October 24, 2018 / 01:02


On May 28, 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, thus forming the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

22 May 2015 Friday 09:18
Republic Day: May 28

Republic Day is a public holiday in Azerbaijan.

On May 28, 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, thus forming the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Azerbaijan became the first democratic parliamentary republic in the Muslim world. This holiday was not celebrated during Soviet times, and it became a public holiday after the collapse of the USSR.

History of Republic Day in Azerbaijan

In 1917, the Russian Caucasus Front collapsed because of the Russian Revolution that deposed Czar Nicholas II of Russia, the last Czar of Russia. The Provisional Government took power, and on March 9, the Special Transcaucasian Committee was formed to govern over the areas occupied on the Caucasian front, Azerbaijan included. The short-lived administration included representatives from Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia.

Azerbaijan wanted independence from Russia, and all over the country local Muslim National Councils were formed. On March 27, delegates from these councils met and elected a central committee. These representatives would become the founding members of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

After the October Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviets created the Transcaucasian Commissariat as the first government of the independent Transcaucasia to strengthen the Georgian-Armenian-Tartar union. On February 24, 1918, the Transcaucasian Commissariat proclaimed Transcaucasia as the independent Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. This only exposed the fragile union in the region leading to conflicts. On May 26, 1918, after the fall of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, its bodies were dissolved and the Azerbaijani part of it was renamed the Azerbaijani National Council. On May 28, they proclaimed the foundation of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. The first Azerbaijani Republic lasted for only 23 months before being taken again by the Soviet Union. It declared its independence again in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR.

Azerbaijan’s Republic Day Traditions, Customs and Activities

On this day in Azerbaijan, people decorate the cities with the national flag, hoping that it will always wave freely in a free and democratic Azerbaijan. The colorful flag is blue for Turkic, red for modernism and progressiveness, and green for Islam. On the streets Azeris enjoy the day as they remember the past and look forward to building Azerbaijan from generations that lived all their lives under the Communist Soviet Union, adapting to a democratic capitalist republic where they can enjoy their own choices in life. In the capital city of Baku, all the official celebrations of Republic Day are held, as the president and government officials raise the national flag at the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Azerbaijan in front of a Guard of Honor.

In Turkic languages, "az" means a good intention and a fate of success. Thus, the word "Azer" means "a brave man", "a brave boy", "the fire keeper". The word "Azerbaijan" originates from the name of an ancient Turkish tribe, who resided in those territories.

Azerbaijan is one of the most ancient sites of humankind. The humankind was present here at every stage of their historical development. There were living settlements in Azerbaijan even at the earliest stages of humankind. Azerbaijan made its own contribution into the establishment of the current culture and civilization, progress and dialectics.

Azerbaijan is a country of ancient culture. The Oguz tribes which moved here and stayed for ages, have found a deeply rooted culture and in their turn enriched it with Turkic national traditions. The talented and creative powers of our nation are personified in such epic monuments as "Kitabi-Dede Gorgud", "Oguzname" "Keroglu" and many others.

Azerbaijan also enriched the humankind with such geniuses as Nizami Ganjevi, Hagani Shirvani, Bahmanyar, Nasimi, Fizuli, Nasreddin Tusi, Shah Ismail Xatai, Mullah Paneh Vagif, A. Bakikhanov, M.F. Axudov, M.A. Sabir, J.Mamedguluzade, Huseyn Javid, J.Jabarli, Samed Vurgun, Aliaga Vahid, Rasul Rza.

The country of Azerbaijan was immortalized by such talented painters as Sattar Bahlulzade, Tahir Salahov, Togrul Narimanbeyov, Mikayil Abdullayev and many others.

Our national music - mugam - inspired such outstanding composers as Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Muslim Magomayev, Gara Garayev, Fikret Amirov, Niyazi, Arif Melikov and others to create their masterpieces, which are still known today throughout the world. It also gave the inspiration to such wonderful vocalists as Bulbul and Rashid Behbudov.

The science and the enlightenment in Azerbaijan have a centuries-old history. The Baku State University was founded in 1919; the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan play an exceptional role in scientific, educational and cultural development of Azerbaijan. Local scientists are currently studying such important issues as the depths of the Caspian Sea, space exploration and the secrets of human brain.

The existing educational system of Azerbaijan is made up of dozens of higher educational institutions and technical schools, thousands of high schools, colleges and lyceums.

One of the most important problems which is currently solved by local scientists is environmental protection of the Caspian Sea and different regions of Azerbaijan. Such natural reserves as Gizilagach, Shirvan, Zagatala, Aggol, Girkan and others, were established due to the efforts of Azerbaijani scientists.

Through the decades, the local industry was successfully represented by oil producing, petrochemical and oil processing enterprises. The agricultural industry is famous for cotton-growing, viticulture, vegetable-growing and cattle-breeding.

If one compares the economy of Azerbaijan with a living body, it becomes evident that oil flows in the veins of Azerbaijan. The oil and gas resources of Azerbaijan have made this place famous in every part of the world from the ancient times.

Azerbaijan has always been famous for its sources of eternal fires - the atashgehs. There is a place called Yanardag (blazing mountain) in Absheron and thermal springs in some parts of Nakhichivan, Kelbejar, Masali, Lenkoran, Babadag.

In Surakhani, there is an eternal fire place. From the ancient times the fire worshippers from remote places and even the Indian priests were coming to Absheron in search of fire and finding it here. They built their main temples here in Surakhani and Ateshgah.

There has been an increasing demand for oil throughout the centuries.

From the beginning of the 20th century, the continuous industrial development around the world, caused an unprecedented growth of the demand for oil. It was at this time oil turned from an everyday mean into an industrial product. Oil become the most important problem in the world in the 20th century - the century of science and technologies. Oil-producing countries have acquired special oil policies and oil strategies in this connection.

