Azerbaijan is a country located in Southwestern Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia, with a small European portion north of the Caucasus range. The country has three dominant features that dominate its landscape.
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To the Eastern part, the country borders the Caspian Sea. This is its natural boundary. To Northern side, the Caucasus mountain ranges characterize its landscape. Third, there are widespread flatlands that are located to the central part of the country.
It is a nation with a majority Turkic and Shia-Muslim population. Azerbaijan was briefly independent (from 1918 to 1920), following the Russian Revolution; it was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet Union for seven decades and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became a free country.
According to Pipes, the country suffers from a near dictatorial regime that abolished the limit of the terms that an incumbent president ought to serve in 2009 (34). In addition, the country has been typical of massive corruption and graft.
Despite numerous resources that the country has the revenues does not lead to development as Azerbaijanis would wish. This is because of the aforementioned endemic corruption, which has made the energy sector to stagnate. Indeed, the energy sector is highly underdeveloped.
The national language of the country is Azerbaijani. The language has its roots in Turkish native language and is spoken by many countries within the region. Since the language originated from Turkey, it is similar to many Turkish languages including Qashqai and Oghuz.
As such, many inhabitants of the Southwest language suffer from little if any language barrier owing to the close relationship of their languages. This paper is an explorative paper that seeks to utilize available literature to expound on various economic, political and social features of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is situated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. The coastal town of Baku is the oldest city of the country, which also serves as the capital city. It hosts one of the largest harbors due to its deep waters at the coastline of Caspian Sea.
It is also the central city where all oil industries are located. Azerbaijan occupies an average land of over 86 thousand kilometers squared and is the largest when compared to Georgia, Armenia that are within the same region.
Save for its natural boundary at the shores of Caspian Sea, the rest of the country is typified by mountains that extend to Georgia and Iran to the South. Azerbaijan is ringed by mountains. Owing to its central location, the country borders The Greater Caucasus range in the North. To the south, the country’s mountains reach the Abseron Puninsula.
The mountains also reach the Caspian Sea in the Western part of the country. These ranges reduce as the reach the border with Armenia. Talysh Mountains shapes the country’s landscape to the south forming a border with Iran.
The elevation of the country rises sharply from the coastline and the lowlands towards a high elevation typical of the mountains. As such, Azerbaijan is a mountainous country with the highest peak above sea level reaching almost 4,500 meters above sea level. Bazardyuze Dagi is the highest peak of the country.
There are eight major rivers in the country. They enter the central flatlands and lowlands of Kura Aras. In addition, the rivers also join the low deltas from the Caucasus ranges that are in the Eastern part of the country nearing the shores of Caspian Sea.
MtKvari River is the largest and has several tributaries including Aras and Akchov. All the waters that flow through this river enter the Caspian Sea at the coastal line of the country. There are various water bodies and reservoirs in the country including Mingenchaur.
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It is the largest body of water that acts as a reservoir in the country. It occupies over six hundred kilometer squared of land. The reservoir was formed through a dam created at the middle of Kura River and is located in the Western part of the country.
It is among the largest producers of hydroelectric power (HEP) which an alternative source of power from fossil fuel energy. It also serves as a major source of water for irrigation during the dry seasons especially for the country’s plain lands.
The country receives minimal rainfall averaging between 150 and 250 millimeters on an annual basis. The highest elevation areas of the mountainous regions record high rainfall and precipitation. Nonetheless, Lankaran lowlands are also typical of high precipitation.
Slightly above 15% of the entire land is fertile although there is the need for increased irrigation during the dry season. Indeed, over fifteen thousand kilometers squared of land is under irrigation in the country.
The flora and fauna of the country is composed of indigenous and hibiscus vegetation in the mountainous regions and almost bare in other lowlands. Plants that are resistant to drought characterize the country. It is important to notice that the country has few wildlife animals including tigers in the mountainous regions and numerous bird species only comparable to Armenia’s bird diversity.
