Azerbaijan, is a country in the Caucasus region. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (an exclave of Azerbaijan) borders Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest.

Azerbaijan was once a major stopover on the Great Silk Route, and there are many captivating sights to see in this ancient country - Bronze Age petroglyphs, medieval minarets and mosques, the famous carpets. With an oil bonanza incipient, the capital Baku is fast becoming a boomtown.

Azerbaijan re-established its independence upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a cease-fire in place since 1994, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the predominantly ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan has lost control of about 20% of its territory including Karabakh, and must support some 800,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict.

Most Azerbaijanis are very nominal Twelver Shia Muslim. They represent about 80% of the Muslim population. Other religions or beliefs that are followed by many in the country are the orthodox Sunni Islam, the Armenian Apostolic Church (in Nagorno-Karabakh), the Russian Orthodox Church, and various other Christian and Muslim sects. The Tats in Quba, as well as several thousand Ashkenazim Jews in Baku, follow Judaism.

The official language of Azerbaijan is Azerbaijani, a member of the Oguz subdivision of the Turkic language family, and is spoken by around 89% of the republic's population, as well as about a quarter of the population of Iran. Its closest relatives in language are Turkish and Turkmen. As a result of the language policy of the Soviet Union, Russian is also commonly spoken as a second language among the urbane.

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Basic information

Full country name: Republic of Azerbaijan

Government type: Dominant-party presidential republic

President: IIham Aliyev

Capital: Baku (Baki)

Independence: 18 October 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday: Founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, 28 May (1918)

Area: 86,600 sq km

Administrative divisions: 59 rayons (rayonlar; rayon - singular), 11 cities (saharlar; sahar - singular), 1 autonomous republic (muxtar respublika)

Population: 9,494,600 (2014 est.)

Ethnic groups: Azerbaijani 91.6%, Lezgian 2%, Russian 1.3%, Armenian 1.3%, Talysh 1.3%, other 2.4%  (2009 est.)

Language: Azerbaijani (Azeri) (official) 92.5%, Russian 1.4%, Armenian 1.4%, other 4.7% (2009 est.)

Religion: Islam 96.4%, Russian Christianity 3.1%, other 0.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita: $3.253 (Dec. 2013)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 39.3%, industry: 12.1%, services: 48.6% (2013)

Unemployment rate: 5.2% (Dec.2012 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.99% (2014 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. You can read full article here!

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