Azerbaijan is currently involved into the implementation of huge energy projects. Oil and gas projects are successfully implemented in the Azeri Caspian sector. Azerbaijan is a country, which plays an extremely important role in the Caspian and Caucasian regions, particularly in the development of transport infrastructure in the Caucasus and the implementation of energy projects. It was the region's first country to explore the huge energy potential, to form an absolutely new economic model in the regional development, and to expand political and economic relations between Europe and Asia.

Azerbaijan manages to successfully overcome the difficulties and continues making important and firm steps towards t he establishment of a democratic and lawful country with civil society.

Azerbaijan has membership in the United Nations (UN), Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CE), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), GUUAM, Organization of Islamic Conference, Black Sea Economic Collaboration (BSEC), Organization of Economic Cooperation (OEC). Azerbaijan also actively cooperates with the European Union, NATO, International Monetary Fond, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank and other organizations. It accedes to the new joint documents and international agreements.


Sounding of 'Azerbaijan' regularly changed along the history. Historical sources reflect former names of Azerbaijan as Andirpatian, Atropatena, Adirbijan and Azirbijan.

The history of ancient Azerbaijan is built on archeological, ethnographic, anthropological and written historical resources. Archeological funds gave the excellent opportunity to study the history of material culture of Azerbaijan, while ethnographic materials revealed in historical sources and expeditions inform about traditions, material-moral culture, former forms of ruling, family relations, etc.

Archeological excavations in the territory of Azerbaijan Republic revealed patterns of rich material culture related to the first human settlement. Based on the abovementioned the territory of Azerbaijan has been referred to the areas of first human formation. Most ancient archeological and paleontological materials recently found in the territory of Azerbaijan prove that first primitive men settled here 1.7-1.8 million tears ago.

For this find the territory of Azerbaijan has been included into the map of 'The ancient settlers of the Europe'.
In addition, Azeri people has the ancient state system establishment which dates to 5 000 years. The first states or ethic-political unions in Azerbaijan appeared round Urmiya at the end of 4th and at the beginning of 3rd millennium BC. Newly established ancient Azerbaijan states played great role in military-political history of the whole region. They had closed relations with the Shumer, Akkard and Ashur(Assuria) states, located on the valleys of Tigris and Euphrates and also with Het state located on Asia Minor.

Great states such as Manna, kingdom of Iskit(Skit, Skif), Atropatena and Albania appear on the lands of Azerbaijan in the 1st millennium BC and the 1st millennium AD. Those states played distinctive role in perfection of ruling traditions, in history of the economy and culture of the country and in formation of united people.
The beginning of AD is characterized with difficulties for our country; it was occupied first by the empire of Sasani-Iran in the 3rd and later by Arabic khilafet(kind of ruling) in the 7th centuries. Many people of Iranian and Arabic origin migrated here from Iran and Arabia.

Turkic ethnic groups, the most organized and strong from the military and the political aspect, composed the majority of the population in the first centuries of the AD and played important role in the formation of the people. Oguz Turks prevailed among Turkic ethnic groups.

The belief to the head God of the Turks did not prevailed over other spread religions. Zoroastrianism, fire-worship, belief in the Sun, the Moon, the Sky, the stars, ground, water etc. still existed. Christianity was widely spread in the northern part of the country, i.e. in some places of Albania, especially in western mountainous regions. Free Albanian church existed together with Armenian and Georgian churches.

Acceptance of Islam in the 7th century made a great change in the history of Azerbaijan.

Islam turned a strong push in the formation of unique people and the language and quickened this process. Common religion of Turkic and non-Turkic ethic groups brought to formation of the same traditions, widening of kinship relations and deepening of the integration process in the territory of Azerbaijan. Islam united all the Moslem Turkic and non-Turkic ethic groups in the struggle against the imperia of Byzantium, aimed to keep the whole South Caucasus under the influence of Christianity and against Armenian and Georgian feudal lords under its subordination as well.

In the middle of the 9th century Azerbaijan re-establishes its traditions of the state system and in the lands of the spread of Islam we see new states: Sajis, Shirvanshakhs, Salaris, Ravvadis, Shaddadis.

Prosperity touched all the spheres of the politics, economy and culture with the appearance of the independent states. Thus starts the period of Azerbaijan Renaissance. The establishment of native states (Sajis, Shirvanshakhs, Salaris, Ravvadis, Shaddadis, of Shaki dominion) after 600 year long Sasani and Arabic occupation and victory of Islam over the whole territory as the only monotheist religion, plaid an important role in ethnic evolution of Azerbaijan people and formation of unique language and culture.

In the period when separate feudal dynasties ruling Azerbaijan changed each-other, Islam played a prominent role in unification against foreign invaders of all Azerbaijan people, i.e. Turkic tribes, founding the base of our nation and non-Turkic ethnic groups integrated with them.

After Arabic Khilafet fell into decay since the mid of the 9th century Turkic-Islamic empires increased their role in the Caucasus, in all the Near and the Middle East. States ruled by such Turkic-Islamic dynasties as Sajis, Shirvanshahs, Salaris, Ravvadis, Shaddadis, Shaki governors, Saljugis, Eldanises, Mongols, Elkhanis-Hulakus, Chobanis, Jalayirs, Teymuris, Osmans, Garagoyunlus, Aggoyunlus, Safavis, Afshars, Gajars and others remained in the history of the state system of Azerbaijan, of the whole South Caucasus and the Near and the Middle East.

State system establishment of Azerbaijan progressed between the 15th and the 18th centuries and later. The great empires of the period Garagoyunlu, Aggoyunlu, Safavi, Afshar and Gajar were directly ruled by the Azerbaijan dynasties.

This fact found its positive reflection in the internal and the international relations of Azerbaijan; widened influence of the country and the people in military and political spheres, also intensified the usage of Azerbaijan language and thus created favorable conditions for the development of material and moral culture of Azerbaijan people. In that historical period Azerbaijan states plaid important role in the international relations and military and the political life of the Near and the Middle East, take active part in the relations between the Europe and the East.

