Azerbaijan Birding Tours
The Republic of Azerbaijan (“Azerbaijan” hereafter) sits right on the edge of the Western Palearctic biogeographic realm in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. The country sits where Europe and Asia meet and shares its borders with several countries: Iran to the south, Armenia and Georgia to the west, and the Russian republic of Dagestan to the north. Its entire east coast sits on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan is a relatively small country and has an area of 33,400 square miles (86,600 square kilometers), about the same size as the US state of South Carolina. Azerbaijan has a population of just over 10 million people, with around five million living in the metro area of the glamourous capital of Baku. Baku was settled as long ago as the 5th century AD but in modern times has become a symbol of wealth in this remote part of the world.
Humans first settled in Azerbaijan in the 9th century BC with the country torn between empires from Russia and Iran from then until the country gained independence in 1918, the first time the area had become formally known as Azerbaijan, following the collapse of the Russian Empire. Sadly, this independence only lasted 23 days as the Soviet Union invaded in 1920, shortly after the independence declaration, with around 20,000 Azerbaijani soldiers losing their lives during the invasion. During World War Two Azerbaijan supplied the Soviet Union with 80 percent of its oil and played a vital role in supporting the eastern front. Azerbaijan stayed under Soviet rule until 18th October 1991 when independence was gained once more. Since then, unrest in the region has undermined this with attempted coups and war with neighboring Armenia bringing instability, especially in the 1990s. However, Azerbaijan is currently considered a stable and safe country to visit.
The geography of Azerbaijan involves a mix of high-altitude mountain ranges, arid steppe, and desert. The climate is affected greatly by the Greater Caucasus Mountains in the north of the country which protect Azerbaijan from the worst of the Siberian cold air masses. Due to the proximity of the Caspian Sea, and the lack of cold air, much of the foothills and plains have taken on a dry subtropical climate, with hot summers and rain restricted to the cooler months. Mount Bazarduzu is the highest point in Azerbaijan at 14,652 feet (4,466 meters) and is situated in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, which runs along almost all of the country’s northern border. We also visit this fascinating area on both of our tours of neighboring Georgia. A total of 40% of Azerbaijan’s land area is mountainous, with the Lesser Caucasus and Talysh Mountains making up the rest of the high-altitude areas.