The favorable geographical position of the country, rich natural resources and nice climate always made Azerbaijan a country attractive and sometimes not just for peaceful settlers. It also served as bait for aggressive moves of various tribes and empires like Roman and Parthian, Arab Caliphate, Great Horde of Chenguiz Khan, empires of Tamerlan, Ottoman Turks and Russia.
Each area in Azerbaijan keeps numerous archeological evidence of people having already lived here in prehistoric or ancient time. The climate, abundance of water resources served the most ancient people that inhabited the area, as was proven by scientific materials on the research of Azykh and Taglar caves. Sometimes the natives found a refuge from invaders and conflicts high in the mountains, where their shelters developed as separate settlements with isolated ethnic groups holding on to their original way of life. The agriculture and cattle-breeding started by the late Neolithic period alongside with the primitive building and pottery.
Then the archaic painted ceramics and schematic petroglyphs (scientific materials on Gobustan, Gamigaya, Shakhtahti, Shomutepe, Alikepektepe, Kultepe) have appeared. During the Bronze epoch (3-1 millenniums BC) the metal processing (weaponry) related crafts have appeared; products from bone, textiles, and painted ceramics improved. Connections with peoples of Asia Minor and Near East (scientific materials on the Kur-Araz culture that were discovered in many places of modern Azerbaijan) intensively developed.
Then first big tribal unions, which mentioned in various ancient written sources (namely, Sumerian-Acadian ones), appeared. Throughout its history, Azerbaijan was mostly a part of various empires, but became a large state building center in the medieval period for the states of Atabays Ildenizids (12-13th centuries AD), the States of Garagoyunlu and Аggoyunlu (15th century AD), the State of Safavids (16-17th centuries AD). But the first large State, Manna Kingdom with the capital Izirtu, was established in the 9th century BC. It became the very first State created by ancestors of Azerbaijanis; the local statehood history that counts already 3 thousand years begins with it.
Median Empire with the capital in Ekbatanes replaced Manna in the 7th century BC. Media achieved considerable military and political success by crushing Assyria, Urartu and spreading its powerful influence throughout the territory of South Caucasus and most parts of contemporary Iran. Median Empire collapsed in the 6th century BC and was included in the new Persian empire of Akhemenids, and became one of the pillar provinces. The Akhemenids conducted active and aggressive policy but had strong cultural impact on neighboring countries. Despite conquering vast and rich territories, the Empire got weakened because of frequent wars and rebellions. Alexander the Great managed to overcome and conquer the Persian Empire by the middle of 4th century BC. The conquered territories received then the influence of Hellenistic culture. That changed the historical and cultural landscape from Central Asia to Europe and from Egypt to India.
During that period two States, Caucasian Albania and Atropatena appeared in the historical territory of Azerbaijan. They rapidly achieved relatively high level of agriculture (wine-making, gardening, flax and cotton production, cattle-breeding). Gradually, crafts were developing considerably (weaving carpets and tapestries, glass-making, metalworks) in the towns of Albania and Atropatena. Trade with the countries of Central Asia, Northern Caucasus, Black Sea coast and Egypt was flourishing.
From the end of 1st century BC to 7th century AD Azerbaijan became the arena of territorial claims and military actions between Parthia and the Roman Empire, and later between Byzantium and Sasanid Iran. Atropatena completely turned into a part of the Sasanid Empire by the 3rd century AD, while Caucasian Albania still managed to keep a relative independence. The first capital of the Caucasian Albania was Gabala and later Barda. In the beginning of the 4th century AD Christianity became the state religion of the Caucasian Albania while in Atropatena the Zoroastrianism was still dominating. In the 7th century AD Sasanide Iran and nearby territories were conquered by the Arab Caliphate. Arabs have brought a new religion here, Islam.
The Caliphate incorporated vast territory from Pyrenees up to China, from Caucasus to Northern Africa, but it also incorporated the culture of conquered peoples. Similarly to the Greek one, the new Muslim culture had a huge influence over the course of global history, development of science, medicine and philosophy.
