In 1991 Azerbaijan separated from the former Soviet Union and became an independent secular republic. Located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan's major population center and capital is Baku. Ruled by a 1995 constitution, Azerbaijan's population base is primarily Turkic and Shiite Moslem although there is a large Armenian Christian minority. With a recorded 2008 population of over 8 million people, the country occupies 86.6 thousand square kilometers and borders Turkey, Iran, Russia, Georgia, and Armenia. Politically, an Armenian secessionist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh has produced internal conflict as well as additional social problems associated with the displacement of several hundred thousand people.

As an independent state Azerbaijan is a participant in numerous regional and global initiatives and is involved in ...

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