OFFICIAL NAME: Azerbaijani Republic
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal Multiparty Republic
AREA: 86,600 Sq Km (33,400 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 8,347,200
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: Azerbaijan is a former republic of
the USSR. It is bound by Iran to the south, Armenia to the
west, Georgia to the northwest, Russia to the north and
the Caspian Sea to the east. The territory also includes
the Nakhichevan Oblast which lies between Iran, Turkey and
Armenia. Around 50% of the land area is mountainous and
the country can be divided into three topographical regions.
(1.) The Greater Caucasus in the north which is represented
by the Main or Dividing Range and is characterized by glacial
structures while to the east the Greater Caucasus descends
rapidly to form broad low hills with an arid terrain. (2.)
The Lesser Caucasus in the south, which consists of the
Shakhdag, Karabakh and Murordg Mountain Ranges also contain
vast lava plateaux as well as extinct volcanoes. (3.) The
Kura Depression, part of which lies between the Greater
and Lesser Caucasuses. In the northern and western areas
of the Kura Depression, low hills, ridges and valleys are
found while the central and eastern parts consist of alluvial
flatlands as well as low delta areas along the coast. The
Nakhichevan Oblast is characterized by sloping plains of
the Araks Valley, plateaux and broken mountain range slopes.
The country's principal rivers are the Kura and Araks. Major
Cities (pop. est.); Baku 1,080,500, Gyandzha (Kirovabad)
282,200, Sumgait 236,200, Mingechaur 91,000, Nakhickevan
62,000 (1991). Land Use; forested 22%, pastures 25%, agricultural-cultivated
11%, other 42% (1993).
CLIMATE: Azerbaijan's climate varies from an arid subtropical
and humid subtropical to a mountainous tundra climate. Average annual precipitation
is between 200 to 300 mm (8 to 12 inches) in the lowlands and 300 to 900
mm (12 to 35.5 inches) in the highlands, although precipitation is distributed
unevenly throughout the year. On the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus
average annual precipitation ranges from 1,000 to 1,300 mm (39 to 51 inches).
Average temperature ranges on the lowlands are from 25 to 27 degrees Celsius
(77 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 0 to 3 degrees Celsius (32 to
37 degrees Fahrenheit) in January and between -3 to -6 degrees Celsius
(27 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit) in January on the highlands.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are Azerbaijanis who account
for 83% of the population while 6% are Russians and another 6% are Armenians.
Other ethnic minorities include Ukrainians, Georgians, Tartars, Jews and
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 85 persons per sq km (220
persons per sq mi) (1993). Urban-Rural; 53.7% urban, 46.3% rural (1991).
Sex Distribution; 49.3% male, 50.7% female (1992). Life Expectancy at Birth;
66.9 years male, 74.8 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 33% under 15,
30% 15 to 29, 17% 30 to 44, 13% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1989).
Birth Rate; 27.0 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 6.3 per 1,000 (1992). Increase
Rate; 20.7 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 25.3 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Shiite Muslims, although there is also a Roman
LANGUAGES: The official language is Azerbaijani while Russian
is also widely spoken and each ethnic minority also has its own language.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: primary or no
formal schooling 12.2%, incomplete secondary 19.2%, complete secondary
58.1%, higher 10.5% (1989). Literacy; N/A.
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: On Aug. 30, 1991 Azerbaijan declared
its independence, although prior to independence its history was closely
tied with that of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
In Mar. 1953 Yosef Stalin died and was succeeded by Georgy Malenkov who
was in turn forced to relinquish the party leadership to Nikita Khrushchev
after a little over one week in power. In 1955 the Warsaw pact, militarily
aligned the Soviet Union with other communist countries and in Nov. 1956
the Soviet Red Army invaded Hungary to quell uprisings. In 1957 three communist
ministers unsuccessfully attempted to depose Khrushchev which resulted
in their expulsion from the central committee. In 1962 under Khrushchev's
rule the USSR was involved in the Cuban Missile crisis and in the same
year relations with China were broken off as a result of ideological differences.
In Oct. 1964 Khrushchev was forced to retire and was succeeded by Leonid
Brezhnev. In Aug. 1968 the Warsaw Pact forces led by the Red Army invaded
Czechoslovakia to halt their Prague Spring reforms. In 1977 Breshnev was
elected President. In Nov. 1982 Brezhnev died and was succeeded by Yuri
Andropov, the former head of the KGB. Andropov introduced limited economic
reforms and established an anti-corruption program. In Feb 1984 Andropov
died and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko who in turn died on Mar.
10, 1985. On Mar. 11, 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as Chernenko's
successor and Gorbachev embarked on a program which restructured the USSR's
relations with the West. Gorbachev also established Glasnost (openness)
as well as Perestroika (restructuring and reform). In Apr. 1986 a meltdown
in the reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine sent radioactive
fallout across northern Europe. In Dec. 1987 the USSR and USA signed the
Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF). In Feb. 1988 a dispute erupted
between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno Karabakh which
resulted in mass demonstrations and strikes in the two republics. In Dec.
