Democratic Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Head of state:
President Ilham Aliyev since 2003.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Artur Rasizada since 2003.
220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Azerbaijan is an Islamic former Soviet Republic on the Caspian Sea, an oil rich and strategically important nation that is the key geopolitical power in the Caucasus. Azerbaijan's location has always made it a gateway between east and west, and the country was an important stop on the Silk Route. Over the centuries, Azerbaijan has been incorporated into most major regional empires, including the Russian, Turkish and Persian and has been an independent republic since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Taking in the stunning Caucasus Mountains to the north, the lush green valleys of the south and large swathes of arid semi-desert in between, Azerbaijan is a beautiful country with superb scenery, although it remains virtually unknown to the average traveller. Visitors usually base themselves in the capital Baku, from where it is easy to visit most of the country's biggest attractions.
Travel to Nagorno-Karabakh, and to the militarily-occupied area around it, is advised against. For further advice, visitors should contact their local government travel advice department.
The political situation in Azerbaijan is calm. Demonstrations, both opposition and Government sponsored, occasionally take place in Azerbaijan, and mainly in Baku. Opposition rallies are usually heavily policed and there has been violence on occasions. It is advised that visitors keep well away from any official or unofficial gathering of a political nature.
Political rallies or a public gathering of a political nature should be avoided. Azerbaijan faces a threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners, such as international hotels, restaurants and pubs, as well as energy sector facilities.
Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Azerbaijan in 2006 resulted in a small number of human fatalities. As a precaution, live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds is likely should all be avoided. Travellers should also ensure that poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice: