The oldest evidence of human habitation in Azerbaijan goes back to the late Stone Age and is linked to the Azykh Cave’s Guruchay civilization. In the caves of Talar, Damcl, Zar, Yataq-yeri, and the necropolises of Leylatepe and Saraytepe, the Upper Paleolithic and late Bronze Age cultures may be found.
In the 9th century BC, the Scythians were among the first settlers. Iranian Medescame, following in the footsteps of the Scythians, came to dominate the region south of the Aras. Between 900 and 700 BC, the Medes built a large empire that was eventually absorbed by the Achaemenid Empire about 550 BC. The Achaemenids controlled the region, which led to the development of Zoroastrianism. It then became a part of Alexander the Great’s Empire and the Seleucid Empire, which succeeded him. Zoroastrianism expanded across the Caucasus and Atropatene at this time. Caucasian Albanians, the ancient inhabitants of northeastern Azerbaijan, controlled the region and formed an autonomous kingdom during the 4th century BC.
Following the overthrow of the Achaemenid Empire in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, the southwestern half of modern Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Kingdom of Armenia, ruled by the Orontid Dynasty; between 189 BC and 428 AD, the western half of modern Azerbaijan, including the exclave of Nakhchivan, was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greater Armenia, ruled by Armenia’s Artaxiad and Arsacid
The provinces of Artsakh and Utik, which had an ethnically mixed population, fell to Caucasian Albania after the division of the Kingdom of Armenia by Iran and Byzantium in 387 AD.
In AD 252, the Iranian Sassanids made Caucasian Albania a vassal state, and King Urnayr made Christianity the national religion in the 4th century. Despite Sassanid control, Albania remained an independent country in the area until the 9th century, while being completely subject to Sassanid Iran and maintaining its monarchy.
After Christian opposition headed by King Javanshir was crushed in 667 AD, the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate expelled both the Sassanids and the Byzantines from the Caucasus and converted Caucasian Albania into a tributary state. Caucasian Albania, on the other hand, had already fallen under nominal Muslim authority as a result of the Muslim invasion of Iran, since it was part of the Sassanid domain at the time. Numerous provincial dynasties, such as the Sallarids, Sajids, Shaddadids, Rawadids, and Buyids, filled the power vacuum left by the Abbasid Caliphate’s collapse. The area was progressively taken over by waves of Turkic Oghuz tribes from Central Asia around the beginning of the 11th century. The Seljuqs were the first of these Turkic dynasties to emerge, arriving in what is now Azerbaijan in 1067.
The pre-Turkic population who lived on the modern Azerbaijani Republic’s territory spoke a variety of Indo-European and Caucasian languages, including Armenian and an Iranian language known as the Old Azari language, which was gradually replaced by a Turkic language, the forerunner of today’s Azerbaijani language. Because the Turkic language and people are also known as “Azarbaijani” or “Azari” in Persian, this Iranian language is called the Azari language (or Old Azari language) to differentiate it from the Turkic Azerbaijani or Azeri language. Some linguists, however, consider the Tati dialects of Iranian Azerbaijan and the Republic of Azerbaijan, which are similar to those spoken by the Tats, to be a vestige of Azari. Locally, the Seljuq Empire’s holdings were governed by Atabegs, who were nominally vassals of the Seljuq sultans but occasionally de facto rulers. Local poets such as Nizami Ganjavi and Khagani Shirvani flourished during the Seljuq Turks, resulting in a flourishing of Persian literature within the area of modern-day Azerbaijan.
The Jalayirids’ next governing kingdom was short-lived, succumbing to Timur’s invasion.
