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Asia, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, republic of western Asia. Azerbaijan is the easternmost country of Transcaucasia (the southern portion of the region of Caucasia), which occupies the southern part of the isthmus between the Black and Caspian seas. The country is bordered on the north by Russia, on the east by the Caspian Sea, on the south by Iran, on the west by Armenia, and on the northwest by Georgia. In Azeri, the official state language, it is called Azarbaijchan Respublikasy (Republic of Azerbaijan). The country includes the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian-inhabited enclave in western Azerbaijan, and the autonomous exclave of Naxc?van (Nakhichevan'), which is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by a mountainous strip of Armenian territory. Baku, a large port city on the Caspian Sea, is Azerbaijan's capital and largest city.

After a mere two years of independence, Azerbaijan was invaded by the Bolshevik Red Army in 1920 and became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. In 1991 it became independent again. The republic's first years of renewed independence were troubled by political upheaval, economic decline, and a war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Until a cease-fire agreement effectively ended the war in May 1994, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh fought for secession of the enclave. In 1995 Azerbaijan held its first legislative elections since independence and passed its first post-Soviet constitution.

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