INFORMATION ABOUT AZERBAIJAN
MEMBERSHIP IN MAJOR INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
United Nations Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) World Health Organization (WHO)
AZERBAIJANIS IN THE UNITED STATES
Today, there are approximately 400,000 Azerbaijani Americans living in the United States, the majority of them being originally from Southern (Iranian) Azerbaijan. California, with a population of 100,000 Azerbaijani-Americans, is home to the largest Azerbaijani-American community in the U.S. The greater Washington, D.C. and New York areas account for the second largest population of Azeris living in the United States. Many Azerbaijanis now living in the United States originally came here for their education; they now occupy many professional positions. Recently, several cultural and social Azerbaijani organizations have emerged in North America that are ac tive in promoting Azerbaijani-American relations.
Although Azerbaijan has traditionally relied on imports for its raw materials, much of them from the former Soviet republics, its industrial sector is well diversified with a production capacity able to sustain a steady export program. In 1991, the Azerbaijan food industry, with 31 percent of total industrial output, led all industrial production, followed by light industry (19 percent), energy (12 percent), and machine-building industry (II percent). Wine production dominates the food industry of Azerbaijan, accounting for almost 50 percent of this market's share. Production of textiles (accounting for 13 percent of all " industrial output), carpets,leather products, as well as toys, furniture and bicycles, constitute the bulk of Azerbaijan's light industry. The machine building industry (other than oil equip ment) produces equipment mainly for agriculture, road construction, light industry and the food industry.
Because of its vast oil and natural gas reserves, Azerbaijan historically has been an important energy state. Azerbaijan today is a primary supplier of oil and related equipment to the states of the former Soviet Union. Currently, Azerbaijan's energy industry is largely a state controlled industry which is divided into two distinct sectors: oil extractio and oil refining. Azneftemash, a ruble holding company, controls nearly all of Azerbaijan's oil equipment industry, which heav ily depends on the former Soviet Republics for its intermediary inputs, and serves as a primary distributor of oil in Azerbaijan. Recoverable oil reserves, mostly in offshore fields, are officially reported to be almost one billion metric tons and gas reserves 500 billion cubic meters. Close to 10 percent of Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea reserves has been explored for oil and the rest is expected to be equally rich. At present, the Azerbaijan oil industry is faced with declining productivity due to outdated equipment, an archaic infrastructure, inadequate investment and other inefficiencies inherited from the Soviet era. Recognizing the significance of the oil industry, the government of Azerbaijan has embarked on the import ant task of modernizing its energy sector. Contacts with foreign oil companies have been intensified and signif icant institutional changes initiated. Similar steps are being taken to streamline the energy sector, and a new administrative unit has been formed to supervise the sector's overall structure and performance. In order to further encourage foreign investment in Azerbaijan's energy sector, the parliament is working on legislation to facilitate the negotiation process currently under way with Western oil companies for pro duction and exploration rights. Oil Extraction- There are four major oil fields in Azerbaijan - the Guneshli, Chirag, Azeri and Kapaz. The Guneshii, Chirag and Azeri constitute, in effect, one large oil field, with the Guneshli accounting for 60 percent of the crude oil production in Azerbaijan. The amount of natural gas that can be captured from existing oil wells is estimated at 2.5 billion cubic meters annually. Oil Export Delivery - Present oil exports, primarily to the former Soviet Republics, are primarily conducted via rail to the Black Sea ports of Novorossisk in Russia and Odessa in Ukraine; a lesser amount is shipped by tanker across the Caspian Sea to northern Iran. Oil Refining - Azerbaijan's total refining capacity of about 20 million tons per year is distributed among two refineries located on the outskirts of Baku. Azneftyag, the older refinery, accounts for 60 percent of total refining capacity of Azerbaijan. Current domestic production of crude oil does not meet the maximum refin ing capacity of Azerbaijan and crude oil is regularly imported from Russia and Kazakhstan. Even so, Azerbaijan's total refining capacity remains under-utilized. Refined petroleum products are exported to the former Soviet republics and to other markets. Mix of Refinery Outputs (1991-1992) a Fuel oil (48 percent), - Diesel oil (27 percent), - Gasoline (9 percent), - Kerosene (including jet kerosene) (8 percent), - Other products (8 percent).