In the reign of the great statesman of Azerbaijan Uzun Hasan (Hasan the High)(1468-1478) the emperor of Aggoyunlu appeared as a great military-political entity in the whole Near and the Middle East. State system establishment of Azerbaijan had been developing. Uzun Hasan aimed to create strong centralised state embracing the territory of the whole Azerbaijan. For this purpose he composed 'Ganunname'(the about the Law). He made one to translate Gurani-Kerim (Koran) into azeri, ordered Abu Bekr Tehrani to write Oguzname (Oguz epic) in the name of 'Kitabi-Diyarbekerriye'.

During the reign of the Safavis state system establishment in Azerbaijan progressed. Azerbaijani had been the sate language.

Reforms carried out by Shah Ismail, Shah Tahmasib and Shah Abbas and other Safavi rulers, their internal and foreign policy changed the state of Safavi to one of the greatest empires of Near and the Middle East.

After Savafi fell into decay Nadir shah Afshar(1736-1747), a prominent Azerbaijani commander, continued ruling traditions in Azerbaijan territories after Savafi fell into decay. Being of Turkic-Afshar origin from Azerbaijan, he strengthened the borders of the former empire and in 1739 occupied the Northern India including Deli. Despite of his great efforts he couldn't establish the great centralized state.

After Nadir Shah's death his great empire fell into decay and in the second part of the 18th century the struggle of Azerbaijan for freedom gave the birth to new smaller states; khanates and sultanates appeared in the territory of Azerbaijan.

At late 18th century the government of Iran passed to the dynasty of the Gajars(1796-1925) of Azerbaijani origin. Their main policy was to unite all the territories once ruled by their ancestors--the Garagoyunlus, the Aggoyunlus, the Safaviz and by Nadir shah and Azerbaijani khanates as well, under their government. This gave the start to long lasting wars between the Gajars and Russia, aimed to occupy the Southern Caucasus. Azerbaijan was oppressed in the middle of bloody struggle between two great states.

According to Gulustan (1813) and Turkmanchay (1828) agreements Azerbaijan was divided between the two empires. The north part of Azerbaijan joined to Russia, while the south of it to Iran kingdom ruled by the Gajars.
This historical event determines the origin of new political-geographical notions: "The North Azerbaijan"(or "Russian Azerbaijan") and "The South Azerbaijan" (or "Iranian Azerbaijan").

in the territories of the former Iravan and Nakhchivan khanates appeared 'Armenian province', artificially established for the definite purpose. Such was laid the foundation of future Armenian state on Azerbaijan lands.

In 1836 Russia liquidated free Albanian church, subordinated it to Armenian Grigorian church and thus created a favourable condition to grigorianization and armenianization of the ancient population of Azerbaijan--the christian Albans. Armenians started claims to our lands. Later the tsarist Russia made the next effort: it armed armenians and began mass genocide against Turkic-Moslem Azerbaijanis and gave start to the genocide of all Azerbaijanis and the Turkic-Moslem population of the southern Caucasus.

The liberty movement in Northern Azerbaijan concluded tragically. In March 1918 the dashnak-bolshevik government with S. Shaumyan at its head executed the terrible genocide against Azerbaijanis. But the interference of Turkey brought victory to liberation movement in Azerbaijan. In May 28th of 1918 the northern Azerbaijan witnesses the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan --the first Parliamentary Republic in the history of the people of Azerbaijan, the first democratic, legal and secular state in the whole East and Islamic world.

In the period of Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan parliamentary experience had been gained in two stages. The First period lasted from May 27th till November 19th of 1918. In may 28th the Parliament declared about independence of Azerbaijan, assumed governing of the country and adopted historical Declaration of Independence. During 6 month period the Parliament composed of 44 turkic-moslem members, functioned under the name of the National Board of Azerbaijan and adopted very important historical decisions.

The Second period of parliamentary experience of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan or the Baku period, started from December 7th of 1918 and lasted till April 27th of 1920; only 17 months. By its decision from September 1st of 1919 the parliament established the Baku State University. The establishment of the national University was the most important event in the history of our people. Though the fall of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Baku State University helped to preserve the ideas of Republic and played great role in re-gaining of the independence.

In lifetime of the DRA the parliament gathered 155 times. 10 of them were in the period of the National Board of Azerbaijan (May 27th -November 19th 1918), the rest 145 in the period of the Parliament of Azerbaijan (December 7th 1918- April 27th 1920).

Parliament discussed over 270 drafts. 230 of them were adopted. Active and business-like disputes caused the adoption of the laws on the third reading. During its 23 month live the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan proved that no colonial or repression regime, how cruel it might be, is in power to crush liberty ideals and state traditions of Azerbaijan people.

The system of the independent state government established in DRA had directly been liquidated after Soviet occupation.
The 'Read Terror' occupied the whole territory of Azerbaijan. Every one who struggled against Bolshevik regime was the victim of the 'red terror' under the names of the 'national enemy', the 'anti-revolutionary' or the 'saboteur'.

So after the March genocide in 1918 Azerbaijan people had to bare the new one. The second genocide was directed to the prominent persons of Azerbaijan people-the prominent statesmen of the DRA, the generals, high rank officers of the National Army, the progressive intellectuals, the heads of the parties, the famous scientists. The band of Bolshevik-dashnaks purposed to abolished the cream of the society and leave it without a head. This was more cruel and terrible than March genocide of 1918.

The North Azerbaijan completely turned into the Soviet state after the call the first Soviet Conference of Azerbaijan SSR in May 6th of 1921. The first Constitution of Azerbaijan SSR was adopted in May 19th.

Deprivation of freedom followed by the robbery of Azerbaijan riches. The private property over the land was abolished; all the national resources of the country turned into the property of the state; control of the Oil Economy had been entrusted to specially founded Azerbaijan Oil Committee. The head of this Committee was A.P.Serebrovski appointed by V.I.Lenin. In his telegram: 'Winning of Baku is too difficult for us', sent to Military-Revolution Board of Caucasus Front from March 17th of 1920, V.I.Lenin ordered to occupy the Northern Azerbaijan. Soviet Russia owned the Petroleum of Baku.

