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Azerbaijan is a country with over 9 million people population in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western 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 earliest evidence of human settlement in the territory of Azerbaijan dates to the late Stone Age and is related to the Guruchay culture of the Azykh Cave, where archeological evidences promoted the inclusion of Azerbaijan into the map of the ascent man sites of Europe. The Upper Paleolithic and late Bronze Age cultures are attested in the caves of Tağılar, Damcılı, Zar, Yataq-yeri and in the necropolises of Leylatepe and Saraytepe. The area was conquered by the Achaemenids around 550 B.C.E., leading to the spread of Zoroastrianism.
Later it became part of Alexander the Great\'s Empire and its successor Seleucid Empire. Caucasian Albanians, the original inhabitants of the area, established an independent kingdom around the fourth century B.C.E. Early Iranian settlements included the Scythians in the ninth century BC. Following the Scythians, Iranian Medes came to dominate the area to the south of the Aras. The Medes forged a vast empire between 900-700 BC, which was integrated into the Achaemenids Empire around 550 BC.
It is notable that Turkification of Azaris was completed only By the late 1800s. The old Iranic speakers found solely in tiny isolated recesses of the mountains or other remote areas (such as Harzand, Galin Guya, Shahrud villages in Khalkhal and Anarjan). Today, this Turkic speaking population is also known as Azeris. Locally, the possessions of the subsequent Seljuq Empire were ruled by atabegs, who were technically vassals of the Seljuq sultans, being sometimes de facto rulers themselves. Under the Seljuq Turks, local poets such as Nizami Ganjavi and Khagani Shirvani gave rise to a blossoming of Persian literature on the territory of present-day Azerbaijan. The next ruling state of the Jalayirids was short-lived and fell under the conquests of Timur.The local dynasty of Shirvanshahs became a vassal state of Timur\'s Empire and assisted him in his war with the ruler of the Golden Horde Tokhtamysh. Following Timur\'s death two independent and rival states emerged: Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu. The Shirvanshahs returned, maintaining a high degree of autonomy as local rulers and vassals from 861 until 1539. During their persecution by the Safavids, the last dynasty imposed Shia Islam upon the formerly Sunni population, as it was battling against the Sunni Ottoman Empire.
After the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War I, Azerbaijan, together with Armenia and Georgia became part of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. When the republic dissolved in May 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). The ADR was the first modern parliamentary republic in the Muslim World.
By March 1920, it was obvious that Soviet Russia would attack the much-needed Baku. Vladimir Lenin said that the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil. Independent Azerbajian lasted only 23 months until the Bolshevik 11th Soviet Red Army invaded it and establishing the Azerbaijan SSR on April 28, 1920.
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 modified flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic as a state flag. On 8 September 1991, Ayaz Mütallibov was elected president in nationwide elections in which he was the only candidate. On 18 October 1991, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan adopted a Declaration of Independence which was affirmed by a nationwide referendum in December 1991, when the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.
Tourism is an important part of the economy of Azerbaijan. The country\'s large abundance of natural and cultural attractions make it an attractive destination of visitors. The country was a well-known tourist spot in the 1980s, yet, the Nagorno-Karabakh War during the 1990s crippled the tourist industry and negatively impacted the image of Azerbaijan as a tourist destination. It was not until 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. The Government of Azerbaijan has set the development of Azerbaijan as an elite tourist destination a top priority. It is a national strategy to make tourism a major, if not the single largest, contributor to the Azerbaijani economy
Azerbaijan is located on the crossroad of the Silk Road. It stands on a piece of Silk route, which went through Caspian sea from Nisa to Erzurum along the Araxes river.
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