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Azerbaijan - Culture Smart! Average rating: 0 out of 5 stars, based on 0 reviews Write a review. Nikki Kazimova; Culture Smart! Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Book Format: Choose an option. Add to Cart. Product Highlights For Westerners, the modern state of Azerbaijan may be hard to pinpoint. This small, oil-rich country in the southern Caucasus, on the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea, only made its way on to the contemporary world map after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in Life expectancy is sixty-three years for men, and seventy-one for women.
The boy-to-girl birth ratio is slowly tipping in the direction of more boys and fewer girls born every year, a trend, experts say, that is influenced by late-term abortions performed after ultrasound results reveal the fetus to be female. There are also an estimated 20 million Azeris living in neighboring Iran, although their exact number is disputed between Azeri activists, who inflate it to 25 to 30 million, and Iranian official sources, which say that, according to the latest census, there are no more than 10 million living in the four traditionally Azerbaijani provinces — Eastern and Western Azerbaijan, Ardabil, and Zanjan.
According to the official statistics, about 90 percent of Azerbaijani citizens identify themselves as ethnic Azerbaijanis. Various sources mention up to eighty minorities scattered around small villages throughout Azerbaijan. They include hundreds of thousands of Lezghins, 76, Talysh in the north and south, and about 4, Udins, descendants of the ancient Caucasian Albanians. Azerbaijanis are proud of the fact that their country has historically been free of anti-Semitism.
There are two distinct Jewish communities in Azerbaijan, called the "European" and the "Mountain" Jews. Azerbaijanis trace their ethnic roots to the Oghuz Turkic tribes, who swept across the Central Asian steppes in the eleventh century. However, unlike the neighboring Turks, who are Sunni Muslims, the Azeris are Shia, having been converted in the sixteenth century by the Safavid dynasty. The country's most recent history the past two hundred years is connected with Russia, which annexed the territory of present-day Azerbaijan from Persia in the early nineteenth century, dividing the Azerbaijani people who lived on both sides of the new border along the Araz River.
Most of them remained south of the Araz, in modern-day Iran, where Azerbaijanis are the biggest ethnic minority, concentrated primarily in the north of the country, with a regional center in the city of Tabriz. The territory of Azerbaijan lay on the route of the Great Silk Road, an ancient network of trade paths that connected China with Europe, and its people have lived through centuries of conquests by different imperial powers.
It is also situated in the heart of the Great Game, the struggle for control of Central Asia played out between Russia and the West at the turn on the nineteenth century, which seems to be going through a modern remake.
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Azerbaijan, like the rest of the Caucasus countries, has to balance its relations with the greater powers vying for economic and political control of its territory. The lands south of the Araz in the parts of Iran where ethnic Azeris live today were part of the ancient state of Mannea and then of the Medes or Madai from the tenth through the fifth centuries BCE. A local satrap governor under the name of Atropat Aderbatag negotiated autonomous ruling privileges for his province and eventually, after Alexander's death, it became an independent state under the name of Atropatene or Aderbatgan, which with time transformed into Azerbaijan.
The population of the area practiced the Zoroastrian religion. Much of the present-day Azerbaijan's territory, lying north of the Araz, was part of a different state.
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After the collapse of the Achaemenid Empire in the late fourth to early third centuries BCE, Albanian tribes living in what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan formed a new state called Caucasian Albania not to be confused with the modern country of Albania in southeast Europe. Oghuz Turkic tribes, who arrived here soon after and mixed with the local population, called this land Arran. Arran was conquered by the Romans in the first century CE and then by the Persian Sassanid Empire in the third century.
By the fourth century, its population had adopted Christianity as the state religion. In the seventh and eighth centuries, Arab invaders swept through the region and converted the populations living north and south of the Araz to Islam, forcing out both Christianity and Zoroastrianism. By the ninth century, however, the Arab Caliphate was weakening.
The lands under the name of Shirvan, which lay in the eastern part of Arran, came under control of the new rulers called the Shirvanshahs, who would remain the sovereign monarchs of Shirvan for centuries. Meanwhile, the Oghuz Turkic tribes were settling in the territory of the Caucasus and northern Iran and created the Seljuk Empire in the eleventh century, a process that laid the foundation for the formation of Azeri ethnicity.
Another hundred years later, as the Seljuk Empire was declining, some of its territories were ruled by the officers of the Kipchak tribe under the name of Atabegs. In , the city of Tabriz became the capital of this large thriving state, until it fell prey to a Mongol invasion in and remained under their control for two centuries.
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Azerbaijanis consider the eleventh and twelfth centuries to be a golden age in their history. The period gave birth to such notable figures of Azerbaijani culture as the poet Nizami Ganjavi, the scholar Khatib Tebrizi, the architect Ajami, and many others. At that time, northern Azerbaijan was still ruled by the Shirvanshahs.