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Azərbaycan Respublikası
Republic of Azerbaijan
Flag of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan coat of arms
flag emblem
Official language Azerbaijani
capital city Baku
State and form of government presidential republic
Head of state President İlham Əliyev
Head of government Prime Minister Əli Əsədov
area 86,600 km²
population 10.0 million ( 89th ) (2019)
Population density 120 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 0.8% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
2019 (estimate)
  • $ 48 billion ( 90th )
  • $ 150 billion ( 76th )
  • 4,814 USD ( 106. )
  • 15,076 USD ( 91. )
Human Development Index 0.756 ( 88th ) (2019)
currency 1 Azerbaijan manat (AZN) = 100 Qəpik / Qäpik
independence May 28, 1918 (declaration)
October 18, 1991 (recovery)
National anthem Azərbaycan Marşı
National holiday 28th of May
Time zone UTC + 4
License Plate AZ
ISO 3166 AZ , AZE, 031
Internet TLD .az
Phone code +994
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Template: Infobox State / Maintenance / NAME-GERMAN

Azerbaijan ( Azerbaijani Azərbaycan , officially Republic of Azerbaijan , Azerbaijani Azərbaycan Respublikası ) is a state in the Middle East with around 10 million inhabitants. Located between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus , it borders Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest , Iran to the south, Armenia to the west and Turkey via the Nakhichevan exclave , which is separated from the Azerbaijani heartland by an Armenian strip of territory . The capital and largest city of Azerbaijan with around 2.2 million inhabitants is Baku ( Azerbaijani Bakı ), an important port city on the Caspian Sea. Other important cities are Sumgait , Ganja and Lankaran . The total area of ​​the country is 86,600 km². More than 89 percent of the population are Shiite Muslims .

"Azerbaijan" originally referred to the Iranian region of Azerbaijan further south , while the current state area was called Arrān and Albania . When the Russian Empire fell apart, the independent Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was proclaimed on May 28, 1918 . The Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic was a part of the Soviet Union . It became independent in 1991 and the country is ruled in an authoritarian manner as before .

Azerbaijan has significant oil reserves . A rapid economic upswing from 2000 made it a middle income country. In addition, Azerbaijan is one of six independent Turkic states and an active member of the Turkish Council and the TÜRKSOY community .

Etymology and Uses

The name Azerbaijan most likely comes from Atropates , a satrap of Alexander the Great in 328 BC. BC, who ruled over the area of ​​today's Iranian Azerbaijan . The area under his control was called by the Greeks (Media) Atropatene ; the Parthians made it Āturpātakān , the Sasanids then Adurbadagān or Adeirbadagān , which finally became the current form of the name. According to an older hypothesis, which is now generally regarded as outdated, the expression Azerbaijan could also have its roots in ancient Zoroastrianism , where it says in the Avestic Frawardin Yasht : "âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide" ("We worship the Faravahar of holy Atarepata"). This could be supported by the fact that the great fire sanctuary Tacht-e Suleiman was in the area that was called Adurbadagān in late antiquity (today it is in Iran). The area of ​​today's Republic of Azerbaijan is significantly smaller than that of the ancient Media Atropatene and largely coincides with Albania .


Azerbaijan topographic map
Topography of Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia

Azerbaijan is mostly located in the Caucasus and borders with Russia ( Dagestan ), Georgia ( Lower Cartlia and Kakheti ), Armenia and Iran . In the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, which is an exclave, Azerbaijan has a 17-kilometer border with Turkey . The national territory with an area of ​​86,600 km² extends from 44 to 52 degrees east longitude and 38 to 42 degrees north latitude. Of this, the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic covers 5500 square kilometers. Around 14% of the territory in Nagorno-Karabakh was occupied by units of the Karabakh-Armenians from the beginning of the 1990s . Since the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020, two-thirds of this area have been under Azerbaijan's control again.


Greater Caucasus

Azerbaijan is part of the Caspian Caucasus. The Lesser Caucasus is located in the south of the country . The Talysh Mountains rise up on the border with Iran. The highest peak is the Great Caucasus belonging Bazardüzü with 4466 meters near the border with Russia. The largest lake is the Sarısu with 67 km². The Kura (Azerbaijani freestyle ), which is dammed up in the Mingetschaur reservoir to form the largest artificial lake in the country, flows into the Caspian Sea after a length of 1,364 kilometers . The macaw forms the border with Iran. The islands of Pirallahı and Cilov in the Caspian Sea also belong to the national territory . There are several oil fields on the Abşeron Peninsula .

The land is covered by 50% arable land , 12% by forest and 2% by water.


Around 18,000 animal species - including 102 species of mammals - live in Azerbaijan, such as brown bears , wolves , wild boars , deer , gazelles , golden jackals , Eurasian lynxes , leopards and striped hyenas , but also reptiles and rodents. The spider fauna of Azerbaijan has been well studied - 717 species have been detected so far (as of 2019).


Located on the edge of the temperate and subtropical climate zones , the climate of Azerbaijan shows considerable differences due to the relief. In the Kura Aras Lowlands and Abşeron Peninsula there is a semi - arid semi -desert and steppe climate with 200-300 mm of precipitation annually. In the southern coastal areas, on the other hand, there is a humid subtropical east side climate with considerable amounts of precipitation in the extreme south (1800 mm, mainly in the winter half-year). In the mountains there is a mountain climate with also high precipitation (1500 mm). The average annual temperature is 13.1 ° C.


