(Republic of Azerbaijan, Azərbaycan Respublikası)
- Location : Eastern Europe/ Western Asia
- Capital: Baku
- Language: Azerbaijani
- Population: 9,047,000
- Total Area: 86,600 km2
- Currency: Manat
Like many of the countries in Central Asia, Azerbaijan has a predominantly Muslim population. However, the unique thing with this is that instead of a largely Sunni Muslim populace, the Shiite sect of Islam has the largest number of followers thus putting the Sunni Muslims in a minority. As a result of the mainly Shiite population, the country maintains a good relationship with Iran, also a Shiite Muslim nation. More than 80% of the citizens are Azeris (also called Azerbaijanis). Expectedly, the major language is also Azerbaijani. There is a sizable number of Armenians and Russians in the country.
Visiting Azerbaijan is no doubt a fantastic experience for most tourists, and this can be attributed to the number of various sites of attraction. One of the most spectacular places in the country is the Caspian Sea. Located along the eastern border of the country, the Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world. Although salty in nature, this lake is teeming with life as there are more than 800 different animal species living in it. By visiting this body of water, you will be able to see the famed Caspian seal. Another place where you can visit is the Lankaran region in the southern part of the country. The place is famed for its tea and citrus plantations. The capital city of Baku is also worth visiting especially with its seaport and oil refineries.
Azerbaijan is a beautiful country but if you really want to confirm this, you will have to taste some dishes. Azerbaijani foods have flavors similar to the meals I ate in Turkey and Kazakhstan. There are spicy kebabs and delightful soups. One meal that I will always cherish is called bosartma, and is made from meat and vegetables. When I was at first served by my Azerbaijani hosts, I was wondering if I could eat the meal. But after the first bite, I could not resist the taste. I will vote for the bosartma any day. Being a nation where farming of food crops is important, rice and vegetables are also quite common.
Among the Azerbaijanis, tea is the most popular drink, and in virtually all the cities, there are teahouses called the chay khanas. Locals also gather at these teahouses to gist and chat with friends.
The most popular sport in this country is not football but wrestling. The sport is so popular and widely enjoyed that there is virtually no region that you will visit in the country that will not have one local wrestling bout or the other. To test your stamina and physical strength, you can take part in one of the contests. But be warned, Azeris are some of the best wrestlers in the world. Like in Armenia, the citizens in Azerbaijan are also crazy about chess and some of the best-known grandmasters came from the country.
- Azerbaijan was once part of the USSR.
- Azerbaijan is the very first predominantly Muslim nation to embrace secularism and democracy.
- Although a small country, Azerbaijan has one of the most impressive militaries in the region.
- The country is very rich in oil and natural gas.
- Almost 100% of the citizens are followers of the Islamic faith.
- It is one of the six Turkic states.
- Azerbaijan is a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
- The Maiden Tower in Old Baku is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- To the north of the country lies the impressive Caucasus Mountains.
- The Karabakh horse is the national animal.
- Azerbaijan has one Autonomous Region called Nakhchivan.
- With over 90% of the citizens being Azerbaijanis, the country is one of the most homogenous in the area.
- The Walled City of Baku is one of the most important tourist centers.
- The Zangezur National Park is a major site of attraction.
- Azerbaijan boasts of several museums.
- The Bibi-Heybat Mosque is built over a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria)
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