Azerbaijan, officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, is the state located in the Caucasus region. Rich in oil, the country is located in Asia Transcaucasia, south of the mountainous watershed that separates it conventionally from Europe. Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus both in terms of area and population, bordering the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia and Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south.
From geographic point of view, the State of Azerbaijan is not the European one, however, it is often considered as such thanks to historical and cultural considerations. In fact, Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe. The country is also a member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and therefore, it participates in the Eurovision Song Contest, won in 2011 and hosted the following year.
Guests are given the places of honor in the Azerbaijani traditions and treated with the utmost respect. Those who will have the opportunity to meet or stay with a family in Azerbaijan, definitely, they will see well-known Azerbaijani hospitality. The traditions of hospitality in Azerbaijan have come a long way; however, there are also modern manners that the families welcome the guests today.
In a classical piece of Azerbaijani literature "Dede-Gorgud Dastani", it is said that "let the houses that no longer welcome guests collapse".
There are considerable number of hotels of different types in Azerbaijan that can satisfy any visitor. Great number of hotels are situated in Baku, including budget and luxury hotels.
Varied and very rich cuisine
As the main dishes, Azerbaijani cuisine has Plov with saffron aroma, coal-roasted kebabs, freshly-caught fish, sweet fruit and honey for dessert. The cuisine of Azerbaijan is full of flavours and surprises and is a vital part of the country and its culture. The flavours and ingredients used reflect the ingredients grown or available in Azerbaijan, although the commercial exchanges have brought new flavours from the entire world. Even the cooking techniques reflect the lifestyle and local traditions, and the names of the Azerbaijani dishes derive from the terms used in Azerbaijan.
Hospitality is an important part of the Azerbaijani culture, and the cuisine is not an exception. Guests are treated to an abundance of dishes, and leaving food on the plate can be considered rude, even if you are already full. Food holds sacred place and sharing your food, even bread with another person creates a strong bond. Food culture is very rich. For example, the Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and its central place in the Azerbaijani culture and among families have been recognized by the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Many dishes are delicious and healthy, which is why Azerbaijan is a country of centenarians. Beef and mutton are common, the same as poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables. The spices include dill, coriander, mint, chive and basil. They can be found in many of dishes, giving them rich and full flavours. The result is a wide variety of dishes that are hearty and nutritious, full of familiar and unusual flavours.
But wait, that’s not all - there are endless foods to try in Azerbaijan. If you would like a hearty soup (like Piti) or a quick snack (like Kutab) or something to satisfy a sweet tooth (Pakhlava), you will find more to explore. The more you travel to Azerbaijan, the more you will discover, as every region (and every cook) has their own recipes that bring new flavours and delights
Territory of the country covers the area of 86 600 km². It is located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus. Densely inhabited part of the country extends around the downstream of the Kura River that drains into the Caspian Sea, which washes the entire eastern part of Azerbaijan. The country borders Russia to the north, Armenia and Georgia to the west, and Iran to the south. Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is enclosed between Armenia, Iran and Turkey. The capital is Baku city, and another important city is Ganja.
The question whether Azerbaijan can be considered a transcontinental country lying on both sides of Asia and Europe is controversial. Having regarded the Kuma-Manych Depression as the natural boundary between Europe and Asia, the whole territory of Azerbaijan, in fact, would be on the Asian continent. If this border is along the Caucasian watershed or the Kura River and Rioni River, then a part of the Azerbaijani territory would be in Europe.
Azerbaijan is mostly mountainous.
In winter, the Greater Caucasus protects the country from polar influences, while summers are very hot. Towards the south from the capital instead, autumn is very rainy, while the rest of the country has a pleasant climate. 9 out of 11 climate zones are present in Azerbaijan.
The current population of Azerbaijan is about 10 million.
Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic country. The population is mainly composed of Azerbaijanis (approximately 90%).
The official language is Azerbaijani, a Turkic language, written in Azerbaijani with the Latin alphabet, which replaced the Cyrillic alphabet. There is a small Russian-speaking minority (3.5%), Lezgi (1.9%) in the north and Talish (1.8%) in the south of the country.
Obviously, as a legacy of the Soviet period, most of the Azerbaijani population speaks Russian fluently. Currently, majority of young people speak English well enough.
The structure of the political system in Azerbaijan was redefined by way of adoption of new Constitution on 12 November 1995. According to Article 23 of the Constitution, the state symbols of the Republic of Azerbaijan are the State Flag, the State Emblem and the State Anthem.
The Government of Azerbaijan is based on the principle of separation of powers: legislative power, executive power and judicial power. Legislative power is exercised by the unicameral National Assembly (Milli Mejlis). Given the particular status of autonomy of Nakhchivan, powers, similar to those of the Milli Mejlis, are attributed to the Ali Mejlis of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. The executive power is vested in the President, who is elected for a seven-year term by way of direct election. The judicial power is exercised by the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the courts of appeal, general courts and other specialised courts of the Republic of Azerbaijan.