Population development in thousands (1960 to 2017)
Population pyramid Azerbaijan 2016
Ethnic groups in Azerbaijan 2003

The Republic of Azerbaijan has 9,593,000 inhabitants (as of 2015). 53.1% of the population live in cities. The population growth in 2010 was 1.3%. 23% of the population are under 14 years old. Life expectancy averaged 72.5 years in 2016 (men: 69.5 years, women: 75.8 years).

91.6% or 8,172,809 of the population considered themselves Azerbaijanis in the 2009 census . The remaining portion formed the 180,300 Lezgins (2.02%), 120,306 Armenian (1.35%), 119,307 Russians (1.34%), 111,996 Talysh (1.26%), 49 838 Awaren (0.56%), 37,975 Turks (0.43%), 25,911 Tatars (0.29%), 25,218 deeds (0.28%), 21,509 Ukrainians (0.24%), 12,289 Zachuren (0.14%), 9912 Georgians (0, 11%), 9084 Jews (0.1%), 6065 Kurds (0.07%) and 3821 Udines (0.04%). Other minorities are the Meschetes (approx. 106,000), Grizen (East Caucasian language; approx. 4400) and Chinalugen (East Caucasian language; approx. 2200). Most of the Caucasian Germans living in the region since the 19th century were deported during the Second World War. The landless peasants (Swabia), mainly from the Kingdom of Württemberg , settled in the western part of Azerbaijan on the initiative of the Russian Tsar Alexander I and founded several colonies there, including Helenendorf , Annenfeld , Georgsfeld, Traubenfeld and Eigenfeld. It is estimated that up to 20,000 Germans lived in Azerbaijan before they were deported.

Between 12 and 15 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran, up to 16% of Iran's population. This means that there are more Azerbaijanis in Iran than in Azerbaijan itself, most of them in the northwest of the country. Azerbaijanis consider themselves ethnically, linguistically and culturally related to the Turks.

As a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Armenian occupation of these areas, which has continued since 1993, 600,000 to 700,000 Azerbaijanis (as of 2003) live as refugees in Azerbaijan under poor living conditions.

The internally displaced persons from the Nagorno-Karabakh region mean a financial expense for Azerbaijan. 2005 has the World Food Program of the United Nations refers to the food security of more than 90% of IDPs in Azerbaijan as "food insecure". According to government statements, spending on internally displaced persons amounts to 3% of the country's total budget annually.


Since the end of the Soviet Union , the state and official language has been the Azerbaijani language (own name Azərbaycan dili / turkçesi ), which - according to various estimates, including speakers in Iran - has around 20 to 32 million native speakers. The language was called Turkish (own name: Türk dili ) until 1937 ; after 1937 the language was renamed to Azerbaijani as part of Stalin's policy . Azerbaijani is one of the Turkic languages ​​and has great similarities to the Turkish language . Since December 1992, Azerbaijani has been written in the Latin script - based on Turkish - the Cyrillic alphabet was previously used.

Russian was also the official language until 1991 . Since independence, however, its importance has diminished; However, it still plays a major role in everyday life and is learned by many students from the first grade onwards. Russian is also used as a language for inter-ethnic communication. Nevertheless, more and more young Azerbaijanis are also learning English. Many students also express an interest in other foreign languages, including German , French and especially (Turkish) Turkish.

In addition, 14 minority languages ​​from four different language families are spoken in Azerbaijan, including Georgian and Avar . Armenian , which was spoken by 70% of the local population and by minorities in many other regions of Azerbaijan, especially cities, before the Nagorno-Karabakh war , is now practically only found in Nagorno-Karabakh , but now almost 100% there.



The predominant religion is Shiite Islam, which was spread by Arab conquerors in the 8th century. Along with Iran , Iraq and Bahrain, Azerbaijan is one of the few countries with a Shiite majority: 85% of Muslim Azerbaijanis are Shiites, 15% Sunnis .

Many Azerbaijanis were secularized during Soviet rule . As a result, only around 10% now consider themselves to be regularly practicing Muslims. Most Azerbaijanis only practice Islam on major holidays such as Ramadan ; however, after the fall of the Soviet Union , Islam experienced a rebirth. More and more people turned to Islam again. In the south of the country in particular, a more orthodox form of Islam has emerged due to Iranian influence. The first political organizations with an Islamic character were founded in Azerbaijan as early as 1991. These include the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani Party for Islamic Progress and the Azad Ruhaniler Organization . Subsequently, under the updated secular laws of Azerbaijan in 1995, the Azerbaijani Islamic Party, the Azerbaijani Party for Islamic Progress, and other Islamic parties and organizations were banned. The (re) establishment of religious parties was also prohibited by law.


Today, 25,000 to 30,000 Jews still live in Azerbaijan, around 75% of whom live in Baku. They can be divided into three groups: Ashkenazim of European origin, mountain Jews or deeds (concentrated in the settlement Qırmızı Qəsəbə in the north of the country) and Georgian Jews . There are three synagogues in Baku today , a small yeshiva , a Jewish school called the Hebrew Language School, which is attended by around 300 students, and an Israeli center.

