Azerbaijan is an independent nation in Western Asia. With the capital city of Baku, Azerbaijan 2020 population is estimated at 10,139,188 according to countryaah. Alexander the Great, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Russians have invaded the area that today constitutes Azerbaijan. At the beginning of the 19th century, the country was divided between Iran and Tsar Russia. A short period of independence followed the fall of the tsar, before Azerbaijan was invaded by the Red Army and became a Soviet republic in 1920. Oil deposits were discovered early in the region.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Azerbaijan, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Azerbaijan’s first residents were perhaps Caucasian people. Shooters have lived here, and the area was included in the 8th century BC in the Urartu kingdom (compare ARMENIA: Older history) and later in the Media. In the 500s BC, the Medes were subjugated by their relatives Persians. For Azerbaijan political system, please check carswers.
In 330 BC, Azerbaijan was organized in Alexander the Great’s empire. The board was conferred on Persian vassals. According to a tradition, the country got its name after the vassal Atropates, whose name means “protected by fire”. Other sources derive the name from a Persian word for “fire land”. The name may refer to fires that occasionally occur in superficial oil wells or to the ever-burning fires in the Persian Zoroastrian temples. (Possibly the Zoroastrian Prophet Zarathustra was born in Azerbaijan).
Persians, Arabs and Turkmen
After the beginning of our era, Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Roman Empire but came back under Persian / Iranian rule (Sassanids) in the 20th century. With the Arab conquest in the 600s came Islam. The dominance of the Arabs lasted until the 11th century when a Turkic people, the Seljuks, came from the east and took over. The Seljuks were soon assimilated, but their language and traditions gained entry into the country’s hitherto Persian-speaking residents – the ancestors of today’s Azeri. Now a cultural flourishing began that lasted until the 13th century.
After Mongol invasions in the 13th and 13th centuries, the country returned under Iranian rule from the beginning of the 16th century. At the same time, the kingdom of Iran transitioned to the Azerbaijani dynasty safavids, whose founder Ismail introduced Shia Islam as a state religion. (Persians and Azeris were usually Sunnis in the past.) During the Safavids’ reign around 1500–1700, the Ottoman Empire made several attempts to conquer Azerbaijan, but later expanded to Tsar Russia at the expense of Iran. By peace treaty in 1813 and 1828, Azerbaijan was divided between Russia and Iran. The part north of the Araz river, which now forms the independent Azerbaijan of today, came to Russia.
Oil had since been extracted and sold as lamp oil, lubricating oil or, from the 18th century, as a raw material for kerosene, but only with the advent of industrialism and the emerging motorism did the value in Azerbaijan’s oil resources be realized. Around 1870, the oil recovery in Baku started in earnest. A new bourgeoisie emerged, largely consisting of immigrant Russians, Western Europeans and Armenians. In 1876, the Swedish brothers Ludvig and Robert Nobel founded an oil company in Baku. At the turn of the last century more than half of all crude oil in the world was recovered in the area around Baku.
More and more money-rich foreigners moved in. Partly as a reaction, a nationally minded Azerbaijani intelligentia emerged. Many dreamed of uniting Turkish or Muslim people across national borders, which led to contradictions with the Christian Armenians living in the country. In the chaos following Tsarist Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, violent conflicts erupted between Azeri and Armenians. Many villages were destroyed and thousands of people on both sides lost their lives.
Soon after the October Revolution in Russia 1917, a nationalist government took over and proclaimed Azerbaijan’s independence on May 28, 1918. The country became the world’s first Muslim-populated republic. However, the barely two years of independence became chaotic. The oil-rich country was occupied by the armies of various countries, and Baku in particular became the scene of bloody settlements between Armenians and Azeris. In 1920, Azerbaijan was invaded by the Red Army, and the country was transformed into a Soviet republic.
The Communist Party became the only allowed party and regime criticism was not tolerated. The Security Police were given powers to curb all protests.
In 1922, Azerbaijan merged with Armenia and Georgia into the Transcaucasian Soviet Republic, but in 1936 Azerbaijan again became its own Soviet republic.
Soviet rule went harder against Azerbaijani culture than, for example, Armenian. Many mosques and memorials were blown up and religious leaders were persecuted. The change of alphabet – from Arabic to Latin writing and later to Cyrillic – isolated the country from Iranian Azerbaijan and cut off the roots of ancient culture.
Azerbaijan was also hit by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture and purges in the 1930s.
The collectivization of agriculture meant that all land was nationalized and transformed into so-called colchoses, which on paper were collectively owned, or in large state farms, sleeping choses. Well-to-do farmers, so-called kulaks, were banished with their families to remote areas where the majority died.
At the same time, intensive industrialization was started, with special emphasis on the heavy industry. A system for central plan control of the entire economy was built up. This “revolution from the top” shattered the former economic and social structure of society and made all people dependent on the state for their livelihood.
The Stalinist terror against so-called enemy enemies in the years 1934-1938 hit all sectors of social life. People were executed, deported or died in camps. Many prominent members of the Communist Party in Azerbaijan were affected by Stalin’s terror.
The task of Azerbaijan in the Soviet Union was to supply other Soviet republics with oil, agricultural products and lighter industrial products.
During World War II, oil from Azerbaijan was the basis for fuel in the Soviet tanks, and the Nazis made several unsuccessful attempts to conquer the Azerbaijan oil wells, but in general Azerbaijan avoided fighting during the war.
At the end of the war, the Soviet Red Army occupied Iranian Azerbaijan in an attempt to reconcile the Azerbaijani population of northern Iran with Soviet Azerbaijan, but the Soviet occupation forces were forced to retreat following British-American pressure.
Amnesty criticizes the arrests
Amnesty International harshly criticizes the regime for a wave of arrests, loosely-based prison sentences and threats against the opposition and free media following protests earlier this year.
Azerbaijan enters the Security Council
For the first time, Azerbaijan is elected to the UN Security Council. The mandate is valid for two years and Azerbaijan is awarded the Eastern European place after a tough battle with Slovenia.
Regime opponents are imprisoned
Six regime opponents are sentenced to prison for up to three years for participating in an illegal demonstration in April. The protest meeting in Baku was inspired by the democratic riots in the Arab world but was quickly defeated by the security police. Five of those convicted belong to the National Front and the sixth is a member of Müsavat.
Prison for activist
Opposition activist Şahin Hasanlı is sentenced to two years in prison for possession of weapons and ammunition. He claims that the ammunition is placed in his pockets. At the same time, other opposition activists are accused of interfering with public order.
Activist is imprisoned
Opposition activist Baxtiyar Hacıyev is sentenced to two years in prison, formally for failing to do military service. He has used Facebook to call for protests against the regime.
Police raid against opposition party
After holding an opposition meeting without permission, the police carry out a raid against the opposition party’s Müsavat office, where documents are seized.
Hundreds of oppositional tonic arrests
Hundreds of oppositionists are arrested in connection with or before demonstrations against the regime. Most are released after questioning, but a number are sentenced to a few days’ detention for “resistance to police”.