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The Country, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a country with a lot of promise. It is incredibly wealthy in natural resources, especially oil and gas. If it can overcome its habit of poor corrupt leadership and find a solution for a lot of its current internal strife, which stems from the war for secession by its Armenian population, then the future of the country will be very bright.

It gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and as I have already mentioned, it is famed for its oil springs and natural gas resources since ancient times. The Zoroastrians, for whom fire was an important symbolically, built temples around gas vents in the region.

There is so much energy beneath the soil of the country that by the beginning of the twentieth century nearly half of the world's oil supply could be traced to the region. The country is currently still a major oil exporter to Western countries through Georgia and the Turkish port of Ceyhan. However the environmental impact of transporting and distributing the oil is a contentious issue amongst environmentalists.

The country, like a many others which have huge resources of oil suffers from endemic corruption, unfortunately. The main culprits are a small clique of elites who keep a tight grip on power through continual election rigging. They walk a tight rope precariously; in their efforts to appease Russian and Western Strategic interests. The region, partly as a result and since the fall of the Soviet Union has had its fair share of turmoil and violence. The one other offshoot of central government corruption is crime, so if you are planning to visit the country make sure you stay in one of the luxury hotels in Baku.

In 1994 a ceasefire was signed after the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh region who are predominantly Armenians tried to secede from Azerbaijan. With the help of Armenia they were able to take control of their region and surrounding territory.

Currently there are still around eight hundred thousand refugees displaced within the country and one-seventh of the land is under occupation directly as a result of the conflict. If you decide to stay somewhere like Hotel Baku, you will see the best of what the city has to offer. You will have a fantastic holiday.

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