The ancient land of Azerbaijan is located in the Western Asia, stretching from the south-eastern part of the Caucasian mountains to the southern and southeastern mountain territories of Lake Urmia. Its area is more than 200 thousand square kilometers. Azerbaijan is generally situated in the eastern hemisphere. Many important international roads, connecting Europe with the countries of Central and Eastern Asia, pass through the country.
The republic, situated between Europe and Asia, has a unique geopolitical and geographical position. From ancient times to the present day it remains important for international economic and cultural relations. It borders with Russia (Dagestan) and Georgia in the north, Armenia in the west and Iran in the south. The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is the exclave of Azerbaijan. It borders with Armenia in the northeast, with Iran in the south and Turkey in the west.
Azerbaijan is a country of ancient traditions and diverse culture. The Oghuz tribes, that came here, in the course of several centuries assimilated with local residents with deep cultural roots.
Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan. For several months in 1918 the capital of the country was the city of Ganja. There are many interesting places in Baku: the Old Town (Icheri Sheher), the caravansary of the XV century, the Maiden Tower (VII-XII cc.), The Minaret of Sinyk-Kala (XI c.), mosques, the “Bayil stones” (XII c.), 7 theaters, 30 museums, etc. The Old Fortress of the city is converted into the Museum-Reserve “Palace of the Shirvanshahs” (XV century).
Elegant architectural monuments of Baku are organically woven into the modern urban life of the capital. They depict the Turkish and the Cuban urban landscape. However, not only Baku can boast of numerous monuments of national culture – almost every village of the country has its antiquities that attract the attention of tourists.
It is very interesting to come to Baku during the holidays: Gurban Bayram, Ramadan Bayram, and on March 20-21when Novruz Bayram is celebrated. You can see numerous festive events accompanying these ancient holidays in the city on these days.
There are different historical capitals of Azerbaijan: the cities of Gabala, Sheki, Shusha, Ganja, Shemakha, Nakhchivan and Bard.
Azerbaijan is known for its masters of carpet weaving. Here you can find a huge variety of carpets and rugs. You need only remember that if the carpet was made before 1960, it is taxed for export and it’s necessary to receive the certificate of the Ministry of Culture.
There are more than 130 museums and galleries in Azerbaijan. The mausoleum of Yusif, Momine-Khatun, towers of Absheron peninsula are in fact the unique ancient mausoleums.
Azerbaijan will surprise you with its natural conditions: the sea and rivers, high mountain ranges and plains, semi-deserts and woodlands are comfortably located on the territory of the country. Visiting this country, travelers will have an opportunity to submerge into the largest lake of the planet – the Caspian Sea. Here you can dive appreciating its underwater world, or to dissect its blue water surface walking on the boat. Visiting Pirkuli, you can try the ski runs, as well as enjoy the nature and wildlife of the reserve of the same name. Those who wish to improve in health can visit hydrosulphuric, thermal and mineral springs, balneological, mountain and naphthalane resorts.
The Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest lake without outflow. It plays an important role in the life of the Azerbaijani people and is unique according to its physical and geographical characteristics. Suffice it to say that the flora and fauna of the Caspian Sea is rich in endemic species. So, 90% of the sturgeon in the world, distinguished by its antiquity from other species of fish, are located in this sea.
The specificity of the geographical landscape has created favorable recreational conditions. The sea is located along the meridian in the form of the Latin letter S, located between 47° 17′ of eastern latitude and 36°33′ of western longitude. The length of the Caspian along the meridian is about 1200 km, the average width is 310, the largest and smallest latitudes are 435 and 195 km, respectively. Due to periodic changes in the level of the Caspian Sea, its surface (mirror) area and volume are also changing. The Caspian Sea presently lies at 26.75 m below sea level. At this sea level mark, its surface area is 392600 km2. The volume of water is 78648 km3, comprising 44% of the total lake water resources in the world. In this regard, its maximum depth of 1025 meters can be compared with the Black, Baltic and Yellow Seas, the Caspian Sea is deeper than the Adriatic, Aegean, Tyrrhenian and other seas.
The evidence of the rich past of the people of Azerbaijan, dating back to the Stone Age – like cave paintings, monuments, rock fortresses – can be found in the mountains of Shyhgaya, Ginhardag, Kichikdash, Gobustan, Shongardag and Boyukdash.
The largest reserves that protect the fauna of Transcaucasia are Zakatal, Shirvan, Kyzylagach, Hyrkan. There are about 4100 unique species of plants and animals in these reserves.
Flora and fauna
The territory of Azerbaijan has a rich flora. There are more than 4500 species of flowering plants. For the diversity of species, the flora of the Republic of Azerbaijan is much richer than other republics of the South Caucasus. The plant species in Azerbaijan account for 66% of the total number of plant species in the Caucasus.
The physico-geographical and natural-historical conditions influenced the richness of the flora and the diversity of the vegetation cover of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is also rich in relict species related to the third period. Its representatives can often be found in all zones, especially in the Talysh zone. These include a chestnut-oak tree, an iron tree, a Caucasian persimmon, a Lankaran acacia, and others.
In the Azerbaijan flora, all areal types are found: ancient forests, steppes, deserts, boreal, xerophytes, adventive plant types. Types of ancient forests are mainly found in the Talysh zone. Types of xerophyll, steppe, and deserts are common in the plains, in the foothills, in the majority in the Kura-Araz lowland. Boreal types – are in the mountainous areas of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, in a smaller number – in the lower belts. The adventive areal type is very rare. It can be found in the Kura-Araz lowland, in the Caspian coast, on lawns, lakes, in non-current waters and swampy places.