During excavations in the city of Şabran (northeastern Azerbaijan) in the early 1990s, the remains of the oldest Jewish quarter and a synagogue from the 7th century were discovered. During the period of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918–1920), Yevsei Gindes , an ethnic Jew, was the country's health minister . The prominent figures of the Jewish community from Azerbaijan include the Nobel laureate in physics Lev Landau , the doctor Solomon Gusman , and the tank commander Albert Aqarunov , who died in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Azerbaijan is considered to be one of the safest countries for Jews worldwide, where according to the vast majority of reports there are hardly any known anti-Semitic attacks. According to the German government, the Jewish minority in Azerbaijan receives protection and support, and its representatives are treated by the government on an equal footing with the Muslim representatives.


In 1998, 3.8% of the population was Russian Orthodox . There is an eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROK) for Azerbaijan. Other Christian churches only have a few thousand members each. There are three Russian Orthodox, one Catholic and one Lutheran churches in Baku. Since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict , there have only been Armenian Apostolic Christians in the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh , since the Armenians were expelled from Azerbaijan , similar to the other way around, the Azerbaijanis from Armenia . No Armenian apostolic church building is used any more; many have been demolished. An Evangelical Lutheran congregation has existed in Baku since 1993, to which many descendants of the German minority (between 1000 and 2000) belong. Pastoral care turns out to be complicated; In 1999 Pastor Günther Oborski was expelled.


Located on the eastern edge of the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan is one of the oldest industrial production sites for energy sources such as oil and gas . Already in the early Middle Ages the oil used as " Greek fire " was an important export product of the region around Abşeron (peninsula) .

In the Persian Sassanid Empire , the sites of oil and gas in the area of ​​Abşeron and in other places in Azerbaijan not only served to enrich the imperial treasury, but also became important places of worship for the then prevailing Zoroastrian religious doctrine . To this day, in many districts of Azerbaijan, the remains of the ancient Zoroastrian temples can be found in places with particularly intense natural gas emissions.

After the Islamization of Azerbaijan, the Abşeron oil fields became famous as a source of legendary financial welfare and were declared the property of religious foundations ( waqf ). Thus they contributed significantly to the preservation and its bloom.

Persia under the Safavids

The large-scale industrial mining of hydrocarbon-containing energy sources in the area of ​​today's Azerbaijan is, however, closely connected with the so-called “Russian period” of the country's history. The Russian colonial administration in the northern part of the country vigorously pushed ahead with the auctioning of the state land on the Abşeron peninsula in the early 1870s.

The aim was to attract private investments to extract the region's economically attractive resources. The subsequent economic boom, combined with the enormous increase in production in the fields of Abşeron, created a successful basis for the self-sufficient supply of the Russian economy with important products of the petrochemical industry such as kerosene , masut and lubricants.

While in 1893 51% of world production was still accounted for by the USA and 46% by Russia, in 1898 the Baku mining district had overtaken the US yield and rose to become the world's largest oil production area, which also supplied Western Europe and fought fierce competition with American exporters.

On May 28, 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (AXC) was proclaimed. It was de facto recognized by the international community as the subject of international law and maintained diplomatic relations with Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey and Lithuania. Azerbaijan was the first Islamic country and one of the first countries in the world to introduce women's suffrage . The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic was a secular and politically oriented to western democracies state with a strong legislature. Politicians such as Mammedamin Rasulzade , Fatalixan Xoyski , and Elimardan Topchubashov played a prominent role in the process of becoming a state at the time. The conquest by the Bolsheviks took place on April 27, 1920, after which many of the leading politicians went into European exile.

On December 30, 1922, Azerbaijan became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) as the Azerbaijani SSR and part of the Transcaucasian SFSR (an association of the Azerbaijani SSR, the Armenian SSR , the Georgian SSR and the Abkhaz SSR ). This was formed from the Russian SFSR , the Ukrainian SSR , the Belarusian SSR and the Transcaucasian SFSR.

After the forced Sovietization in 1920 and the nationalization of all Azerbaijani production facilities, new investments were made in the petrochemical industry of Azerbaijan. The result was a significant increase in production, although the direct control of Azerbaijan's strategic resources by Moscow headquarters did not allow the leadership of the Azerbaijani SSR to influence the distribution of production. In 1941 Azerbaijan delivered 175 million barrels of oil, which corresponded to a share of 75% of the total Soviet production. It is therefore not surprising that the Baku oil fields were declared strategic targets of the Wehrmacht's Caucasus campaign during World War II . Over 270,000 Azerbaijanis fought in the Red Army during World War II.

With the development of the gigantic new oil fields in other regions of the Soviet Union, especially in West Siberia , the importance of the Azerbaijani oil wells in the economic life of the Soviet Union gradually declined. The high quality of Azerbaijani oil, measured by its low sulfur content , made it possible to use it later as a fuel for objects in flight, especially for military aircraft and missiles. The Baku-based training institutions continued to train the necessary specialist staff for the Soviet petrochemical industry.

On October 18, 1991, Azerbaijan gained independence from the Soviet Union with the help of liberation movements such as the Azerbaijani Popular Front .

The chaos caused by the military conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region led to a decline in total national oil and gas production in the first years of independence (declared October 18, 1991). In the next few years the lowest level of extraction was registered: eight to nine million tons annually.

