Geography of Azerbaijan
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Location:Azerbaijan occupies the southeastern part of the Caucasus, descending to the Caspian Sea, between Iran and the Russian Federation (Dagestan). The country is somewhere between Europe and Asia, as the Caucasus mountains are the conventional border between the two continents. So, the northeast half is in Europe and the southwest half is in Asia. Have this in mind, when looking for Azerbaijan, since you never know if it is classified under 'Europe' or under 'Asia'. (Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe.)

Azeris like to describe the country as 'shapped like an eagle', with its wings spread on the Caucasus and its head over the Caspian (its head being the Absheron peninsula). Try our sensitive map if you need inforation about Azeri cities and towns.

Geographic co-ordinates: 40 30 N, 47 30 E  (380 25"-410 55" of n.l. and 440 50"-500 52" e.l.)

The time zone in Azerbaijan is GMT +4

see: maps, places, time zones

Azerbaijan from space
Azerbaijan from space
Photo: SRI (Moscow)

Baku and Abseron peninsula from space / Abseron Yasaqligi
Baku from space
Photo: NASA

-total: 86,600 km2
-land: 86,100 km2
-water: 500 km2
-comparative: slightly smaller than Portugal
The total area includes the exclave of Naxcivan Autonomous Republic as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh region (Daqliq Qarabaq); the autonomy of the latter was abolished by the Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet on 26 November 1991 (Nagorno-Karabakh and some adjacent areas are currently still not controlled by the Azeri government). In addition to the continental part, the republic's territory also includes several islands located along the Caspian coastline.
Map of Azerbaijan
Map of Azerbaijan


Land frontiers:
-total: 2,013 km
-border countries:
  Armenia (with Azerbaijan-proper)
       566 km
  Armenia (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave) 
221 km
322 km
  Iran (with Azerbaijan-proper)
432 km
  Iran (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave)
179 km
  Russian Federation (Daguestan)
284 km
  Turkey (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave)
9 km
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Caucasus: borders
Caucasus: borders

Caucasus/Central Asia
Caucasus/Central Asia

Coastline: Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea (800 km). There are three large projections: the Absheron peninsula, the Sara peninsula and the Kura sand bar.
The elevation changes over a relatively short distance from lowlands to highlands; nearly half the country is considered mountainous. Notable physical features are the gently undulating hills of the subtropical southeastern coast, which are covered with tea plantations, orange groves, and lemon groves; numerous mud volcanoes and mineral springs in the ravines of Kobustan Mountain near Baku; and coastal terrain that lies as much as twenty-eight meters below sea level. 

Except for its eastern Caspian shoreline and some areas bordering Georgia and Iran, Azerbaijan is ringed by mountains. To the northeast, bordering Russia's Dagestan Autonomous Republic, is the Greater Caucasus range; to the west, bordering Armenia, is the Lesser Caucasus range. To the extreme southeast, the Talysh Mountains form part of the border with Iran. The highest elevations occur in the Greater Caucasus, where Mount Bazarduzu rises 4,740 meters above sea levelto the southwest is the massive Transcaucasian upland extending to Armenia and Georgia, mounted by the Lesser Caucasus, to the south the Talysh Mountains join them. Only about 15 percent of the land in Azerbaijan is arable. Baku lies on Abseron (Apsheron) Peninsula that juts into Caspian Sea. 

Eight large rivers flow down from the Caucasus ranges into the central Kura-Aras lowlands, alluvial flatlands and low delta areas along the seacoast designated by the Azerbaijani name for the Mtkvari River (Kura) and its main tributary, the Aras. The Kura, the longest river in the Caucasus region rises in Georgia and flows southeast , forms the delta and drains into the Caspian a short distance downstream from the confluence with the Aras. The lower 500km are navigable and prone to flooding. Large-scale canals divert water, primarily for agricultural purposes. The Aras rises in eastern Turkey, defines the Nakhchivan / Iran, Armenia / Iran and Azerbaijan / Iran borders before entering Azerbaijan southeast of Imishly, some historians argue that the Aras is the biblical river of Gihon.

