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Azerbaijan Information - Page 2
Archaeological evidence shows that Azerbaijan has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Early civilisations thrived in the region.

Throughout its history Azerbaijan has been ruled by many different empires. These have included Persians, the armies of Alexander, Romans, Arabs, Mongols and Turks.

By the eighteenth century Russia began to gain power in the north of Azerbaijan while Persia controlled the south of the country. Eventually Azerbaijan was officially divided between Persia (now Iran) and Russia.

Azerbaijan declared itself an independent republic in 1918. However by the end of 1922 Azerbaijan became part of the USSR joining Armenia and Georgia to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.

Reorganisation within the USSR in 1936 led to Azerbaijan becoming the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. (Members of the former USSR were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia - from WW2, Latvia - from WW2, Lithuania - from WW2 and Moldova - from WW2).

After the Second World War, a "Cold War" existed between the USSR and the West. This situation continued until Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 introducing extensive political and economic reforms (Perestroika) and calling for a greater openness (Glasnost) between nations.

Towards the end of 1991 the USSR was dissolved and Azerbaijan became independent.

At the end of the 1980s Armenians campaigned for the unification of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan with Armenia. (In 1924 the USSR created the Autonomous Province of Nagorno-Karabakh - with a mainly Armenian population - within Azerbaijan) Conflict started in 1989 and continued for five years. In 1994 a ceasefire was signed followed by an uneasy truce.

Following independence Azerbaijan suffered economic instability, aggravated by the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Since the mid 1990s steps have been taken to restructure the economy.

From the late 1870s Azerbaijan's economy has been dominated by oil supplies. Now Azerbaijan has reopened its oil industry to western companies, high tech equipment is facilitating access to Azerbaijan's deep-water oil fields in the Caspian Sea.

Industry, which employs a relatively small percentage of the workforce, supplies oil field equipment, petroleum products and natural gas. Other industries include steel, iron ore, cement, chemicals, textiles and carpets.

Marketing, in the services sector, aids the oil industry. Also in services, the tourism industry has great potential to assist the economy.

Agriculture and forestry are the second largest employers after services. Agricultural products are cotton, tobacco, tea, grain, rice, vegetables, nuts, apples, cherries, grapes, olives, lemons, strawberries, peaches and pomegranates. Cattle, pigs, sheep and goats are reared. (2009)

Crafts in Azerbaijan are pottery, wood and stone carving, copperware, jewellery, embroidery and carpet weaving.

Throughout Azerbaijan there are many artisans, artists, writers and musicians. There is a wealth of literary work dating back through the centuries including poetry, classical literature and folklore. Music includes classical music, poetic song and traditional folk songs.

National cultural institutions are the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature, the National Academic Theatre of Drama, the Azerbaijan State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet and the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society.

Azerbaijan takes part in many international sports events including the Olympic Games.

Football is a popular sport and clubs belong to the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan. Other sports include basketball, volleyball, wrestling, karate and chovgan (similar to polo).

The mountainous terrain provides opportunities for a variety of sports such as climbing.

All Islamic holy days are observed. Other days commemorated include New Year's Day - 1 January, Day of the Martyrs - 20 January, Women's Day - 8 March, Novruz Bayrami - 21 March, Victory Day (World War II) - 9 May, Republic Day (founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan 1918) - 28 May, National Salvation Day - 15 June, Army and Navy Day - 26 June, National Independence Day - 18 October, Constitution Day - 12 November, Day of National Revival - 17 November, Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis throughout the World - 31 December.

News from Azerbaijan is available from Newslink.

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