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Azerbaijan first came onto my radar when I was looking into joining the PeaceCorps, and looking for a Central Asian country that fit the cultural criteria I wanted (at the crossroads of cosmopolitan Europe, Russia, China, and the Middle East), and it stuck out because according to what I read, it doesn’t get brutally cold there in the winter. So I’ve been doing some more reading, and found out it is a Shi’ite Muslim country with little sense of nationalism but a strong regionalism and sense of religion (despite the fact that some of the more strict Muslim social codes are not observed). Apparently oil money has flooded Baku, but is not trickling down to the countryside, which is widening the gap between economic classes as the nouveau riches westernize, at least superficially, and the peasants long for their Communist pensions. Perhaps the one thing going for the country, aside from oil (which could work both for and against Azerbaijan, depending on how it’s managed), is that Turkey has significant influence here…if only because the Azeris are a Turkic people with a similar language.over 6 years ago
it seems like it has such a wonderful blend of culture and history. and all the photos i’ve seen are just beautiful – the colors of buildings, the architecture, the casbian sea. plus, i seem to like visiting former soviet-ruled countries.
EDIT: i’ve just discovered that you can fly direct from london to baku… going this way only takes 22 hours and it cuts tons of travel time off – leaving more time for adventures.over 6 years ago
Baku is the sort of town you’ll just love to wander around in, it’s hilly, leafy and full of beautiful old mansions. The best attractions are all close to Fountain Square, which is a great place to hang around in the summer. Nobody bothers you, although if you approach them, they’re very happy to chat. The locals love to drink vodka at lunch and there’s a ton of bars run by British expats working in the oil industry, those are very friendly places as well. The city is quite pretty and everybody dresses quite well. Nobody seems religious at all and the women are quite beautiful. It’s also getting built up ridiculously fast, when I was there in July 2006 there were construction cranes on the construction cranes. It’s an exciting place yet there’s very few foreigners there other than the oil folk and yet it’s the sort of place that look like it would be possible to make a fortune fast as a westerner. I’d go back in a heartbeat.over 6 years ago
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