The signs which will symbolize Azerbaigian as “Official Guest Country” in the XVII “Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico” in 2014 are official logotypes of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaigian. The logotype of “Azerbaigian” denotes that Azerbaigian is a land of fire, a sunny country with its rich oil resources. The other logotype symbolizes the Gobustan rock arts in the complex of archaeological monument included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2007.
The Republic of Azerbaigian is situated in the eastern part of the Southern Caucasus on the coast of the Caspian Sea. It covers an area of 86.6 thousand square kilometers with the population of 9.4 million. It is bounded by Russia (Daghistan) and Georgia to the north, Armenia and Turkey to the west and Iran to the south. The Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan is bounded by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest.
The preliminary and broad information about Azerbaigian and its ancient tribes was indicated in the writing of “The Histories” of the ancient Greek writer Herodotus. The name of “Azerbaigian” has various historical pronounciations. In the different sources, since ancient times this name was used as Andirpatian, Atropatena, Adirbijan, Azirbijan and finally as Azerbaigian. Being as one of the most ancient human habitations in the world, Azikh cave and other such discoveries related to the ancient Stone Age prove that Azerbaigian is one of the antropogenous zone and cradles of proto-human generation. As the result of the archaeological excavations, the 300-400 thousand year old jawbone of an early Azikh human (Azikhantrop) was revealed there. Due to this finding, the territory of Azerbaigian has been included in the map of “the most ancient inhabitants of Europe”. There were many historical civilizations of Guruchay, Kur-Araz, Mughan, Nakhchivan, Khojali-Gadabay in Azerbaigian related to the various stages and territories which are evidence of its ancient and rich history.
Azerbaigian has the statehood history of 5000 years. During the ancient period, there were powerfull states such as Manna, Midia, tsars of Skithian and Massaget, Albania and Atropatena in the territory of Azerbaigian. In III century, Azerbaigian was occupied by the Sasani empire, and in VII century by the Arabian caliphate. In the begining of VI century B.C. the Zoroastrianism was established as the state religion. Being a fire-worship religion the main reason of spreading Zoroastrianism here was the existence of the self-burning oil and gas resources. In III-V centuries, the Christianity arrived to the area of Azerbaigian, the first Caucasian apostolic and autocephalous christian churches appeared, the spiritual and secular culture developed here. In VIII century, Islam became the dominant religion in Azerbaigian. After the decay of the Arabian caliphate – in the begining of IX century the role of turkish-islamic empires was increased in the Caucasus, as well as in all Near and the Middle East. States ruled by such Turkish-Islamic dynasties as Sajis, Shirvanshahs, Salaris, Ravvadis, Shaddadis, Shaki governors, Saljugies, Eldanises, Mongols, Elkhanis-Hulakus, Chobanis, Jalairies, Teymuries, Osmans, Garagoyunlus, Aghgoyunlus, Safavis, Afshars, Gajars and others remained in the history of the state system of Azerbaigian, of the whole South Caucasus and the Near and the Middle East as well. In the second part of XVIII century, independent and semi independent government bodies, local states – khanates and sultanates appeared in the territory of Azerbaigian. In the late XVII and early XIX centuries, Azerbaigian was divided between two large states. The north part of Azerbagijan from then on conjoined with Russia, while the south of it with Iran kingdom.
Founded on May 28, 1918, the Democratic Republic of Azerbaigian was the first Republic in the Muslim and Turkish world. It was given the credit for our state that legal statehood and civil democracy traditions in the early XX century. However the territory of Azerbaigian was instantly occupied by the Soviet Russia and it was proclaimed as Azerbaigian Soviet Socialist Republic. At present, after the fall of the USSR, restoring its independence on October 18, 1991, Azerbaigian is distinguished for its rich fascinating nature, climate, natural resources and cultural heritage.
The culture of Azebaigian is colourful, bright and rich like its nature. Being one of the most ancient centers of different world civilizations in Azerbaigian led to establish rich cultural heritage in its territory which have been included in the Treasures of the World’s Cultures. Located on the crossroads of the East and West, Azerbaigian played a key role in the development of the world culture. The first worldwide theatre, opera, ballet and Academy of Sciencies in the Muslim world were established in the Land of Fire Azerbaigian where is rich of multilateral cultural heritage. Since ancient times, Azerbaigian was known as an important stop on the Great Silk Road. According to the suppositions of many antique authors, one of the most active routes of the Great Silk Road passed through the territory of the Caucasus Albanian (an ancient state situated in the present territory of the Republic of Azerbaigian). Along with the constructions built in the contemporary architectural style and with delicate taste, the ancient architectural buildings reflecting the history of our country especially rivet attention. Maiden Tower, the Palace of Shirvanshahs, the mausoleums of Yusif ibn Kuseyir (known as Atababa) and Momina-Khatun (Atabey’s Cupola) in Nakhchivan built by the architect Ajami ibn Abubakr, as well as the wall drawings of the Sheki Khan Palace are the rare pearls of the art of architecture.
Today, the Gobustan National Historic-Artistic Reserve and Icherisheher (Inner city) with the Palace of Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower which have been included in the List of World Heritage Sites, and Azerbaigiani Mugham, the art of Tar performing, carpet-making, the art of Ashig and the ancient game of the Chovkan (chomakh) have been inscribed on the Representative List of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage are preserved.
Perpetuating the ancient national, spiritiual values and traditions, today Azerbaigian are known as a junction of different civilizations in the world.