Flag of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

The Republic of Azerbaijan is a Turkic state in the Caucasus region of southwestern Asia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia, it is bounded by Russia to the north, the Caspian Sea to the east, Iran to the south, Armenia to the west and Georgia to the northwest. The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is an exclave of Azerbaijan that borders Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest. The Nagorno-Karabakh region in the southwest of Azerbaijan declared itself independent from Azerbaijan in 1991, but it is not recognised by any nation and is considered a legal part of Azerbaijan.

The name Azerbaijan is believed to have derived from 'Atrupatan', an area named after Atrupat, a governor of the Persian Achaemenid Empire who was awarded the territory of Iranian Azerbaijan as his semi-independent domain by Alexander the Great. Another hypothesis suggests that the word derives from the Persian 'Azar-Baygan', which literally means protector of fire, referring to the fire temples of Zoroastrian belief in Pre-Islamic Iran.

After achieving independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, conflict has been ongoing with neighbouring Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, and the country is regarded internationally as something of a kleptocracy. It is not particularly popular with tourists any visitors should exercise caution when travelling there.

The country should not be confused with Iran, which also has a province named Azerbaijan.

Map of Azerbaijan