Azerbaijan

 

Azerbaijan – a nation with a majority-Turkic and majority-Muslim population – was briefly independent from 1918 to 1920; it regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh enclave (largely Armenian populated). Azerbaijan has lost 16% of its territory and must support some 600,000 internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict. Corruption is ubiquitous, and the government has been accused of authoritarianism. Although the poverty rate has been reduced in recent years, the promise of widespread wealth from development of Azerbaijan’s energy sector remains largely unfulfilled.

 

Geography:
Location: South-western Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia, with a small European portion north of the Caucasus range
Geographic coordinates: 40 30 N, 47 30 E
People:
Population: 9,493,600 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,029,931/female 912,639)

15-64 years: 70.3% (male 2,896,785/female 2,993,092)

65 years and over: 6.4% (male 195,853/female 344,073) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 29.5 years

male: 27.9 years

female: 31.3 years (2008 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Azerbaijan

conventional short form: Azerbaijan

local long form: Azarbaycan Respublikasi

local short form: Azarbaycan

former: Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type: republic
Capital: name: Baku (Baki, Baky)

geographic coordinates: 40 23 N, 49 52 E

time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 1.684 million (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 10.12 million (2011)
Transportation:
Airports: 37 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 30

over 3,047 m: 5

2,438 to 3,047 m: 5

1,524 to 2,437 m: 13

914 to 1,523 m: 4

under 914 m: 3 (2012)

Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 7

under 914 m: 7 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air and Air Defence Forces (2010)
Military service age and obligation: men between 18 and 35 are liable for military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; length of military service is 18 months and 12 months for university graduates (2006)

Economy:

Azerbaijan’s high economic growth in 2006 and 2007 is attributable to large and growing oil exports. Azerbaijan’s oil production declined through 1997, but has registered an increase every year since. Negotiation of production-sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have committed $60 billion to long-term oilfield development, should generate the funds needed to spur future industrial development. Oil production under the first of these PSAs, with the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, began in November 1997.

 

A consortium of Western oil companies began pumping 1 million barrels a day from a large offshore field in early 2006, through a $4 billion pipeline it built from Baku to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. By 2010 revenues from this project will double the country’s current GDP. Azerbaijan shares all the formidable problems of the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its considerable energy resources brighten its long-term prospects. Baku has only recently begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced.

 

Several other obstacles impede Azerbaijan’s economic progress: the need for stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector, the continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, pervasive corruption, and elevated inflation. Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is declining in importance, while trade is building with Turkey and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices, the location of new oil and gas pipelines in the region, and Azerbaijan’s ability to manage its energy wealth.

Transnational Issues:

Armenia supports ethnic Armenian secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh and since the early 1990s has militarily occupied 16% of Azerbaijan; over 800,000 mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis were driven from the occupied lands and Armenia; about 230,000 ethnic Armenians were driven from their homes in Azerbaijan into Armenia; Azerbaijan seeks transit route through Armenia to connect to Naxcivan exclave; Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continues to mediate dispute; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia have ratified Caspian seabed delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on an even one-fifth allocation and challenges Azerbaijan’s hydrocarbon exploration in disputed waters; bilateral talks continue with Turkmenistan on dividing the seabed and contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian; Azerbaijan and Georgia continue to discuss the alignment of their boundary at certain crossing areas