Azerbaijan is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea at the southeast extremity of the Caucasus. The region is a mountainous country, and only about 7% of it is arable land. The Kura River Valley is the area's major agricultural zone. Relative to other Eastern European and CIS states, Azerbaijan has reached a high level of human development, economic development and literacy, as well as a low rate of unemployment. The Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region and touches Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia in the north to the west, and Iran to the south. It touches the Caspian Sea to the east.
Although inflation reached 16.6 percent in 2007, leading to speculation that Azerbaijan’s fast growing energy sector had created a bubble, the chronic inflation was checked earlier this decade, leading to the release of a new currency, the manat.
Azerbaijan was formally the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic and part of the USSR.
Azerbaijan’s land borders extend 1,645 mi. Its coastline extends 479 mi. The territory of Azerbaijan extends 249 mi. north to south and 311 mi. west to east. Azerbaijan’s geographical features include the Caspian Sea to the east and three mountain ranges: the Greater and lesser Caucasus and the Talysh Mountains, all of which cover approximately 40 percent of Azerbaijan.
Essential Facts about Azerbaijan
- 106 species of mammals, 97 species of fish, 363 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians and 52 species of reptiles have been classified in Azerbaijan.
- Azerbaijan has the unique distinction of being the first Muslim-majority country to have operas, theater and plays.
- Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations; it was elected to membership in the Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006.
- Azerbaijan is widely considered one of the most important up-and-coming spots in the world for oil exploration and development.
- Fresh herbs form an important component in Azerbaijani cuisine, including dill, cilantro, basil, leeks, parsley, tarragon, thyme, chives, watercress and marjoram. The national dishes include those based on fish from the Caspian, local mutton or beef, and seasonal greens and vegetables. Black tea is widely consumed, as is saffron-rice plov, a traditional dish.
Azerbaijan is unique because nine of the Earth's 11 climatic zones all exist there. Because it is located at the northern end of a subtropical zone, the complicated geographical terrain, and the nearby Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan has a wildly varied climate.
The currency of Azerbaijan is called the manat. Each manat is divided into 100 qapik. It is subdivided into 100 qepik. The word “manat” derives from the Russian word for coin.
Approximately 95 percent of the Azerbaijani population are Muslims. Only 15 percent of the Muslims are Sunni, with 85 percent being Shia. 85 percent of the Muslims are Shia Muslims and 15 percent Sunni Muslims. Azerbaijan is a secular state, and its constitution guarantees religious freedom. Christian denominations include Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Molokan, Baptist, as well as Jewish, Bahai, Jehovah’s Witness and Hare Krishna.
Study in Azerbaijan
There are 51 universities in Azerbaijan, 36 run by the state and 15 private. Currently there over 100,000 undergraduate and graduate students studying at universities there. Universities employ over 11,000 instructors. Azerbaijani culture’s respect for learning has led the country to be a center of learning for the Muslim people. As a result, a reasonably large percentage of Azerbaijanis have obtained some sort of higher education, typically in scientific or technical subjects, often oil industry technologies.
The more significant universities include:
- Baku State University,
- Azerbaijan State Oil Academy (ASOA),
- Qafqaz University,
- Khazar University,
- Azerbaijan Technical University,
- Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzade Pedagogical Institute for Languages,
- Azerbaijan Medical University,
- Uzeyir Hajibayov Baku Academy of Music, and
- Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
Baku State University (the University of Azerbaijan) was established in 1919 and offers coursework in over a dozen areas, from physics to Oriental studies. It is also home of the largest library in the country.
According to the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education, Students from over 50 countries worldwide are currently studying for Bachelors, Masters, Postgraduate and Doctorate degrees in the country’s educational institutes.
Ministry regulations covering those wishing to study at universities of Azerbaijan are implemented within several contexts:
- intergovernmental agreements, cultural and scientific cooperation plans between Azerbaijan and foreign countries;
- agreements signed between the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and education establishments and public organizations of foreign countries;
- direct agreements signed between education establishments; and
- scholarships established by non-governmental and charity organizations.
The study of international students at state expense may be arranged within student exchange agreements between university and education establishments of foreign countries based on the notification from the ministry, committee and head of establishment that the relevant institution is subordinated to. The tuition fee of overseas students is defined and approved by the Ministry of Education in accordance with proposals of universities.
Because the majority of international students who want to study in Azerbaijan are not fluent in both Azeri and Russian languages (the main languages used at university), students are admitted to the relevant school only after submitting a document certifying their completion of language preparation courses preparing them for study.
At the end of their language preparation study, students take exams resulting on successful completion in a certificate. From that point on, students can study at the university level either on a fee-paid basis or at state expense in accordance with notifying the Ministry of Education.
Areas of Study
According to the Ministry, international students typically choose specialties such as international relations or international economic relations, Azeri language and literature, Russian language and literature, international business, and development and exploitation of oil and gas well, oil and gas engineering, etc.
The Ministry says international students are studying in the universities of Azerbaijan in the following specialties needed for their countries:
- Medicine: 15%
- Economics and Management: 11%
- Culture and Art: 3%
- Agriculture: 1%
- Engineering – Technical construction: 33%
- Humanities (international relations, international law, regional studies, European studies, history, political science, sociology, philosophy, journalism, foreign language): 19%
- Pedagogy: 18%
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