In 2012 the Eurovision Song Contest took place in the capital Baku , the event arena, the Bakı Kristal Zalı , was built especially for it. As a result of this major event, Azerbaijan attracted the attention of the European media, and the conditions in the country, in particular the authoritarian ruling regime, were often criticized.


Azerbaijan has been shaped by the authoritarian leadership style of the presidents and undermined by corruption since 1992. According to the Economist's democracy index , Azerbaijan was one of the authoritarian regimes in 2020, as in previous years.

The Azerbaijani Constitution was adopted on November 12, 1995. In Article 7 of the Azerbaijani Constitution, the state is characterized as a democratic, constitutional, secular and unitarian republic. According to the Constitution, the legislative, executive and judicial powers are independent and work together within the limits of their powers.

The legislation will be formally by the Parliament, the Azerbaijani National Assembly (Milli Majlis) exercised. It has 125 seats, which have been elected for a five-year term since 2005 using a majority system. A seat in parliament is reserved for the constituency of Nagorno-Karabakh (Dağliq Qarabağ) . The most recent parliamentary elections took place on November 1, 2015. In 1918, when Azerbaijan first gained independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic , women were given the right to vote and stand for election . This was maintained under Soviet administration and confirmed when it regained independence in 1991.

The executive power is exercised by the president. The president's term of office is seven years.

According to Article 125 of the Constitution, judicial power through jurisdiction is exercised only by the courts (the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Appeal Courts, the General and Special Courts of the Azerbaijan Republic).


İlham Əliyev , President of Azerbaijan, and his wife, Vice President Mehriban Əliyeva (2019)

The head of state is the president, who is elected by secret general election for a period of seven years. A five-year term of office was in effect until 2016 and a two-term limit until 2009. Both were abolished or changed by constitutional referenda. The office of President is İlham Əliyev , son of the late President Heydər Əliyev . He belongs to the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (as. Yeni Azərbaycan ). After the election of October 15, 2003, a result of over 80% was announced for him. He was inaugurated on October 31, 2003 .

Əli Əsədov of the New Azerbaijan presidential party has been prime minister since October 2019 .


The most important opposition party is the Azerbaijani Hope Party . The oldest political party in Azerbaijan, the Equality Party (also Müsawat ), has a special role . There is also the Azerbaijani Communist Party .

International election observers (including those from the OSCE ) report on election fraud and attempts at intimidation. The opposition also accused the government of forgery, for example in the presidential elections in October 2003. After the results were announced, riots broke out in the capital Baku on October 16, killing at least two people, injuring many and arresting several opposition politicians. Critics of the government regard Azerbaijan under the rule of İlham Əliyev as the epitome of a police state .

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 71.3 out of 120 78 of 178 Stability of the country: increased warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 2.68 out of 10 146 of 167 Authoritarian regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 10 out of 100 - Freedom status: unfree
0 = unfree / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 58.77 out of 100 167 of 180 Very serious situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 30 out of 100 129 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Foreign policy

İlham Əliyev with Angela Merkel in August 2018

Immediately after Azerbaijan's independence, ensuring independence was the top priority in the country's foreign policy. It initially pursued a strongly pro-Turkish and pro-Western policy. The relations with Russia were strained because Russia put pressure on various ways to retrieve it in its sphere of influence. Relations have improved since Heydər Əliyev took office and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline , which enables the export of Azerbaijani energy sources bypassing Russia, has improved.

The relations with its southern neighbor Iran are tense because of the contradictions between Azerbaijan and Iran secularized clerical system. The issue of ethnic Azerbaijanis living on both sides of the border and competition in the raw material market also add to tensions. With the aim of weakening Azerbaijan, Iran has entered into a close partnership with Armenia , which is hostile to Azerbaijan . Azerbaijan, on the other hand, works closely with Israel in the raw materials market and arms sector . The relations with Turkey were particularly close shortly after the independence of Azerbaijan on ethnic and linguistic grounds; however, they have cooled down a bit in recent years. Azerbaijan is thus part of the west-east axis (USA, Turkey, Israel, Georgia, Azerbaijan) compared to the competing north-south axis consisting of Russia, Armenia and Iran.

Foreign Minister Elmar Məmmədyarov has been since April 2, 2004 .

Azerbaijan has been a member of the United Nations since 1992 . It applied for membership in the WTO in 1997 , and accession negotiations are still ongoing today. Azerbaijan is still a member of the following international institutions: EBRD , Council of Europe , CIS , GUAM , IMF , NATO - Partnership for Peace , OSCE , Black Sea Economic Cooperation , OIC , Turkish Council , UNESCO , World Bank , Interpol , International Telecommunication Union and OATCT . It is no longer a member of the Russia-led security structure Organization of the Collective Security Treaty .


