Map - Shamakhi Rayon (Shamakhi Rayon)

Shamakhi Rayon (Shamakhi Rayon)
Shamakhi District (Şamaxı rayonu) is one of the 66 districts of Azerbaijan. It is located in the east of the country and belongs to the Mountainous Shirvan Economic Region. The district borders the districts of Quba, Khizi, Gobustan, Hajigabul, Agsu, and Ismayilli. Its capital and largest city is Shamakhi. As of 2020, the district had a population of 106,400.

In its history, eleven major earthquakes have rocked Shamakhi, but each time it was reconstructed by its inhabitants due to its role as the economic and administrative capital of Shirvan and one of the key towns on the way of the Silk Road. The only building to have survived eight of the eleven earthquakes is the landmark Juma Mosque (8th century CE).

Shamakhi was first mentioned as Kamachia by ancient Greco-Roman geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus in the 1st to 2nd century CE. It was an important town during the Middle Ages and served as the capital of the Shirvanshah state from the 8th to 15th centuries and capital of the independent Shirvan Khanate, also known as khanate of Shamakhi. The Catholic friar, missionary and explorer William of Rubruck passed there on his return journey from the Mongol Great Khan's court.

In the middle of the 16th century it was the seat of an English commercial factory, under the traveller Anthony Jenkinson, afterwards envoy extraordinary of the khan of Shirvan to Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible of Russia. Adam Olearius, who visited Shamakhi in 1637, wrote: "Its inhabitants are in part Armenians and Georgians, who have their particular language; they would not understand each other if they did not use Turkish, which is common to all and very familiar, not only in Shirvan but also everywhere in Persia." The Russians first entered Shirvan in 1723 but soon retired leaving it to Ottomans who possessed it in 1723–35. In 1742 Shamakhi was taken and destroyed by Nadir Shah of Persia, who, to punish the inhabitants for their Sunnite creed, built a new town under the same name about 26 km to the west, at the foot of the main chain of the Caucasus Mountains. The new Shamakhi was at different times a residence of the Shirvan Khanate, but it was finally abandoned, and the old town rebuilt. In the mid-1700s, the population of Shamakhi was about 60,000, most of whom were Armenians. The Shirvan Khanate was finally annexed by Russia in 1805.

The British Penny Cyclopaedia stated in 1833 that "The bulk of the population of Shirvan consists of the Tatar, or, to speak more correctly, Turkish race, with some admixture of Arabs and Persians. . . . Besides the Mohammedans, who form the mass of the population, there are many Armenians, some Jews, and a few Gipsies. According to the official returns of 1831, the number of males belonging to the Mohammedan population was 62.934; Armenians, 6,375; Jews, 332; total males 69,641. The prevalent language of Shirvan is what is there called Toorkee or Turkish, which is also used in Azerbijan." The same source also states that according to the official returns of 1832, the city of Shamakhi was inhabited by only 2,233 families, as a result of the devastation from the sack of the city "in the most barbarous manner by the highlanders of Daghestan" in 1717. The Encyclopædia Britannica stated that in 1873 the city had 25,087 inhabitants, "of which 18680 were Tartars and Shachsevans, 5177 were Armenians, and 1230 Russians." Silk production continued to be the main output, with 130 silk-winding establishments, owned mostly by Armenians, although the industry had considerably declined since 1864.

Shamakhi was the capital of the Shamakhi Governorate of the Russian Empire until the devastating earthquake of 1859, when the capital of the province was transferred to Baku. The importance of the city declined sharply afterwards. According to the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (vol. 77, p. 460, published in 1903), Shamakhi had 20008 inhabitants (10450 males and 9558 females), of which 3% were Russians, 18% were Armenians, and 79% "Azerbaijani Tatars." With regard to religion, 79% of the population was Muslim, of which 22% was Sunni and the rest Shiite; the remaining 21% was "Armeno-Gregorian" (members of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and "Pravoslav" (Orthodox).

The "Queen of Shemakha" is a major protagonist in the poem "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel" by Alexander Pushkin, on which the opera "The Golden Cockerel" by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov was based. The character, however, is totally fictional and bears no actual relation to the city.

 
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Country - Azerbaijan
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Azerbaijan (, ; Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, is a transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is a part of the South Caucasus region and is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia (Republic of Dagestan) to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia and Turkey to the west, and Iran to the south. Baku is the capital and largest city.

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.
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