What do I know about Azerbaijan

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Raja Furqan Ahmed;
Azerbaijan is a country located in central Asia, Caucasus region with an area of 86,600 km 2. Neighboring countries include Russia, Georgia, Iran and Armenia. Azerbaijan is a transcontinental country located in both Asia and Europe. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first democratic state in the Muslim-oriented world. The country was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, prior to the official dissolution of the USSR in December 1991 after the disintegration of former USSR. Following the politics of glasnost, initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, civil unrest and ethnic strife grew in various regions of the Soviet Union, including Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous region of the Azerbaijan SSR. The disturbances in Azerbaijan, in response to Moscow’s indifference to an already heated conflict, resulted in calls for independence and secession, which culminated in the Black January events in Baku. Later in 1990, the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR dropped the words “Soviet Socialist” from the title, adopted the “Declaration of Sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic” and restored the flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as the state flag.

As a consequence of the failed coup which occurred in August in Moscow, on 18 October 1991, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan adopted a Declaration of Independence which was affirmed by a nationwide referendum in December 1991, while the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on 26 December 1991. In 1993, democratically elected president Abulfaz Elchibey was overthrown by a military insurrection led by Colonel Surat Huseynov, which resulted in the rise to power of the former leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev. In 1994, Surat Huseynov, by that time the prime minister, attempted another military coup against Heydar Aliyev, but he was arrested and charged with treason. A year later, in 1995, another coup was attempted against Aliyev, this time by the commander of the OMON special unit, Rovshan Javadov. The coup was averted, resulting in the killing of the latter and disbanding of Azerbaijan’s OMON units. At the same time, the country was tainted by rampant corruption in the governing bureaucracy. In October 1998, Aliyev was reelected for a second term. Despite the much-improved economy, particularly with the exploitation of the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field and Shah Deniz gas field, Aliyev’s presidency was criticized due to suspected election frauds and corruption. Gilham Aliya, Heydar Aliyev’s son, became chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party as well as President of Azerbaijan when his father died in 2003. He was re-elected to a third term as president in October 2013. Three physical features dominate Azerbaijan: the Caspian Sea, whose shoreline forms a natural boundary to the east; the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north; and the extensive flatland at the country’s center. Azerbaijan is home to a vast variety of landscapes. 9 out of 11 existing climate zones are present in Azerbaijan. The short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with six countries, sending diplomatic representatives to Germany and Finland. The process of international recognition of Azerbaijan’s independence from the collapsing Soviet Union lasted roughly one year. The most recent country to recognize Azerbaijan was Bahrain, on 6 November 1996.

Full diplomatic relations, including mutual exchanges of missions, were first established with Turkey, Pakistan, the United States, Iran and Israel. So far its holds membership in 38 international organizations. Two-thirds of Azerbaijan is rich in oil and natural gas. The history of the oil industry of Azerbaijan dates back to the ancient period. Arabian historian and traveller Ahmed Al-Belaruri mentioned about the economics of Absheron peninsula in the ancient times, oil lands, also, white and black oil in Absheron. Tourism is an important part of the economy of Azerbaijan. The country was a well-known tourist spot in the 1980s. However, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the Nagorno-Karabakh War during the 1990s, damaged the tourist industry and the image of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination. It was not until the 2000s that the tourism industry began to recover, and the country has since experienced a high rate of growth in the number of tourist visits and overnight stays. In recent years, Azerbaijan has also become a popular destination for religious, spa, and health care tourism. Baku, the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan is very expensive, as a tourist. If you are thinking about any trip just go and visit Azerbaijan beautiful places. Great people with great hospitality.

The writer is a student of International Relations and Freelance journalist currently based in Islamabad, Pakistan.