Azerbaijan[?:z?bai'??:n] (Azerbaijani: Az?rbaycan), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani: Az?rbaycan Respublikas?), is situated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, north of Iran and east of the Caspian Sea.
The location of human and pre-human habitation dating back two million years, remnants of Azerbaijan's history include Bronze Age petroglyphs and medieval minarets and mosques. Azerbaijan was also once a major stopover on the Great Silk Route.
The culture of Azerbaijan has been influenced by its Turkic peoples, Persian, Islamic, and Central Asian heritage, as well as Russian influences due to its former status as a Soviet republic. Today, Western influences, including globalized consumer culture, are strong.
The site of numerous invasions over the centuries, Azerbaijan was briefly independent from 1918 to 1920, and regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
An early source of oil, discovered there in 1873, its capital city of Baku is famous for its wealthy oil reserves. Scientists consider the Apsheron Peninsula (including Baku and Sumqayit) and the Caspian Sea to be the ecologically most devastated area in the world because of severe air, soil, and water pollution. Learn