Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, is bounded by the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains, which span Asia and Europe. It borders Russia, Armenia and Iran. The country was briefly independent (from 1918 to 1920) following the collapse of the Russian Empire, and it was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922. It declared independence several days before the collapse of the USSR in 1991, and plunged into a bloody conflict with Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is a dominant-party semi-presidential republic. It is a major regional energy player, supplying gas and oil to Europe.

Azerbaijan’s capital is Baku, country population is 9.8 million (91.6% Azerbaijani, 2% Lezghin, Russian 1.3% Russian).