Where is Azerbaijan?
Azerbaijan, the largest country in the Caucasus region, is located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.
Its 456 km east coastline is bounded by the Caspian sea meanwhile, its north borders with Russia, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, Turkey and Iran to the south.
Azerbaijan has a total area of 86,600 square km, of which over 50 per cent is agricultural land.
Currency: Azerbaijani manat
9,411,800 million people live in Azerbaijan making it the most populous of the republics of Caucasus. Azerbaijan has a predominantly youthful population as seen in 2012, when 174,469 children were born in the nation, totalling to 478 a day. Today, children under 15 constitute 22 per cent (2,087,100) of the whole population.
Azerbaijan has a stable, but fast diversifying, economy that has managed to sustain significant growth, in spite of the slowdown affecting much of western Europe and other parts of the industrialised world in recent years. This is delivering increasing prosperity for its 9.4 million people, along with attractive investment opportunities for foreign capital in sectors ranging from tourism to investment technology, as well as the oil industry which formed the backbone of the economy for so long.
The country's liberal investment climate helped to secure $144.4 billion of aggregate investment between 1995 and 2012, split almost equally between domestic and foreign sources. Tellingly, the non-oil sector accounted for 62 per cent of the overall figure. At an impressive 9.7 per cent, non-oil gross domestic product expanded more than four times faster than overall GDP in 2012 alone.
The country last year enjoyed a trade surplus of close to $25 billion, with GDP attaining $68.7 billion, equivalent to almost $7,500 per capita. Inflation stood at just 1.1 per cent and unemployment 5.2 per cent.
The agri-food industry is the largest employer, with Azerbaijan enjoying a strong comparative advantage in the export of fresh fruit and vegetables and easy access to regional markets.
The country's first national satellite was recently launched. Some 70 per cent of people are internet users.
Annual average temperature +13.3 °C
Average temperature in January +1.4 °C
Average temperature in July +23.3 °C
Annual average precipitation 457.9 mm
Land of Fire
Azerbaijan is often referred to as the Land of Fire, since ancient religions based on fire-worship originated here. One of the first names for Azerbaijan was Aturpatakan, translating to "a place where sacred fire is preserved".
Land of Fire originates from the sight of gas igniting on escaping from the ground, creating the effect of a burning hillside, at several sites in the Absheron peninsula, in the South Caucasus.
The South Caucasus is considered one of the first regions where fire was used. Nowadays there are 12 such fires throughout the Republic. The most famous is the Burning Mountain, 27 km north of Baku city centre.
Azerbaijan’s state symbols
The Azerbaijan state symbols are comprised of three elements: State flag, State Emblem, National anthem.
In 1918, the Government of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic adopted the tricolour national flag but this was rejected by the Soviet regime, which took over after the collapse of the Azerbaijani Republic in 1920. The tricolour flag was restored in 1990, when the Supreme Council of Nakhchıvan Autonomous Republic decided to approve it as its national flag. In 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijani SSR duly adopted the tricolour as the national flag of Azerbaijan.
The blue represents the people of the Turkish origin. The red represents modernity and democracy. The green represents Islam civilisation. The crescent and octagonal star represents the Moon and the Sun.
The crescent had once been the coat of arms of the capital of the Byzantine Empire Constantinople. After the Turkish had captured the city in 1453 that coat of arms was accepted by the Ottoman Empire as one of the symbols of the Islamic religion and it has since been passed on to be used by various other countries. The crescent on the Azerbaijan flag is the symbol of the Turkish people.
The eight-pointed star is connected with the method of writing of "Azerbaijan" word in the old alphabet. So, "Azerbaijan" is written with eight letters in the old alphabet.
The eight-pointed star is explained as: Turkism, Islamism, Modernity, Statehood, Democracy, Azerbaijanism and Culture. The star on the Azerbaijani flag has been used in the architecture style widely and eight corners, eight is the symbol of the Turkish people.
The State Emblem was introduced in 1993 after the concept was approved and signed by the President in 1993.
The shield on the emblem stands for defence. The tricolour circular lines represent the national flag. The octagonal star on the circular lines stands for the Sun. The tongues of flame in the middle of the octagonal star stand for the Land of Fire.The wheat ears signify abundance.The branches of the oak tree signify eternity.
