• There are approximately 50 million Azerbaijanis worldwide
  • Azerbaijan celebrates Independence Day on October 18th
  • Azerbaijan celebrates Azerbaijan Army Day on June 26th
  • Azerbaijan celebrates Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis Worldwide on December 31st
  • Saffron-rice plov is the flagship food in Azerbaijan and black tea is the national beverage
  • All of Baku’s metro stations are decorated with national Azerbaijani designs and motifs
  • Azerbaijan had the first democratic republic and first opera in the Islamic world
  • The Maiden Tower is a Baku landmark, a much loved symbol of the city and of Azerbaijan
  • Azerbaijani men are traditionally addressed as muallim, which means teacher
  • Azerbaijani women are traditionally addressed as khanim, which means madam
  • Azerbaijan has the largest number of mud volcanoes in the world. There are some 300 mud volcanoes including Galmas, Toragai and Boyuk Kanizdagh
  • Women in Azerbaijan won the right to vote in 1918 while in Italy it was 1946, Switzerland in 1971 and France 1944
  • 23 athletes from the Azerbaijani Republic competed at Atlanta 1996 independently for the first time
  • The majority of the population in Azerbaijan is Muslim. Approximately 85 per cent are Shia Muslims and 15 per cent Sunni Muslims
  • The President of Azerbaijan is elected for a five-year term by general, direct and equal elections, with a free, personal and secret ballot
  • The independent Azerbaijani state collapsed in April 1920 as a result of the invasion of the Soviet Russia. It was restored 70 years later in 1991
  • The Absheron peninsula is home to the Burning Mountain, a rare geological site where natural gas escaping from the ground burns constantly here
  • Azerbaijan has nine of the world’s 13 climate zones. Temperatures range from +46C in the plains to -33 C in the mountains
  • The Azerbaijan NOC has been a member of the European Olympic Committee since 1992 and was officially recognised by the IOC in 1993
  • One of the unique riches of Azerbaijan is a rare type of oil – Naftalan. It does not burn and is used internally and externally for medicinal purposes
  • Fragrant Azerbaijani tea is a symbol of heart-felt hospitality and guests are usually greeted on arrival with a cup of fine-flavoured tea
  • Mugham is a unique form of Azerbaijani classical music passed down orally to the present day, considered to be an invaluable part of their heritage
  • The Shirvanshah’s Palace is one of Azerbaijan best preserved and most attractive historic monuments, situated on the highest point on a hill in the walled Old City
  • Novruz is the oldest holiday in Azerbaijan. A symbol of spring and the revival of nature, marked on the equinox (21-22 March) in the northern hemisphere
  • Azerbaijanis live in 67 countries in all, with the highest population outside of Azerbaijan living in Iran (30 million), Turkey (3 million) and Russia (2 million)

Exclusive: Formula One race in Baku confirmed after deal officially signed

Wednesday, 30 April 2014
By Duncan Mackay at the JW Marriott Hotel Absheron in Baku

Baku is set to make its debut on the Formula One circuit in 2016 ©Getty ImagesApril 30 - A deal for Baku to stage a Formula One race has been officially signed as the Azerbaijani capital continues to establish itself on the world sporting stage.

The race - which is likely to be called the Grand Prix of Europe - is set to take place in 2016, the year after the city hosts the inaugural European Games.

It will be the second country in the former Soviet Union to hold a grand prix following Sochi, which is due to make its debut later this year on October 12.

The race in Baku is set to take place on a circuit around the streets of the city, a concept becoming increasingly popular with organisers around the world.

The most famous, of course, is Monte Carlo but other cities which hold races on street circuits are Melbourne and Singapore.

New Jersey and Bangkok are also being proposed as venues for 2015 and plan to use street circuits.

Baku already has experience of hosting an event on the streets of its city.

For the last two years it has staged The City Challenge Baku, an event for GT3-cars, which takes place on a 4.4 kilometre circuit around Crystal Hall, the venue built to host the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, and the National Flag Square.

Last year's race was won by the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driven by Pole Stéphane Ortelli and Belgian Laurens Vanthoor before a crowd estimated at more than 50,000.

Baku already hosts an annual event for GT3 cars which takes place around the city's streets under the shadow of the iconic Flame Towers ©City Challenge BakuBaku already hosts an annual event for GT3 cars which takes place around the city's streets under the shadow of the iconic Flame Towers ©City Challenge Baku

The agreement - signed with Bernie Ecclestone, President and chief executive of Formula One Management - adds to a growing portfolio of events to be staged in Azerbaijan over the coming years, including the 2015 European Games, which is expected to attract athletes from 49 countries to compete in 19 events.

"We have signed the deal with Bernie Ecclestone and will announce it officially with an event in Baku shortly," said Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports, who is also the chief executive of Baku 2015. 

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz
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