- E. R. Salmanov
- and Jonathan M. Bloom
- , revised by Sheila S. Blair
[anc. Athropatena, Azarbaijan]
Transcaucasian republic on the west side of the Caspian Sea, bounded by the Dagestan republic of the Russian Federation to the north, the Republic of Georgia and the Republic of Armenia to the west, and Caucasus Mountains to the north and west (see fig.). Armenian territories separate the region of Nakhchyvan from the rest of Azerbaijan. To the south, the Araks River (anc. Araxes) forms the border with Iran. The capital, Baku, is a natural port on the Absheron Peninsula of the Caspian coast. Other major towns are Gandja, Shamakhy, Quba, Shaki, Qazakh, Lankaran, Nakhchyvan, in the centre of Nakhchyvan region, and Khankandi, in the centre of Daghly Qarabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) district.
Azerbaijan is located on the principal route from Europe to Asia along the Caspian Sea. Its origins date from the 5th century bc, when it was the 11th district of a Persian empire dominated by Caspian tribes (Herodotus III.93). At the beginning of the Christian era, the kingdom known as Albania by the Greeks was formed by tribes that were probably of Indo-European origin, to judge from the white skin indicated by the name ‘Albanian’. They lived along the Kura and Arax rivers (Strabo: ...