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
The Republic of Azerbaijan is a secular democracy, with the government based on the separation of powers among its three branches. The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan establishes this form of government and is the supreme law within the republic. The franchise is universal for all adult citizens. The legislative power is executed by the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The speaker of the Parliament is the second highest official in the state, second only to the President. The executive power is vested in the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, who serves as chief executive and head of state. The Republic of Azerbaijan has an independent judiciary. The judicial power is administered through the independent court system. The nation's highest court is the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which like the U.S. Supreme Court has the authority of judicial review. The Republic of Azerbaijan is a multi-party democracy. All citizens have the right to form and join political parties, free from government interference or coercion. Political parties are free to participate, unhindered,. in the political process, according to the laws and Constitution of Azerbaijan. Key political parties and movements include: The Popular Front of Azerbaijan (National Democratic Movement); Party of National Independence; New Azerbaijan Party; Social Democratic Party; Mussavat (Equality); and the Helsinki Group.
Major News Agencies: Azer Taj (official information agency); Khabar-Service; Assa-Irada; Turan; Intibah . Newspapers: Azerbaijan; Khalg; Azadlyg; Mukhalifat; Hayat; Bakinsky Rabochy; Baku; Aydynlig; Millat; Oghuz Eli; Adalat; Istiglal. Magazines: Ulduz; Azerbaijan; Gobustan.
The present day citizens of Azerbaijan are the heirs of a rich history, the successors of a long progression of cultures and civilizations. Situated on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan occupies one of the Asian continent's strategic crossroads between East and West. Given this geographic reality, many king doms and empires, and such famous warriors as Persia's Cyrus the Great, the Roman General Pompey, Alexander the Great, Tamerlane and Genghis Khan, have fought to assert control over the region. Archaeologists date the first human settlements in pres ent day Azerbaijan to the Stone Age. Prehistoric cave dwellings have been excavated throughout Azerbaijan, one of the more important being the excavations at Gobustan, famous for its rock paintings. Ethnically and linguistically, the Azerbaijani people are descended from the nomadic Turkish tribes that mi grated west across Transcaucasia into present day Tur key more than one thousand years ago. Today, Azerbaijan is home to more than 70 different ethnic groups, including Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Jews, Russians, Armenians, Lezghins, and many others. Historically, Azerbaijan was divided into two parts: the northern and the southern. Northern Azerbaijan cov ered what is essentially the territory of the present day Republic of Azerbaijan, while southern Azerbaijan covered an area in what is now northern Iran. The roots of present day Azerbaijan trace back to the fourth century B.C., with the emergence of the two kingdoms of Caucasian Albania in the north, and the Atropatan in the south. The latter takes its nairne from its founder, Atropat, a satrap of Alexander of Macedo nia. In fact, many historians believe the word "Azerbaijan" itself derives from Atropatan. By the second century A.D., Caucasian Albania had developed into a major regional power. Ancient litera ture describes Caucasian Albania as a separate state with a diverse economic base. Its borders were essen tially the borders of present day Azerbaijan, and in cluded the regions of Nakhchivan and Daghlig-Gar mountains, abagh. By the third century, numerous cities flourished as trade, artistic, or administrative centers, among them Baku, Barda, Ganja and Nakhchivan. The Kingdom of Caucasian Albania was home to the first Christian communities in the region. By the fourth century, Chris tianity had become the kingdom's principal religion. While formally a vassal to the state of Sasanian Iran, Caucasian Albania enjoyed a large degree of autonomy and was virtually an independent state. During the seventh century, Caucasian Albania fell to the Arab Caliphate, leading to the Islamization of the region. The majority of people converted to Islam and the influence of Islamic culture exerted itself through out the kingdom. Throughout these centuries, the area witnessed succes sive waves of migrations of nomadic Turkish tribes and confederations, including the Huns and the Khazars. The Azerbaijani Turks today accept both these Turkish nomads and the Albanians as their ancestors. By the ninth century, the Albanian Kingdom, by then a vassal of the Arab