Azerbaijan is a country in the Transcaucasian region, situated at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bounded by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, while having a short border with Turkey in the north west.
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic. It was also the first Muslim-majority country to have operas, theaters and modern universities. The country was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991 before the official dissolution of the USSR.
Azerbaijan is a unitary semi-presidential republic. The country is a member state of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. It is one of the six independent Turkic states, being an active member of the Turkic Council and the TÜRKSOY community. Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It is one of the founding members of GUAM, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A member of the United Nations since 1992, Azerbaijan is also a member state of the Non-Aligned Movement, holds observer status in World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
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