The 21st Century Phenomenon



AzerbaIjan stretches on 86,600 square km on the slopes of the Caucasus to the Western coast of the Caspian Sea. AzerbaIjan border with Russia in the North, the Christian countries of Georgia and Armenia in the West and Iran in the South. The population is about 10 millions (2011), 90% of whom are Azeris (AzerbaIjanis), one of the Turkish nations, but unlike Sunni Turkey they are Muslim Shiites like the Southern neighbor Iran. Shiites are 85% of the AzerbaIjani population but they practice a moderate form of the Shiaa Islamh.

AzerbaIjan was since 1920 a Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union and an independent state since 31/08/1991 with the collapse of the Soviet regime in Russia. The country’s economy is based on its rich oil fields and the political system is officially a republic but actually an authoritarian system.

In 1992-3 AzerbaIjan suffered a defeat in a bloody war with neighbor Armenia over the district of Nagorno-Karabakh populated with a mix of Armenian and Azeris. As many as 230,000 Armenians from AzerbaIjan and 800,000 Azeris from Armenia and Karabakh have been displaced as a result of the conflict. Following the war AzerbaIjan went through a deep economic crisis. Thanks to its oil reserves AzerbaIjan recovered from the crisis, established its institutions and raised its level of life estimated in 2011 as $10,000 per person a year, twice higher then in neighbor Armenia. The international community does not recognize the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the tension between the two states is still unsolved .

AzerbaIjan nurtured its relations with the Western powers and despite being a Muslim Shiite state has excellent relations with Israel. Israel provides AzerbaIjan with the latest technology, including military technology, and AzerbaIjan is the main oil supplier of Israel through a pipeline, which stretches from Baku, AzerbaIjan’s capital, through Georgia to the Black Sea (see – Georgia Crisis). The good relations are a source of tension between Iran and AzerbaIjan.


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