A map of Azerbaijan The oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan lies on the Caspian Sea coast in the southeastern Caucasus, where Europe meets Asia. Its northern border is edged by the Greater Caucasus mountain range; the Lesser Caucasus range traces its western border with Armenia. Between the two ranges lies the broad valley of the River Kura. The Mingacevir Reservoir sits in the northern part of this valley. As well as supplying water for irrigating the land, its dammed waters generate hydro-electric power. Separated from the rest of the country by Armenia is the exclave region of Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan is shielded from harsh weather by the Caucasus Mountains. Its coastal plains have a subtropical climate with hot summers and mild, wet winters. Winters in the mountains, however, can be extremely cold and dry.
Nearly all Azerbaijan’s people are ethnic Azeris, a Turkic people descended from the various tribes and peoples who settled in the region throughout its history. Most are Muslims and follow Shia Islam. The northern mountains are home to about 360,000 Lezgins, a Muslim Caucasian people whose ancestors have lived there since the Bronze Age. Azerbaijan’s oil industry has made Azerbaijan a relatively wealthy country. Today, most people have a good standard of living.
Along Azerbaijan’s Caspian coast are about 400 mud volcanoes—more than half the total number on Earth. Hot water and gases erupt, sometimes violently, from cracks in the mud.
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