Caliphate, had lost much of the control it once exercised over northern Azerbaijan. Albanian authority in the region was eclipsed with the rise of the Shirvan dynasty (6th - 16th centuries) in Eastern Caucasia. The Shirvan dynasty reached its ze nith in the 10th century, exercising control over large areas once ruled by the Caucasian Albanian Kingdom. The succeeding centuries saw Azerbaijan ruled by a series of mainly Turkic empires from Central Asia, a development that led to the eventual Turkification of the region. The Seljuk Turks arrived in the I I th century, followed by the Chinghizid Ilkhanid and Timurid em pires from the 13th to 15th centuries, and the Gar agoyunlu and Agh-Goyunlu states, based in southern Azerbaijan, in the 15th century. By the beginning of the 16th century, the Safavid dy nasty of southern Azerbaijan assumed the throne in Persia and eventually incorporated the Shirvan king dom, as well as Nakhchivan and Garabagh, into its rule. The founder of the Safavid dynasty, Shah Ismail I (ruled 1501-1524), maintained relations with Hungary and Germany, and entered into negotiations regarding a military alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor Karl V. During the latter half of the 16th century, wars between the Turkish Ottoman empire and the Safavid led to Ottoman occupation of Eastern Caucasia, between 1578 and 1603. As Safavid authority began to wane, the Russians and Ottomans fought for control of the area. The first two decades of the 18th century mark a deci sive moment in Azerbaijan's history: the beginning of Russian influence in the area, as Peter I (the Great) brought the Caspian coast under his control. With the final breakup of the Safavid dynasty in the middle of the 18th century, the remains of their empire in the Caucasus fell to a number of independent khanates, among them the khanates, of Baku, Gar abagh, Guba and Nakhchivan. These khanates were mainly Islamic and Turkic, and frequently at war with each other for control of the area. Catherine the Great, sought to extend its hegemony with Iran, which was consolidating its hold on the territories of southern Azerbaijan formerly ruled by the Safavids. As a result, two Russo-Iranian wars were fought, from 1804-1813 and from 1826-1828. The first war ended with the Treaty of Gulistan, which ceded the majority of the northern khanates to Russian authority. The Treaty of Turkmanchay, ending the second war, gave Russia further control over the khanates of Yerevan and Nakhchivan. The effect of these two trea ties was to divide Azerbaijan in two, with northern Azerbaijan subjugated to Russian colonial rule. But for the 1918-1920 period of Azerbaijan's independence, this pattern persisted until the final dissolution of the Soviet empire. The latter half of the nineteenth century was a time of great economic development for Azerbaijan, based largely on the discovery of huge oil reserves. Indeed, Baku is today considered a birthplace of the modern oil industry. Baku attracted investors and oil developers from all over the world, among them Alfred Nobel and his brothers. In fact, the fortune that Alfred Nobel acquired through his work in Baku's emerging oil in dustry allowed him to establish the Nobel Prize. With the collapse of Tsarist rule in Russia at the end of World War 1, Azerbaijan, along with the other Cauca sian nations of Armenia and Georgia, seized the oppor tunity to declare independence. On May 28, 1918 still celebrated today as Independence Day - the peo ple of Azerbaijan established their own independent state, the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. The in ternational community was quick to recognize the new country, including the United States. Newly indepen dent Azerbaijan was the first nation in the region to adopt a secular, democratic form of government. United States president Woodrow Wilson is said to have remarked during the Paris Peace Conference, "There came in a very dignified and interesting group of gen tleman from Azerbaijan - I was talking to men who talked the same language that I did in respect of ideals, in respect of conceptions of liberty, in conceptions of right and justice." But after two short years, Russia again moved to assert its rule over Azerbaijan. In April, 1920, units of the Russian Bolshevik II th Army invaded Azerbaijan and overthrew the government. With the Red Army occu pying its territory, Azerbaijan was forcibly incorpo rated into the Soviet Union with the signing of the Treaty of Formation of the USSR on December 30, 1922. For the next 70 years, Azerbaijan languished as a col ony of the Soviet State. Soviet authorities ceded the Azerbaijani territory of Zangezur to Armenia, thus cut ting off Nakhchivan from the rest of Azerbaijan. When Azerbaijan was forcibly annexed into the USSR, its total territory was 114,000 sq. km; on regaining its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan's territory was 86,600 sq. km.