In the thirties of the 20th century the Azerbaijani people met with repression. 29 000 people were subjected to repression in 1937. All of them were worthy sons of their Land. Among them were Huseyn Javid, Mikayil Mushfig, Ahmed Javad, Salman Mumtaz, Ali Nazmi, Tagi Shahbazi and other thinkers and intellectuals. Many years Azerbaijan remained under the influence of this process which took away the intellectual potentiality and honorable men of our people.

1948-1953 are characterized as new level of mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from their historical lands-the Western Azerbaijan (named as Armenia SSR). Armenians stabled their positions in the Western Azerbaijan and their quantity predominated on that area.
In the 60th of the 20th century for objective and subjective reasons Azerbaijan witnessed drawbacks in many spheres of its economy, industry and agriculture Despite of former successful achievements of Azerbaijan people.

The first step of the great politician was the achievement of the adoption of favorable decisions, on the problems of great importance for his Motherland and the development of his people on different spheres of economy (agriculture as well) and culture, at the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at Plenums of the Central Committee, at the Congresses of the Communist party. The next step was the mobilization of Azerbaijan people to implement achieved decisions and thus he did all his best for the prosperity of Azerbaijan. He wanted Azerbaijan to freely provide itself, be capable for independent life, highly developed in scientific and technical sphere country (or as with that time term 'administrative-economic unit'). In a word, Heydar Aliyev stood at the head of the way leading to Independence of country.

Hundreds of plants, factories and other production swatch established over the whole republic during 1970-1975. 213 great plant facilities started to function. In many important industrial spheres Azerbaijan won the first places in the Soviet Union. 350 kinds of products made in Azerbaijan were exported to 65 foreign countries.

All creative works carried out by Heydar Aliyev in the first period of his government stirred up the national pride, national self-consciousness, the feelings of freedom and independence and in the 70th of the 20th century Azerbaijan made the next step towards the national liberty movement-the step of progress.

The late period of Azerbaijan state establishment has started with the adoption of the Constitution Act 'about the State Independence of Azerbaijan Republic' on October 18th of 1991, on the eve of the fall of the USSR and is still successfully going on.

Azerbaijan states exercised the development and the fall, the internal breaking and many invasions along the history. Azerbaijan always kept peaceful relations with bordering countries. But Armenians settled in the Western Azerbaijan constantly took notice of our lands and never missed a chance to occupy some territories.

The regions of Nagorno Karabakh with Azerbaijani population were invaded the first. On January 15th Karkijahan, on February 10th of 1992 villages Malibayli and Guschular were invaded, peace and disarmed residence were inflicted reprisals, Khojaly and Shuhsa were surrounded. In mid of February Armenian and the Soviet united military forces invaded the village of Garadagli. The night from February 25th to 26th of 1992 witnessed the most tragic events of modern history. Armenian military unions with the help of the soldiers of Russian 366th moto-shooting regiment carried out terrible genocide against Azerbaijanis in Khojaly. The head of the Republic A. Mutallibov resigned in March 1992 when the national movement reached its pick. The absence of the ruling weakened the protection of the Azerbaijan Republic. This gave the opportunity to Armenian and soviet military arms to occupy Shusha in May 1992 and Armenians actually occupied the whole territory of Nagorno Karabakh. The next step was the invasion of Lachin-the tie of Armenia with Nagorno Karabakh. New internecine dissension in the period of the National Front of Azerbaijan ( May 1992- June 1993) much weakened our positions. In 1993 Kalbajar was occupied. The June was the period of deep political crisis. On people demand Heydar Aliyev came to power.

National leader of Azerbaijan people Heydar Aliyev saved his people from national-moral degradation and insolvency. His decisions were not the result of emotions, which might bring to wrong solution; his decisions rested on drawbacks of "former" rulers, realities of changing world, the realities of life and international realities. He returned the ancient and eternal name of 'Azerbaijan' to out land, nation and language. The patriotism, name and language of our people and Turkic-Islam unity re-established, disappeared the danger of ethic collision.

The authority and fame of Azerbaijan in the international world is growing continuously. Azerbaijan Republic is known all over the world as democratic, legal and secular state. The constitution of our state, being the result of Heydar Aliyev's mind, is one of the most democratic and perfect one in the world. The stability in our country and carrying out internal reforms positively affect the extension of the international relations. Azerbaijan Republic, basing its foreign policy on principles of equality and mutual interest, is an open act state for all the states of the world.


Location: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 40 30 N, 47 30 E
Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States
total: 86,600 sq km - land:  86,100 sq km - water:  500 sq km

note: includes the exclave of Naxcivan Autonomous Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh region; the region's autonomy was abolished by Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet on 26 November 1991
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maine
Land boundaries: total:  2,013 km

border countries: Armenia (with Azerbaijan-proper) 566 km, Armenia (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave) 221 km, Georgia 322 km, Iran (with Azerbaijan-proper) 432 km, Iran (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave) 179 km, Russia 284 km, Turkey 9 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked); note - Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea (800 km, est.)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: dry, semiarid steppe
Terrain: large, flat Kur-Araz Ovaligi (Kura-Araks Lowland) (much of it below sea level) with Great Caucasus Mountains to the north, Qarabag Yaylasi (Karabakh Upland) in west; Baku lies on Abseron Yasaqligi (Apsheron Peninsula) that juts into Caspian Sea
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m

highest point: Bazarduzu Dagi 4,485 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, nonferrous metals, alumina
Land use: arable land: 18%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 25%
forests and woodland: 11%

other: 41% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 10,000 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: droughts; some lowland areas threatened by rising levels of the Caspian Sea
Environment - current issues: local scientists consider the Abseron Yasaqligi (Apsheron Peninsula) (including Baku and Sumqayit) and the Caspian Sea to be the ecologically most devastated area in the world because of severe air, water, and soil pollution; soil pollution results from the use of DDT as a pesticide and also from toxic defoliants used in the production of cotton
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements


Population: 7,771,092 (July 2001 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.95% (male 1,146,315; female 1,103,393)
15-64 years: 63.93% (male 2,415,678; female 2,552,759)

65 years and over: 7.12% (male 219,549; female 333,398) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.32% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 18.44 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate: 9.55 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 83.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 62.96 years
male: 58.65 years
female: 67.49 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.24 children born/woman (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: less than 500 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
noun: Azerbaijani(s)
adjective: Azerbaijani
Ethnic groups:
Azeri 90%, Dagestani 3.2%, Russian 2.5%, Armenian 2%, other 2.3% (1998 est.)

note: almost all Armenians live in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region
Muslim 93.4%, Russian Orthodox 2.5%, Armenian Orthodox 2.3%, other 1.8% (1995 est.)

note: religious affiliation is still nominal in Azerbaijan; percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower
Azerbaijani (Azeri) 89%, Russian 3%, Armenian 2%, other 6% (1995 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 99%
female: 96% (1989 est.)


