Azerbaijan - Facts and Factoids
- Azerbaijan is bounded by the Caspian Sea, to the east; and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north. Indeed, 40% of the country is mountainous, but there are extensive plains at the country's centre.
- The name Azerbaijan is thought to come from the Persian, meaning Land of Fire. It's an apt name. The first known fireplace in human history, ( 700,000 to 500,000 years old), was discovered here, in the Azikh Cave. They’ve been leftover from the nation’s Zoroastrian days when fire worship was common. In addition, Azerbaijan is known for its combustible natural resources, oil and gas. Gases at the bottom of volcanoes like Yanur Dag have burned for many years.
- Azerbaijan is home to half of the world’s population of mud volcanoes, over 400 in fact.
- The national animal of Azerbaijan is the Karabakh Horse. They have been bred for many hundreds of years, but are now threatened with extinction as Azeris like to eat horse meat.
A Brief History of Azerbaijan
- Azerbaijan came into being as an independent country in 1918 after the collapse of the Russian empire. before that the peoples of this region were known as Caucasian Turks.
- It was a short lived existence. The Soviet Union invaded in 1920 and Azerbaijan was part of the USSR, until the country declared independence in 1991.
- Previously, the area now known as Azerbaijan was conquered by the Arabs in 642 AD. who converted the people to Islam.
- After several hundred years, the Arab empire fell and the Mongols invaded.
- Azerbaijan had a strategic location because of its ports on the Caspian Sea and the trade routes between Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. As a result, it was fought over by major empires including the Ottomans, Russia, and the Persians. The area ended up under Persian rule, but in 1828, the Russians and the Persians agreed to divide the area up between them.
What to See in Azerbaijan?
The mountains are stunning, there're the volcanoes (and fire) and some ancient history thrown in. Hop across to Nakchivan, a landlocked exclave.