Map of the conflict:
Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Occupied Territory of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has long had a dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. The formerly autonomous area on Azerbaijani territory is mostly inhabited by Armenians . On September 2, 1991, it declared itself independent. Since 1992 Nagorno-Karabakh has been controlled to a large extent by troops from the internationally unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (now the Republic of Artsakh), which claims this area. Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan under international law, but is de facto under the control of Armenian forces. Around a third of the armistice line of May 12, 1994, which also includes surrounding parts of Azerbaijan that does not belong to Nagorno-Karabakh, is held by troops of the Republic of Armenia. There are no diplomatic relations with Armenia ; the two states are still at war with one another today . The withdrawal of Armenian troops from the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas is an absolute precondition for Azerbaijan for further peace policy steps. The Basic Principles negotiated in Madrid in 2007 also provide for the withdrawal of troops, which was called for in four UN resolutions in 1993 (822, 853, 874, 884) and later in statements by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

Some Azerbaijani enclaves surrounded by Armenian territory, such as B. Kərki , are occupied by Armenia; Azerbaijan, for its part, has occupied Armenian exclaves like Arwashing .

European politics

The partnership and cooperation agreement signed in 1996 and entered into force in mid-1999 forms the basis of bilateral relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan . As a member of the Council of Europe , Azerbaijan is integrated into the European structures. The country is linked to the EU through the European Neighborhood Policy with action plans. Since 2009 it has also been a member of the Eastern Partnership , the aim of which is to bring Eastern European countries closer to the European Union. The parliamentary cooperation committee between the EU and Azerbaijan, which includes high-ranking politicians on both sides, believes that Azerbaijan’s accession to the EU is possible.

On  May 12, 2004 , the European Commission presented a unilaterally formulated strategy paper on the European Neighborhood Policy in connection with  EU enlargement , which contains the strategic core of the ENP. With this communication, the Commission recommended for the first time that the Council take a decision to include the South Caucasian countries, including Azerbaijan, in the European Neighborhood Policy.

In September 2014, the foundation stone for the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TAP) was laid in Baku . Transport volumes of 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually by 2020 and 30 billion cubic meters by 2031 were projected for this part of the planned “Southern Gas Corridor”.

Caviar diplomacy

The European Stability Initiative (ESI) reported in 2012 how since Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe, 30 to 40 MEPs have been invited to travel to Azerbaijan every year and with gifts, including expensive caviar (kilo price 1400 euros), valuable silk carpets, gold, silver and with large sums of money were heaped up. Numerous members of the German Bundestag also had luxury trips to Baku financed and, in return, acted as lobbyists in asserting the interests of the Azerbaijani government. In addition to the ESI, the anti-corruption organization Transparency International also criticized Azerbaijan's approach, which is referred to as "caviar diplomacy".

In the spring of 2017, the Italian member of the Council of Europe Luca Volontè was charged with accepting bribes in the millions. The money flowed from Azerbaijan. The Council of Europe then set up an independent commission to investigate the influence of Azerbaijan on members of the body. On April 22, 2018, the Commission presented its final report alleging that several current and former members of the Council of Europe were lobbying for Azerbaijan for payment. Corruption allegations were made against the German politicians Eduard Lintner and Karin Strenz as well as against the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe , the Spaniard Pedro Agramunt Font de Mora . Subsequently, further allegations of lobbying activities by the Bundestag MPs Axel Fischer (CDU) and Mark Hauptmann (CDU) were made for Azerbaijan. As early as 2012, the then chairman of the Junge Union Baden-Württemberg, Nikolas Löbel, came under fire after a lobbying attempt by a state Azerbaijani organization, and Löbel later represented political positions for Azerbaijan as a member of the Bundestag (CDU).

A report by the Belgian consulting and lobbying company ESISC from 2017 presents the reports on the so-called "caviar diplomacy" as the work of a network that specifically campaigned for Armenia and against Azerbaijan.

Relationship with Germany

Azerbaijan was among the ten most important crude oil suppliers in Germany in 2020. In 2015, Azerbaijan had $ 1.2 billion worth of oil. to Germany. An Azerbaijani-German parliamentary working group and a German-South Caucasian parliamentary working group promote parliamentary cooperation between Germany and Azerbaijan.


Human rights

The Azerbaijani constitution contains a comprehensive catalog of human rights. The death penalty existed until 1998, but has now been abolished. The country is a party to a number of international human rights conventions. At the end of 2001 Azerbaijan ratified the European Convention on Human Rights. Since Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe in January 2001, the country has been subject to so-called "monitoring" by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. These institutions criticized the inadequate implementation of the requirements of the Council of Europe, particularly with regard to freedom of the media.

On March 24, 2009 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe appointed the Bundestag member Christoph Strässer (SPD) as special rapporteur for political prisoners in Azerbaijan. So far (as of 2012) Strässer was not allowed to enter Azerbaijan in this capacity. In 2011 he pointed out that around 50 suspected political prisoners, i.e. members of the opposition, journalists and bloggers, who had exercised their right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, are in prison. Azerbaijan itself takes the position that there are no political prisoners in the country. On January 24, 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rejected Christoph Strässer 's report "on political prisoners in Azerbaijan" by 125 votes. Official Baku was satisfied with the vote and confirmed that Strasser's report contained numerous contradictions and was politically motivated.

Some non - governmental organizations critical of the regime operate in Azerbaijan. However, you have to overcome major administrative hurdles, such as extensive registration requirements.

Freedom of the press and the media

The non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders assesses the press freedom situation in Azerbaijan as "very serious". Most of the country's media are considered government compliant. In addition, the office of the National Democratic Institute was closed in 2014.