Ilham Aliyev, was elected as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in October 2003 and was re-elected in 2008, and again in 2013.
In 1994-2003, he was the vice-president, and later the first vice-president of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). He had been actively involved in the implementation of the successful oil strategy of the whole nation's leader of Azerbaijan late President Heydar Aliyev. President Ilham Aliyev is an author of numerous research works on geopolitical aspects of oil strategy of sovereign Azerbaijan. He holds a degree of doctor of political sciences.
In 1995 and 2000, he was twice elected to the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 2003, he stopped his activity as a Member of Parliament due to his appointment to the post of Prime minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Mr. Ilham Aliyev, who has also been the President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan since 1997, was praised for his great contribution to the development of sports and Olympic Movement when he was awarded the highest order of International Olympic Committee (IOC) and "Grand Cordon" Order of Merit of International Military Sport Council.
The First Lady of Azerbaijan is Mehriban Aliyeva, a member of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Mehriban Aliyeva is also leading the Heydar Aliyev Foundation which was founded to study the rich legacy of nationwide leader of Azerbaijan and transmit the national Statehood ideas forged by Heydar Aliyev to new generations. An official opening of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been held on May 10, 2004.
The country's capital Baku, lies on the east coast of the country and is home to more than 2.5 million people. Its unique location means it's an active member of the Silk Route, providing links to China, India, the Middle East and Europe.
Dubbed as the City of Contrasts, the heart of Baku's Old City, a UNESCO heritage site comprising of ancient treasures such as Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower sit amongst a depth of award winning architect and modern skyscrapers, such as the capital's iconic three Flame Towers which come to life with giant LED displays to signal the start of the evening.
Baku is a hub of sporting activity and culture and has played host to a number of major global sporting events, including the, Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships in 2009, the 2010 European Wrestling Championships, 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships and FIFA Under-17 women's World Cup in 2012.
The annual World Tennis Association (WTA) Baku Cup was launched in 2011 and in 2013, the city welcomed the City Challenge GmbH first motorsports event to the city.
Eurovision song contest
In 2011, Azerbaijani pop duo Ell & Nikki were crowned winners of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dussledorf, Germany with their song Running Scared, also winning Azerbaijan the right to host the 2012 edition of the competition for the very first time.
The Azerbaijani capital held the 57th annual competition in its newly constructed Baku Crystal Hall, a 25,000-seat arena located near the National Flag Centre on a dramatic peninsula jutting out into the Bay of Baku.
Citizens of each participating countries voted by telephone or SMS during the contest and professional juries in all 42 participating countries judge the songs. Loreen of Sweden won the final with her song Euphoria and held the contest in Malmö in May this year. Next year’s event is due to be held in Copenhagen.
Azerbaijan Airlines is the country's largest airline and the national carrier, headquartered in Baku. The airline's main airport is the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, located 20 kilometers north-east in Baku. Azerbaijan Airlines flies to many European, CIS, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Due to the geographical position of Baku airport and its transfer routes between North, South, East and West, means it is the number one airport in the region.
Azerbaijan offers a wide range of accommodation for all budgets and preferences.There are many Western hotel chains in Baku offering 5-star luxury facilities. These include:
- Four Seasons Hotel Baku – 1 Neftchilar Avenue , Baku AZ1095, Azerbaijan
- JW Marriott Absheron Baku Hotel – 674 Azadliq Square, Baku, AZ-1010 Azerbaijan
- Fairmont Baku - Flame Towers 1A, Mehdi Huseyn, Baku, Azerbaijan
- Hilton Baku - 1B Azadlig Avenue, Baku, AZ1000, Azerbaijan
- Kempinski Hotel Badamdar, Mushfig Str. 1c,1006 Baku, Azerbaijan
There are also many local and authentic hotels which could offer a more traditional experience in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan draws notoriety from the fact that 9 of the worlds 11 climate zones can be found there, and with this brings lush fertile land which produces a great quantity of fresh herbs and vegetables which contribute to the high quality of the local food. For the Azerbaijani's food forms a significant part of the culture and is deeply rooted in the history, traditions and values of the nation. Aside from the wonderful variety of soups and kebabs, Azerbaijan's most distinctive dish is the plov, a saffron rice-based dish which is traditionally accompanied with a variety of herbs and fresh vegetables.