The historical lands of Azerbaijan, which covered the Great Caucasus Mountains in the north, the Alagez mountain range with a basin of Lake Goycha and Eastern Anatolia in the west, the Caspian Sea in the east, and the boundaries of Sultania, Zanjan, and Hamadan in the south, are one of the centers of ancient culture and the cradle modern civilization. On this territory – on the historical lands of Azerbaijan – the Azerbaijani people have created a rich and original culture, including the traditions of statehood. The historical pronunciation of the name “Azerbaijan” was different. Since ancient times, from the beginnings of civilization, this name sounded like Andirpatian, Atropatena, Adirbidzhan, Azirbidzhan, and, finally, Azerbaijan. Writing in a modern form – “Azerbaijan”, is based on ancient historical, anthropological, ethnographic, and written sources.
Objects discovered during archaeological excavations, as well as ethnographic materials collected during expeditions, made it possible to study traditions and customs, material and spiritual culture, ancient forms of government, family relationships in Azerbaijan.
To date, the most ancient archaeological and paleontological materials have been discovered, indicating that primitive people lived on the territory of Azerbaijan more than 1.7-1.8 million years ago.
The territory of Azerbaijan is extremely rich in archaeological monuments, proving the presence of the most ancient settlements of primitive people in this region.
Archaeological finds were discovered in the caves of Azykh, Taglar, Damjily, Dashsalakhly, Gazma (Nakhichevan), as well as in other monuments, including a part of the lower jaw of the Azykh man (Azykhantrop), who lived 300-400 thousand years ago – in the Ashelian period, prove entry of the territory of Azerbaijan into the area of formation of primitive man.
For this rare find, the territory of Azerbaijan has been put on the map “Ancient inhabitants of Europe”.
The people of Azerbaijan, at the same time, are one of the peoples with the most ancient traditions of statehood. Azerbaijan has approximately 5 thousand years of statehood history. The first state formations or ethnopolitical associations on the territory of Azerbaijan were created since the end of the 4th, beginning of the 3rd millennium BC in the Urmia basin. The ancient Azerbaijani states that emerged here have played an important role in the military-political history of the entire region. It was during this period that Azerbaijan was closely connected with the states of Sumer, Akkad, and Assyria, which left a deep mark in world history, located in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, as well as with the Hittite state in Asia Minor.
In the 1st millennium BC – 1 millennium AD on the lands of Azerbaijan there were such powerful states as Manna, the Scythian kingdom, Atropatena and Albania. These states played an important role in enhancing the culture of public administration, in the cultural and economic history of the country, as well as in the process of forming a single people.
At the beginning of our era, Azerbaijan entered one of the most difficult periods of its history: in the 3rd century Azerbaijan was occupied by the Iranian Sassanid Empire, and in the 7th century by the Arab Caliphate. The conquerors resettled a large population of Iranian and Arab origin to the country.
In the first centuries of our era, the Turkish ethnic groups, which made up the bulk of the country’s population and are more organized and strong from a military-political point of view, played an important role in the formation of a single people. Among the Turkish ethnic groups, the Oghuz Turks predominated.
Since the first centuries of our era, the Turkic language has become the main means of communication between small peoples and ethnic groups living in the territory of Azerbaijan. In addition, the Turkic language also played a connecting role between the north and south of the country. At that time, this factor was of great importance in the process of forming a single people, since during the described period there was not yet a single religious worldview – a monotheistic religion covering the entire territory of Azerbaijan. Worshiping the main God of the Turks, the God of Tanra, has not yet managed to completely supplant other religious beliefs. Zoroastrianism, fire worship, worship of the Sun, Moon, Heaven, Earth, stars, etc. were still preserved. In the north of the country, in some parts of the territory of Albania, especially in its western regions, Christianity spread. However, the independent Albanian Church acted in conditions of intense rivalry with the Armenian and Georgian churches.
With the adoption of the Islamic religion in the 7th century, a radical change took place in the historical predestination of Azerbaijan.
