Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, located in the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, have been border neighbors for centuries. The region is part of the ancient Silk Road trade route and is a strategically important area coveted by countless conquerors over time. Many things unite, but many also distinguish these three Caucasus countries. All three became independent in 1991 after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Since ancient times, Azerbaijan has been called the land of fire – first because of the ancient Zarathustralian religion and its fire temples, but today because of the natural gas flames on the Apsheron Peninsula. Gas and oil are still the backbone of the country’s economy. Additional income comes from, among other things, caviar produced by the Caspian sturgeon. The prosperity of the best-luck Baku on the Azerbaijani peninsula is reflected in new futuristic construction; a good example of this is Flame Towers ’triple skyscraper. In the old town, protected by UNESCO, narrow alleys meander in the midst of oriental caravan rallies and mosques. Interesting contrasts to modern Baku can be found in the thousands of years old petroglyphs of Gobustan National Park and the three hundred years old palaces and fortresses of the Shekan Canal.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of AZ in general and in geography as Azerbaijan in particular.
Azerbaijan. At the beginning of the year, several casualties were claimed in fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the Armenian outbreak republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev explained that his regime was prepared to take the area back by force.
In March, a 16-year economic conflict was resolved when Azerbaijan agreed to pay large debts to Turkmenistan for old gas supplies. The settlement was considered to remove an obstacle to the planned Transcaspic gas pipeline from Turkmenistan via Azerbaijan to Central Europe.
Figures during the year showed that Azerbaijan’s economy grew by a record high of 25.4 percent in 2007. Growth came primarily from the oil industry, while it was minus figures in agriculture that employ close to 40 percent of the population. Rural health care was substandard while large parts of Azerbaijan’s energy income went to road construction and military purposes.
Azerbaijan’s new oil wealth has made the regime less susceptible to pressure based on democratization, according to human rights groups. “If anyone wants to stain Azerbaijan’s perfect image, we will fight those forces,” President Aliyev explained in his annual speech to the Baku diplomatic corps.
Harassment against government-critical media continued. A journalist was beaten by security officers while working on an article about corruption. A man alleged to be the journalist’s former gay lover was sentenced for the act in what human rights groups saw as slander and attempts to blacken the reporter in the public eye.
The war between neighboring Russia and Georgia in August caused a temporary halt in Azerbaijan’s oil exports via Georgia. The public in Azerbaijan supported Georgia in the war, but the Azerbaijani regime kept a low profile so as not to provoke Russia.
In October, President Ilham Aliyev was re-elected with 88.37 percent of the vote, according to the official election results. None of the other six candidates were reported to have received more than 3 percent of the vote. But the elections were not conducted in accordance with democratic principles, the European Security and Cooperation Organization (OSCE) explained.
Azerbaijan is located in the subtropical zone. The climate shows significant differences due to the relief. In the lowlands there is a semi-desert and steppe climate, whereas in the coastal areas there is a subtropical climate. The average annual temperature is 13.1 ° C.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Azerbaijan in 2008 was 9,032,350, ranking number 91 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.130% yearly, and the population density was 109.2751 people per km2.