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History of Azerbaijan

The history of Azerbaijan begins with the rule of the Persians and the dominant religion of Zoroastrianism until about 300 AD when the locals adopted Christianity. In the 600s the people adopted Islam with the arrival of the Arabs, followed by the arrival of the Turks.

After a brief period of progress, the Mongols arrived in the 1200s and put modern-day Azerbaijan squarely back on droning monotonousness. This changed dramatically in the 1500s when, due to some wars and treaties, the Azerbaijani rulers came to rule the entire Persian Empire, but in the 1700 and 1800s, with growing conflicts with the Ottoman Empire, the Persian Empire lost its glory of former days and the Russians swept in to take the land.

Russia, as they have done ever since, decided to solidify their new conquests by flooding the region with loyal subjects, in Azerbaijan this meant Russians, Germans, and Armenians. This ethnic division has led to a number of conflicts, most notably with the Armenians, which continues to this day as the two modern countries continue to fight over disputed land.

By 1905 Baku had put its name on the map due to the need for oil from the industrial revolution and in this year, Azerbaijan supplied over half the world's oil. This led to great advances in all aspects of life and culture, however also began the exploitation of the lower classes with the Russian Revolution just around the corner.

Although the Azerbaijanis gained independence with the overthrow of the Russian Tsars in 1917, due to internal strife and external pressure, the newly founded Soviet Union took over the country by 1920. Following in their traditions, the Soviets undertook ethnic cleansing measures, the elimination of religion, and the installation of puppet rulers in the Azerbaijan SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic).

Azerbaijan again gained their independence in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed. Since then, the Azerbaijanis have struggled to make friends; turning against the Russians as occupiers, against the Armenians as mortal enemies, and not entirely agreeing with the Iranian government. However their focus has been on internal politics as many of their people remain homeless or in refugee camps awaiting the return of their lost land (Nagorno-Karabakh) and are not willing to re-start a war with Armenia.

This page was last updated: March, 2013