According to a report by the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) from 2012, it is not possible for the Azerbaijani population to get serious, extensive and objective news on human rights issues from Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani population is “poorly informed” about issues of public interest. Radio and television broadcasters are controlled by the Azerbaijani government and the majority of the information is based on government sources.

The radio stations BBC , Radio Free Europe and Voice of America have been blocked in Azerbaijan since January 2009. The international non-governmental organization Freedom House classified Azerbaijan's press as “Not Free” and the Committee to Protect Journalists also stated that there are no foreign or independent broadcasters in Azerbaijan and that the few independent journalists are subjected to intimidation and prison sentences on the basis of bogus evidence.

In 2009 and 2010 the critical bloggers and youth activists Emin "Milli" (Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizade were arrested for "hooliganism". They have since been released in 2012. In May 2011 the journalist Eynulla Fatullayev was put behind bars and is now also free again (2012). According to the Federal Foreign Office (2012), freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly is severely restricted in Azerbaijan. The human rights organization Amnesty International classifies 17 people who have been sentenced to several years in prison since the spring of 2011 as “prisoners of conscience”.

In 2012 the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Baku . According to Amnesty International, members of the opposition, media workers and young internet activists were the main targets of state harassment and arrests prior to the competition.

Human rights organizations started the “Sing for Democracy” campaign. The campaign wanted to use the international attention surrounding the ESC to draw attention to human rights violations and the lack of freedom of expression in the country. Shortly before the ESC, the activists organized their own song contest with songs about democracy and freedom.

On July 18, 2016, three days after the attempted coup in Turkey , the responsible broadcasting supervisory authority announced that it would temporarily stop the activities of the private television broadcaster Azerbaijani News Service (ANS) for a month and request the revocation of its broadcasting license after the station had announced an interview with the United States of America in exile living Fethullah Gulen broadcast. As a justification, the authority stated that it was intended to protect “strategic relations with Turkey” from provocations and open terrorist propaganda.


According to information from the Federal Foreign Office, homosexuality is not expressly punishable, but it is not socially acceptable. Same-sex intimate dealings in public are sometimes viewed as provocation and can provoke counter-reactions, including warnings from the police.


Azerbaijan has around 150,000 active soldiers. There is compulsory military service for 12 to 18 months; the country does not have the right to conscientious objection . Azerbaijan spent almost 3.9 percent of its economic output or 1.5 billion dollars on its armed forces in 2017.


Administrative division of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is divided into:

  • 59 rayons ( rayonlar; rayon - singular),
  • 1 Autonomous Republic (Muxtar Respublika),
  • 10 cities without republic ( respublika tabeli şəhərlər; şəhər - singular):


Autonomous Republic

The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is divided into seven rayons (rayonlar) and one city (şəhər) :

(The administrative seat in brackets, if not identical to the rayon name)


In 2016, 54.9% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. The largest cities are (as of 2015):

  1. Baku : 1,415,300 inhabitants
  2. Gəncə : 328,400 inhabitants
  3. Sumqayıt : 297,600 inhabitants
  4. Mingəçevir : 101,600 inhabitants
  5. Xırdalan : 96,200 inhabitants
  6. Qaraçuxur : 84,500 inhabitants
  7. Şirvan : 78,100 inhabitants
  8. Naxçıvan : 77,400 inhabitants


Growth rate of GDP per capita in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

In principle, the economy in Azerbaijan today is based on the oil and gas industry. According to the Oil and Gas Journal of January 2012, Azerbaijan has 7 billion barrels of oil reserves. The diversification of the economy is a major challenge and a stated goal of the government.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Azerbaijan ranks 35th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-18). In 2019, the country was ranked 60th out of 180 countries in the Index for Economic Freedom .


Azerbaijan's economy has been growing very rapidly since the beginning of the new century. The GDP rose in 1999 by 7.4%, in 2000 by 11.4% and in 2001 by 9.9%. This development is based to a large extent on an expansive oil industry, which is the most important branch of the economy in the country. Between 2000 and 2016, GDP per capita rose from $ 652 to $ 3,960. The drop in the oil price in 2014/2015 caused a significant economic slowdown.

A major problem in Azerbaijan is the high level of corruption and excessive dependence on the price of oil. The development of the various sectors is the country's greatest economic challenge. Another goal of President İlham Əliyev is to reduce poverty and thereby take away potential supporters from the opposition. According to World Bank calculations , 5.3% of the population live below the poverty line .

year 1993 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
GDP in $
(purchasing power parity)
27.39 billion 19.95 billion 30.37 billion 61.26 billion 84.91 billion 109.36 billion 123.32 billion 135.90 billion 143.91 billion 144.51 billion 150.27 billion 161.65 billion 168.92 billion 171.86 billion 168.66 billion 171.81 billion
GDP in $ per capita
(purchasing power parity)
3,658 2,610 3,781 7,252 9,927 12,619 14,046 15,231 15,995 15,861 16,271 17,277 17,824 17,915 17,378 17,492
GDP growth
−27.4% −13.0% 6.2% 28.0% 34.5% 25.5% 10.6% 9.4% 4.6% −1.6% 2.1% 5.9% 2.7% 0.6% −3.1% 0.1%
(in percent)
1,129.7% 411.8% 1.8% 9.6% 8.2% 16.7% 20.8% 1.5% 5.7% 7.8% 1.1% 2.5% 1.5% 4.1% 12.6% 13.0%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... 19% 23% 14% 11% 8th % 7% 12% 13% 11% 14% 13% 14% 35% 51% 55%

