Facts about Azerbaijan
When we told people that we were moving to Azerbaijan the typical reaction was, “where’s that?” Few people in Canada know where the country is or much about it. Maybe that’s because for many years Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union. It only gained its independence in 1991.
Azerbaijan is part of a region known as the Caucasus named after the Caucasus Mountains in northern Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan sits on the edge of the Caspian Sea and our neighbours are Russian, Georgia, Armenia and, Iran.
Did you know? The Caspian Sea and the city of Baku are actually 28m below sea level. There is no outflow from the Caspian. The highest point in Azerbaijan is a mountain called Baza-Dyuzi at 4,4480m above sea level.
Azerbaijan is an ancient culture with history going back to Bible times. In Biblical times Azerbaijan was a part of the Persian empire and was the birthplace of the Zoroastrism religion. After the early church Azerbaijan was evangelized and considered Christian country until the 8th Century when it was converted to Islam. Today 93% of the population considers itself to be Muslim. However, the people are also very secular and most are not very devote Muslim.
Did you know? Azerbaijan means “land of fire.” Perhaps because of the fires that would spring up from the oil and natural gas that oozes out of the ground in many places.
In the 1800s the first drilled oil well in the world was in Baku. At one time 50% of the world’s oil came from Baku. Today the industry is being renewed and the country is growing very rich from its oil exports. Most average citizens however remain quite poor. In 2005 a pipeline taking oil to Georgia and Turkey opened allowing Azerbaijan to sell more of its oil to world markets. In addition to oil, Azerbaijan is one of the world leading exporters of caviar (a delicacy of fish eggs) that comes from the Caspian.
Did you know? Azerbaijan has more mud volcanoes than any other country in the world! They are really fun to play in but you get very dirty.
Many people in Azerbaijan speak either Russian or Azeri. Azeri is a Turkish language. We have learned a few words but need to study some more.