Capital of Azerbaijan: Baku city
Official language: Azerbaijani
Religion: Majority of the population is Muslim.
Currency: Azerbaijan manat (AZN). 1 manat = 100 qapik. Foreign currency can be exchanged for Azerbaijan manats in all banks and all official exchange points.
Zone time: GMT + 4 hours
International dialing code: +994
Electric current: 220 V
International airport: Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport. Airport Code: BAK. Location: 25km (16 miles) east of Baku (30 minutes).
Azerbaijan remained a predominantly Zoroastrian state until the Arab invasion in the 7th century AD. The name Azerbaijan means the “Land of The Eternal Fire” in Middle Persian, a name that is said to have a direct link with Zoroastrianism.
Northern Azerbaijan was known as Caucasian Albania in ancient times. The area was the site of many conflicts involving Arabs, Kazars, and Turks. After the 11th century, the territory became dominated by Turks and eventually was a stronghold of the Shiite Muslim religion and Islamic culture. The territory of Soviet Azerbaijan was acquired by Russia from Persia through the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkamanchai in 1828.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, Azerbaijan declared its independence from Russia in May 1918. The republic was reconquered by the Red Army in 1920 and was annexed into the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922. It was later reestablished as a separate Soviet Republic on Dec. 5, 1936. Azerbaijan declared independence from the collapsing Soviet Union on Aug. 30, 1991.
Over the ancient history of Azerbaijan the Azeris have created a rich and distinctive culture, a major part of which is decorative and applied art. This form of art rooted in hoary antiquity is represented by a wide range of handicrafts, such as chasing, jeweler, engraving in metal, carving in wood, stone and bone, carpet-making, lasing, pattern weaving and printing, knitting and embroidery.
Azerbaijan has been since the ancient times known as a center of a large variety of crafts. The archeological dig on the territory of Azerbaijan testifies to the well developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working, pottery and ceramics, and last but not least carpet-weaving that date as far back as to the 2nd millennium BC. Carpets, weaved by separate carpet-making schools of Azerbaijan (Guba, Baku, Shirvan, Gandja, Gazakh, Nagorny Karabakh, Tabriz) in different periods, amaze people till nowadays. Most of them kept in well-known museums of the world.
Music of Azerbaijan includes various styles. Folk songs, dances, ashug creation (folk poet and singer) have specific place in Azerbaijan national music.
The classical music of Azerbaijan is called mugam (more accurately spelled muğam), and is usually a suite with poetry and instrumental interludes. The sung poetry sometimes includes tahrir segments, which use a form of throat singing similar to yodelling. The poetry is typically about divine love and is most often linked to Sufi Islam. In contrast to the mugam traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugam is more free-form and less rigid.
Professional theatre became part of institutional culture in Azerbaijan at the end of the 19th century. Mirzah Fatali Akund-Zadeh who was a colonel and a true educator by inclination, was inspired by the example of the French writer Moliere to write six comedy plays between 1850-1855 and thus became the founder of national drama.
Works of art, created by classics and contemporaries, take honorable place in world cultural treasure. Works by M.F.Akhundov, N.Vazirov, M.S.Ordubadi, G.Zakir, M.A.Sabir, J.Mammadguluzade, M.P.Vagif, M.V.Vidadi and other poets and writers hasn’t lost their aesthetic importance.
Baku Theatre School was opened in 1923 and its students during the following years played an important role in the development of a national theater. Children’s Theatre opened in 1929 in Baku.
Repertoire of Azerbaijan theatre passed difficult way of development. Different theatre pieces are being staged in Academic National Dramatic Theatre, State Russian Dramatic Theatre, Opera and Ballet Theatre, Pantomime Theatre, Theatre of Young Spectators and etc.
Food and Drinks in Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijani food combines Turkish and central Asian elements. Baku also has an excellent selection of Western style restaurants. In the chaykhanas (tea houses), men linger for hours drinking sweet black tea out of tiny glasses (armudy) and playing nard (backgammon). A special place in the cuisine belongs to lamb kebabs of which there are many different varieties. Salads are served together with main course.
- Lyulya kebab (spiced, minced lamb pressed onto skewers).
- Piti (a mutton and chickpea soup).
- Kutab (pancakes stuffed with minced meat or herbs or pumpkin).
- Badimjan Dolmasi (aubergine, tomatoes and sweet peppers filled with minced mutton served with sour cream).
Things to know:
Although the majority of Azeris are nominally Shia Muslims, alcohol is widely available.
Expected by waiters in most restaurants. 10% is fine.
Wines and brandy (cognac) are produced locally.
Sherbets are popular soft drinks made of sugar, lemon, saffron, seeds of mint and basil.
Tea is served accompanied by various jams such as quince, fig, apricot, white cherry and plum. Sometimes dried leaves or flowers of savory, clove, cardamom as well as darchin (cinnamon) and ginger are added to tea.
General customs rules:
Foreign currency must be declared upon arrival. The amount of cash brought out of the country should not exceed the amount stated in the declaration on arrival. Export of the amount exceeding $1000 USA (or its equivalent) is charged 1% tax. Bringing items intended for private use is permitted free of charge, including up to 3 blocks of cigarettes, 1,5 l of strong alcoholic beverages, 2 l of wine, needed medicines. It is permitted to export personal belongings, articles of craft and goods obtained in the country. Export of any antique goods (including precious stones, coins, transcripts and other works of art as well as carpets and handiworks produced before 1960) is forbidden without the correspondent official certificate of the Ministry of Culture. Such certificates are given automatically only in the official art shops (private shops and markets do not have such certificates). Export of more than 600 g of caviar,valuable timber trees, antlers of elks and roedeers is forbidden. Transit of narcotic substances, guns and ammunition (excluding shotguns for which permission is given), literature and video materials offending moral and violating laws of the country is forbidden.
National currency of Azerbaijan is Azerbaijan manat (AZN). Foreign currency can be exchanged to Azerbaijan manats in all banks, ATMs, currency exchange points. Master Card/Visa are acceptable in banks, hotels and many stores. Banks` working hours are from 9.30 to 16.00 from Monday to Friday. Banks are not working on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.