The Verkhne-Karabakhskiy Canal channels water from the Mingäçevir Reservoir on the upper Kura to the Aras River. The Samur-Apsheronskiy Canal redirects water from the Samur River on Azerbaijan's northern border to the Apsheron Peninsula. The Mingechaur Reservoir, with an area of 605 square kilometers that makes it the largest body of water in Azerbaijan, was formed by damming the Kura in western Azerbaijan. The waters of the reservoir provide hydroelectric power and irrigation of the Kura-Aras plain. Most of the country's rivers are not navigable.


Azerbaijan: sensitive map
Sensitive map

Mingechaur / Mingechavir, Azerbaijan - the Kura river  - photo by F.MacLachlan
Kura river

Mount Shahdag / Mt Shahdaq: summit of a sacred mountain - 1photo by Asya Umidova /
Mount Shahdag

Azerbaijan - Xizi / Xisi / Kizi / Khyzy / Khizy rayon (NE Azerbaijan): the Candy Cane mountains - road from Gilazi (photo by F.MacLachlan)
Candy Canyon

Elevation extremes:
-lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
-highest point: Bazarduzu Dagi 4,466 m

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, non-ferrous metals, alumina

viticulture in AzerbaijanLand use:
-arable land: 18%
-permanent crops: 5%
-permanent pastures: 25%
-forests and woodland: 11%
-other: 41% (1993 est.)
-irrigated land: 10,000 km2 (1993 est.)

earthquake debris on the streets of BakuNatural hazards:

-prolonged droughts;

-some lowland areas threatened by rising levels of the Caspian,

-earthquakes occur on a regular basis: in 1667 a major earthquake destroyed Shemakha killing over 80,000. The most recent earthquake happened shook the country in November 2000, with magnitude 6.3 in the Richter scale, killing over 30, an causing significant material damage, particularly in Baku, Sumgait and the rest of the Absheron peninsula.

Azerbaijan - Gobustan / Qobustan / Kobustan - Baki Sahari: mud volcano - the mud dries under the sun - photo by Fiona MacLachlan-Azerbaijan also has a lot of "mud volcanoes", which are an interesting sight, but to which some distance is recommended due to their unpredictable behaviour. Should you interested, the best places to find these midget volcanoes are the areas near Alat and Gobustan.

see also: fauna, flora, environment, cities and towns
Climate - winter in Azerbaijan - Lerik: view across the Talysh mountains - winter scene - snow covered landscape - photo by A.KilroyThe formation of climate in Azerbaijan is influenced by cold air masses coming from the arctic (Kara and Scandinavian anticyclones) and temperate (Siberian anticyclones) and maritime (Azores anticyclone), hot air masses of tropical zones (subtropical anticyclone and southern cyclones), Central Asian anticyclones and local weather conditions.

The climate varies from subtropical and dry in central and eastern Azerbaijan to subtropical and humid in the southeast (Lenkoran lowlands), temperate along the shores of the Caspian Sea, and cold at the higher mountain elevations.

In Baku the climate is cool in the winter, averaging 4 degrees C in  January. Summers are hot, up to 40 degrees C, and humid because of the sea. There are often strong winds,  especially in winter. Snow rarely settles in the city. Spring and autumn are pleasant and there is a great deal of sunshine from April to October.

Climate -  Summer in Azerbaijan - Bilgah - Absheron peninsula - Baki Sahari: beds on the beach - Amburan resort - Cape Amburan - summer scene - resort life - photo by F.MacLachlanBecause most of Azerbaijan receives scant rainfall - on average 152 to 254 millimeters annually - agricultural areas require irrigation. Heaviest precipitation occurs in the highest elevations of the Caucasus and in the Lenkoran' Lowlands in the far southeast, where the yearly average exceeds 1,000 millimeters.
see also: maps, images, fauna, Airlines, Airport, Communications, Ports, Trains, summary, images

A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan