Azerbaijan Historical Setting
Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies
Figure 8. Azerbaijan, 1994
Icheri-Shekher Fortress, Baku
UNDER THE DOMINATION of the Soviet Union for most of the twentieth century, Azerbaijan began a period of tentative autonomy when the Soviet state collapsed at the end of 1991. A culturally and linguistically Turkic people, the Azerbaijanis have retained a rich cultural heritage despite long periods of Persian and Russian domination. In the 1990s, the newly independent nation still faced strong and contrary religious and political influences from neighbors such as Iran to the south, Turkey to the west, and Russia to the north (see fig. 8). Despite the country's rich oil reserves, Azerbaijan's natural and economic resources and social welfare system have been rated below those of most of the other former Soviet republics. Furthermore, in the early 1990s a long military and diplomatic struggle with neighboring Armenia was sapping resources and distracting the country from the task of devising post-Soviet internal systems and establishing international relations.
The territory of modern Azerbaijan has been subject to myriad invasions, migrations, and cultural and political influences. During most of its history, Azerbaijan was under Persian influence, but as the Persian Empire declined, Russia began a 200-year dominance, some aspects of which have persisted into the 1990s.
Data as of March 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Azerbaijan on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Azerbaijan Historical Setting information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Azerbaijan Historical Setting should be addressed to the Library of Congress.