With a total population (9.6 million (Baku 2.125 million)) less than the population of London (12-18 million), spread over an area of some 86,600 square Kilometres compared to London’s 1,572 square Kilometres, Azerbaijan is a fascinating country where modern and tradition have entwined in a seamless manner. So here are a few fun facts I researched for you:-
- Azerbaijan is home to the first known fireplace and one of the ancient proto-human habitations in the human history that date back to 700,000 to 500,000 years ago. The Azikh Cave, which is also the largest cave in Azerbaijan covering eight thousand square meters, is one of the proto-human sites in Azerbaijan.
- Some of the superstitions related to the Azeri culture include, “Do not lend money or bread at night”, “Leaving scissors with opened blades brings misfortune and even death”, and “If you meet a person with empty buckets, you are bound for misfortune.”
- The most well-known of Azerbaijan’s volcanoes is Yanar Dag, also known as ‘Burning Mountain’. True to its name, the mountain has been burning for as long as anyone can remember (due to natural gas escaping from the ground, and the fire isn’t showing signs of going out any time soon.
- The former world chess champion Garry Kasparov hails from Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The country is also home to the world’s youngest International Grand Master Teymur Rajabov who is just 14 years old
- The world’s first oil well was drilled near Baku. The well was drilled somewhere around the middle of the nineteenth century.
- The Azerbaijan Constitution does not declare any religion as official to the country, but majority of people adhere to the Shia branch of Islam. Azerbaijan is the first Muslim country to have operas and theatre plays.
- Seven Beauties is a competition where seven girls are given hooks and different coloured threads. The girls must crochet stockings when given the appointed time and the winner is the girl who crochets the best quality stockings in the shortest time.
- The oldest national holiday of Azerbaijan is Novruz – which celebrates New Year and the coming of Spring. Children leave bags or small caps outside the front door of houses. They knock on the door and hide and, upon return, their bags have been filled with Novruz gifts by the home owner. Also as part of Novruz unmarried girls also throw black coins, which are a symbol of bad luck, into a water-filled jug during the da time in order to find their perfect match. In the evening, before sunset, they pour this water with the coins outside.
- Azerbaijan is a country of watermelons. But there is something very specific about they way how you should eat watermelon there. Always with a white cheese and bread!
- The people of Azerbaijan love to drink tea. The drink is served in a traditional pear-shaped glass and also sipped through lumps of sugar or jam that are held in the mouth. That sounds like fun 😉
One final fun fact is that Azerbaijan is the land of the Lada – that well known car that was the butt of many a joke in its day – apparently they are everywhere in all shapes and colours!