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Total 8,200,000 (October 2003)
Separated from the state. Muslim 93.4%, Orthodox Christian 4.8%, Jewish 1%, other 0.8%.
State symbols of the Republic of Azerbaijan are the Republic of Azerbaijan Flag, the Republic of Azerbaijan Emblem, the Republic of Azerbaijan National Anthem.
On February 5, 1991 the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan considered a solicitation for recognition of a three colored flag as the National Flag of Azerbaijan.
The National Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan consists of three equal in length horizontal stripes. The upper stripe is blue, middle is red, and the lower is green coloured. Blue colour has the meaning of Turkic origin, red color reflects the heading towards modernization of society and the development of democracy, and the green color shows affiliation to Islamic civilization. In the center with the red stripe on both sides of flag, there is white crescent and eight-angled star. Proportion of width to the length of the flag is 1:2.
On January 30, 1920 the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic adopted resolution on the announcement of a competition for the best National emblem of the Republic. It was mentioned in the resolution that adoption of the emblem will be on May 28. But in the result of the collapse of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic on April 28, 1920, the emblem was not adopted.
On November 17, 1990 the Parliament of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan, after having discussed the question of a National emblem, solicited to the Parliament of Azerbaijan an announcement of the re-implementation of the competition for processing the National emblem.
Competition was announced on February 5, 1991 according to the resolution of the Parliament of Azerbaijan. During 1991-1992 there were several projects of a new National emblem and in discussions there were also suggestions on the adoption on the projects designed in 1919-1920.
On January 19, 1993 the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan passed Constitutional Law, according to which the project of the National emblem of 1919-1920, with some changes, was adopted.
The National emblem of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the symbol of sovereignty for the state. The National emblem represents an image of oriental escutcheon, placed on the arch and composed of oak branches and ears of wheat. On the escutcheon, on the background of the colors of the National flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan, there is an image of the eight-angled star and in the center of the star there are tongues of a flame.
The convex of the image of the National emblem shall be represented:
- at the residence and office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
- on the wall of the Parliament building, in the session hall and office of the Chairman of Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
- on the walls of the buildings of all courts, the military tribunals, in the halls of court sessions, and in the offices of Chairmen of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
- on the walls of buildings of state structures as provided by legislation;
- in diplomatic missions of the Republic of Azerbaijan
- in other cases provided for by legislation
On January 30, 1920 the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic adopted the resolution on the elaboration of the National Anthem of the Republic and launched a competition. But in the result of the collapse of the first republic on April 28, 1920 of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic anthem was not adopted.
On May 27, 1992 Milli Majlis adopted the Law "About the State Hymn of the Republic of Azerbaijan", according to which the "Azerbaijani March" of composer Uzeyir Hajibayli and poet Ahmad Javad, which was created in 1919, was approved as the State Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Music by Uzeyir Hajibayli
January 1 - New Year's Day
January 20 - Day of the Martyrs
March 8 - Women's Day
March 21 - Novruz Bayrami
May 9 - Victory in World War II Day
May 28 - Republic Day
June 15 - National Salvation Day
June 26 - Army and Navy Day
October 18 - National Independence Day
November 12 - Constitution Day
November 17 - Day of National Revival
December 31 - Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the World
Azerbaijan is among the areas of earliest human settlement, with evidence of human habitation since the Palaeolithic age. Settlements engaging in agriculture and livestock-raising were widely distributed over this area in the seventh and sixth millennia BC. Rock paintings in Gobustan near Baku are dated by scholars to the end of the seventh and beginning of the sixth millennia BC. The well-known Norwegian explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, who made special trips to Baku in 1979 and 1994 to study these rock paintings, believes that the shores of the Caspian Sea were one of the cradles of the human civilization. The Gobustan rock paintings of boats surmounted by an image of the sun also attests to the ties between the early settlements of Azerbaijan and the Sumero/Akkadian civilization of Mesopotamia, whose cultural heritage includes very similar depictions. Over the period from the late ninth to the seventh centuries BC, the Mannaean kingdom came into being in the area of Lake Urmia which was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid kingdom in the mid-sixth century BC. The Cimmerian-Scythian-Saka kingdom flourished in the seventh and sixth centuries BC in the south-west of Azerbaijan.
The conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great led to the emergence of the state of Atropatena in 323 BC. Historians suggest that the name ‘Azerbaijan’ is connected with ‘Atropatena’ (Adarbaygan).
