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About Azerbaijan
 
History
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.[35] 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.

Early settlements included the Scythians in the ninth century BC.[33] Following the Scythians, Iranian Medes came to dominate the area to the south of the Aras.[31] The Medes forged a vast empire between 900–700 BC, which was integrated into the Achaemenids Empire around 550 BC. The area was conquered by the Achaemenids leading to the spread of Zoroastrianism.[36] Later it became part of Alexander the Great's Empire and its successor, the Seleucid Empire. Caucasian Albanians, the original inhabitants of the area, established an independent kingdom around the fourth century BC. During this period, Zoroastrianism spread in the Caucasus and Atropatene. Ancient Azerbaijanis spoke the Old Azari language.
 
Geography
Azerbaijan is in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It lies between latitudes 38° and 42° N, and longitudes 44° and 51° E. The total length of Azerbaijan's land borders is 2,648 km (1,645 mi), of which 1007 kilometers are with Armenia, 756 kilometers with Iran, 480 kilometers with Georgia, 390 kilometers with Russia and 15 kilometers with Turkey.[81] The coastline stretches for 800 km (497 mi), and the length of the widest area of the Azerbaijani section of the Caspian Sea is 456 km (283 mi).[81] The territory of Azerbaijan extends 400 km (249 mi) from north to south, and 500 km (311 mi) from west to east.

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 flatlands at the country's center. There are also three mountain ranges, the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, and the Talysh Mountains, together covering approximately 40 percent of the country.[82] The highest peak of Azerbaijan is mount Bazardüzü (4,466 m), while the lowest point lies in the Caspian Sea (−28 m). Nearly half of all the mud volcanoes on Earth are concentrated in Azerbaijan, which was also among nominees for New7Wonders of Nature.[83]

The main water sources are the surface waters. However, only 24 of the 8,350 rivers are greater than 100 km (62 mi) in length.[82] All the rivers drain into the Caspian Sea in the east of the country.[82] The largest lake is Sarysu (67 km²), and the longest river is Kur (1,515 km), which is transboundary. Azerbaijan's four main islands in the Caspian Sea have a combined area of over thirty square kilometer.

Since the independence of Azerbaijan in 1991, the Azerbaijani government has taken drastic measures to preserve the environment of Azerbaijan. But national protection of the environment started to truly improve after 2001 when the state budget increased due to new revenues provided by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Within four years protected areas doubled and now make up eight percent of the country's territory. Since 2001 the government has set up seven large reserves and almost doubled the sector of the budget earmarked for environmental protection.[84]
 
Foreign relations
The short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with six countries, sending diplomatic representatives to Germany and Finland.[93] 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 November 6, 1996.[94] Full diplomatic relations, including mutual exchanges of missions, were first established with Turkey, Pakistan, the United States, Iran[93] and Israel.[95] Azerbaijan has placed a particular emphasis on its "Special Relationship" with Turkey.[96][97]

Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries so far and holds membership in 38 international organizations.[13] It holds observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union.[13] On 9 May 2006 Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly. The term of office began on 19 June 2006.[15]

Foreign policy priorities of Azerbaijan include: first of all, the restoration of its territorial integrity; elimination of the consequences of the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other regions of Azerbaijan;[98][99] integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structure; contribution to international security; cooperation with international organizations; regional cooperation and bilateral relations; strengthening of defense capability; promotion of security by domestic policy means; strengthening of democracy; preservation of the ethnic and religious tolerance; scientific, educational and cultural policy and preservation of moral values; economic and social development; enhancing internal and border security; migration, energy and transportation security policy.[98]

The Azerbaijani Government, in late 2007, stated that the long-standing dispute over the Armenian-occupied territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is almost certain to spark a new war if it remains unresolved.[98] The Government is in the process of increasing its military budget. Furthermore, economic sanctions by Turkey to the west and by Azerbaijan itself to the east have combined to greatly erode Armenia's economy, leading to steep increases in prices for basic commodities and a great decline in the Armenian state revenues.[100]

Azerbaijan is an active member of international coalitions fighting international terrorism. The country is contributing to peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Azerbaijan is an active member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. It also maintains good relations with the European Union and could potentially one day apply for membership.[98]
 
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1st & 2nd Int’l Conferences
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3rd & 4rth Int’l Conferences
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