Source: IMF

Natural resources


Azerbaijan is the third most important oil exporter in the post-Soviet area after Russia and Kazakhstan. In 2005 the oil industry generated 67% of GDP, the share of oil and the increasing natural gas production in GDP rose for a long time. Azerbaijan produced just over 1 million barrels (approx. 159 million liters) of crude oil per day in 2009 (1997: 173,000 barrels); In 2015 it was 800,000 barrels. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was built to export the oil and opened in the summer of 2005. It can transport a million barrels of crude oil from Baku to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan every day . The profits from the extraction of raw materials should flow into a state oil fund. This should provide for the future of Azerbaijan after the oil age and create macroeconomic stability. Neft Daşları is one of the largest oil production facilities in the world. It has developed into a city that now has around 5000 people.


Azerbaijan has awarded Gazprom the contract for 1.2 trillion cubic meters of its gas reserves. In addition, Azerbaijan was also considered the main supplier for the southern gas corridor, consisting of the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCPX ), Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) , which supplies gas via Georgia, Turkey, Greece, and Albania the Adriatic will bring to Italy.

Azerbaijan is an example of the Dutch disease : As a result of the rapidly expanding oil and gas business, industrial and agricultural production has been severely neglected (as in the Netherlands in the 1970s). Capital and labor were withdrawn and redirected into the raw materials industry with the use of state funds. The currency appreciation caused by exports weakened the export opportunities of the other industries, whose products are substituted by cheap imports. This dependence on oil exports took revenge during the fall of the oil price in 2014/15. This led to a devaluation of the national currency manat by almost 50%.

labour market

The unemployment rate is given at around 6%, but underemployment is common. In 2014, 37% of all workers worked in agriculture, 17.5% in industry and 48.9% in the service sector. The total number of employees is estimated at 5.12 million in 2017. 48.8% of the workforce are women, which is one of the highest proportions in the Islamic world.

Foreign trade

Azerbaijan handled a foreign trade volume of 17.7 billion euros in 2017. In 2017, the EU imported goods worth 9.4 billion euros from Azerbaijan, 98.1% of which were oil and natural gas. In 2017 the EU exported goods worth 1.7 billion euros to Azerbaijan, 42% of which were machines and vehicles, around 15% each of chemicals and industrial goods. In the same year, the 28 EU countries purchased 48.2% of all Azerbaijani exports, making the EU the most important export market for Azerbaijan, ahead of Turkey (13.6%) and Israel (6.1%). Most of the imports (21.7% of all imports in 2017) come from the EU, followed by Russia (17.7%) and Turkey (14.8%). For the EU, however, Azerbaijan is of very minor importance, it only conducts 0.3% of its foreign trade with the country. Azerbaijan recorded a trade surplus of 2.1 billion euros in 2017.

The two pipelines BTC and the South Caucasus Pipeline are of paramount importance for Azerbaijan's foreign trade and a critical factor in Azerbaijan's efforts to maintain its independence. Azerbaijan therefore regards an attack on energy exports through these pipelines as an attack on its national security.

State budget

In 2016, the state budget comprised expenditures equivalent to the equivalent of 11.64 billion US dollars , which was offset by income equivalent to 12.18 billion US dollars. This results in a budget surplus of 3.0% of gross domestic product (2014: 0.5%).

The national debt was 37.6% of GDP in 2016.

The share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) in the following areas is:



Rail transport is operated by the state-owned Azərbaycan Dəmir Yolları . The network length is 2918 km. Of these, 1,300 km are electrified.

Due to the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh , rail operations in the Armenian-occupied territories ( Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh ) and cross-border traffic to Armenia have been suspended. This means that there is no rail traffic to the exclave of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan . The rail traffic there is carried out by a subsidiary of Azərbaycan Dəmir Yolları , the Naxçivan Dəmir Yolları .

Air traffic

The most important air hub in Azerbaijan is Baku Airport , which is located 15 km east of Baku city center. From here there are flight connections to Europe and Asia, as well as two connections to the USA. Russia is the most popular country with 11 airports. (As of December 2019)

There are four other international airports in Azerbaijan.

In Ganja there is the Ganja International Airport (KVB), from which three international and two national destinations are served.

In Qabala , Qabala International Airport (GBB) which currently only offers one route to Moscow, Russia, but will soon offer another route through Air Arabia to Sharjah , UAE .

In Lankaran , where Lankaran International Airport (LKK) serves two airports in Moscow, Russia.

In the exclave of Nakhichevan there near the capital of the same name the Nakhchivan International Airport (NAJ). From there you can fly to Turkey, Russia and Turkish Airlines once a week to Ganja.

Other infrastructure


The Azerbaijani Trade Union Confederation ATUC ( English Azerbaijan Trade Unions Confederation ) is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The number of members in the individual trade unions belonging to the ATUC is given as 735,000 members (as of November 2017).

culture and education

public holidays

May 28 is Republic Day in Azerbaijan , which is celebrated as the Independence Day of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918). Ramadan is the most widely practiced Islamic festival among Azerbaijanis. Also in Azerbaijan every year on May 9th, the day of victory over fascism in 1945 is celebrated. The festival of sacrifice is also celebrated.