De Waal articulates that the Eurasian region had inhabitants dating back to 5000BCE (672). Nonetheless, the information that exists is insufficient to ascertain this claim. Archeologists, however, have the conviction that the region was among the most ancient regions where the natives of the Azerbaijan may have lived (De Waal 672).
The first information we have of the Azerbaijan population is following the overthrow of the Median Empire. The Persian King, Cyrus the Great, invaded Azerbaijan in the 6th century BCE. Olukbasi says that empire influenced the local population in many ways (67). This was in terms of early forms of religion and culture. As such, Azerbaijan culture has traces of the Persian Empire.
High rates of migration and consequent settlement of the nomads of this region was typical of the ancient times of the region. The main groups of nomads who migrated to this region include the Eurasians and Asians. This pattern of migration continued throughout the ancient times. Indeed, historians say that the migration was rampant during the Sassanid Empire.
It continued until the late 20th century as the Turkish Azerbaijani sought refuge from increasingly high demand for land. Nonetheless, Sassanid Empire only lasted for a quarter of a century when Alexander the Great led an invasion to the land. This in turn resulted to increased influence of Hellenistic culture throughout the land that was hitherto under the Persian rule in 301BCE.
The dismissal of the empire created once by Alexander around the 2nd century BCE. It gave the chance to allow local Caucasian tribes to establish an independent kingdom for the first time since the Median invasion.
The Albanian empire was crucial in neutralizing the native identity of the Azerbaijanis. It created extensive empires within the region and ensured that it culture dominated over the other cultures. Nonetheless, the Armenians were unable resist the influence of the Albanian rule.
Indeed, they were able to recapture the territories that included Utik and Karabakh. These regions had Albanians as the majority population, and they succumbed to Armenians. This reduced the rule and the influence of the Albanians in a considerable way. Due to the shared border of River Kura, the region became a contentious issue between the Romans and the Parthians.
The rationale is that the two major empires had begun to extend their territories and easily conquered Albania as well as Armenia. They both came under the rule of Romans (Hatcher134). After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Byzantines entered in the country and managed it.
It did not take long for the Byzantines to suffer defeat under the hands of the Arab Muslims. The country became a Muslim state by the end of the 7th century when Javanshir bowed down. For the next three centuries, the region bordering Kura River and Aras became under the influence of the Arabs.
They acquired land within the region, and their influence remains apparent even in the modern day Azerbaijan. Such dynasties as Salarid and Buyids typified the rule of the country. After that, the Mongols arrived from the east. This meant devastating event for Azerbaijan and most of its neighbors.
Mongols began asking for tributes in the 13th century. By the early 13th century, the Mongols had been in a position to occupy huge tracts of land in Azerbaijan. This was in addition to the lucrative region of Ogedei Khan.
Although Mongols had controlled much of the land, it did not take long before the thriving Ottoman Empire conquered them and chased them out of Azerbaijani land. The Empire was able to occupy strategic cities of Shamakh and Baku among many important cities of the country.
Between late 16th century and 17th century, another sect of the Muslim (Shia Muslims) emerged under the rule of Shah Abbas. The conflicts and the cracks that existed in the Ottoman Empire provided an avenue for Persian Empire to conquer the land of Caucasus. They conquered the region and occupied Azerbaijan in a strong manner.
The Persians only ruled for one century. After that, the Russian Empire defeated them and they had to sign the Treaty of Gulistan of the early 19th century. Azerbaijan became a colony of the Russian Empire. Russians occupied and ruled Azerbaijan until its collapse during the First World War when the Russian revolution happened.
This meant the creation of a democracy and Azerbaijan became a democratic republic. Nevertheless, this only lasted for two years until the Soviets arrived. Azerbaijan became part of the Russian federation in 1920. Alongside Georgia and Armenia, the country became a state within the Soviet Union.
Ebel and Menon articulate that policies of the Soviet Union led to improved standards of living of the Azerbaijanis. Education and basic amenities were provided in a better way by the Soviet Union during the period of de-Stalinization.
