armenians. The Kurds are Sunnites, and the Armenians are Christians. Agriculture is the principal occupation of the people. The most fertile agricultural lands are around Lake Urmia. Crops include barley, wheat, rice, indigo plants, potatoes, sugar beets, walnuts, almonds, fruits, and vegetables. Sheep and goats are also raised. Industries, concentrated mainly in Tabrīz, produce tractors, factory machinery, cement, textiles, electrical equipment and tools, animal fodder, turbines, motorcycles, clocks and watches, processed foods, and agricultural implements. Elsewhere in the region are sugar mills, textile mills, and food-processing plants. Coarse carpets and rugs are woven, and metalware is produced on a small scale. Copper, arsenic, kaolin, coal, salt, lead, and building stone are mined. A network of roads links the region's main cities, including Tabrīz, Orūmīyeh, Ardabīl, Mahābād, and Marāgheh, with each other, and an oil pipeline runs from Tabrīz to Tehrān.

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Universalium. 2010.

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