The Shirvanshahs, a local dynasty, became a vassal state of Timur’s Empire and aided him in his battle with Tokhtamysh, the ruler of the Golden Horde. Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu formed as autonomous and competing states after Timur’s death. From 861 until 1539, the Shirvanshahs returned, retaining a great degree of autonomy as local rulers and vassals. The final dynasty imposed Shia Islam on the previously Sunni people after their capture and persecution by the Iranian Safavids in 1501, as it did throughout its lands in modern-day Iran while fighting the Sunni Ottoman Empire. The Safavids set the groundwork for Iran and the modern Republic of Azerbaijan to be the only Shia-majority nations ever since, thanks to this and a number of other events. Despite the Safavids’ attempts, the Ottomans temporarily occupied parts of modern-day Azerbaijan twice throughout the ages. Baku and its surroundings were also temporarily governed by the Russians during the Russo-Persian War in the early 18th century. Despite these short intermissions by Safavid Iran’s enemies, the region of what is now Azerbaijan remained under intermittent Iranian control from the Safavids’ first arrival until the mid-nineteenth century.
Following the Safavids, the region was controlled by the Iranian dynasties of Afshar and Zand, as well as the Qajars for a short while until being compelled to surrender it to the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. However, after the fall of the Zand dynasty and throughout the early Qajar period, self-ruling khanates with different kinds of independence arose in the region. These khanates were vassals and dependents of the Iranian monarch, notwithstanding their independence. The khanates ruled their domains via international trade routes between Central Asia and the West. Imperial Russia adopted a more assertive geopolitical posture toward its two southern neighbors and adversaries, Iran and Turkey, beginning in the late 18th century. Following a series of events that began with the re-subjugation of Georgia to Iran in 1795, Russia would now aggressively fight and combat Iran for control of the Caucasus area, which was mostly in Iran’s hands. The Treaty of Gulistan ended the victorious Russian operations in the latter stages of the Russo-Persian War (1804–13), in which the shah’s claims to several of the Caucasus Khanates were rejected by Russia on the grounds that they had been de facto independent long before Russian conquest.
Following Qajar Iran’s defeat in the 1804–1813 war, the Gulistan Treaty compelled it to surrender suzerainty over most of the khanates, as well as Georgia and Dagestan, to the Russian Empire.
The region north of the Aras River, which includes the modern Republic of Azerbaijan, was Iranian territory until it was conquered by Russia in the nineteenth century. The Treaty of Turkmenchay, which ended the Russo-Persian War (1826-1828), forced Qajar Iran to recognize Russian sovereignty over the Erivan Khanate, the Nakhchivan Khanate, and the remainder of the Lankaran Khanate, which included the last parts of the modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan that were still in Iranian hands. Following the absorption of all Caucasian regions from Iran into Russia, the two countries established a new boundary at the Aras River, which became part of the Iran-Azerbaijan Republic border when the Soviet Union disintegrated.
Qajar In the 19th century, Iran was compelled to surrender its Caucasian lands to Russia, which included the modern-day Azerbaijan Republic, and as a consequence of that cession, the Azerbaijani ethnic group is now split between two countries: Iran and Azerbaijan. Furthermore, ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran outweigh those in neighboring Azerbaijan by a large margin.
Following the fall of the Russian Empire during World War I, the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic was established, including what is now Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia.
The March Days killings, which took place between 30 March and 2 April 1918 in Baku and the surrounding regions of the Russian Empire’s Baku Governorate, followed. When the republic was disbanded in May 1918, the dominant Musavat party proclaimed independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Country (ADR), using the term “Azerbaijan” for the new republic, which was previously only used to refer to the neighboring northwestern area of modern-day Iran. The ADR was the Muslim world’s first modern parliamentary republic. The expansion of suffrage to women, making Azerbaijan the first Muslim country to give women equal political rights to males, was one of the Parliament’s major achievements. Another significant achievement of ADR was the founding of Baku State Institution, the first modern-style university in the Muslim East.
It was clear by March 1920 that Soviet Russia would invade Baku. The invasion was justifiable, according to Vladimir Lenin, since Soviet Russia could not exist without Baku’s oil. Azerbaijan was independent for just 23 months until the Bolshevik 11th Soviet Red Army invaded and established the Azerbaijan SSR on April 28, 1920. Despite the fact that the majority of the newly created Azerbaijani army was devoted to putting down an Armenian rebellion that had just erupted in Karabakh, the Azerbaijanis did not give up their short independence of 1918–20 lightly. 20,000 Azerbaijani troops may have perished in the resistance to what was essentially a Russian reconquest.