This happen as the world, and the Soviet Union were urbanizing and industrializing. However, this period of improved economic and social development did not take long as the structural crises began hitting the union by mid 20th century. Despite its significance in the oil industry, the country lost is significance to the Union. The fall of the Soviet Union was inevitable by the early 1990s.
In 1991, Azerbaijanis voted to secede from the Soviet Union, and it became a sovereign state. This was through a nationwide referendum. The country became indipende3nt after the ruling of the supreme council. Mutalibov became an outright president since he had no opposition.
Consequently, the country formulated its constitution that has guided it through the last two decades. It was at this point that Azerbaijan stopped being part of the Russian Federation and became independent.
Baku City became the headquarters of all official government offices. The city has continued to grow in terms of harbors and tourists since the Ottoman Empire rule. It has served strategic purposes for different empires. As such, the city is the most developed in the country and has over 2 million residents.
It hosts various national museum including the paintings of Baku Wall and is considered among the most attractive city in Asia. The city dates back to the first century. It became crucial after an earthquake devastated Shamakhy in 13 AD. The ruler then chose Baku to be the capital city.
In 18th century, the Russians conquered the city and ruled it for more than two centuries. It was until the signing of The Treaty of Gulistan that Baku became free again. The city has continued to be known for its rich oil resources and its fierce snowstorms during winter.
From 1991 to 2010, the country has experienced transformations. In 1996, the country reelected Mutalibov for the second term. According to the country’s constitution, this was his last term. It ended in 2001 when he was succeeded by the chair of Yeni Azerbaijan Party who still yields power until now.
In 2009, the parliament voted to amend the clause within the constitution that limits a president to two terms only. Although the move elicited dissenting views from a cross-section of the population, it became law and it is a part of the constitution.
Since 1991, the country has experienced growth due the continued exploitation of natural resources. In 2003, it was among the top five countries in the world that had the highest economic growth rates.
According to King, the Great War now referred to as the World War I lead to radical reshaping of geographical boundaries in Eastern Europe. Such mediaeval empires as Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian became extinct as the violence of the war took the better part of them. King explicates that various national group were quick to declare independence for their respective countries.
In 1918, Azerbaijanis declared their independence and they still celebrate the day as their independence day. Upon independence, the country established a democratic system of government and by 1919; the Allies recognized the autonomy of the country (King 31). Among notable global leaders who enthusiastic about the formation of the new country included US President Wilson Woodrow.
Nonetheless, the independence only lasted for only two years, and the experiment of self-rule and democracy vanished. The reason is that the communist revolution in Russia established a soviet union, which invaded the country and combined it with Georgia and Armenia (King 31). For the next seven decades, the country was under the rule of soviet dictatorship. This was until the break of Soviet Union.
Despite the soviet dictatorship, King says that the country remained largely proud of the liberal and democratic government it had created prior to the invasion by the Soviet dictatorship (31). It is in the 21st century that the country seeks to recreate the type of government it had created almost a century ago.
The government type reflects the structure of Soviet Union. Azerbaijan was among the countries that constituted the Union. Upon its break up in 1991, the country was able to borrow majority of the government structures from Russia. At the outset, the country established a republic and assumed a longer version of its name depicting its nature. The name changed from Azerbaijan to the republic of Azerbaijan.
In 1995, the country managed to complete its structural formation of it political and other systems (Ebel and Menon 89). Indeed, the country formulated and promulgated its new constitution in the same year. According to article twenty-three of the constitution, the national flag became a major symbol of national unity. Other symbols include the national coat of arms in addition to the country’s anthem.
Azerbaijani’s government upholds the principle of separate and autonomous powers between the legislature, judiciary and legislature. This is in line with conventional concepts of power where the constitution dictates the powers of each of the branches.
The president holds the executive power while parliament is the custodian of the legislative power. Independent courts of Azerbaijan hold the judicial power of the country. The parliament in the country is also referred to as the Milli Maljis, which has over 120 deputies. The convocation of Milli Maljis assumes office after every five years after national elections.
During the elections, every person or citizen of the country ought to have attained the age of 25 years to be elected into the parliament as determined by the constitution of the country. Citizens who have more than singular citizenship right or serving in other countries should not seek any form of election into the parliament since the law restricts them to vie only into a position in the executive and judiciary alone (Andreeva 67).
