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01. Azerbaijan: general information

Official name: Republic of Azerbaijan
Location: South Caucasus, on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, bordering Russia, Iran, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia
Climate: dry, semi-arid steppe
Natural resources: oil, natural gas, iron ore, nonferrous metals, aluminum
Political system: democratic, constitutional, secular, unitary republic
Capital: Baku
Territory: 86, 6 sq.km.
Population: 9593,0 thousand people (as of beginning of 2015)
Official language: Azerbaijani
Time: GTA+4 hrs (****)

Sources of the name of the country - Azerbaijan - go back to ancient times. Earliest of known written sources which mention it is the Syrian 6th century chronicle of Karki De Bet Seloh. However, there is a reference to a much earlier source of the 8th century BC about Azerbaijan.
It is said in the chronicles: “...Arbak had built the fortification wall that is Adubad in the Median empire named after him the Adorbaigan land “. “Ador Bad Agan” means “a place protected by a deity of fire”. Arabs who came in the region for conquest and to spread Islam named the country “Azer-Baigan“. The further genesis of the word is clear. Azerbaijan is a country with unique geographical, climatic and geopolitical characteristics.

National Holidays

January 1-2 - New Year
March 8 - Women's Day
March 20-24 - Novruz bayramı (Celebration of Spring)
May 9 - Day of Victory over Fascism
May 28 - Republic Day
June 15 - National Salvation Day
June 26 - Armed Forces Day
October 18 - National Independence Day
November 9 – National Flag Day
November 12 - Constitution Day
November 17 - National Revival Day
December 31 - Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis throughout the World

Qurban bayramı (Thanksgiving-Offering Day) and Ramazan bayramı (End of Fasting) - 2 days - The dates of celebration of these religious holidays are changed every year in accordance with the lunar calendar.

Memorable Days:

January 20 - Day of Shehids' (Martyrs) Remembrance
February 26 - Day of Khojali Remembrance
March 31 - Genocide of Azerbaijanis'

 

STATE STRUCTURE AND POLITICAL SYSTEM

The Azerbaijan Republic (Azərbaycan Respublikasi) is a legally constituted, secular republic. The state administration is conducted through the principle of the division of powers: legislative, executive and judicial.
The President is the Head of State and implements the policies decided democratically for the exercise of executive power. The President is elected by direct vote for a period of five years. Legislative power is implemented by the Milli Mejlis (National Assembly) which is a single-house parliament consisting of 125 deputies elected for a period of five years on the basis of a combined system of first-past-the-post and proportional representation. Following the Soviet period, democracy developed over time, with a plethora of political parties to start with (over 60 at one time) to around 30 at the present time. The names of some of the main parties are: «New Azerbaijan», «Istiqlal» (Party of the National Independence of Azerbaijan), «Musavat» (a revival of the ruling party in independent Azerbaijan of 1918-1920), «Party of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan», «Social- Democratic Party of Azerbaijan» and others. A Prime Minister heads the Cabinet of Ministers, an appointed body which has the main tasks of executive power. Judicial power is implemented by the three independent courts of the Azerbaijan Republic: the Constitutional Court, High Court and Economic Court.
The official language of the Azerbaijan Republic is the Azerbaijani language which is a member of the southwestern, Oguz family of Turkic languages. Informally, other languages are also used such as Russian and English.
Furthermore, the constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic guarantees the free use and development of the languages of all ethnic groups which can be taught in schools and used in all publications. Freedom of religion is also enshrined in the constitution. The religion of the majority in Azerbaijan is Islam. Not much difference is made between Shia and Sunni in Azerbaijan, but formally two thirds are considered Shia and one third are Sunni. There are also centers of worship for the Russian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Gregorian Church, three Jewish synagogues, one Georgian Orthodox church, thirteen Old Believers Russian churches (locally there are those known as «Malakan»), one Lutheran, several Baptist, one Bahai and one Hare Krishna organization.
Civil legislation for marriage, divorce and those elements concerned with the establishing of civil society are being drafted to reflect the secular character of the Azerbaijani state.

 

POPULATION

Population of Azerbaijan has been estimated at 9593,0 thousand people as of beginning of 2015, with its high majority being in the productive age of between 15 and 64 years. With the population age averaging at 27.7 Azerbaijan has quite young, vibrant and dynamic population. Positive population growth rate of 0.66% (as of 2010), with birth rate being 20.74 births/1,000 population and death rate at the level of 9.75 deaths/1,000 population for the same period help to offset net migration rate of -4.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population.
Azerbaijan is known for rather low infant mortality despite the social and healthcare issues unresolved due to the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict, which still is burdening the statistics.


Currency
 
The National currency of Azerbaijan is the Azeri Manat (AZM). Foreign currency and travelers cheques can be exchanged for Azeri Manat in all banks. In addition, currency can be exchanged at all official exchange points, which can be found everywhere. It is necessary to keep receipts of all exchanges until departure from the country. Those who change currency with unauthorized individuals take the risk of becoming a victim of scams and fraud, and carry full responsibility for possible abuses.
As a rule, it is possible to pay by credit card in most hotels. However, we recommended confirming in advance the acceptance of credit cards. Cash machines (ATM) are located in the most important business centers, shopping malls, and underground stations.