The Treaty of Kars was signed on October 13, 1921, by the Soviet republics of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia with Turkey. By the Treaty of Kars, the formerly independent Naxicivan SSR would likewise become an autonomous ASSR inside the Azerbaijan SSR. Armenia, on the other hand, was given the Zangezur region, and Turkey agreed to restore Gyumri (then known as Alexandropol).
During World War II, Azerbaijan played a critical role in the Soviet Union’s strategic energy strategy, supplying 80 percent of the Soviet Union’s oil on the Eastern Front. More than 500 workers and employees of Azerbaijan’s oil sector were given orders and medals by a decree issued by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in February 1942. The German Wehrmacht’s Operation Edelweiss targeted Baku because of its significance as the USSR’s energy (petroleum) dynamo. From 1941 to 1945, one-fifth of Azerbaijanis participated in the Second World War. A total of 681,000 individuals, including over 100,000 women, rushed to the front, despite the fact that Azerbaijan’s population was just 3.4 million at the time. On the front, about 250,000 Azerbaijanis were murdered. More than 130 Azerbaijanis were honored as Soviet Union Heroes. Azerbaijani Major-General Azi Aslanov received the Soviet Union’s Hero medal twice.
Civil instability and ethnic conflict developed in many Soviet Union areas after Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost policies, notably Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous territory of the Azerbaijan SSR. The unrest in Azerbaijan erupted in demands for independence and secession in reaction to Moscow’s apathy to the already raging war, culminating in Baku’s Black January. The Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan SSR later deleted the words “Soviet Socialist” from the title, approved the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic, and reinstated the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic flag as the official flag in 1990. When the Soviet Union legally ceased to exist on December 26, 1991, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan issued a Declaration of Independence, which was ratified by a national referendum in December 1991.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in which Armenia supported the ethnic Armenian majority of Nagorno-Karabakh, overshadowed the early years of independence. By the conclusion of the war in 1994, Armenians had taken control of 14–16% of Azerbaijani territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh. Many crimes were perpetrated throughout the conflict, including the killings at Malibeyli and Gushchular, as well as the Garadaghly, Agdaban, and Khojaly massacres. In addition, an estimated 30,000 people were murdered and over a million people were displaced. “The rapid evacuation of all Armenian troops from all seized areas of Azerbaijan,” according to four UN Security Council Resolutions (822, 853, 874, and 884) During the 1990s, many Russians and Armenians fled Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has 510,000 ethnic Russians and 484,000 Armenians according to the 1970 census.
In 1993, democratically elected president Abulfaz Elchibey was deposed by a military coup headed by Colonel Surat Huseynov, which saw former Soviet Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev ascend to power. Surat Huseynov, who had become Prime Minister at that time, attempted another military coup against Heydar Aliyev in 1994, but he was apprehended and prosecuted with treason. A year later, in 1995, another coup attempt was launched against Aliyev, this time by Rovshan Javadov, the leader of the OMON special force. The coup was thwarted, with the latter’s death and the disbanding of Azerbaijan’s OMON forces. At the same time, the country’s government bureaucracy was riddled with corruption. Aliyev was re-elected for a second term in October 1998. Aliyev’s presidency was attacked owing to alleged vote fraud and corruption, despite the significantly better economy, especially with the development of the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field and the Shah Deniz gas production.
When his father, Heydar Aliyev, died in 2003, Ilham Aliyev inherited the chairmanship of the New Azerbaijan Party as well as the president. In October 2013, he was re-elected to a third term as president. He then went on the offensive against the opponents. Ilgar Mammadov, the head of the opposition Republican Alternative (REAL), and Ilgar Mammadov, the deputy chairman of the New Equality Party, were placed on trial in November for instigating rioting 10 months earlier (Musavat). Taleh Bagirzada, a dissident Islamic theologian, was also sentenced to two years in jail. Azadiq, an opposition publication, was shut down. On accusations of planning attacks in Baku in collaboration with Iran, three individuals were sentenced to life in prison.