This is in addition to people who hold religious positions or other people engaged in activities that earn them income. They can only vie to become deputies of the Milli Maljis only if the Supreme Court allows them.
As aforementioned, the executive power dwells in the hands of the office of the presidency. To become a president of the republic of Azerbaijan, a person ought to have attained the age of 35 years with a minimum of the first university degree.
Besides, the constitution articulates that a person seeking the position of the presidency ought to have resided within the territory of the country for at least ten years (Swietochowski 615). This is in addition to having an election right and has no any criminal record. He or she should have no vested interests in the states of the republic of Azerbaijan.
Nonetheless, it is important to notice that country’s constitution explicates categorically that an individual with exclusive citizenship has the right to be elected into the office of the presidency. In the country, the presidents serves for a term not exceeding five years which upon completion he or she seeks the mandate of the people at every first of November.
During the elections, secret ballot prevails as every citizen has the right not to reveal his or her preferred candidate. The president has to garner at least two thirds of the total votes cast. Nonetheless, the constitution restricts a president for only two terms upon which he or she shall serve at the capacity.
In addition, the elected president becomes the commander in chief of the armed forces and is mandated by the constitution to authorize any military action. The president of the republic of Azerbaijan has the mandate to appoint a cabinet from the elected deputies of the parliament (Hatcher 84).
The rationale is that the constitution mandates the president to use his executive power in the realization of the country’s goals and objectives (Ebel and Menon 189). The cabinet of ministers within the country acts as a supreme body that is accountable to the national leader of the country.
The cabinet ministers serve as the heads of their respective ministries. Andreeva says that the major ministries in the country include ministry of agriculture, finance, sports and tourism, economic development, health, justice, defense and internal affairs (78).
In addition, the office of the president in the country has the responsibility of ensuring that logistical and financial matters of the president and ensure that his or her administration receives all the support that it might need in the realization of the country’s objectives.
The countries has entrenched democracy in many aspect of its political system. Of particular interest is appreciation of multi party system. Currently, there are over twenty political parties. Under the political party system in the country, every political party has the responsibility of forwarding their political candidates during the elections.
Every political party has to recruit its members in all states and administrative division and achieve a national appeal. During electioneering year, every party should conduct party nominations in a fair and democratic way. No citizens who have ascribed to a specific political party should switch their parties until the elections.
Among the major political parties in the country are Yeni Azerbaijan Party, Musavat Popular Front Party and Azerbaijan Popular Front Party. During the previous elections, Yeni Azerbaijan Party swept almost all political positions during and it currently parliamentary majority.
The other major arm of the government in the country is the judiciary. The supreme courts and other autonomous courts located in various states are the major custodians of the judicial powers. Among the major courts that the constitutional mandates to be the custodians of judicial powers, include the court of the republic, which is the most superior court within the country.
Besides, the court of appeal and economic courts have the mandate to ensure that all organs of the government uphold the judicial powers. The constitution of the country clearly explicate that the judicial, legislative and executive bodies of the country are autonomous, and any decision reached by any of the branch is independent and devoid of any undue interference of any other organ (Çiçek and Kuran 731).
This implies that despite the executive having the authority to ensure that the country runs smoothly, its decisions are not coercive to the parliament or the judiciary of the country.
It is worth mentioning that the parliament of the country is unicameral in the sense that there is no congress and the House of Representatives. The parliament composed of the deputies fulfills all this mandate by ensuring that all laws that it formulates reflects the wishes of the people located in different states of the country. The country under the constitution has different administrative divisions referred to as rayons.
There are 66 rayons in the country. The republic of Azerbaijan has direct control of only eleven rayons. All these rayons are under the control of a governor appointed by the president. The governors represent the rayons in the national politics and are major determinants of the manner of which national revenue is distributed among these states.
