TRAVEL by Eric Mackenzie Lamb
Of all the countries I’ve had the fortune of visiting, the Republic of Azerbaijan remains in my memory as one of the world’s most unusual destinations. Located on the edge of the Caspian Sea, it borders Russia, Georgia, and the Caucasus mountains to the north, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. It’s also a centuries old trading center on the Old Silk Road.
A member of the former Soviet Union, Azerbaijan declared its independence from Russia on August 30, 1991. It was also the first Muslim country to grant equal rights to women. It also has one of the world’s highest rates of literacy, at 99.5 per cent. One of its most prominent attractions is the palace of Shirvanshahs in the inner city of its capital, Baku, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another prominent location is Baku itself, with its amazing skyscrapers, the likes of which I’ve only ever seen in Toronto.
Baku also has numerous other structures which reflect the diversity of its population of slightly over ten million people.
And that’s without mentioning the astonishing level of commuter traffic on the capital’s streets.
Over half of the country’s area is between 400 and 1,000 meters above sea level, with Bazarduzu peak its highest mountain at 4,466 meters. Its weather also helps to maintain an amazing diversity of scenery in the countryside. Azerbaijan is also one of the world’s most prosperous countries, thanks to revenue from its oil and gas fields, much of which is exported.
Baku even has its own carpet museum, with hand made designs dating back thousands of years. Along with engraved plates.
A truly amazing country. And well worth a visit.