The Islamic religion gave a strong impetus to the formation of a single people and its language, played a decisive role in accelerating this process. The emergence of a single religion between the Turkic and non-Turkic ethnic groups was the reason for the formation of common customs and traditions throughout the territory of Azerbaijan, through which they were settled, the expansion of family ties and closer interaction. The Islamic religion united all Turkic and non-Turkic ethnic groups, who adopted it, under a common Turkic-Islamic flag against the Byzantine Empire and the Armenian and Georgian feudal lords under its patronage, who sought to include the entire South Caucasus in the sphere of influence of Christianity.
From the middle of the 9th century, the ancient traditions of the Azerbaijani statehood were revived again. A new political revival began in Azerbaijan: on the lands of Azerbaijan, where Islam was spread, the states of Sajids, Shirvanshahs, Salarids, Ravvadids and Sheddadids arose.
With the emergence of independent states, there was a revival in all areas of political, economic and cultural life. A period of revival began in the history of Azerbaijan.
The emergence of local states (Sajids, Shirvanshahs, Salarids, Ravvadids, Shaddadids, Sheki state), after 600 years of Sassanian and Arab domination and the transformation of Islam into the main monotheistic religion throughout the country played an important role in the ethnic evolution of the Azerbaijani people and the formation of a single language and culture.
At the same time, in the historical conditions of the frequent change of feudal dynasties that ruled Azerbaijan, the Islamic religion was important for the unification of the entire Azerbaijani population – both the various Turkic tribes that played a major role in the formation of our people and the non-Turkic ethnic groups that mixed with them, in the form united force against foreign invaders.
After the fall of the Arab Caliphate, starting from the middle of the 9th century, the role of the Turkic-Islamic empires increased in the Caucasus, as well as throughout the Near and Middle East. States ruled by the Sajids, Shirvanshahs, Salarids, Ravvadids, Shaddadids, Sheki rulers, Seljuk, Eldeniz, Mongols, Elkhanids-Hulaguids, Chobanids, Jelairids, Timurids, Ottomans, Karakoyunlu, Akkoyunludis, other Muslims left a deep mark not only in the history of the statehood of Azerbaijan but also in the entire Near and Middle East. For a long time, Azerbaijan was the central region of many of these states, and Tabriz was the capital.
In the XV-XVIII centuries, as well as in the subsequent period, the culture of the statehood of Azerbaijan was even more enriched. At this time, the vast eastern empires of Karakoyunlu, Akkoyunlu, Safavids, Afshars, and Qajars were ruled directly by Azerbaijani dynasties.
This important factor had a positive impact on the internal and international relations of Azerbaijan, expanded the field of military-political influence of our country and people, and, consequently, the sphere of activity of the Azerbaijani language, created favorable conditions for the further development of the material and spiritual culture of the Azerbaijani people. Along with the fact that during the period described, the Azerbaijani states played an important role in international relations and the military-political life of the Near and Middle East, they also very actively participated and played a mediating role in relations between Europe and the East.
During the reign of the great statesman of Azerbaijan Uzun Hasan (1468-1478), the Akkoyunlu empire turned into a powerful military-political factor in the entire Near and Middle East. The culture of the statehood of Azerbaijan has received even greater development. Uzun Hasan pursued a policy of creating a strong, centralized state covering all Azerbaijani lands. For this purpose, on his behalf, “Ganun-name” was published. By order of the great sovereign, the Koran was translated into the Azerbaijani language, and the outstanding scientist of that time, Abu Bakr al-Tehrani, was entrusted with writing the Oghuz chronicle “Kitabi-Diyarbekiriyye”.
At the end of the 15th – beginning of the 16th centuries, the Azerbaijani statehood entered a new stage in its historical development. The grandson of Uzun Hasan, the outstanding statesman Shah Ismail Khatai (1501-1524) continued the work started by his grandfather and managed to unite all the northern and southern lands of Azerbaijan under his rule. A single centralized Azerbaijani state arose – the Safavid state with its capital in Tabriz. During the reign of the Safavids, the culture of state administration in Azerbaijan increased even more. The Azerbaijani language, along with Persian, became the state language on the territory of a huge empire. As a result of successful reforms, domestic and foreign policies carried out by Shah Ismail, Shah Tahmasib, Shah Abbas, and other Safavid sovereigns, the Safavid state turned into one of the most powerful empires of the Near and Middle East.
The outstanding Azerbaijani commander Nadir Shah Afshar (1736-1747), who came to power after the fall of the Safavid state, further expanded the borders of the former Safavid Empire. This great ruler of Azerbaijan, a native of the Afshar-Turkic tribe, seized North India, including Delhi in 1739.
