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Tuesday 12th December
Azerbaijan Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Azerbaijan is in South Western Asia. The territory includes the enclave of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic which is divided from the larger part of Azerbaijan ("Azerbaijan-proper") by a region of Armenia.

"Azerbaijan-proper" is bordered by Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Russia and the Caspian Sea. Iran, Turkey and Armenia border the Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave.

Baku is the capital city.

Around fifty percent of the country is mountainous. There are lowlands and a coastal area along the Caspian Sea. The main rivers are the Kur and Aras.

The climate ranges from hot and dry steppe to cooler regions in the mountains.

Environment
Azerbaijan falls within the Caucasus Mountain system. Although very mountainous, the country has a varied terrain including canyons, valleys, forests, steppes, rivers, lakes and coastline. Geygel is the country's largest mountain lake and Azerbaijan's first nature reserve was established to protect the area.

Wildlife in the national reserves and national parks includes golden eagles, bears, wild boar, gazelles, mouflon (wild sheep), mountain goats and lynx.

Architecture
Sheki, one of Azerbaijan's oldest commercial centres, provided large caravanserais or inns for visiting merchants. Perhaps Sheki's most well known monument is the Minaret of the Gileili mosque.

The Silk Road, the trade route from Europe to China, passed through Baku. The ancient walled city is on the World Heritage List along with its twelfth century Maiden Tower and fifteenth century Shirvanshah's Palace.

Other cities, such as Nakhchivan, have examples of early Islamic architecture including baths, caravanserais, mausoleums and mosques.

Population
The population of Azerbaijan was 8,238,672 in 2009. The majority of the people are Azeri. Minority ethnic groups include Dagestani, Russian and Armenian. Most of the Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Languages
Azerbaijani (Azeri) is the main language. Some people speak Russian and others speak Armenian.

Religion
Over ninety percent of the people are Muslims. Other religions include Russian Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox.

Food
Traditional food in Azerbaijan includes bread, pancakes and thick soups. Pilaff (plov), both savoury and sweet, is a favourite in Azerbaijan. The savoury pilaff is prepared using rice with meat, or fish, and vegetables and spices; the sweet version often contains dried apricots and raisins (which are also used on occasions to flavour meat recipes).

Spiced poultry, lamb, mutton and beef are featured prominently in Azerbaijani cuisine. Kebabs and lamb, or pressed minced meat, grilled on skewers are popular. Minced meat is also combined with rice to stuff aubergines, cabbage leaves and vine leaves. Savoury pastries filled with vegetables make a tasty snack. Vegetables, such as aubergines and tomatoes are often pickled. Dairy products, for example, yoghurt and kurut, a dried type of cottage cheese, are used in recipes.

Cakes and sweets include baklava and halva. Fruits available are apples, cherries, grapes, melons, raspberries, plums and peaches.

Sherbet drinks are very popular; mineral waters are available and sweet black tea is a favourite drink.

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