Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes

Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes (CIIE)


  • Accession to the Council of Europe: 2001
  • Area : 86 600 km2
  • Population : 9.48 million inhabitants (2014)
  • Capital : Baku
  • Official language : Azerbaidjani (Azeri)
  • Predominant religion : Islam
  • Political Regime : Republic
  • Head of state : President Ilham Aliyev, re-elected on April 11th, 2018
  • Head of government : Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov, since April 21st, 2018
  • Currency : Manat (AZN)
  • International calling code : +994
  • National holiday : May 28
Up until its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan was subject of many integrations, conquests and invasions, successively by the Empire of Medes (eighth century BC), and then the Persian Empire of Achaemenian (sixth century BC), by the Arabs, who converted people to Islam (seventh century), the Oghuz Turks (eleventh century), the Mongols (thirteenth century) and finally by the Russians in the early nineteenth century. Since then, its history has been intertwined with that of the USSR. The collapse of the communist bloc led Azerbaijan to declare its independence on August 30, 1991.

Picture: Fruit market, Baku © Intercaspian.com

  • 1918-1920 : Azerbaijan proclaimed itself an independent and democratic Republic.
  • 1920 : The country is occupied by the Red Army, and is renamed the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan in 1936.
  • 1991 : Azerbaijan declares its independence after the collapse of the communist bloc.
  • 1992 : Abulfaz Eltchibeï, head of the Azerbaijani Popular Front, was elected president.
  • 1993 : Removal of A. Eltchibeï and the election of former Soviet leader Heydar Aliyev, who would be president until 2003. Beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which led to the occupation of the western part of Azerbaijan by Armenia.
  • 1994 : A cease-fire is declared.
  • 1995 : A new constitution adopted by referendum.
  • 1997 : Azerbaijan is back on the oil world market.
  • 1998 : The Summit of the Silk Road is held for the first time in Baku in September, it included more than 32 countries.
  • 1999 : The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union enters into force.
  • 2000 : Parliamentary elections. The opposition to President Aliyev denounced massive fraud, confirmed by international observers.
  • 2001 : Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe. In April, President Aliyev is invited by the U.S. Secretary of State to participate in peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Key West, Florida.
  • 2002 : Ratification of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
  • 2003 : The son of H. Aliyev, Ilhan Aliyev, becomes president.
  • 2004 : Participation in the European Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union.
  • 2008 : I. Aliyev is re-elected president. The OSCE judged the election undemocratic.
  • 2009 : Referendum on the Constitution, which puts an end to limits on the number of terms a president can hold in office.


The capital Baku is a Caspian port located on the Abseron peninsula. The historical center has a rich cultural and millennium history, with traces of the Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman and Russian historical presence in the country. Its importance has been recognized by UNESCO. No less than three sites are classified as World Heritage monuments of humanity : the old walled city, the Maiden Tower (Qiz Qalasi), and the Palace of Shirvanshahs. Baku became the first site in Azerbaijan to be classified as a World Heritage site. The city has preserved its cultural and architectural jewels, thanks to income from oil production, now in decline, which generated substantial wealth in the twentieth century.

Picture : Baku downtown © wikimediacommons

An important stop on the Silk Road, Azerbaijan, as an Eurasian corridor, was a busy intersection, as evidenced by the numerous caravans scattered throughout the north. Starting from the Chinese capital, the Silk Road not only enabled the Western world to discover many Chinese products, but also contributed to the enrichment of the country. Both the art of ceramics and the art of carpet weaving left their footprints in Azerbaijan, where a unique expertise developed over time. Although neglected during Soviet times, artisans now reconnect with these popular art forms.

Built in two stages, the first in the seventh century, and completed in the twelfth century, the Maiden Tower is one of the most emblematic monuments of the city of Baku. Named because of its apparent impregnability, the name of the tower is derived from a local legend. It is said that a local notable once decided to marry his daughter, whom he loved. The latter, torn between disgust of incest and disobeying her father, asked her father to build her a tower so that she could measure the vastness of the area. The father agreed, and built this tower, from which the girl threw herself off to escape her fate.

The Tower is 29.5 meters high and 16.5 meters in diameter. It is built on 8 cylindrical floors. The tower offers stunning views of the Caspian Sea. It is assumed that the lower part would have served as an astronomical observatory or a temple of fire. A vestige of Azerbaijan’s architecture, the tower was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2000.

Picture : Maiden Tower © wikimediacommons

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kimovitch Kasparov, born on April 13, 1963 in Baku (in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan) was a chess player until 2005, and the world champion from 1985-2000. He won so many tournaments that he is considered the best player of all time. He received the highest rating ever recorded, being the first player to surpass 2,800 points. He is called the “Ogre of Baku,” and even “the monster with a hundred eyes that see everything.”

Picture : Garry Kasparov © Chess-Theory.com


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