Capital : Baku
Size: 33 400sq m Popn: 7 398 000
This former province of Persia was conquered by Russia in the early C19th. The oil industry developed during the later C19th with Baku as its centre. Azerbaijan was a member of the Transcaucasian Federation in 1917 and became an independent republic in 1918 but was occupied by the Red Army in 1920 and was secularized under Soviet rule.
The Azeri Popular Front, founded in 1989, encouraged nationalism and was helped by the dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan which revived ancient divisions. It became full-scale civil war by December 1989 and Azeris called for secession from the USSR. Soviet troops were sent to Baku in January 1990 to restore order and a state of emergency was declared. The Azerbaijan Communist Party, under Ayaz Mutalibov, joined the nationalists and refused to compromise over the disputed territory.
In the Supreme Soviet elections of September, the ACP convincingly defeated the APF which had been close to power before the crackdown. A new flag was adopted and the words 'Soviet Socialist' were dropped from the name of the republic. In the USSR constitutional referendum of March 1991, the people of Azerbaijan voted by a large majority to preserve the Union and President Mutalibov welcomed the 1991 coup against the reforming Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. The Popular Front organized demonstrations but Mutalibov ordered these to be put down by the military. When it became clear that the Moscow coup had failed, Mutalibov resigned from the ACP which was disbanded soon after and Azerbaijan declared its independence in August 1991, lifting the state of emergency. Mutalibov, the only candidate, became state president after an election which was boycotted by the opposition and in December, Azerbaijan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States which replaced the Soviet Union.
In January 1992, it was allowed to join the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and in March, the UN. As commercial and diplomatic relations with Turkey improved, it also became a member of the Economic Co-operation Organization, founded by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey in 1975 with the intention of eventually forming a customs union. By March 1992, Azeri defeats in Nagorno-Karabakh forced Mutalibov to resign and in June, Albufaz Elchibey, leader of the PF, became president, promising to leave the CIS and renew the campaign against Armenia from whom Azerbaijan regained much of the disputed enclave by August.
There have been three official alphabets during the C20th, Arabic until 1929, Latin 1929-1939, Cyrillic 1939-1991 and Latin again from 1991 on. Naming practices were strongly influenced by Islam before 1920 and by Russian in the Soviet period of 1920-1991. The republic is largely Muslim and shares a language and culture with Turkey but Russian became the official language and was spoken in many families. New names were formed from vocabulary words. Azerbaijani was made the country's official language again in 1978 by General Secretary (later President) Heydar Aliyev. In recent years, people have returned to their Azerbaijani and Turkic origins for names. Around 20 million Shi-ite Azeris live over the border in Iran.
Official family names began to be adopted during the 1920s although some families had used inherited surnames before this. They were often formed by taking the father's name and adding a traditional Russian suffix such as 'yev/yeva' or 'ov/ova'. Traditional Azerbaijani suffixes such as '-zade' (Persian for 'born of') and '-li' or '-lu' (Turkic for 'with' or 'belonging to') became less common. Some Iranian Azerbaijanis used suffixes such as '-pour' or '-zadeh' meaning 'born of' with their father's name but it was more usual for them to use the name of the city they lived in or their occupation.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
tekeli.li home|Onomastikon home