Already 1,5 million years ago first groups of people appeared in Azerbaijan. First arch-state in the territory of Azerbaijan was MANNA kingdom that established in IX century B.C. At the beginning of VI century B.C. one of the strongest states of antiquity - Midia - replaced Manna. The official religion of Midia kingdom was zoroastrism - fire-worship, one of the most ancient religions which appeared in the territory of Azerbaijan. The founder of this religion was Zoroastr or Zardusht. He was preaching three main principles - kind thought, kind word, kind deed. The fire was a symbol of purity of the thoughts and mental intentions. In the old language "azer" means fire and no other name seems more suitable to this land. Even nowadays, the fire is a part of country symbols. An ancient fire-worship temple, Atashgah, has been maintained near Baku.
After destroying the Persian Empire, the southern part of Midia stood for the independent state of ATROPATENA. The Arabs renamed "Atropatena" in the middle centuries to "Azerbaijan", so the current name of the country had appeared. Religion in Atropatena was zoroastrism with the head temple in the city of Gazaka. The state of CAUCASIAN ALBANIA appeared in the north, the official religion of which had become Christianity in V century. An alphabet consisting of 52 letters appeared at the beginning of V century. Atropatena and Albania were playing an important role in unification of the tribes living in the territory of Azerbaijan. To all appearances, the common language was the one which had become known as Azeri. Then, Alban tribes and other ethnic groups entered the forming nationality in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan was exposed to the invasion by foreign occupants. The Sasanids seized its part in the middle of III century that became a strong state in Iran. The territory of Azerbaijan had become an arena of the devastating wars between the Roma Empire and what would become known as Iran in IV century.
In the middle of VII century, Azerbaijan was exposed to the invasion of the Arabic caliphate. The arabic caliphate conquered Azerbaijan at the beginning of VIII century. The province of ARRAN was founded in the territory of Azerbaijan. Islam had Become the leading religion in Azerbaijan creating new traditions and culture. The same as other nations, the Azerbaijanis adopted Islam and took part in the development of Muslim culture under the common name of "Muslims". Azerbaijan enriched the world culture, having given a brilliant gallery of scientists, poets and architects.
As in other Caucasian countries, Azerbaijan had become free from the caliphate ruling by late IX and early X century and was living through the period of the economic prosperity. Agriculture, handcrafts and trade were developing and the cities were growing. A number of local states had formed. The most considerable was the state of SHIRVANSHAHS with the capital in the city of
Shamakhi. In the mid Xl century invasion of the Seljuks had started against the cities of Azerbaijan. Dynasty of lldegizids had established in the south of Azerbaijan. Its founder was lldegiz, who was one of the deputies of the Seljuk sultans, who turned regions ruled by governor into heritage property and expanded it having adjoined neighboring lands. In XI-XII centuries with the process of the establishment of Turkic language in Azerbaijan, the formation of an Azeri nationality started. At the same time, grand material and spiritual treasures were being established by the creative genius of the nation. Eminent scientists Makki ibn Ahmad, Bahmanyar, poets - thinkers Khatib Tabriz, Khagani, Nizami Ganjavi, poetess Mahsati Ganjavi etc contributed largely to development of Azeri and world culture.
This period of economic and cultural development of Azerbaijan was terminated in the early part of the XIII century by Mongolian invasion. Prosperous cities were turned into ruins. Azerbaijan had become an object of the seizing campaigns of Timur since late in the XIV century. In early XVI century the state of the SEFEVIDS made its capital in the city of Tabriz. This united all Azeri lands in one state for the first time in the history of Azerbaijan, which by then had become a powerful empire founded on huge territory from Sirdarya to Yevfrat. Its founder was shah Ismayil I (reigned in the years of 1502-24). Unification of the country promoted the development of agricultural and cultural life and ignited up the fight of the nation against foreign seizures.
In the middle of XVIII century, independent states - khanates were established in the territory of Azerbaijan. Baku, Sheki, Nakhchivan, Garabag, Ganja, Shamakhi, Cuba, Urmiya, Irevan, Tabriz, Maraga and other khanates were established.
Historical conditions of XVII-XVIII century found their reflection in the culture of Azerbaijan as well. An eminent monument to the national artwork is the heroic epos "Kor-oglu". After seizure of the northern part of Azerbaijan by Russia and conclusion of the Gulustan (the year of 1813) and Turkmenchay (the year of 1828) agreements between Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan was divided: Northern Azerbaijan was adjoined to the tsarist Russia and Southern Azerbaijan - to Iran. Therefore, the Azeri nation was divided into two parts. After that, the displacement policy of tsarism tended to strengthen itself in Caucasus and Asia Minor basing on Armenian population.
In spite of the colonial policy of tsarism, Azerbaijan was spared the destroying invasions from outside, domestic feudal intestine wars and fragmentations. The first large industrial enterprises appeared. In 1872, all the conditions were established for the rapid development of the oil industry in Baku.
After the dethronement of the tsarist regime in 1917, the political situation in Azerbaijan changed. Northern Azerbaijan reestablished its sovereignty on May 28, 1918; the state with the republic
mode was established for the first time among the Muslim countries.
Soviet Russia breached state sovereignty of Azerbaijan in April 1920 and sent the 11th Red Army to Azerbaijan. On April 28, 1920, Soviet power was announced in Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union.
The independence of Azerbaijan was reestablished in 1991. A new stage in the history of Azerbaijan started after Heydar Aliyev returned to the republic government. The domestic situation in the country stabilized; growth in all fields of the national life started. Azerbaijan continues to develop stably and has potential to become one of the most interesting centers of tourism for foreign guests and travelers in near future, keeping the best traditions of Caucasian hospitality and good-nature. Azerbaijan has all opportunities for it: historical traditions, architectural-art legacy of various epochs, soft climate, and magnificent nature.