The important element there was also the culture of Azerbaijan that had enriched Muslim culture, having contributed scientists, poets and educators. Since the early Middle Ages, the territory of Azerbaijan was often invaded from the north. The territory of Azerbaijan was penetrated through the Darband pass by various tribes: hunns, savires, khazars, bulgars, onogurs etc. Some of them settled, mixing up with local population, others left with plunder to come back later or perished because of armed resistance.
Because of constant threat from the north, a succession of kings and governors paid great attention to building fortifications in purpose of defending Azerbaijan. Strong walls and citadels of Darband, long walls and strongholds of Gilgilchai with the Chirag Gala fortress, the fortification system of Beshbarmag that were constructed by Sasanid rulers in early medieval period appeared. It is also should be noted that medieval castles, watch towers of Absheron and fortification complexes of north-eastern Azerbaijan and Absheron are nominated to be included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
There are many remnants of medieval fortifications in various regions and districts of Azerbaijan. Local population often rose to offer fierce resistance to invaders and the Babek Uprising was one of the bright and violent pages in the history of Azerbaijan. The Hurramite rebels and their leader Babek fought for the independence and their struggle lasted for 20 years, during which they defeated seven armies that were sent against them.
After the defeat of Babek anti-Caliphate separatism strengthened and led to emergence of such new states as the Kingdoms of Shirvanshakhs, Sajids, Salarids, Shaddadids, and Ravvadids. All of them minted their own coins, possessed armies and carried out independent policy. In 11th century AD, Azerbaijan was invaded by the armies of the Seljukid Empire that ruled also the part of Iraq and South Caucasus in addition to some territories in Minor and Central Asia. The Seljuk Empire existed not for long - by the beginning of 12th century it collapsed giving way to separate domains. In the territory of Azerbaijan only the Kingdom of Shirvanshakhs could defend its independence from Seljukids. At the same time another new State, founded by the Atabay Shamsaddin Ildeniz (1136-1175 AD), emerged in Azerbaijan. The domain of Ildenizids included almost all Azerbaijan, except for the Shirvanshakhs Kingdom that was forced to become its vassal. Many neighboring countries recognized the Ildenizids as their supreme seniors. Capitals of this State were the cities of Nakhchivan, Tabriz, Hamadan, and Maraga. Ildenizids had strong army, minted their own coin and conducted active independent external and internal policy.
However, in the beginning of the 13th century AD Azerbaijan was captured by the Mongolian hordes. By the year 1239 AD it was completely included in the Mongol Empire. In 1256 AD the grandson of Chingizkhan, Hulagu, created his own State. Hulagu Khan ascended on a throne with a title of Ilkhan. The domain of Hulaguids or Ilkhans ruled vast territories from Darband in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south, from Amu-Darya in the east to Egypt in the west. One of the major regions in the State of Hulaguids was Azerbaijan where the capitals of the new State, Maraga and Tabriz, were located. During the reign of Ilkhanid the economy blossomed and the towns with developing crafts, science and trading communications extended and became stronger; new bridges, caravansarays, mosques, madrasa, khanaka (Muslim convent buildings) and fortresses were being under construction.
Having existed about 100 years, the Hulaguid domain weakened and turned into the arena of struggle between khans of the Golden Horde and the founder of new Empire in the Central Asia, Emir Timur (Tamerlan) by the middle of 14th century AD. The Jhelairid Kingdom that was established on the ruins of the former great Hulaguid Domain has got under Timur's authority. The state of Shirvanshakhs, due to wise diplomatic efforts of Shirvanshakh Ibragim Darbandi (1382-1497AD) not only managed to preserve relative independence but also avoided the hardships of violent times and spread its influence to other regions of Azerbaijan.
Decline of the Timurids and strengthening of the Shirvanshakhs, Garagoyunlu and Aggoyunlu tribal unions throughout the region was very typical for the 15th century. Cities and crafts revived again, and trade developed. Aggoyunlu King Uzunhasan (1453-1478 AD) managed to establish diplomatic relations with many countries of Europe: Venice, Hungary, Austria, Poland, France, England, Portugal, Spain, etc. At the same time, the State of Shirvanshakhs experienced rapid growth, especially during the reign of Shirvanshakh Halilullah I (1417-1465) and his son Farrukh Yassar I (1465-1500). The treaty on friendship trade and consent was signed between Shirvan Kingdom and the Great Princedom of Moscow.