Azerbaijani cuisine is similar to Turkish cuisine .

The thick soup piti is a mutton stew with chickpeas . Dovğa is a soup made from spicy yogurt, spinach, a little crushed garlic depending on your taste and other herbs with rice and meatballs or without (depending on the republic area). A variant of the main course Dolma consists of minced meat seasoned with herbs and rice, filled with vine leaves or cabbage leaves. Dolma is also made from eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables. A variant of the main course pilaf consists of rice, mutton and additional ingredients. The dish comes in different types. For example, there is plov with chicken, fish or chestnuts instead of mutton. Fruits (such as pomegranates), vegetables, herbs or dried fruit such as raisins are also frequently used. A popular soft drink is Şərbət (pork dish) , which is made from lemon, mint or basil, but also from many other different fruits.




There is compulsory schooling for nine years, divided into four years of elementary school and five years of middle school. The literacy rate was over 99% of the adult population.

Of the 48 higher education institutions in Azerbaijan, 30 institutions are state universities and 18 are private universities; 26 have university status. The largest universities are the Baku State University , founded in 1919 , the Azerbaijan Technical University , the State Petroleum Academy , the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction (ABUA) , the Baku Slavic University, the Azerbaijan State Economic University, the Azerbaijan Language University, the Azerbaijani University of Culture and Culture Art and the music academy. Around 116,000 students are studying (as of 2007).


In 2015, the first European Games were held in Baku, which was the only host to apply, with the participation of around 6,000 athletes. The chairman of the preparatory committee was the president's wife, Mehriban Əliyeva. Among the 52 participating nations, the country achieved second place behind Russia in the medal table.

In 2015, two Azerbaijani teams, FK Qarabağ Ağdam and FK Qəbələ , played in the group stage for the first time in the European Football League . The two teams will play in the group stage again in 2016. Previously, Neftçi Baku (2012) and FK Qarabağ Ağdam (2014) were represented individually in this phase.

For the first time, a Formula 1 race with the European Grand Prix was held in Baku in 2016 . A street circuit of 6.003 kilometers in length was run through the city center and around the historic old town .

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in  Rio de Janeiro  , Azerbaijan won 18 medals: 1 gold, 7 silver and 10 bronze. In terms of the number of gold medals, Azerbaijan was ranked 39th. In terms of the total number of medals won, however, the country divides 14th to 15th. with New Zealand, ranks 7th among European countries and 1st among Muslim countries. Azerbaijan also took first place as the most effective team at the Olympic Games in the ratio of the number of participants (56) to the number of medals won (18). 

A "living legend" of Azerbaijani sport is karateka Rəfael Ağayev . So far he has won five world championships (most recently in October 2016 in Linz) and ten European championship titles as well as the 1st European Kumite Games. 


Chess is very popular in Azerbaijan. The top players are subsidized by the state. The greatest successes are the victories at the European Team Championship in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

Garry Kasparov (* 1963) grew up in Baku, but he and his family fled Azerbaijan from anti-Armenian pogroms in 1990 . Other well-known players ( grandmasters ) are Teymur Rəcəbov , Şəhriyar Məmmədyarov and Vüqar Həşimov , who died at the age of only 27 .

See also

Portal: Azerbaijan  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Azerbaijan


  • Jurriaan Cooiman (Editor): Culturescapes Azerbaijan. Culture, history and politics between the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea . Christoph Merian Verlag, Zurich 2009, ISBN 3-85616-488-X .
  • Altay Göyüşov and Elçin Äskärov: "Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan" in Michael Kemper, Raoul Motika and Stefan Reichmuth (eds.): Islamic Education in the Soviet Union and Its Successor States . Routledge, London, 2010. pp. 168-222.
  • Cəmil Həsənov: Azərbaycan beynəlxalq münasibətlər sistemində 1918–1920 – ci illər. (Azerbaijani: Azerbaijan in the System of International Relations 1918–1920), Baku 1993.
  • Country analysis Azerbaijan . Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bonn 1992.
  • Nesib Nesibzade: Azerbaycan democracy respublikasi. Meqaleler ve senedler. (Azerbaijani: Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Articles and Documents), Baku 1990.
  • Ingrid Pfluger-Schindlbeck: Azerbaijan Land of Fire. History and culture in the Caucasus . Reimer Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 3-496-02820-3 .
  • Philine von Oppeln, Gerald Huebner: Azerbaijan. Out and about in the land of fire . Trescher Verlag, Berlin January 2009. ISBN 3-89794-124-4 .
  • Rufat Sattarov: Islam, State, and Society in Independent Azerbaijan. Between Historical Legacy and Post-Soviet Reality - with special reference to Baku and its environs, Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden 2009 , ISBN 978-3-89500-692-0 .
  • The European Azerbaijan Society: Azerbaijan: 100 Questions and Answers . NIMA-Verlag, German edition, 2010, ISBN 3-937687-50-5 .

Web links

Commons : Azerbaijan  - album containing pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Azerbaijan  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Wikijunior Europe / Azerbaijan  - learning and teaching materials
Wikivoyage: Azerbaijan  Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 40 °  N , 47 °  E