They forward their respective issues raised at the state level tow the office of the president who recommends the minister of finance to allocate money according to the needs of each of the rayon. Among the major rayons with the country, include Absheron, Guba-Khachmaz, Aran, Nackchivan, Ganja-Gazakh, Shaki-Zakata and Yukhari Garabakh.
The military in the country is under the helm of the president. The military of the country was founded during the brief period of self-government at the end of the First World War. The national army was created in the same time until the country’s integration into the Soviet Union.
In 1991, the law of the republic of Azerbaijan created the position of the armed forces. Currently, the country has over above a hundred thousand troops composed of the army, air force and navy. The country continues to direct huge sums of money towards the military. According the department of statistics and finance in the country, the total budgetary allocation towards the military by the end of fiscal year of 2011 was 11.2 % of the entire budget.
As such, Çiçek and Kuran assert that the country has invested in the military than many of other department owing to the unending conflicts in the region. The president has the authority to restructure the military and appoint the senior officers within the department. To this end, major decisions of the military especially in the event of war and conflict come from the commander in chief who in this case is the president.
In international politics, the country under the ministry of foreign affairs has maintained a strong relationship with over 156 countries across the world. It is a member of international organizations including the UN and World Trade Organization. In 2006, the country became a permanent member of Human Rights Council due its increased democratic space and freedom for its members (Ernest, Karl and Brysac 372).
To this end, the country has various priorities that it pursues in its foreign relations. They include upholding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, active participation in international affairs through international organizations, maintaining strong multilateral and bilateral relations with other countries in addition to ensuring that it maintains strong military capabilities.
The country also spearheads democratic ideals within and outside its borders by preserving ethnic and national diversity. The republic of Azerbaijan also has strong policies relating to border security and sustainable use of energy to enhance development (Swietochowski 675). Although the country has had innumerable conflicts with other countries, it has been able to resolve them diplomatically.
In particular, the country had a dispute with Armenia regarding its territorial and border integrity which it was able to resolve through mediation of Turkey. Azerbaijan also joins hands with other countries that have committed themselves to fighting international terrorism.
It is worth noting that the country contributed immensely in restoration of peace in Kosovo and Iraq. It collaborates with NATO in matters pertaining to peace and war. Besides, it has maintained strong relationship with European Union.
Azerbaijan’s coats of arms serve as a major symbol of national unity. The constitution is also part of the national heritage and symbol of the country. Above all, the national flag is the paramount aspect of national symbolism in Azerbaijan.
Economy of Azerbaijan
In the middle of the last decade, Azerbaijan had strong economic growth of almost 10%. This was attributed to its increasingly high mineral resources including oil. Other non-mineral sectors also recorded unprecedented growth. Many of these sectors included banking, and construction.
Nonetheless, much of the country’s economic growth resulted from growth in the hydrocarbon sector. The economic growth was however short-lived. The oil deposits of the country had reached depletion level by the end of fiscal year 2011.
In fact, the country’s economy grew marginally by less than 1%. The global financial and economic crises of 2007-08 also contributed significantly to the slowed economy (Tyrrell 673). To this end, the country formulated ways in which new form of resources would act as major economic drivers.
Many projects are underway including increased attempts to boost the country’s gas production and construction. Nonetheless, the country has suffered inabilities of instituting economic reforms to steer the country to development (Ernest, Karl and Brysac 372). Endemic corruption within public and private sectors has played a negative role in the economy.
The country has also suffered from inefficiencies in the ability to attract foreign direct investment. In addition, the country also suffers from dwindling trade relations with the majority of its trade partners in the international market (Batalden 83). Nonetheless, the country still has the potential to reverse the negative economic trend.
This through the ability to negotiate transportation of energy sources from its neighbors since the unstable world oil prices have continued to play a significant part of the economy. The country also could play a huge role in negotiating the trade routes for its increasingly high gas production. The country could also spur its non-mineral sectors to ensure that the country is not solely dependent on minerals.
Major macroeconomic indicators show that the country still lags behind in terms of economic development. Particularly, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of fiscal year 2011 stood at $94.20. The economic growth rate stood at 0.2% by the end of the same year.
