to the selection of most charming Silk Road
|'On May 28, 1918, the National Council of
Azerbaijan adopted a Declaration of Independence and a new country was
established — the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.
This date — Azerbaijan’s Independence Day —
marked the fulfillment of a centuries-old dream of the Azerbaijani people
for their own self-governed nation. Azerbaijan became one of the
first countries in the region to establish an independent, secular,
democratic government with its own Parliament, judiciary and currency.
The world community, including the United States, recognized the
sovereignty of Azerbaijan and established diplomatic relations.
||Unfortunately, Azerbaijan’s newfound independence was
short-lived. In 1920, the Russian Red Army invaded the country, shut
down Parliament and overthrew its elected officials. For the next 70
years, the citizens of Azerbaijan lived under repressive Soviet rule.
As a part of the Soviet communist system, its natural resources were
exploited and property confiscated. Nonetheless, Azerbaijanis
remained committed to establishing their free nation again.
|That opportunity came with the dismantling of the Soviet
Union in 1991. At that time, Azerbaijan adopted a declaration
restoring its independence and by 1995 the country had approved a new
constitution that guaranteed democracy, full civil rights for its
citizens, and an economy based on free market principles.
||With a rich culture, complex history, and a population of
7.8 million, Azerbaijan is strategically and economically important to
U.S. interests. Bordering the Caspian Sea with abundant agrarian
productivity, plentiful natural resources and large oil reserves, the
country has much to offer.'
--Ambassador Hafiz M. Pashayev of Azerbaijan
|The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku is located on the
western shore of the Caspian Sea and is one of Azerbaijan's largest
cities. The center of Baku is the old town, which is also a fortress. Most
of the walls, strengthened afterthe Russian conquest in 1806, survive.
This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient
buildings. Part of a palace, a mosque, and a minaret date from the 11th
century. Modern Baku spreads out from the walls, its streets and buildings
rising up hills that rim the Bay of Baku. Greater Baku is divided into 11
districts and 48 townships. Among these are townships on islands in the
bay and one island built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 miles (100
kilometers) from Baku proper.
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