However, after the death of Nadir Shah, the vast empire ruled by him collapsed. And in the second half of the 18th century, Azerbaijan split into small states – khanates and sultanates.
At the end of the 18th century, the Azerbaijani Turkic Qajar dynasty (1796-1925) came to power in Iran. The Qajars began to pursue a policy aimed at subordinating the central authority of all territories that were once under the rule of their ancestors Karakoyunlu, Akkoyunlu, Safavids, and, finally, Nadir Shah, including the Azerbaijani khanates.
This is how the era of long-term wars began between the Qajars and the Russian Empire, which was striving to seize the South Caucasus.
Thus, Azerbaijan turned into an arena of bloody wars between the two great powers.
According to the Gulistan (1813) and Turkmenchay (1828) treaties, Azerbaijan was divided between two empires: Northern Azerbaijan was annexed to Russia, and South Azerbaijan – to Iran.
Thus, in the subsequent history of Azerbaijan, new concepts appeared: “North (or Russian) Azerbaijan” and “South (or Iranian) Azerbaijan”.
To create support for itself and a Christian stronghold in the South Caucasus, Russia began to massively resettle the Armenian population from neighboring regions to the occupied Azerbaijani lands, in particular, the mountainous regions of Karabakh, the territories of the Erivan and Nakhichevan khanates. General Pashkevich even gave specific instructions on where exactly they should be resettled. In March 1828, the Iravan and Nakhichevan khanates of Azerbaijan were liquidated, and the so-called “Armenian region” was created on their territory for the resettled Armenians. Thus, the foundation was laid for the future Armenian state on the lands of Azerbaijan.
In addition, in 1836, Tsarist Russia liquidated the independent Albanian Church and subordinated it to the Gregorian Church. Thus, favorable conditions were created for the Gregorianization and Armenianization of the ancient Azerbaijani Christian-Albanian population. The foundation was laid for new territorial claims of Armenians to Azerbaijanis. Not satisfied with this, tsarist Russia resorted to an even more vile policy: it raised the Armenians armed by it against the Turkic-Muslim population and provoked a mass slaughter of Azerbaijanis. The period of genocide of the Azerbaijani people and the entire Turkic-Muslim population of the South Caucasus began.
The liberation struggle in Northern Azerbaijan ended in unprecedented tragedies. Here, the Dashnak-Bolshevik government of S. Shaumyan, which seized power in Baku and its environs, committed a terrible genocide against the Azerbaijani people in March 1918. Fraternal Turkey extended a helping hand to Azerbaijan. The liberation movement was victorious. On May 28, 1918, the first democratic republic in the East, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, was established in Northern Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which was the first parliamentary republic in the history of the Azerbaijani people, was at the same time an example of a democratic, legal and secular state in the entire East, including the Turkic-Islamic world.
During the period of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the history of parliamentarism is divided into two periods: the first period lasted from May 27 to November 19, 1918. During these six months, the Azerbaijani parliament, which consisted of 44 representatives of Muslim Turks and functioned under the name of the National Council of Azerbaijan, made important historical decisions. The first parliament on May 28, 1918, proclaimed the independence of Azerbaijan, took over the government, and adopted the historic Declaration of Independence.
The second, or Baku period in the history of parliamentarism of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic lasted from December 7, 1918, to April 27, 1920 – only 17 months.
The law on the establishment of the Baku State University, adopted by the parliament on September 1, 1919, should be specially noted. The opening of the national university was the most important historical merit of the leaders of the Republic to their native people. Although the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic subsequently fell, Baku State University played an irreplaceable role in preserving its ideas and in restoring independence.
During the existence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, 155 parliamentary sessions were held, ten of which took place during the functioning of the National Council of Azerbaijan (May 27-November 19, 1918), and 145 – the Azerbaijani parliament (December 7, 1918 – April 27, 1920).
More than 270 bills were submitted to the parliament for discussion, about 230 of which were adopted. The laws were discussed in the midst of heated and business-like debates and were adopted only after the third reading.
Despite the fact that the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic existed for only 23 months, it proved that even the most brutal colonial and repressive regimes are not able to destroy the ideals of freedom and traditions of state independence of the Azerbaijani people.