Culture of Azerbaijan roots in ancient times, as documented by petroglyphs on the rocks of Gobustan, Gamigaya in Nakhchivan, on the mountain Dalidag in Kalbajar; archaic ceramics of neolith and epoch of bronze, bronze ornaments and utensils, products from gold and silver found in numerous barrows, burials and settlements.

The ancient cults (animism, ancestors' cult, etc.) in Azerbaijan were replaced by Zoroastrian religion by the middle of 1 millennium BC. Being one of the most ancient religions on the planet, it contains the concept of duality ruling the world (Good and Evil, Ahuramazda and Ahriman), and so one of the main spiritual duties of Zoroastrian worshipper was the concept of Choice. One of the main holidays became Novruz, which is interpreted as "New Day" and means a new day approaching with the victory of Good over Evil. Novruz lost the meaning of a Zoroastrian holiday while centuries passed by, and today is considered as the holiday of spring in the day of Spring equinox on March 21 in Azerbaijan. It is a cheerful holiday that is being celebrated for several weeks. The people have kept recipes of its ritual dishes and sweets through millennia.

In the Middle Ages a number of cities emerged as main cultural, political, administrative and trading centers. Such cities in the history of Azerbaijan were Shamakhi, Ganja, Baku, Barda, Sheki, Tabriz, Nakchivan, Shabran, Ardabil, Maraga, Gabala, Beylagan etc. Medieval authors called Azerbaijan the country of hundred cities. By the 5th century AD Caucasian Albania had already its own writing alphabet. Albanian educator Musa Kalankatu wrote "The Agwan History" in the 7th century AD including the poem of Albanian poet Davdak "On Death of Grand Duke Javanshir". 

In late 7th - early 8th centuries, when the great bulk of the town population adopted Islam, a new culture emerged, and the Albanian writing was replaced with Arabic. Muslim educational institutions, mektebs or madrasa, where Arabic was taught alongside with the Koran, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, philosophy etc., spread over the country. Construction works were extensive in the country during both the Albanian period and afterwards. Many cult buildings (churches, mosques), bridges, castles, fortresses, irrigational constructions appeared during 11-12th centuries, marking the time of renaissance in Azerbaijan.

This epoch brought along poets, thinkers, architects such as a philosopher Bakhmanyar, historian Masud Ibn Namdar, architect Abubakr Ajami, poetess Mahsati Ganjavi and the great poet and philosopher Nizami Ganjavi, poet and thinker Khagani and so on. At this particular time the turk-oghuz epos "Kitab-i-Dede Gorgud" was finally formed; chess, backgammon, chovgan game of polo were the wide-spread entertainments all around. Almost in each town a "zorkhana", a wrestling hall or gym, was available. Thanks to that period, we enjoy such gorgeous architectural objects as fortifications of Baku, Maiden tower, mausoleums of Nakhchivan, kanegah on the river Pirsaat and many other monuments.

The intensive development of culture proceeded further in the 13th -15th centuries despite wars and invasions. Such masterpieces of poetry as "Divan", the assembly of verses by a poet Hasanoglu, "Kissa and Yussuf" by a poet Ali were created in Azerbaijani language. A big observatory was built in Maraga under the initiative and plans of the great Azerbaijani astronomer, scientist and philosopher Nasreddin Tusi who was considered a mentor by many subsequent astronomers of the Muslim period, including Ulugbek. The Observatory was equipped with devices, previously unknown to science, designed by Tusi himself. At that time musicians Safiaddin Urmavi and Abdulgadir Maragahi created the original and unparalleled musical system.
The culture of this epoch is distinguished with such outstanding personalities as Imamaddin Nasimi, Badr Shirvani, Abdurrashid Bakuvi, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, philosophers and poets. The famous historian Rashidaddin and others lived at that time. Many of the celebrated personalities - poets, mathematicians, philosophers - developed high principles of Sufi philosophy that were frequently concealed by love lyrics. Such Sufi philosophers as Nasimi and Bakuvi enriched the culture of universal values.

During the epoch of Safavids (16th century) the art of miniature and calligraphy got a new impetus. One of the most known schools of miniature in the East, the Tabriz school, and its brightest representative Sultan Mohammed (16 century) flourished at the time. Mohammed Fizuli's (1494-1556) poem "Leili and Majnun" became the poetic pinnacle. Spoken folk poetry also developed. The epos "Koroglu" was very popular in the region and the person of that legendary folk hero was so popular that now there are several presumed places of his legendary fortress Chanlibel.

During the Middle Ages applied art crafts - glazed ceramics, metal wares, colored glassworks, art of carpet weaving embroidery and tapestry - rapidly developed in Azerbaijan. Those goods were widely exported, and remarkable samples nowadays are kept in the leading museums of the world (the Hermitage, the Louvre, Topgapy, Victoria and Albert Museum, Metropolitan Museum etc.).
The reputation of local craftsmen allowed them to be often invited for work in other countries, and during wars they were taken away forcibly. For example, Azerbaijani builders, copper-smiths, calligraphers and architects participated in construction of many architectural masterpieces of Samargand, Shakhrisabz, Iraq and India.

