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Azerbaijan General Information
 
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People, Language & Religion
 
 
 

People

According to the 1999 population census, the ethnic composition of the population is: 90.6% Azeris, 2.2% Lezgins, 1.8% Russians, 1.5% Armenians (almost all live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh), 1.0% Talysh (disputed as too low by Talysh nationalists), 0.6% Avars, 0.5% Turks, 0.4% Tatars, 0.4% Ukrainians, 0.2% Tsakhur, 0.2% Georgians, 0.13% Kurds, 0.13% Tats, 0.1% Jews, 0.05% Udins, other 0.2%. Many Russians left Azerbaijan during the 1990s. According to the 1989 census, there were 392,000 ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan, or 5.6% of the population. According to the statistics, about 390,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1989.

Language

Although Azerbaijani (also called Azeri) is the most widely spoken language in the country and is spoken by about a quarter of the population of Iran. There are 13 other languages spoken natively in the country. Some of these languages are very small communities, others are more vital. Azerbaijani is a Turkic language which belongs to the Altaic family and is mutually intelligible with Turkish. The language is written with a modified Latin alphabet today, but was earlier written in the Arabic alphabet (until 1929), in the Uniform Turkic Alphabet (1929-1939), and in the Cyrillic alphabet (1939-1991). The changes in alphabet have been largely molded by religious and political forces.

Religion

The religions of Azerbaijan comprise different religious trends spread among the people and ethnic groups residing in the country. There are several confessions in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a secular state, and Article 48 of its Constitution ensures the liberty of worship to everyone. Everyone has a right to choose any faith, to adopt any religion or to not practice any religion, to express one's view on the religion and to spread it. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. According to official figures, between 93.4% and 96% of the population is Muslim, of which 85% are Shia and 15% Sunni.

Christians comprise 3% to 4% of the population, of whom most are Russian, Georgian and Armenian Orthodox (almost all Armenians live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh). In 2003 there were 250 Roman Catholics. Other Christian denominations as of 2002 include Lutherans, Baptists and Molokans.

There are also Jewish, Bahá'í, Hare Krishna and Jehovah's Witnesses communities, as well as adherents of the Nehemiah Church, Star in the East Church and the Cathedral of Praise Church. Zoroastrianism had a long history in Azerbaijan, evident in sites such as the Fire Temple of Baku, and along with Manichean. It is estimated that the Zoroastrian community of Azerbaijan numbers around 2,000.

 
 


 



 


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