I’ve talked about Azerbaijan in a lot of posts, but now I am going to devote an entire post to the county which was my home for a year.
Azerbaijan is roughly the size of Maine, but feels much larger. It was part of the Soviet Union and gained independence in 1991. While it is a fairly young country, the culture is thousands of years old. It has been part of Persia, Ottoman, Russia and has evidence of dating back to the Neolithic age. All of this has created an interesting, diverse cultural environment. Most people in Azerbaijan are Shiite Muslims, but a very secular brand of Islam. I think this is because of the time they were part of the Soviet Union and practicing religion was forbidden. Women don’t often cover their heads and it isn’t unusual for them to work outside the home.
In Azerbaijan, people speak Azerbaijani. Azerbaijani is mostly a Turkic language but it also takes words from Persian, Russian and Arabic. While we were learning Azerbaijani, we weren’t sure which words were from which language family and it was been fun to meet Russian, Turkish, Persian and Arabic speakers and compare words with them.
There are lots of different climates and elevations in Azerbaijan. There are also quite a few natural resources. There are barrels of oil in the Caspian Sea and in Azerbaijan as well as large amounts of natural gas. There have been a couple oil booms over the past century and a half and oil is still the biggest money maker for the country.
The people of Azerbaijan is really what make the country beautiful. I’ve already written about a few of these people and they are just a drop in the bucket of lovely Azerbaijanis.