After Azerbaijan had become a part of Russian Empire, the stage of stronger European cultural influence began. It was reflected in fine arts, architecture, literature, education etc. In the 19th century the first scientific research of the history of Azerbaijan since the medieval ages, "Gulistan-i-Iram" by Bakikhanov, appeared. At the same time Mirza Fatali Akhundov (1812-1878), the founder of the Azerbaijan's drama and modern Azerbaijan literature, became known for his realistic novels and dramas. In 1874, the first newspaper in Azerbaijani language, "Ekinchi", was issued. The publisher of the newspaper was well-known educator Hasan bey Zardabi.

In March, 1873, the first theatre performance in Azerbaijani language took place, and in 1866 the first grammar school, and later in 1864 the first female grammar school were opened in Baku. In 19th - early 20th centuries a number of newspapers and magazines were issued in Azerbaijani: "Hummet", "Takammul", as well as in Russian - "Bakinski Rabochi", "Kaspi". The satiric magazine "Molla Nasreddin", issued by writer J. Mammadguluzadeh, was met with great success. Some outstanding personalities were cooperating with the magazine, including a well-known artist-caricaturist Azim Azimzadeh, a poet-satirist M.A.Sabir, and a poet Aligulu Gamkyusar etc.

Opening night of the first national opera "Leyli and Majnun" by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov took place on January, 12, 1908. On October 25, 1913, first night of the national comedy "Arshin mal alan" gained the hearts of the public. Outstanding masters of national theatrical stage of that period were Huseyn Arablinski, Huseyngulu Sarabski, Mirza Aga Aliyev, and Sidgi Ruhulla. At the same period a basis for modern fine arts in Azerbaijan was created. Its founders were artists Bakhruz Kangarli and Azim Azimzadeh. Architects Ploshko, Skibinski, Goslavski, Ahmedbey Ziverbayov built such remarkable objects as the present Puppet Theatre, City Hall of Baku, Museum of History, Museum of Arts, National Academy of Sciences, Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Juma Mosque in Shamakhi etc.

After the beginning of the Soviet period in Azerbaijan such new directions as constructivism found reflection in the architecture of Baku (Shyusev and Vesnin brothers) that led to construction of the former Azerneshr and other buildings in the city. The national school of architecture developed under the creative impact of Useynov, Dadashev, Gasimzadeh, Ismaylov, and Shulgin.

Such poets, writers and dramatists as Huseyn Javid, Mikayil Mushfig, Abbas Sahhat, Yusif Chamanzaminli, Mammadseyid Ordubadi, Jafar Jabbarli and others enriched the national literature of Azerbaijan. Such composers as Gara Garayev, Niyazi, Fikret Amirov, and Arif Melikov greatly influenced the development of modern national musical culture. Such composers and jazz musicians as Vagif Mustafazadeh, Aziza Mustafazadeh, Rafig Babayev and others started using traditional motifs in their music.

The most famous artists and sculptors of the period were Mikayil Abdullayev, Sattar Bahlulzadeh, Tair Salakhov, Togrul Narimanbeyov, Alakbar Rzaguliyev, Fuad Abdurahmanov, Tokay Mammadov, Omar Eldarov, but they form only a small portion of the talented group. The well known modern film directors are Hasan Seyidbeyli, Rasim Ojagov, Arif Babayev, Ajdar Ibrahimov and others. The list of renowned writers includes the names of Magsud and Rustam Ibrahimbeyovs, Natig Rasulzadeh, Elchin, Chingiz Abdullayev and others.

Azerbaijan Culture
Culture is a polysemantic word, it has many meanings. But as for ethnical culture, the word mostly used to difine the set of shared values, attitudes, traditions, practices and other achievements, that characterize a nation. Each nation has own calture.

Sections of Azerbaijan Culture
The most prominent in the Azerbaijan culture are the following areas: architecture, sculpture, music, dance, religion, literature, painting, applied art, cooking, holidays. More than a century Azerbaijan Drama Theater is a nice way of establishment and development of a distinctive national art, which has rich and vibrant traditions. Throughout the history of Azerbaijani theater was fused to the fate of the national intelligentzia and the people.

Special Features of the Culture of Azerbaijan
Countries with ancient origins and a rich cultural history are usually multifaceted. Cultural traditions that evolved in antiquity, usually developed in many major cities  centers of trade. This is true in relation to Azerbaijan. Long history of Azerbaijan combined together the most colorful traditions and customs that have existed there for many centuries, independently of each other.
That's why the culture of each region of Azerbaijan has its own special features. Such Azerbaijan cities as Baku, Ganja, Shamakhi, Barda, Tabriz, Shaki, Gabala, Nakchivan and other have own unique cultural character. Some of them are famous due to music, some due to philosophers and poets, some bacame worldwide known because of handicrafts such as carpets. But almost every town has something in common with others: it is architecture. You cannot find any old Azerbaijan city which doesn't have at least few ancient architectural monuments.

So, travelling to Azerbaijan is one of the must-do things for each Antiquity and Middle Ages lover!


Novruz Bayram is one of the most ancient and beautiful festivities in Azerbaijan dating back to Zoroaster times. There are lot of legends and fortunetelling related to "Ахыр чершенбе ахшамы" ("Last Tuesday") that precedes Novruz (March 20-21). Many believe that fortunetelling before the dusk at this day is exact and might predict the future. Unmarried girls do not miss an opportunity to find out on this day when and who they will marry.

Fortunetelling is carried out in the evening and a number of procedures are taken.  One of them aimed to make unmarried girls happy is to put black coins in the jug of water (black coins symbolize bad luck)at daytime and pour the water with the coins out to a street.  Another tradition is "гулаг фалы" (gulag faly "listening fortunetelling"), though not all remember now that one have to go outside grasping a key in her hand. The most important is the first word you will catch and how you will be able to interpret it. The key in the hand is key to that will open you a way for your wish to come true and the first word that you will hear will help to understand whether that wish will be realized or not.

