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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Azerbaijan

With its 8,303,512 people Azerbaijan is the 91st largest country in the world by population. It is the 112th largest country by area with 86,600 square kilometers. Azerbaijan - a nation with a majority-Turkic and majority-Muslim population - was briefly independent from 1918 to 1920; it regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily Armenian-populated region, assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s by Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan began fighting over the area in 1988; the struggle escalated after both countries attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By May 1994, when a cease-fire took hold, ethnic Armenian forces held not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also seven surrounding provinces in the territory of Azerbaijan. Corruption in the country is ubiquitous, and the government, which eliminated presidential term limits in a 2009 referendum, has been accused of authoritarianism. Although the poverty rate has been reduced in recent years due to revenue from oil production, the promise of widespread wealth resulting from the continued development of Azerbaijan's energy sector remains largely unfulfilled.

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