This implies that the country’s GDP per capital averaged $10, 302 by 2011. With such an economic growth rate, the Word Bank says that the country is 110th in the world considering all other factors of the economy. Among the major sectors that spur the economic development of the country are agriculture, industry and services constituting 5.5%, 62% and 32.4% respectively.
The country’s labor force is significantly small standing at approximately 6 million people (Houtsma 85). Although the country has among the slowest growing economies in the world, it unemployment rate stands below 1% implying it has managed to offer a majority of its people employment opportunities.
As noted above, energy sector is the main aspect of Azerbaijan’s economy. Over half of the country is rich in oil and gas. Immediately after the country gained independence from the Soviet Union, it contracted over 10 firms to extract and identify oil rich regions within the country. The firms specialize in deepwater drilling of oil that remained unexploited by soviet forces during the union (Baldick 772).
This implies that the country stands to benefit from exportation and exploitation of oil, which will steer its economy considerably. Another sector that ensures that the country continues to develop is the services sector. By the last decade, the country was among the fastest growing countries in terms of GDP growth rates. Nevertheless, the banking sector is relatively diminutive.
This implies that the country has not exploited the potential of the bank in a considerable way. The major reason is that the country’s banking sector remains in the hands of the government although huge strides have allowed the privatization of the banking sector to take root.
Banking sector contributes immensely to the financial system of the country despite its relatively small size. Owing to the increasingly high revenues from minerals as of the year 2003, the country started the efforts to increase the awareness of the need to privatize banking system and carry out reforms within the sector. A weak financial system to enhance transparency within the sector still typifies the banking system.
Nonetheless, banking reforms have continued to show positive signs with the competition within local and foreign banks increasing steadily. As of April 2011, the republic of Azerbaijan had only managed to have only 47 banks including over 600 branches across the country. The country’s official currency is Manat (AZN). By the year 2011, the exchange rate of the currency in relation to the dollar stood at $62.34.
Agriculture is another important sector in the country although it is considerably narrow. Despite the country’s majority of the land being arid, Azerbaijan has the largest arable land within the region. Major agricultural products include woods, livestock, subtropical, plants dairy products, fish, sugar beets and medicinal plants. This is owing to expansive area of land that has been cultivated.
According to the ministry of agriculture, the countries has turned over 5 million hectares of land to farming (Ernest, Karl and Brysac 383). In fact, majority of agricultural products that the country has traditionally imported from other countries have started to typify local products. In fact, agriculture promises to grow with the increase of technological innovation and invention.
To enhance increase in economic development, the country has continued to invest handsomely in science and technology. This through the introduction of institutions devoted to increase research efforts and enhance feasible economic ventures. In addition, the country has continued to embrace technology in communication. By the end of 2010, the country had over 1.3 million telephone lines with over 10 service providers.
In the beginning of this decade, the country has hugely invested in high-speed railway connections allowing movements of people and goods across the country to be effective (Samuel, Gregor and Stutchbury 123). In addition, the country established numerous earthquake and geological stations that allow the country to predict natural catastrophes such as earthquakes and tsunamis in a reliable way.
Houtsma asserts that this has been the most outstanding stations within the region and many other countries depend on the stations to predict and prepare for such eventualities (76). It is imperative to recognize that the country has also invested in expansive sea routes to transport and export crude in addition to an effective air space.
The country plans to have an expansive pipeline to export natural gas to other European nations and the region at large. Azerbaijan boasts of high deposits of natural gas that has continued to shape its economy.
To that end, the country is in the forefront of ensuring that its economic growth stays on course through direct investment and stimulation programs. It is important to notice that Azerbaijan has the potential of stimulating its growth owing to various aspects of economic diversity.
Culture and Tourism
The cultural dimension of Azerbaijan draws many influences from different cultures. The major aspect of globalization that has shaped the culture of Azerbaijanis is consumer trends. Nonetheless, the country has preserved its traditions, customs and values. Among the major aspects of culture in the country include, music, folk lore, cuisine, literary work and art.
