The Republic of Azerbaijan is is the largest country in the Caucasus.
The treaties of Golestān (1813) and Turkmenchay (1828), between the Russian Empire and Iran, established a new border between the two empires. Russia acquired Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Nakhichevan and Yerevan. The Azerbaijani Turks of Caucasia were separated from the majority of their linguistic and religious compatriots, who remained in Iran. The official language of Azerbaijan is Azeri, a Turkic language of the Altaic family that is closely related to the Turkish and Turkmen languages. Other languages spoken in Azerbaijan include Russian and Armenian.
Today, Azerbaijan is divided into 71 administrative regions, consisting of 59 districts, 11 cities, and the autonomous republic of Naxçivan. The country is a presidential republic, governed under a constitution adopted by referendum in 1995.
Azerbaijan’s cultural institutions, located primarily in Baku, the capital of the country, include the State Museum of Shirvan-Shakh, which houses weapons and decorations from palaces of the khans and the State Museum of Azerbaijan Literature. The culture of the peoples inhabiting eastern Transcaucasia developed during the ancient and medieval periods under a predominantly Persian influence, although Turkic influences also were present. Azerbaijanis contributed several notable literary and scientific works during the medieval period.
After Azerbaijan became part of the Russian Empire in the early 19th century, Azerbaijani intellectuals such as scholar and poet Abbas Qoli Agha Bakikhanov began the study of the Azeri language and attempted to set up schools that would teach literacy. At times during the Soviet period, artistic expression that conveyed any hint of Azerbaijani nationalism was brutally suppressed.
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