The Caucasian Albanian state was created in the north of Azerbaijan in the third millennium BC, with the river Araxes as its southern frontier. The people of Albania included a number of different tribes. Christianity was adopted there in 313 AD. The territory of Albania also included the mountainous part of Karabakh, which was known at that time as Artsakh. Over the period from the first to the fourth centuries, when the Caucasus area was under the Roman yoke, Albania remained the only independent state with its own autocephalous Albanian Catholicosate Church.
After the invasion by the Arabs, the dominant religion from the early eighth century in Azerbaijan became Islam. Most of the Albanians also converted to Islam and only a minority retained their former religion. Bowing to the influence of the Byzantine Empire in the southern Caucasus, the Albanian Church, together with the Georgian Church, had accepted the dyophysite doctrine shortly before the Arab invasion. To create a barrier to the influence of Byzantine, the Arab Caliphate - enlisting the help of the Armenian Church - steered the Albanian Church towards monophysitism and brought it under the dominion of the monophysite Armenian Gregorian Church, opening the way for the subsequent gradual Gregorianization of the Albanians living in the mountainous areas of Karabakh.
Following the anti-Caliphate rising by the local population, several new states arose in the territory of Azerbaijan in the ninth century, the most powerful of which was the State of Shirvan, with its capital at Shemakha ruled by the Shirvanshah dynasty. This dynasty reigned until the sixteenth century and played an enormous role in the history of the Medieval Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan was ruled by the Turk Seljuk dynasty from the end of the eleventh century. Over the period 1136-1225, the Atabek Eldegiz state held sway over Azerbaijan. This period was remarkable in the history of Azerbaijan’s arts, science and literature. It was a time of synergy of various religious and ethnic groups under leadership of Turkic dynasties. A medieval Armenian chronicler, Kirakos Gandzaketsi wrote about the leadership of one of the first Turkic Seljuk leaders, Melik Shah, who freed the Armenian priesthood from having to pay taxes: “He tamed the universe, not by violence, but through love and peace.”
From the mid-thirteenth century, the Azerbaijani states fell under domination of the Mongol Hulagid dynasty (1258-1356). In the mid-fourteenth century, following an uprising by the local population to cast off the yoke of the invaders, the local Jalairid feudal lords took up the reins of power and, with the support of the Azerbaijani nobility, established the Jalairid state (1359-1410). The Turkic dynasties of Qara-Qoyunlu and Aq-Qoyunlu ruled over Azerbaijan in 1410-1468 and 1468-1501. In 1501, the Safavi state was founded by a Turkic tribe kyzylbashi, named after the ruling dynasty. The territory of the Safavi state stretched from the Amu Darya River to the Euphrates and from Derbent to the shores of the Persian Gulf.
In the 1740s Azerbaijan disintegrated into some 20 khanates. At the end of the eighteenth and in the first third of the nineteenth centuries, Azerbaijan was fought over by the Persian, Russian and Ottoman empires, each eager to secure hegemony over this country whose geopolitical situation lent it significant strategic advantages. A number of the khanates rose in arms to defend their sovereignty, while others were forced, in an effort to defend their own interests, to conclude agreements reducing them to the status of vassaldom. Thus, on 14 May 1805 a treaty between Russia and the Azerbaijani Karabakh khan Ibrahim Khalil was signed on the banks of the river Kura under terms of which the independent Azerbaijani khanate of Karabakh was placed under Russian overlordship.
The first Russo-Persian war of 1804-1813, fought to establish dominance over the Azerbaijani khanates, resulted in the first division of Azerbaijani territories between Russia and Persia. The peace treaty of Gulustan, which was signed on the 12 October 1813 by Russia and Persia, gave legal recognition to the annexation of the khanates of northern Azerbaijan, with the exception of Nakhchivan and Erivan, by Russia over the period of 1800-1806. The second Russo-Persian war of 1826-1828 ended up with the signing of the Turkmenachai peace treaty on 10 February 1828, under terms of which Persia officially renounced its claims to northern Azerbaijan and finally recognized Russia’s annexation, with the inclusion of the Nakhchivan and Erivan khanates.
Under the Treaty of Turkmenachai and the peace treaty concluded in Edirne in 1829, the Armenians then inhabiting Persia and the Ottoman Empire were resettled to Azerbaijan, primarily to the khanates of Nakhchivan, Erivan and Karabakh. A well-known Russian diplomat and poet Alexander Griboyedov wrote: “For the most part, the Armenians were settled on the estates of Mohammedan landowners. [T]hese new settlers are crowding out the Mohammedans. [W]e have also given careful thought to the council which must be given to the Mohammedans, so as to reconcile them to this aggravation, which will not be long in duration, and to dispel any apprehensions which they may have that the Armenians will take permanent possession of the lands where they have been initially settled.” Between 1828 and 1920, in pursuit of a policy designed to change the entire demographic make-up of Azerbaijan, more than 2 million Muslims were forcibly expelled and an unknown number were killed. Under a decree promulgated by Tsar Nicholas I on 21 March 1828, the Azerbaijani khanates of Nakhchivan and Erivan were dissolved and replaced by a new administrative entity known as the “Armenian oblast”, administered by Russian officials; in 1849, the Armenian oblast was renamed the province (“guberniya”) of Erivan.