There are traditional holidays within the country including the novrus bayram. Owing to the ethnic diversity in the country, it is worth noting that different ethnic groups have different cultures although many of them differ marginally. Diversity in language is also an important aspect of Azerbaijan’s culture with numerous languages present in the country.
At the outset, the country’s music and folk dances have evolved for thousands of years dating back to the ancient era. Lusher asserts a characteristic of the music is monody where rhythms are key aspects of the country’s music (534). To this end, it is important to pin point the major musical instruments of the country that include string instruments.
Percussion and wind instruments also typify Azerbaijan’s musical culture. It combines poetry and music in its performance. Story telling is also a central element of ashiq art where the dancers and vocalists narrate stories of issues that are pertinent to the society (Lusher 543).
Mugham art is also a central aspect of musical culture of the country where singers use emotive tunes and vocals to relay a message about ethics and cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis. It is therefore important to notice that mugham art is performed during national holidays and cultural festivities. Another form of art that incorporates music in the country is meykhana.
Meykhana art is a cultural dance only performed by women during family festivals. It incorporates rhythmical movements and vocals. Unlike the above two, it does not have dramatization and storytelling within and it is performed to as an entertainment item of art.
Azerbaijan has spectacular national features including excellent work of architecture. Among them is the Maiden Tower, which is major characteristic of the country’s skyline. Walled city of Baku is a major tourist attraction. It has survived for over two thousand years and has consequently been entered to UNESCO’s world’s heritage sites.
Of particular interest is the way the architectural designs of the country have been able to incorporate the designs of the East Asia and the West Europe (Minahan 94). In addition, the country boasts of numerous sites including Hirkan National Park, Susha National Reserve and Place of Shaki Khans.
Other archeological sites include Qalagah, Govurqala, Zar Cave, Garapektep, and Taglar Cave. Quadrangular Castle serves as the most outstanding work of architecture that has major monumental aspects. Despite lack of extensive works of architecture in the modern era, the national treasures of the country are major aspects of the country and continue to ensure that tourists flock into the country to see the outstanding work of art.
Indeed, there are plans to build Azerbaijan Tower, which upon completion will be the highest standing building in the world replacing Burj Al Khalifa of Dubai. It will stand at an approximate height of 3,440 feet above sea level.
The country also has a rich folk art culture typical of decoration of clothes, carpets and walls. These types of applied art include metal and wood engraving, handicrafts, knitting and decorative ceramics. Since the ancient trade eras and travels by merchants, Azerbaijan’s applied work of art has remained a major attraction and a focal point of trade among different enthusiasts.
To this end, it is imperative to notice that the Azerbaijan carpet has been a long-standing tradition of the country where hand knit fabrics made an impeccable carpets. Again, UNESCO has recognized Azerbaijan carpet as a major element of modern and medieval art.
The cultural heritage of the country especially in applied work of art has elicited praise across a cross section of the world. Many people cite the country as the mother of all artistic poetry, ceramics and embroider.
Film industry in the country continues to flourish with the increase of investment directed towards cinematography. The industry dates back to the late 19th century implying that the country was among the pioneers of cinema. Upon the declaration of brief independence of 1919, the country produced a documentary detailing the upheavals it had undergone in the struggle for independence.
The documentary titled, ‘The Celebration of the Anniversary of Azerbaijani Independence’ hit the theaters (Samuel, Gregor and Stutchbury 161). Due to the developments of the country’s cinematography, Azerbaijan’s film industry became a national heritage of the Soviet Union.
Upon the disintegration of the Union, Azerbaijan continued with the expansive industry and was able to increase its popularity among local and international audience. Currently, the country boasts of over ten television channels some of which are owned by the government. Among the outstanding channels that have won international awards include Xazar TV and ANS TV.
The country has a rich cuisine mainly composed of vegetables that are abundant within the country. The traditional foods of the country include cilantro, watercress, potato and marjoram.
The favorable climate of the country coupled with fertile land allows for cultivation of many types of food crops, which typify the country. It is worth mentioning that the country’s cuisine is seasonal depending on the availability of variety of vegetables and grains. During national holidays, specific foods are eaten.