Another popular belief: if the girl will eat an apple a night before Novruz and put 10 seeds under the pillow she will see her betrothed in her dream. The other way to see your future spouse in the dream is to eat a salty scone and not to drink a water before sleep. According to beliefs future spouse will give his fiancee to drink.

Engagement ring is hanged with a thread and dropped into the glass of water three times. The ring starts to twist and touch glass walls. The number of times the glass will clang is the age when the girl will get married.

Take white egg and two pencils: black and red. Make your wish and put the egg into a clean place (better use a window sill and open a window leat), with 2 pencils on each side. In the morning one could see lines in the egg  if the lines are red then your wish will come true.

To find out whether young marrieds will be happy take two needles, wind a cotton bud into dull end of the needles. Put those neddles into the plate with water and start to whirl it. If the needles join each other with cotton ends then marrieds will be happy.

Take two empty glasses and go to your neighbours, let them know in advance about your visit. Having opened the door the neighbor with total silence should fill one of the glasses with water. If that is the glass that you had in your mind and made wish  it will come true for sure.

Take three pieces of dough. Put a button into one of the pieces. Place pieces in different places in your apartment. One piece near doorstep, another on window sill and the third one in the corner. Open each piece in the morning and if the button is in the piece that was near doorstep  then the day of wedding is coming soon; finding it in window sill means engagement, and corner means that nothing is expected this year.

In the evening unmarried girls hang on their chest some small lock and go outside just before sunset and pronounce: «Come to me my happiness, unlock and free me».

In the night when all your close in the bed burn in the dark a paper in the plate and direct the light to walls corner. You can see a profession of your beloved one on the wall.

Happy Novruz! And let all the girls will find their family happiness!

The capital city, Baku, is definitely worth a visit. Sitting on the Caspian Sea, Baku is the largest city in the Caucasus region and the top tourist destination, too. If you're looking for somewhere a little bit different for a summer's holiday, Baku could be the place for you.

Visit the Old City:
Baku is ancient, with records of it going back to 1AD. Thus, it's understandable that there are going to be some beautiful historic buildings standing around. Venture into the walled fortress of the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore on foot. Highlights include the medieval palace of the Shirvan Shahs and the Maiden's Tower, which has many legends surrounding it. The most widespread legend is that a King wanted to marry a young girl, but she was reluctant. In order to save time, she asked him to build her a tower in exchange for her honour. Once it was completed, she threw herself off the top to her death.

Eurovision Song Contest:
There's only one event worth getting front row tickets to this year, and that's the Eurovision Song Contest. Due to Azerbaijan's surprise win in 2011, Baku will play host to the festivities. Sun lovers will be glad to know that in May, temperatures reach around 22°C. But be sure to book your Baku hotel soon, as there's sure to be a high demand for rooms.

Head away from the city centre shopping malls with their chain stores and high-end boutiques; instead, head out to the bazaar. Visit Baku's oldest department store, MUM, which has four floors of stall shops selling everything you could possibly want, including cheap wedding dresses. Pick up some fun tacky souvenirs for friends back home at the tourist bazaar, or try traditional Azerbaijani street food at the gloriously photogenic T?z? Bazar.

Gobustan Rock Art:
For some extra culture, head an hour South from Baku and hike out to an almost desolate landscape where Palaeolithic graffiti adorns the rocks. As well as images of people, animals and ships, you can also see etchings by Roman Soldiers who stopped to carve their names as their army marched onwards towards China. This area is almost unspoiled by tourists, so you will truly feel like an adventurer. En route you can also stop to visit the mud volcanoes, and a national park full of gazelles.


The most ancient models of material culture in the territory of Azerbaijan are from the 8th millennium BCE. Ancient megalith monuments, herdsman stones, dolmens, caves, defense buildings, burial mounds, metallic instruments pottery and jewelry were typical of Azerbaijani households of that period. The national cultural and aesthetical ideations are reflected on rock carvings. The Azikh cave (with a length of 215-220 meters) near the town of Fuzuli proves that Azerbaijan is one of the most ancient dwelling- places of humankind in the world.

Of exceptional importance to serve as examples of ancient models of fine art are the rock carvings in Gobustan, in the Ayichingili and Parichingil Mountains near Zalkha lake in the Kalbadjar region during the Bronze epoch (3rd millennium BCE), and rock carvings into the Gamigaya Mountain in the north of the town of Ordubad.. The rock carvings "Boyukdash", "Kichikdash", "Jingirdagh", and "Shongardagh" portray the lifestyle of ancient peoples, their housing and labor. Dynamic scenes, pictures of people and animals, episodes of hunting, cattle-breeding, farming, and other spheres of life, were perfectly carved into rock. The rock carvings in Gobustan, which are known as pictograms, cover a long historical period from primitive communal order to feudalism.

Decorative models, pictures, raised pictures on pottery and stone, as well as metallic wares and statues occupy an important place among ancient models of fine arts. Some of them, especially round crockery (Shahtakhti village, Nakhichevan AR), two-head deer figures (Dolandar village, Khodjavand region), bronze crockery with pictures of five fantastic animal (Gadabay), golden crescent-shape collar (Ziviyq), a golden basin (Hasangulu hill near the Urmiya lake), ceramic crockery, fond in the plains of Mil and Karabakh, are distinguishing for their delicacy and artistic perfection (VIII-VII centuries B.C.). Different glass wares, found in Mingachevir, Shamakhi, as decorative crockery, bowls, jewelry, show existence of glass production in Azerbijan as well.

Engraving and sculpture patterns were widespread in Albanian (Caucasus) art. Raised pictures of two peacock in the right and left of holy life tree on stone capital in Mingachevir temple (V-VI centuries) is one of the perfect examples of Albanian (Caucasus) sculpture. Plastic forms are spread in artistic metal wares are frequent artistic kinds. Deer, lion, peacock, bud were pictured on silver bowls, bronze water crockery, found Mingachevir, Torpaggala and other places. Bronze and stone pictures of peoples and animals, scenes, related with housing, fire and religious ceremonies predominate in round sculpture patterns of that period. Architecture complexes, palaces, castles, mosques and mausoleums constructed in the ancient historical towns of Azerbaijan as Qabala, Nakhichivan, Shamakhi, Baku, Barda, Gandja, Beylaqan, Tabriz, Maragha and Ardabilda in connection with spreading of Islam sicce VII century. Calligraphy - inscription, ornament, glaze and raised elements were widely used in decorative design of these buildings. Stone engraving examples, geometrical and plant patterns are typical for buildings, belonging to Shirvan-Absheron architecture school, while ornament motives occupy important place on buildings, belonging to Nakhichevan architecture school.

