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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

Summary

The landlocked country of Azerbaijan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The country is currently experiencing tensions with neighboring Armenia because of the dispute over control of majority ethnically Armenian territory given to Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. The country has a stronger economy than the regional average, but still struggles to compete in international markets.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/aj.html

Demographics

Nationality
Azerbaijani
Population
9,590,159 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Azerbaijan Subcases

Click and view Azerbaijan subcases and learn more about our Azerbaijan

Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Mountain communities in Azerbaijan are at particular risk to the adverse effects of climate change, such as flooding and water stress. Air pollution is another significant environmental concern for the country that can lead to respiratory, digestive, and circulatory illnesses, as well as birth defects.1 The city of Sumgayit was listed as one of the top ten worst polluted places in the world. The urban center served as an industrial city in the Soviet Era, and created many problems with contamination for locals from the irresponsible handling of waste and chemicals. Cancer rates in the city are 22–55 percent higher than the rest of the country.2

Family

Although many marriages in Azerbaijan are arranged, the divorce rate remains very low, according to a study put forth by the United Nations. The most common reason for divorce is early marriage.1 Domestic abuse is a concern in Azerbaijan. The government released reports in 2015 claiming that domestic violence was decreasing, but humans rights activists spoke out and refuted those claims, stating that the poor definition of abuse provided in legislation allows for discrepancies in what counts as abuse and creates false statistics like those provided.2

Human Rights

The most common human rights violation that occurs in Azerbaijan is the abuse of freedom of association. Multiple human rights groups were prevented from carrying out their work, and media outlets are restricted in what the government allows them to publish. Politically charged civil and criminal proceedings were rushed, and police used torture to coerce confessions of guilt from prisoners.1 In the capital city of Baku, the government has evicted hundreds of families without providing adequate compensation.2

Education

School participation is mandatory for students aged 6 to 17. Azerbaijani is the main language of instruction, however most technical schools in the country instruct in Russian. During Soviet rule, illiteracy was eradicated within the country and several universities and centers of research were established.1 The enrollment rate in primary school is 94 percent.2 The country currently spends 2.6 percent of the GDP on education. The literacy rate of people over 15 in Azerbaijan is over 99 percent.3

Poverty

5 percent of the population in Azerbaijan lives below the poverty line while 6 percent are unemployed.1 One of the main factors in the economy’s inefficiency is businesses’ lack of access to lines of credit. It is also difficult for business owners to be educated in financial matters because there are few highly trained professionals in the country.2 There is a stark contrast between the wealthiest and poorest citizens. The oil company Socar has invested heavily in luxury sports stadiums which have become sources of shade under which the country’s poorest live.3

Religion

Around 97 percent of Azerbaijan’s population is Muslim. The majority of those are Shi’a Muslim. Christians make up about 3 percent of the population.1 Although the constitution of Azerbaijan technically guarantees religious freedom, this is not always enforced and many minority religious groups face discrimination. Major religious leaders run the risk of being arrested for minor offenses.2

Clean Water

87 percent of the population has access to clean water in Azerbaijan. 90 percent have access to improved sanitation services.1 Many women travel two kilometers or more to access clean water, significantly reducing their productivity. 87 percent of households in the country’s capital are subject to water rationing due to the concern that existing water sources cannot adequately meet the needs of Azerbaijan’s growing population. Sometimes, whole neighborhoods go without water for up to two days.2

Economy

The Azerbaijani economy is generally freer and more productive than the regional average. Recent reforms, such as increased legal access to the global market, have provided a boost to the country’s once floundering economy. Despite these improvements, corruption among civic and government officials, judiciaries, and ineffective law enforcement all continue to hamper growth.1 In 2017 the unemployment rate was 6 percent. Public debt is around 50 percent of GDP. Exports are almost completely comprised of oil and gas, while imports include machinery and other equipment. Azerbaijan trades mostly with Western European countries as well as the US and Russia.2

Government

The Republic of Azerbaijan is a presidential republic. The president is the chief of state and possesses the power to appoint the Council of Ministers. There is also a prime minister who is the head of government. Azerbaijan’s government was established after it announced its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. There are 13 major political parties.1 The public ranks their government 31 out of a possible 100 for corruption and the country comes in 122nd out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s country index.2

Health

The health sector remains underfunded after the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. The low use of state-owned health facilities has led to the underreporting of health issues and unreliable statistics. Tuberculosis, malaria, and sexually transmitted diseases are also significant health concerns and the tuberculosis rate of Azerbaijan is ten times the average for Europe.1 The average life expectancy is 72 years, and 20 percent of adults are obese. The maternal mortality rate is 25 deaths per 100,000 live births, while infant mortality is 24 deaths per 1,000 live births. The government spends approximately 6 percent of GDP on healthcare annually.2

Children

11 percent of children in Azerbaijan are married by the time they reach the age of 18. The practice of child marriage is distributed unevenly throughout the country. The legal age was raised to 18 for women in 2011, but in certain scenarios the minimum age can be lowered to 17.1 It is known that respiratory diseases are the main killer of children under five in Azerbaijan, contributing to about half of all child deaths, and diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death in young children. Children also struggle with high rates of malnutrition and 4 out of 5 children suffer from vitamin A deficiency.2

Animals

Azerbaijan is part of the endangered Palearctic ecoregion. The mostly flat and dry landscape is reflective of the arid climate with short mild winters and long hot summers. There are also small woodland and steppe habitats. Native species include the peregrine falcon, Persian gazelle, Western boa, and Lebetine viper. The wildlife is threatened by poor agricultural practices and overhunting.1

Azerbaijan

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