Nestled among Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, and the Caspian Sea is Azerbaijan, a European country slightly smaller than the United States' Maine. Its capital is Baku and its estimated population is 8,832,000.
The earliest evidence of human civilization is from the Stone Age, but little of its history was recorded until the time between 900 and 700 B.C., when Iranian Medes from the North of the Aras River came to dominate the area south of the Aras, which would be the area that is now Azerbaijan. The Medes forged a vast empire which included this newly dominated area, and then the Medes' empire was integrated into the Achaemenids Empire in 550 B.C.
At about this time, Zoroastrianism was the official religion. Zoroastrianism is an Iranian religion, founded around 600 B.C. by Zoroaster, the principal beliefs of which are in the existence of a supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and in a cosmic struggle between a spirit of good, Spenta Mainyu, and a spirit of evil, Angra Mainyu. Then in the 6th century A.D., Christianity was adopted as the official religion.
At the beginning of the eleventh century, the territory was being gradually seized by Turkic Oghuz tribes from Central Asia and by Iranian dynasties. Then, while under Persian dominion, khanates, a political entity ruled by a khan (self-ruling, hereditary leaders), took over. The khanates exercised control over their affairs via an international trade route between Central Asia and the West. Engaged in constant warfare, these khanates were eventually incorporated into the Russian empire in 1813, after two Russian-Persian wars. The area to the North of the river Aras, which was Iranian territory until being occupied by Russia, was to become the modern Azerbaijan.
In 1922, under heavy pressure from Moscow, Russia, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenian, and Georgian Soviet Socialist Republics formed a union known as the Transcaucasion SFSR. This was the first attempt at a...