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About Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan
is one of the three former Soviet republics located in Caucasus. The country occupies the area of 86,600 sq. km. (33,400 sq. miles), with the population exceeding 8 million. Azerbaijan is bordered by the Russian Federation, Georgia, and Iran, and is divided by the Republic of Armenia into a smaller western part in the Lesser Caucasus and a larger eastern part, bordered by the Caspian Sea in the east. The map of the country is shaped somewhat like an eagle in flight with the capital city, Baku, for its head. Since the earliest times, this area has been known as "the land of flames."

The history of Azerbaijan was determined by the country's geographical position. Located on the very crossroads of Eastern and Western civilizations, it was exposed to the influence of both of them. As a part of the greatest empires in the history of human kind, Azerbaijan was the site of the most decisive events and had seen many mighty conquerors, including Haroun al-Rashid, Genghis Khan, Pompey, and Alexander the Great.

Azerbaijan was settled by the Medes before the 8th century BC and was a separate kingdom after the death of Alexander the Great. Over the centuries, however, Azerbaijan has enjoyed only brief periods of independent statehood. The country was incorporated into the Persian, Muslim Arab, Turkish Seljuk, Mongol, Ottoman, and Russian empires. Over the half of historical Azerbaijan now lies within Iran.

The modern republic is formed from the territory ceded to Russia by Persia in 1828; then, from 1922 to 1991, the territory was a part of the USSR as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Azerbaijan declared independence on August 30, 1991, and became an independent state when the Soviet Union disbanded on December 26, 1991.

In the 8th century, Azerbaijan, based on rich reserves of oil and natural gas, became one of the first petroleum-producing regions of the world. Today, in addition to oil processing, the country has a well-developed agricultural base (with cotton as the main cash crop), a large industrial sector, and an extensive transportation network.

Practical Tips for Visitors

Language
Azeri is the official language in Azerbaijan. Other languages widely spoken are Russian, English, Turkish.

Money
Azeri currency - Manat
Notes in Denomination of Manat are:
1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100
Foreign currecy should be exchanged only in banks or official Exchange Bureauxs.
Currency restrictions: The export of local currency is prohibited. All remaining local currency must be converted at the point of departure. Export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival.

Banking hours: 09.00 - 18.00 Monday to Friday
Electricity Voltage
Azeri Power Stations supply at 220 volts/A.C.

Tipping
Appreciated but not compolsory. You can tip taxi drivers, waiters, hairdressers, etc. VAT and service charges are included in all bills.

 

 

Baku

The city is situated in the south-western part of the Absheron peninsula.Its main houses and administrative buildings are located in the amphitheatre manner along the picturesque bay of the Caspian Sea. The climate is dry subtropic of the Mediterranean type. Scientists date the first settlements back to the 2nd millennium B.C. First mentionings about Baku as a city were found in Arab manuscripts of the 8th century A.C. Up to the 19th century Baku existed within the Fortress walls (22 hectares}.

Icheri Sheher - that is how the Baku Fortress is currently called, reserved its lay-out and is really a museum in the open air, the treasury of the Medieval architecture, containing more than 200 monuments with the Ensemble of Shirvanshahs' Palace (15 c.), unique Maiden Tower (12 c.), Mohammed Ibn Abubekir Mosque (1078), other mosques, Caravanserais and houses of 14-19 c.c. among them.

Beginning with the end of the 19th c., Baku had been turning into a big industrial center with oil production and oil refinery. A new image of Baku has been formed. Round old fortress you could see many-stored buildings, fashionable mansions in different architectural styles: Moresque, Gothic, Baroque, Classic, Modern and others. Significant changes of the architectural appearance have taken place during the following years as well. Today Baku is the political, economic, scientific and culturaL center of Azerbaijan. Unique cultural treasures are stored and exhibited in Baku museums. Azerbaijan Academy of Science unites various scientific research institutes, dealing with the wide range of problems of different sciences. In the suburbs of Baku, in old settlements, there are many monuments of the Medieval architecture: watch towers, mosques, baths, civil constructions.

The places which attract particularly numerous number of tourists are the stay of ancient people with a rich collection of rock paintings, dated back to the paleolith-neolith (Cobustan historic and art reserve) and the Ateshgah Temple of Fire Worshippers (Surakhani settlement). The Absheron peninsula has sandy beaches, summer cottage settlements, rest houses for both adults and children.

Baku sight-seeing (2 hrs.)

During this excursion you will see the most important places of interest in the Azeri capital and will get an idea of its history and present life style. The trip is of particular interest to those who is
visiting Baku for the first time and it will help them to orientate in the city during the rest of their stay.

The old city (3 hrs.)

During this walk through Icheri Sheher (Inner Town}, the historic centre of Baku situated within the ancient city walls. You will see such architectural monuments as Maiden Tower and the Shirvanshahs' palace, Caravanserais, ancient mosques, etc.

The Fire Worshippers' Temple (3 hrs.)

The Ateshgah fire-worshippers' temple was restored in thel 8th century by congregation from India. The original building was built on a spot where natural gas was coming out from the ground, causing "ever-bi irning flames" which iwers. The temple used to inspire Zoroaster and his fol was destroyed in the 7th century. Ar explanation on the cult and the history of the place will тo be given.

Medieval fortresses on the Absheron Peninsula (3 hrs.)
(In summer time with the trip to the beach)
This excursion takes you to the hinterland of Baku including 'visits to a number of fortresses that used lo form part of an integral defense system of Absheron during the Middle Ages.

19th and early 20th century Baku (3 hrs.)

This trip is dedicated to the architecture and historic sites in Baku connected with the late 19th and early 20th century oil-boom. Explanations about architectural peculiarities and how day-to-day life in the capital used to be, will be added.

Cruise through the bay of Baku (2 hrs.)
This trip by boat will offer you a splendid panoramic view of Baku from the sea. Your guide will explain you the history and other peculiarities worth knowing of the Caspian Sea.

Gobustan (5 hrs.)
This is an excursion to the volcanic desert to south-west of Baku along the Caspian shore. Here you will see rock drawings made by ancient people who used to live there in caves more than ten thousand years ago. Thor Heyerdal, the travelling scientist from Norway, visited Azerbaijan twice only to see Gobustan.

'Azerbaijan - fire and oil country" (3 hrs.)
On this excursion you will be informed about the history of oil development in Azerbaijan. Even in ancient times oil was known to exist on the Absheron peninsula, and there were various religiom cults connected with the oil and gas fields. Your guide will tell you about ditlerent methods of oil extraction both ancient and modern. You will be introduced to non traditional uses of oil and to the present situation within the oil industry in Azerbaijan, the oil development prospects, that the contract of the Century signed by some of the worlds largest oil companies brings to Azerbaijan. You will visit the oldest oil producing fields on the Absheion peninsula, observe the natural gas outlets (Yanar Dag -"Burning Mountain") and mud volcanoes together with the current on and offshore oil fields.