Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus and variously considered part of Europe or Asia. It is nicknamed the Land of Fire. Some of the country's best attractions are the Gobustan petroglyphs. These are the markings of people who lived in the area 40,000 - 5,000 years ago. Scythians and Iranian Medes occupied the area in around 900–700 BCE. The Achaemenids made things interesting by introducing Zoroastrianism in around 550 BCE. Later, the area was on the fringes of Alexander the Great's empire and the Roman Empire.
The majority of the population (over 92%) is composed of Azeris, who share a culture very similar to Turkey. Ethnic Azeris are also a significant share of Iran's population, although over time the influence of Russian and Persian culture produced some differences between the Azeris of Azerbaijan and the Azeris of Iran. In particular, almost two centuries of Russian and Soviet rule have brought a very liberal attitude towards Islam among the Azeris of Azerbaijan, who nevertheless remain mostly Shi'ite Muslims.
- Image by @zed.photography.zone