A Rough Guide To Azerbaijan

By: Gordon Warre

Azerbaijan received de facto recognition by the Allies as an independent nation in January 1920, an independence terminated by the arrival of the Red Army in April. Azerbaijan's first parliament was elected in 1995. Azerbaijan is represented in the Parliamentary Assembly by a delegation of 6 representatives and 6 substitutes.

Azerbaijan, located on the western edge of the Caspian Sea, sits at the crossroad between East and West. Azerbaijan has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates of any country in the Europe and Eurasia region. Azerbaijan's relatively small government size is its one standout strength, helped by trade freedom and moderate taxes. The Azerbaijanis, commonly referred to as Azeris, live in a wider area from the Caucasus to the Iranian plateau.

After the decline of the Arab Empire, Azerbaijan was ravaged during the Mongol invasions but regained prosperity in the 13th-15th centuries under the Mongol II-Khans, the native Shirvan Shahs, and under Persia's Safavid Dynasty. Growing discontent culminated in June 1993 in an armed insurrection in Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city. The current conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988 when ethnic Armenian demonstrations against Azerbaijani rule broke out in both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Supreme Soviet voted to secede from Azerbaijan.

The United States also has a bilateral investment treaty with Azerbaijan. A letter of invitation from a contact in Azerbaijan is required, and travelers who expect to travel in the region should request a one-year, multiple-entry visa. Air travel to Azerbaijan on international carriers via Europe is typically more reliable. Through their local agent in Azerbaijan, prospective parents submit their application (dossier) to the General Section of the Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan, if the child is less than 3 years old or to the Ministry of Education if the child is older.

However, Azerbaijan has antithesis at its core: wealth mingles with poverty; Soviet blocks jostle with 10th-century mosques. Trade and Development Agency to assist Azerbaijan in reforming its pension system. The currency is the Azerbaijani manat (AZM). The number of languages listed for Azerbaijan is 14. The new Azerbaijan constitution grants religious freedom and asserts that there is no state religion. The Jewish community has enjoyed warm relations with the Azerbaijani government.

The appearance of the Zoroastrianreligion in Azerbaijan almost 2,000 years ago is closely connectedwith these geological phenomena, and, according to one theory, the name"Azerbaijan" itself was derived from the word for "fire" in Persian.

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