Azerbaijan (Republic of Azerbaijan)
|Flag of Azerbaijan|
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic in 1918 and became the first secular democratic Muslim-majority state. In 1920, the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan SSR. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the same year. In September 1991, the ethnic Armenian majority of the Nagorno-Karabakh region formed the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. The region and seven surrounding districts are internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan pending a solution to the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh through negotiations facilitated by the OSCE, although became de facto independent with the end of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994. Following the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, the seven districts and parts of Nagorno-Karabakh were returned to Azerbaijani control.
Azerbaijan is a unitary semi-presidential republic. It is one of six independent Turkic states and an active member of the Organization of Turkic States and the TÜRKSOY community. Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 182 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OSCE, and the NATO PfP program. It is one of the founding members of GUAM, the CIS, and the OPCW. Azerbaijan is also an observer state of the WTO.
The vast majority of the country's population (97%) is nominally Muslim, but the constitution does not declare an official religion and all major political forces in the country are secularist. Azerbaijan is a developing country and ranks 88th on the Human Development Index. It has a high rate of economic development, literacy, and a low rate of unemployment. However, the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, in power since 1993, has been accused of authoritarian leadership under the leadership of both Heydar Aliyev and his son Ilham Aliyev, and deteriorating the country's human rights record, including increasing restrictions on civil liberties, particularly on press freedom and political repression.
According to a modern etymology, the term Azerbaijan derives from that of Atropates, a Persian satrap under the Achaemenid Empire, who was later reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander the Great. The original etymology of this name is thought to have its roots in the once-dominant Zoroastrianism. In the Avesta's Frawardin Yasht ("Hymn to the Guardian Angels"), there is a mention of âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide, which literally translates from Avestan as "we worship the fravashi of the holy Atropatene". The name "Atropates" itself is the Greek transliteration of an Old Iranian, probably Median, compounded name with the meaning "Protected by the (Holy) Fire" or "The Land of the (Holy) Fire". The Greek name was mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. Over the span of millennia, the name evolved to (Middle Persian), then to (New Persian) and present-day Azerbaijan.
The name Azerbaijan was first adopted for the area of the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan by the government of Musavat in 1918, after the collapse of the Russian Empire, when the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was established. Until then, the designation had been used exclusively to identify the adjacent region of contemporary northwestern Iran, while the area of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was formerly referred to as Arran and Shirvan. On that basis Iran protested the newly adopted country name.
During the Soviet rule, the country was also spelled in Latin from the Russian transliteration as (Азербайджа́н). The country's name was also spelled in Cyrillic script from 1940 to 1991 as Азәрбајҹан.
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