The Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south, covering an area of 86,600 km2 with a population of 9,356,500.
Very often called the “Land of Fires”, Azerbaijan is a miraculous country with its rich natural resources, historical and cultural monuments, literature, arts and musical heritage and people, whose lifestyle is just a unique and harmonious combination of the traditions and ceremonies of many different cultures and civilizations. From time immemorial the caravan routes of the Silk Road invariably crossed Azerbaijan. It served as the “gate” between mysterious faraway China and rich Europe. Location at the heart of the ancient Silk Road is very much embodied in architecture, traditions and crafts of various emblematic monuments of Walled City of Baku with Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Azerbaijan is one of the most ancient sites of human civilization. People have been present here at every stage of history, leaving a wide range of ancient archaeological and architectural sites and monuments, which belong to different periods of history. One of the most prominent monuments of Azerbaijan, the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring an outstanding collection of more than 6000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 40,000 years of rock art.
The Republic of Azerbaijan was established on 28 May 1918, becoming the first secular republic and first in granting the women the suffrage and the equal political rights in the Muslim World. Azerbaijan is also homeland of first opera of Muslim world “Leyli and Mejnun” by prominent composer Uzeir Hajibeyli in 1907.
The features of historical development of Azerbaijan, its geographical location, ethnic and religious diversity of local communities have led to the emergence and development of longstanding traditions of peaceful co-existence and tolerance. During different periods of history, communities in Azerbaijan have confessed Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, mutual influence of which has shaped the unique peculiarity of the religious environment in the country today. Islam remains dominant religion among local population, but there are vibrant Jewish and Orthodox Christian communities in the country.
Wonderful nature, climate, natural resources of the country produced a significant impact on artistic thinking and creativity of Azerbaijani people. The existing diversity of folk arts represent a unity and enable us to get the full idea of the intangible heritage of Azerbaijan. The living heritage of Azerbaijan is multi-coloured, complete and rich, just like its natural resources. It is linked to the daily life of people and occupies a very special place in their lives.
It is also to be noted that, imprinted in the daily life of local people, intangible heritage of Azerbaijan is of particular importance for its society, proud of having more than ten elements recognized as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (2003 Convention).
You can easily find detailed information about Azerbaijan on the webpages of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture http://azerbaijan.travel/ , http://www.mct.gov.az and http://www.azerbaijan.az. http://azerbaijan.travel/, http://www.mct.gov.az and http://www.azerbaijan.az