Inscriptions and raised pictures on Shirvansahs' "Bayil castle" or "Sabayil" architecture monument, built in the Baku port in XIII century, played important role in decorative design of building. Human and animal pictures (tiger, camel, horse, bull, bird) were made in deep engraving style along with inscriptions on "Bay?l daslar?" (Bayil stones). "Bayil daslar?" of frieze type represents decorative element of previously onshore prominent architecture monument.

Azerbaijan fine art present unity with decorative applied art in the Middle Ages. Knight shooting clawed bird with arrow was pictured along with plant and geometrical ornaments on ceramic examples in Gandja, Beylaqan and other towns. Azerbaijan renaissance architecture was closely related with Nizami Gandjavi's creation. He create architect, sculptor, mosaic decorators and painter characters (Farhad, Shapur, Simnar) in his poems.


Listed under UNESCO World Heritage. It is constructed at the coast and there are different rumours about it. The most believed one is, king wants to marry with a beautiful young girl but girl does not want to. To save time she asks him to build a tower for her honour then she will marry. Once the tower is completed, she throws herself off its top.

The Shirvan-Shah's Palace ensemble (15-16th century) was built when the Shah's capital was moved from Shemakha to Baku. This was the most prominent architectural complex in the medieval city. Some of the builings in the complex far surpass the palace in splendour. Despite having built in different periods without a single plan the several contruction form an harmonious whole.

The palace is a two story building, with service rooms on the ground floor and state rooms on the uper floor. Built in the 15th century by Halilullah first, the palace remained intact a hundred years. After Baku was taken by Shah Ismail the palace was abandoned.

Adjacent to the palace is the Divankhane rotunda. crowned with a faceted cupola of pointed arches, echoing a similar arcade in the courtyard. The stone carving of the portal - with intricate ornamentation and kufic inscriptions - is striking. Divankhane and Harem at Shirvan Shah's palace is Unesco world heritage site.

In the complex you can also see the 14th century the Bei-Kubad Madrassa Mosque, the Shah's family tomb (the turbe) and the tomb of Seid Yahia Bakuvi (a court astronomer) the Turkish built eastern Gate and the baths.

Most of the walls surrounding the old town survive, as they were strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806.
Much of the area enclosed by these walls is closed to vehicles, with some exceptions of course - some foreign oil companies have installed offices inside.

The Nizami museum of Azeri Literature was originally built as an hotel. It façade is decorated with dark blue and turquoise majolica. Inside the ogival arches are statues of outstanding Azeri writers of several periods: Fisuli, Vaghif, Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Natavan, Djalil Mamedkulizade, Djafar Djabarly. Its 23 rooms contain over 3000 exhibits: illuminated manuscripts, calligraphic art, rare editions, photographs and films, etc.


Originally built by local millionaire Nagiev as a tribute to his dead son and to house the Ismailia Moslem charitable society it later was later ceded to the Academy of Sciences to house its Presidium. The architecture is mock italian Gothic by Polish architect Joseph Ploshko, imitating the Contarini palace in Venice. Behind it you can find the city wall and the Djebakhana tower. (The main building of the Academy is located near Baku State University)

Commission headed by the President Haydar Aliyev who is an architect of the Azerbaijani statehood prepared the Constitution of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, which was adopted on November 12, 1995 through referendum and the first parliament was elected on the basis of democratic principles. The Constitution and the first Parliament demonstrated the beginning of the development and progress stage in the political history of our Republic. Milli Mejlis being a branch of the state power implements the legislative powers set forth by the Constitution, created and improved the legal base of the giant transformation processes, political and economic reforms.

Top Things to See
Watch the flames dance at Yanar Dag (fire mountain), a short distance from Baku, where a 10m (33ft) wall of fire blazes day and night thanks to underground natural gas. Pull up a chair at the nearby chaikhana at sunset.
Shop for exquisite copper products in the Persian mountain town of Lahic, where great hiking, charming architecture and natural beauty combine for the ultimate mountain escape.
Uncover glimpses of Zoroastrianism at the Ateshgah Fire Temple in Surakhany. The temple was established by Parsee fire-worshippers living in Baku in the 18th century and Zoroastrians still occasionally stage ritual dances here.
Discover the remote mountain village of Xinaliq, where you can find a unique ethnic group of 1,000 Tats, who have preserved the original language, customs and traditions of this ancient and threatened Iranian ethnic group from the Caucasus.
Tour the desolate Absheron Peninsula beyond Baku and explore the 14th-century defensive fortresses built by the Shirvanshahs. The best-preserved of these are those at Ramana, Nardaran and Mardakan.

Top Things to Do
Explore the fabulous Içeri Seher, the walled old city of Baku. The narrow streets, the old mansions and the myriad mosques make this the most authentic experience of Baku before the oil boom of the 20th century created the modern city.
Climb the multiple spiral staircases inside Maidens Tower, which overlooks the Caspian in the Içeri Seher, and be privy to a stunning 360-degree view of the city.
Visit the enchantingly weird mud volcanoes of Qobustan and see the astonishing nearby Stone and Bronze Age petroglyphs all on a day trip from Baku.
Discover Sheki, one of Azerbaijans most beautiful towns, set in the mountains and with a large number of well-preserved mosques and caravanserais from the 18th century.
Join spiritual Azeris on a climb up Beshbarmaq Dag (Five Finger Mountain), which rises dramatically 520m above the coast and is one of Azerbaijans most holy animist sites.

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