In 15-16th centuries the eminence of Ardabil rulers began, the descendants of Sheikh Safi, the followers of one of two major branches of Islam, shiism, started growing. The State created by descendants of Sheikh Safi received the name of Safavid Kingdom. The founder of the State Shakh Ismayil Safavi defeated the Shirvanshakh Farrukh Yassar and then the army of Aggoyunlu. In 1501, he declared himself the Shakh of the Empire that included Southern Caucasus, Iran, Iraq, and Khorasan. Tabriz became the capital, Azerbaijani was a state language. The strengthening of the Safavid Empire and active aggressive policy of Shi'ah Gizilbash rulers led to collision with the Turk Ottoman Empire. The wars between them were going on with changing success for centuries and devastated Azerbaijan. By the 18th century the Safavid Empire came to decline and was divided into separate domains. The largest of them were Guba, Garabag, Sheki, Maku, and other domains called khanligs (khanates) that were ruled by hereditary rulers, khans. They were counducting wars continuously, being often exposed simultaneously to invasion of Turkish and Iranian armies.
Russian Empire expanded its geopolitical interests to Caucasus by the middle of the 18th century. It enforced its influence here, conducting wars with Iran and Ottoman Empire and managed to take the whole territory of South Caucasus under its control. As a result of these wars in 1813 the Gouloustan and in 1828 the Turkmanchai Peace Treaties were signed between Iran and Russia, according to which Iran refused the claims to South Caucasus. Thus, Azerbaijan was divided into two parts between Iran and Russia. Because of its rich oil deposits and experienced rapid economic development phase the Northern Azerbaijan was included into Russian Empire.
After the February revolution and overthrow of the imperial government of Russia in 1917, Azerbaijan immediately attempted to restore its independence, having formed the first democratic republic in the Muslim East, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. It existed for almost 2 years - from May 28, to April 28, 1920. However, Russia could not give up such a unique region with rich hydrocarbon resources and geopolitical position. On April, 28, 1920, violating the state sovereignty of young republic, 11th Red Army invaded Azerbaijan.
When Azerbaijan restored the independence after disintegration of the USSR in 1991, a new stage in the history of the country began. The Constitutional Act “About the State independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was adopted on October 18, 1991. The Republic of Azerbaijan led by the president elected by people is heading along the path of development, the choice all population, irrespective of ethnic, language and/or religious-cultural affiliation. The first referendum in the history of Azerbaijan on December 29, 1991 re-affirmed equality of all citizens of the country, where all nationalities inhabiting it, including all ethnic minorities, constitute the people of Azerbaijan. According to the Constitution of 1995, Azerbaijan is the legal, sovereign, unitary State, which is developing in the spirit of The General Declaration of Human Rights and other core documents of the United Nations, Helsinki Act of 1975 and the OSCE documents. Being the country with the transitional economy, Azerbaijan is at a stage of intensive development, putting into practice the programs directed on creation of favorable legal and economic conditions for the development of business, attraction investments in the country, introduction of high technologies and consolidation of financial and bank systems.
In the area of foreign policy Azerbaijan adheres to independent and peaceful policy, being a member of the United Nations, Council of Europe, CIS, Organization of Islamic Conference and many other organizations.
|Agdjabedi||+12 +14 °C|
|Ali-Bayramli||+14 +16 °C|
|Baku||+16 +18 °C|
|Balaken||+11 +13 °C|
|Ganja||+11 +13 °C|
|Gazakh||+12 +14 °C|
|Ismaylli||+11 +13 °C|
|Khachmaz||+14 +16 °C|
|Lenkoran||+15 +17 °C|
|Nakhchivan||+10 +12 °C|
|Sumgait||+16 +18 °C|
|Yevlakh||+13 +15 °C|