The northern border of Azerbaijan is formed by the mountain ranges of the Greater Caucasus, which in Bazardjuzi reach an altitude of 4,466 m above sea level. According to COUNTRYAAH, this part of the country is a scenic area with mountain ridges and deep cut river valleys and high seismic activity (earthquake risk). Azerbaijan’s second upland area is the Lesser Caucasus in the southwest with peaks up to 3,900 m above sea level. Otherwise, Azerbaijan mainly consists of lowlands located below 400 m above sea level. (40%) and areas between 400 and 1500 m above sea level. (50%). The lowlands are mainly on the shores of the Caspian Sea and around the Kura River and its tributary Aras.
Central and eastern Azerbaijan has a dry subtropical climate with mild winters and hot summers with average temperatures in July of about 25-30 ° C. The southeastern part of the country has a more humid Mediterranean climate with an annual rainfall of around 1,300 mm, which mainly falls during the cold season. The natural plant life varies with the height above the sea. The lowest-lying areas have steep or semi-desert climates. Wildlife here includes gazelle (Gazeʹlla subguttoroʹsa), golden shawls and striped hyena. On the hillsides, beech, oak and pine forests grow with deer, wild boar, brown bear and lice. The highest parts of Azerbaijan have alps. On the coast of the Caspian Sea, winters include: flamingos, pelicans, herons and shingles.
In 2010, Azerbaijan had eight national parks. The first, Zangezur, was established in 2003. The country also has over 30 other areas that enjoy some form of nature protection. Of these, just over 20 are state reserves, protected for research.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan make historic claims on Nagorno-Karabakh. The whole area came under Russian rule in the early 1800s, but contradictions already existed between Armenians and Azeri. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Nagorno-Karabakh, where the Armenians dominated, became an autonomous region of Azerbaijan.
In connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union just over 70 years later, the contradictions flared up again. Violent clashes went into full war when Armenia and Azerbaijan had declared themselves independent states in 1991. Nagorno-Karabach declared itself independent that year, but it has not been recognized by the outside world.
Prior to that, Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership had requested to join Armenia, but received no from both Moscow and the Azerbaijani government in Baku (read more about the background and the war in Conflicts: Nagorno-Karabakh).
The question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s quest for independence is sensitive. The leaders of the Karabakhs want Nagorno-Karabakh to be an independent state, while Armenia has seen Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence as a step towards the unification of the area with Armenia. Occasionally, signs of annoyance in Armenia appear to indicate that the Karabakhs are so much dictating the conditions of “motherland” politics.
In Nagorno-Karabakh, voters elect a president who can be re-elected. The National Assembly has 33 members, 17 of whom are appointed from party lists and 16 in one-man constituencies. All terms of office are five years. No choices are recognized by the outside world.
In December 1994, the Nagorno-Karabakh National Assembly appointed Prime Minister Robert Kotjaryan as President of his new republic. The following year, elections for a new parliament were held, and in 1996 Kotjaryan was re-elected in a direct election. But as early as 1997, the Karabakhs were re-elected in a presidential election, after Kotjaryan was taken to Armenia to become prime minister there (he became Armenian president in 1998).
New president became the uncompromising nationalist Arkadi Ghukasyan. He reiterated the demand for independence for Nagorno-Karabakh.