As a result of the military aggression of Soviet Russia, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic fell. An end was put to the independent statehood in Northern Azerbaijan. On April 28, 1920, the establishment of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR) on the territory of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was announced.
Immediately after the Soviet occupation, the process of destruction of the system of independent state administration, created during the existence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, began.
The “Red Terror” reigned throughout the country. Anyone who could resist the strengthening of the Bolshevik regime immediately became a victim of the “Red Terror” under the name of an “enemy of the people”, “counterrevolutionary” or “saboteur”.
Thus, after the March 1918 genocide, a new genocide against the Azerbaijani people actually began. The only difference was that this time the most famous representatives of the people were destroyed – outstanding figures of the Azerbaijan People’s Republic, generals and senior officers of the National Army, progressive intelligentsia, famous scientists. This time, the Bolshevik-Dashnak regime, in a pre-planned manner, destroyed only the cream of the people and sought to behead them. In fact, this genocide was much more merciless and terrible than the March one.
The convocation of the 1st Congress of Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR on May 6, 1921, completed the Sovietization of Northern Azerbaijan. On May 19, the first Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR was adopted.
After depriving the Azerbaijani people of their independent power, the plunder of their wealth began. Private ownership of land was abolished. All the natural resources of the country were nationalized, more precisely, they were considered state property. For the management of the oil industry, the Oil Committee of Azerbaijan was specially created, the leadership of which was entrusted to A.P. Serebrovsky, directed by V.I.Lenin. Thus, VI Lenin, who wrote in a telegram sent back on March 17, 1920, to the Military-Revolutionary Council of the Caucasian Front, “The capture of Baku is very, very important for us” and thereby gave an indication of the conquest of Northern Azerbaijan, achieved his goal. Baku oil passed into the hands of Soviet Russia.
In the 30s, brutal repressions were carried out throughout Azerbaijan. In 1937 alone, 29 thousand people were repressed. During this period, Azerbaijan lost dozens of such thinkers, rare representatives of the intelligentsia, such as Huseyn Javid, Mikail Mushvig, Ahmed Javad, Salman Mumtaz, Ali Nazmi, Tagi Shahbazi, and others. The mental potential of the people and its worthy representatives were destroyed. After this terrible blow, the Azerbaijani people could not recover for decades.
In 1948-1953, a new stage of mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from Western Azerbaijan (from the territory called the Armenian SSR), which was their original homeland, began. Armenians have strengthened even more in the lands of Western Azerbaijan. Their quantitative superiority in this territory was ensured.
Despite the important successes achieved thanks to the creative genius of the Azerbaijani people, due to a number of objective and subjective reasons, negative tendencies began to appear in many sectors of the Azerbaijani economy – both in industry and agriculture – in the 1960s.
In this difficult situation in which the republic found itself, an important change took place in the Azerbaijani leadership. In 1969, Heydar Aliyev’s first period of leadership in Azerbaijan began. In a difficult historical situation of the domination of the totalitarian regime, Heydar Aliyev, with the aim of turning Azerbaijan into one of the most advanced republics of the Soviet Union, embarked on a program of broad reforms in all spheres of life.
The great politician first sought the adoption at the level of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at plenums of the Central Committee, congresses of the Communist Party of favorable decisions on important issues for his homeland and people in various sectors of the economy (including agriculture) and culture, and then mobilized our entire people to implement these decisions, day and night he fought tirelessly for the prosperity of his native Azerbaijan. At the head of his plans was the transformation of Azerbaijan into a self-sufficient and highly developed country in terms of science and technology (in the terminology of that time, into an administrative and economic unit). In short, Heydar Aliyev started the path leading to the independence of our Motherland back then.
In 1970-1985, in a short historical period, hundreds of factories, factories, and industries were created throughout the republic. 213 industrial establishments were launched. Azerbaijan occupied one of the leading places in the Soviet Union in many industries. 350 types of products manufactured in Azerbaijan were exported to 65 countries of the world.
The tremendous historical significance of all these magnificent creative works carried out during the first period of Heydar Aliyev’s leadership in Azerbaijan was that national pride, national self-awareness were awakened in our people, feelings of freedom and independence were raised. In essence, this meant the entry of the Azerbaijani people in the 70s of the XX century into a new stage – the stage of national upsurge.
