Azerbaijan

Flag of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Karabakh Horse & Colt

Country Azerbaijan                      Link to map of Azerbaijan
Continent Asia (Eurasia)
Capital Baku
Population 9,780,800 (2015 est.)
Language Azerbaijani
Religion Muslin (97%; predominantly Shia) & Christian (3%)
Terrain Slightly smaller that Maine, Azerbaijan has a complete range of landscapes; from mountains north and south, plateaus in the middle and 713 km (443 miles) of coastline along the Caspian Sea
Sports Freestyle wrestling, football (soccer), world chess, and women’s volleyball
Animals Azerbaijan has the highest number of mammal species in Europe with some 107 species recorded which range from Caucasian goats, Jeyran gazelles, passerines (bird), and the Karabakh horse (only found in Azerbaijan; pictured here)
Facts of Interest · The translation of Azerbaijan is “The land of fire” due to its naturally occurring surface fires on ancient oil pools and natural gas discharge

· Azerbaijan declared its independence in 1918 and became the first Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic. It is a former Soviet Republic.

·         There are many ethnic groups. The largest is North Azerbaijani or Azeri, who are predominantly Shia Muslims and are more influenced by Persian than Arabic.

· Azerbaijan contains nearly half of all the mud volcanoes on Earth

· The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is self-governed part of Azerbaijan, but is geographically discontinuous from the main part of Azerbaijan and on the western side of Armenia. It is traditionally considered to be the place where Noah was buried.

Concerns · Although Azerbaijan has reduced its poverty rate via the revenue from oil and gas production, government corruption is widespread with issues of human rights violations reported

· Severe air & drinking water pollution from heavy industry and agriculture as well as contamination of the Caspian Sea from oil drilling

· Inadequate waste management creating breeding places for disease-spreading insects, rats and wild dogs

· Territorial disputes with Armenia remains a focus of regional instability and during the Nagorno-Karabakh war (late 1980’s – 1994) caused a significant number (600,000) internally displaced people

Mission · Connected to the Armenian population, there are Orthodox Christian churches but there is little other Christian witness.

· In 2010, laws were passed to regulate and restrict religious practice which make it difficult for most faiths, including Muslims, to teach children, develop literature, involve foreigners, or develop property for worship purposes. Some speculate this is because religion is perceived as a threat to the government.

Sources en.wikipedia.org, CIA.gov, humanrightseurope.gov, azer.com, pcusa.org,

operationworld.org/azer