1988 an earthquake in Armenia killed some 50,000 people. In Apr. 1989 troops
violently repressed demonstrations in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
In Dec. 1989 the Lithuanian Parliament adopted multiparty politics. In
Jan. 1990 Gorbachev visited Lithuania and was met by some 250,000 pro-independence
demonstrators. In Feb. 1990 some 18 people were killed in riots over housing
discrimination in Tajikistan. In May 1990 Boris Yeltsin was elected President
of the Russian Federation and on Nov. 1, 1990 launched a 500 day plan to
give the Russian Republic a free market economy. In June 1990 Nakhichevan
an Azerbaijani enclave bordering Iran declared its intention for a unification
with Iran while a civil war was escalating between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In the same month around 150 people were killed during ethnic clashes in
Kyrgyzstan. In Jan 1991 another 15 people were killed as the Red Army seized
a television station in Lithuania while in Latvia the Soviet Black Berets
killed 5 people in an attack on the ministry building. In the same month
troops were being deployed in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova. In
Mar. 1991 pro-Yeltsin demonstrators held a mass rally. On Aug. 18, 1991
as Gorbachev was vacationing in the Crimea, the Politburo hard liners attempted
a coup to remove Gorbachev from power through the declaration of a State
of Emergency under the control of a State Committee. Almost immediately
republic leaders declared the emergency committee illegal as well as unconstitutional
and began to barricade their parliaments as troops and tanks were deployed
throughout the republics. By Aug. 20 senior officers had refused to order
their troops to use force against the civilians and on Aug. 21, 1991 the
coup collapsed as troops were ordered to return to their barracks. Immediately
following the unsuccessful coup many republics suspended or purged the
communist party and on Sept. 5, 1991 after 3 days of debate the 74 years
of centralized communist control came to an end. In Jan. 1992 Azerbaijan
became a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Since the break-up of the USSR, fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan
has escalated over the disputed enclave, Nagorno-Karabakh, that has been
territory of Azerbaijan since 1923 although the population is predominately
Armenian. In March 1992 after the fall of the town of Khojali in Nagorno-Karabakh
to Armenian forces angry demonstrations eventually forced the resignation
of Ayaz Mutalibov, the former Communist Party leader. Yabub Mamedov another
ex-communist succeeded Mutalibov until May 1992, when Multalibov was briefly
returned to power after Shusha the center of Azerbaijani culture in Nagorno-Karabakh
fell to Armenian forces. The Azerbaijani Popular Front (APF) headed by
Abulfez Elchibey organized mass demonstration that resulted in the interim
replacement of Mutalibov by Isa Gambarov until presidential elections could
be held. On June 7, 1992 presidential elections resulted in Elchibey being
elected while the old parliament elected in 1990 and dominated by Communists
remained the same. Both Pres. Elchibey and his Armenian counterpart sought
to reached a diplomatic solution over the disputed enclave, although the
Dashnaktstiun Party which dominates the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament would
settle for nothing less than complete independence. As a result Nagorno-Karabakh
declared its independence, proclaimed the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh
and sought international recognition. During 1992 Azerbaijan's parliament
formally voted to leave the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and
introduced its own currency to underline its economic independence. Also
during the year several international agreements for gas and oil exploration
were entered into. In Feb. 1993 amid rumors of an planned coup attempt
a leading army commander, Suret Guseynov, was dismissed while the continuing
lack of military gains over Nagorno-Karabakh, the oppression of political
opposition and a worsening economic situation combined to erode the popularity
of the pro-Turkish Pres. Elcibey. In June 1993, Guseynov's forces repelled
an attack on their headquarters by government forces and occupied Gyandzha.
Gusynov's forces then marched to Baku unchallenged, precipitating Elchibey's
internal exile and the appointment of the former Nakhichevan parliament
chairman, Geidar Aliev, as acting president. In Sept. 1993 Aliev visited
Moscow for talks with Boris Yeltsin and other leading officials on political
and economic cooperation while later that month the National Assembly voted
to rejoin the CIS. In Oct. 1993 Aliev was elected President with some 99%
of the vote and signed an end to Turkey's privileged relationship with
Azerbaijan. Also in October a visit from the Iranian Pres. Ali Akbar Rafsanjani
also focused on stronger economic cooperation. During 1993 the CSCE and
Russia attempted to negotiate a political solution to the continuing conflict
which resulted in a cease-fire agreement in late July, although a fresh
offensive by Karabakh forces into southern Azerbaijan took place in August.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Manat (M) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $5,428,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; N/A. Imports; R 117,427,000,000 (1993). Exports; R 113,589,000,000
(1993). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; R 3,838,000,000 (1993).
Economically Active Population; 2,869,000 or 39.7% of total population
(1992). Unemployed; 3.7% (1991).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the CIS
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Alumina, Clay, Copper, Cotton, Fruits, Grapes,
Iron Ore, Limestone, Livestock, Maize, Natural Gas, Oil, Potatoes, Pyrite,
Rice, Salt, Tea, Tobacco, Vegetables, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Electric Power Construction, Electrical Equipment,
Fishing, Food Processing, Glass, Livestock Processing, Machinery, Mineral
Fertilizers, Oil Refining, Petroleum and Chemical Refining, Petroleum Equipment,
Silk Milling, Steel, Synthetic Alcohol, Wine Making.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemical Products, Electrical Equipment, Fertilizers,
Food Products, Glass, Machinery, Minerals, Natural Gas, Petroleum Products,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2,090 km (1,299 mi) (1991),
passenger-km N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 36,700 km (22,804 mi)
(1991). Vehicles; cars 235,600 (1988). Merchant Marine; N/A. Air Transport;
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 6 with a total circulation
of 427,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 1,174,000 (1992). Television; receivers
1,522,000 (1992). Telephones; units 647,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 86,700 (1995) total active duty personnel with 84.5%
army, 2.6% navy and 12.9% air force while military expenditure accounts
for est. 5.6% (1991) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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