The last stage in the history of the Azerbaijani statehood, which began during the collapse of the USSR with the adoption of the Constitutional Act on the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on October 18, 1991 after the collapse of the USSR, continues to this day successfully.
Throughout their entire history, the Azerbaijani states went through periods of rising and fall, were subjected to internal disintegration and external occupation. Azerbaijan has always maintained peaceful and calm relations with its neighbors. However, the Armenians who settled in Western Azerbaijan constantly encroached on the Azerbaijani lands, took advantage of the situation to seize new territories.
Since 1988, the Armenian armed forces have implemented a plan to evict Azerbaijanis living in 126 settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was an integral part of Azerbaijan. On May 8, 1992, the Armenians captured Shusha, and on October 2, 1992 – Khojavend.
It was during this period, on the night of February 25-26, 1992, that the most tragic event of the 20th century took place – the Armenian armed forces, together with the soldiers of the 366th motorized rifle regiment of the former Soviet army, completely destroyed the city of Khojaly, in which 6,000 Azerbaijanis lived.
Thus, since 1988, as a result of the military aggression of the Armenian armed formations, 20% of Azerbaijani lands are the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 adjacent regions (Lachin – May 18, 1992, Kelbajar – April 2, 1993, Aghdam – July 23, 1993, Jebrail – August 23, 1993, Fizuli – August 23, 1993, Gubadli – August 31, 1993, Zangilan – October 29, 1993) was occupied, 700 thousand Azerbaijanis were forced to leave their homes and temporarily resettled mainly in more than 1600 objects in 62 cities and districts.
In the conditions of the strengthening of the popular movement in March 1992, A. Mutalibov, who led the republic, resigned. The created void in power has further weakened the defense capability of the Republic of Azerbaijan. As a result, in May 1992, the Armenian military associations also captured Shusha. Thus, the Armenians actually occupied the territory of the entire Nagorno-Karabakh. The next step was the occupation of Lachin, the region connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh. The struggle for power, which continued during the rule of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan, dealt a heavy blow to the defense of the republic. In April 1993, Kelbajar was occupied. In June, a deep political crisis was evident in Azerbaijan. At the demand of the people, Heydar Aliyev came to power.
With the return of Heydar Aliyev to power, a turning point in the fate of our country took place, the flaring up civil war was averted. This day went down in the history of the Azerbaijani people as the “Day of National Salvation”.
On May 12, 1994, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, despite this, the Armenian armed formations often violated it, subjecting the civilian population to shelling.
On the night of April 2, 2016, the military conflict that unfolded between the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Armenia became the largest confrontation on the contact line since the armistice was signed.
The April battles ended with the victory of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, the heights around the village of Talish were liberated, as well as the Seisulan point of the Terter region, the Lele-Tepe height and the Chojuk village of Marjanly, the Jebrail region, the Gulistan village of the Goranboy region and the roads in the direction of the Madagiz village of the Terter region.
The violation of the state border in the direction of the Tovuz region in July 2020, the settlement of Lebanese Armenians in the territories we occupied showed that there was no point in conducting peace negotiations. The sabotage that Armenia wanted to commit in August in the Goranboy direction and the creation of volunteer military formations made a new war absolutely necessary.
A new history was written for Azerbaijan as a result of the counter-offensive of the Azerbaijani army, which began on September 27, 2020, with the provocations of the Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijan.
After another provocation of the Armenian armed forces on the line of contact, in accordance with the warning of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan began military punishment of the enemy. During the ongoing rapid counteroffensive, a number of strategic heights were liberated from occupation, the settlement of Sugovushan and the village of Talysh in the Terter region of the Jebrail region, the village of Hadrut in the Fizuli region, the Zangilan region, the Gubadli region and, finally, the city of Shusha.
The 44-day war led to the complete victory of Azerbaijan and the surrender of Armenia. During this period, about 300 villages, 5 cities, 4 settlements, numerous strategic heights were liberated. The enemy’s equipment was completely destroyed, and his manpower was seriously damaged. The Patriotic War, which lasted only 44 days, led not only to the liberation of our territories but also to the end of the occupation, as well as the settlement of the conflict, which lasted almost 30 years.