After the revolutionary events of 1917 in Russia, the processes of disintegration of the empire became more dramatic and the conditions were ripe for the formation of independent states. Thus, on 28 May 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed in the territory of the eastern part of the southern Caucasus - the first parliamentary democracy in the Islamic east - which was to play a historic role in the renaissance and formation of the sense of ethnic identity and statehood of Azerbaijan’s nation.
The development of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was based on the doctrine of “Azerbaijanism”, which tailored to the principles of Modernism, Islamism and Turanism. This symbolized the Azerbaijani people’s aspiration for progress based on preservation of their adherence to Islamic civilization and Turkic culture and on their separate ethnic identity.
In its brief existence of less than two years, the multi-party Azerbaijani parliament and the coalition Government managed to take a number of important steps in the process of nation-building and the development of statehood, and in areas such as education, formation of an army, development of independent financial and economic systems and securing international recognition for the young republic as a full member of the international community. On 11 January 1920, the Paris Peace Conference, along with the Treaty of Versailles, accorded de facto recognition of the independence of the Azerbaijani Republic, to whose capital - Baku - 20 countries had already sent their diplomatic representatives.
In late 1919 and the early 1920s, however, the political situation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic - both at home and abroad - worsened considerably. The country found itself caught up in a ferocious tug-of-war between the countries of the Entente, Turkey, Russia and Persia, each pursuing its own geopolitical goals in this strategically important and oil-rich area. The political decision to not recognize the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, to deploy the Eleventh Red Army on the frontiers of the Azerbaijani Republic in spring 1920 and to wage aggression by Dashnak-ruled Armenia against Azerbaijan in Karabakh and Zangezur was held by the Bolshevik Government of the Russian Socialist Federative Republic (RSFSR) as factors that brought about the weakening of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Combined with these decisions were also the terrorist strikes by Armenian groups and the Bolsheviks against the peaceful Azerbaijani population inside Azerbaijan, and the social and economic crisis that was gripping the country, which eventually lead to the occupation of its capital by the Eleventh Red Army on 27-28 April 1920. As stated in a telegram from the general staff of the Caucasian front to the Eleventh Red Army command, dated 1 May 1920, RSFSR troops had been instructed to take possession of the entire territory of Azerbaijan lying within the confines of the former Russian Empire, but without crossing the Persian border.
The 70 years during which Azerbaijan was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) marked a new stage in the development of Azerbaijan’s statehood; however it remained within communist ideology.
From the economic viewpoint, the country became a reservoir of fuel and supplier of raw materials and agricultural products to the Soviet economy. Culturally, the imposition of the Cyrillic alphabet to replace the Latin one, destruction of mosques, oppressions of intelligentsia, etc. was designed to suppress any efforts of the Azerbaijan’s people to maintain and manifest their ethnic and cultural identity and to study the true history of their country.
During the Soviet period, the territories of Zangezur, Goycha, part of Nakhchivan and other districts were cut off from Azerbaijan and attached to neighbouring Armenia. As a result, the country’s area, which previously occupied 114,000 square kilometres during the period of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1920, was reduced to 86,600 square kilometres.
In addition, on 7 July 1923, on the initiative of the Moscow Bolshevik leaders, Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, with a predominantly Armenian population, was established on a part of the territory of Greater Karabakh, the majority of which had been Azerbaijanis. That decision marked the first step in the political campaign to annex Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan.
During the years 1988-1990, the national democratic movement in Azerbaijan launched a campaign aimed at the restoration of the country’s independence. In order to suppress this movement, on 20 January 1990, with the approval of the Soviet leadership Soviet army units stormed Baku killing hundreds of innocent Azerbaijani citizens, including women, children and elderly. A state of emergency was declared in the country which remained in force until mid-1991. Notwithstanding these setbacks, the struggle for independence culminated in the adoption on 31 August 1991, by the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan, of a Declaration on the Restoration of the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
On 18 October 1991 the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan passed an Act establishing the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan. With this act, the Republic of Azerbaijan once again, after a 71-year interval, became an independent state. On 2 March 1992 Azerbaijan was admitted to the United Nations within internationally recognized territorial borders, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region.