Places in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
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Azerbaijan

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Azerbaijan Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

86,600 sq km (33,400 sq miles).

Population

9.6 million (2013).

Population density

110.8 per sq km.

Capital

Baku.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Head of state

President Ilham Aliyev since 2003.

Head of government

Prime Minister Artur Rasizade since 2003.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz.

The original ‘East-meets-West’ destination, Azerbaijan sashays between space-age cityscapes and Arabian Nights exotica, taking in some of the most extraordinary landscapes in Caucasia en route.

Sitting at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, this former Soviet Republic is marginally bigger than Ireland, yet boasts an astonishing variety of natural wonders – from snow-capped mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes to sandy deserts and subtropical forests.

The northern hinterland is arguably the prettiest region thanks to the Caucasus Mountains, which rise to the misty heights of 4,466m (14,652ft). These lofty peaks are home to bears, wolves and leopards, not to mention nomadic shepherds, who move their flocks up and down these mountains in search of fresh pastures, as they have done for thousands of year.

Meanwhile, along the boulevards of downtown Baku, nouveau riche residents butterfly between expensive boutiques. The capital’s exclusive shops, modern architecture and luxury hotels – spoils of Caspian Sea oil – jar somewhat with the UNESCO old town, not to mention the poorer communities outside Baku. Visitors may feel the black gold bounty is not benefitting everyone.

Though oil has transformed the economy in recent years, Azerbaijan has always been of strategic importance. Nestling on the shores of the Caspian Sea, the camel caravans of the Silk Road once passed through the land, which, over the centuries, has been incorporated into the Persian, Turkish and Russian empires.

Today Azerbaijan is a sovereign state and, although Islamic, the mood is determinedly secular. Alcohol is not only readily available, but proudly produced; grapes have been cultivated here for millennia, and local vineyards are developing some excellent wines. Azeri cuisine is also enjoying a renaissance thanks a profusion of new eateries popping up in downtown Baku.

Sounds like the next big thing, then? Not quite, but the government has ambitious plans to boost tourism to Azerbaijan. Go while it’s relatively quiet.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 18 December 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the military occupied area surrounding it. There have been ceasefire violations along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and Line of Contact which resulted in a number of deaths and casualties.

Anyone who has visited Nagorno-Karabakh without the permission of the Azerbaijani authorities will be refused entry to Azerbaijan.

All British nationals travelling to Azerbaijan must obtain a visa in advance.

There is a general threat from terrorism.

Around 7,000 British nationals visit Azerbaijan every year, mainly on business. Most visits are trouble free. 

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