They include wheat bread served with vegetables, fish, and spiced soup. Although every ethnic group within the country has its own cuisine, it is worth noting that they are largely similar since the country’s biodiversity cross cuts across the country. Save for the coastal towns whose major cuisine incorporate seafood, the rest of the country’s ethnic group depend on agricultural food.
Although the country’s constitution declares the country as a secular state, the country’s population is constituted by 94% of Muslims (Lambton and Lewis 67). Of this percentage, only a fraction is Sunni Muslims while the rest is Shia. There are small proportions of Hindus, Christians, Orthodox and Apostolic.
They constitute the minorities although they have the right of worship like everyone else within the country. However, with an increasing influence of the globalization process, secular religions are finding their way into the country. Lambton and Lewis articulate religious festivals and holidays are central elements of the country’s system where each religion has the right to exercise them accordingly (75).
Tourism is a major aspect of the country’s economy. Many tourists across the world visit the country to experience its seasonal climate and cultural diversity. Although many tourists attraction were destroyed during the fall of Soviet Union in early 1990s, the country has been able to bounce back from the destruction and it now sells as a major tourist destination of Eastern Europe.
It has now become a popular tourist destination for its religious diversity, spas and tourism driven by health care (Houtsma 67). The government of the republic of Azerbaijan has now prioritized tourism as a major driver economy and is embarking on ambitious plans to rebuild and refurbish old national museums and create other avenues that may woo more tourists.
As of January 2009, the country surpassed over two million tourists most of whom were from European nations. Besides, the country has embarked on stimulating local tourism as a way of increasing its revenues from the sector.
The planned construction of skyscrapers will also serve as a key aspect of tourism where the country seeks to compete with major countries whose high-rise buildings have continued to add revenue for their respective countries. Preservation of cultural artifacts such as Azerbaijan’s carpet, ashiq art and Quadrangular Castle will ensure that the country’s tourism sector continue to thrive amid dwindling trade with its partners.
Finally, the country has been proactive in participating in a number of sports. While some sports in the country are considered traditional, modern sports such as soccer and rugby have become common. Sports in the country have a rich history with sports such as backgammon and wrestling being preserved for their cultural importance.
Although the country performs dismally at the international stage (Olympics, World Cup and World Club Championship) efforts are on top gear to ensure that the country continue to make developments in the area. Indeed, the country launched a massive project of identifying and nurturing youth talent by inaugurating the youth football academy (Schippmann 97).
This is a major step in enhancing the ability of the country to use sports to create employment as well as to attract sports tourists. To this end, the country has the potential of making an entry into these elements of modern global culture.
Essentially, Azerbaijan is an Asian country located in the Middle East. It was among the states of the Soviet Union until its fall in 1991. It history dates back in the ancient era where major cities such as Baku developed. It has a relatively hot climate and has diversity of flora and fauna.
The country appreciates democracy and practices such democratic processes such as elections and enshrinement of human rights through proactive judicial system. It is a member of international organizations. It has enjoyed strong foreign relations with countries such the US and other 155 countries across the world.
Due to its rich mineral resources and diversity, the country has had a thriving economy until the late 2009 due to oil depletion and global financial and economic crunch. Such sectors as tourism, agriculture, industry and services have been the major driving aspects of the country’s economy.
It is important to notice that the country’s rich cultural diversity continues to attract numerous tourists. They include music and dance, applied art, cuisine, national museums and parks, folk art, cinematography and other artifacts.
This paper has exhaustively analyzed almost every aspect of Azerbaijan. The paper started by exploring geographical and historical aspects of the country.
Further, it explored the political system of the country and government organization. On the part of economy, the paper highlights various economic indicators that include the GDP and unemployment rates among others. The last aspect of the paper is Azerbaijan’s culture and tourism. From the above paper, Azerbaijan is land filled with diversity.
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|AREA OF AZERBAIJAN |
The Map of Azerbaijan
The Flag of Azerbaijan
Ashiq Music Instrument
A Portrait of Azeri Village