Azerbaijan is a country with rich and old history. One of the oldest human habitats of the world, the Azykh Cave, is in the territory of our country. The lower jaw bone of a human lived 350-340 thousand years ago was found here.
Our people has a 5 thousand-year statehood history. The first state established on the territory of Azerbaijan is the Manna State. The State of Manna existed for almost three hundred years. After its fall, such reigns as Midia, Skiff and Massaget, and mighty states of Albania and Atropatena existed. In the course of the history, the states of Sajids, Shirvanshahs, Salaris, Ravvadis, Shaddadis, Eldaniz, Garagoyunlu and Aghgoyunlu were established in the territory of Azerbaijan.
The state of Aghgoyunlu was one of our mightiest states. The state of Aghgoyunlu was the first Azerbaijani state to maintain wide diplomatic relations with European countries. During the ruling of Uzun Hassan, Azerbaijan’s great state figure, the state of Aghgoyunlu had united all Azerbaijani lands down from the Kur and subordinated the neighbouring countries. He pursued a policy of friendship and alliance with another Azerbaijani state – the Shirvanshahs.
Sara Khatun, the mother of Uzun Hassan, had been the first woman-diplomat of the Orient and all the Turkic-origin Muslim world.
One of the mightiest states in Azerbaijan’s history was the state of Safavids. Its foundation had ben laid by Shah Ismail Khatai, Azerbaijan’s eminent state figure. Coming to the throne at the age of 14, Shah Ismail united Azerbaijani lands under single power. Having conquered a number of Eastern countries, he had created big and powerful Safavids State with the capital of Tabriz.
During Shah Ismail’s ruling, the language of Azerbaijani had become the official language of the state. The Azerbaijani language was used in the army, palace and correspondence with foreign countries.
In 1524, Shah Ismail Khatai became sick and died. In his will he said: “From our grandfathers we have inherited three important things – our language, our honour and our Homeland. Continue anything good I’ve started. Do not repeat our mistakes”.
Coming to the throne after the Safavids had weakened, eminent Azerbaijani ruler Nadir Shah Afshar extended borders of the former state of Safavids further.
Historically, the states of Azerbaijan have experienced ups and downs, and were subjected to internal separation and foreign enemies’ occupations.
In the second half of the 18th century, Azerbaijan had been divided into small states – Khanates. Taking the advantage of this, Iran and the Russian Empire divided Azerbaijan into two parts. The north of Azerbaijan (North Azerbaijan) was annexed by Russia, and the south of Azerbaijan (South Azerbaijan) was given to Iran. Unfairly, our Homeland was divided. Armenians and other strangers were resettled to our lands.
For long years, our peole has fought to be freed from this occupation. As a result of this, on 28 May 1918, the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was established. The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was the first democratic state in the Orient, including the Turkic-Islamic world.
The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan has passed significant decisions – the language of Azerbaijan was declared the official language, the National Army was formed, our three-colour flag was accepted as the State flag, and the first higher school - the Baku State University – was established. But our state could live only 23 months. In April 1920, the Republic was occupied by the Soviet Russia, and an Armenian state was established in the western part of the ancient Azerbaijani lands.
After remaining under occupation for 70 years, our people regained its independence in 1991. On 18 October 1991, independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan was declared.
Azerbaijan has always been a peace-loving country and maintained peaceful relations with its neighbours. But Armenians settled in the Western Azerbaijan have always gazed on the Azerbaijani lands and occupied certain territories, taking the advantage of opportunities.
In the first years of our independence, our Homeland was subjected to military aggression from Armenia. As a result of occupation of 20% of our territory, over one million Azerbaijanis were forced out of their native lands. The most tragic event of the modern history – the Khojaly Genocide – was committed against our people. The years 1990-1993 were written in the memory of the Azerbaijani people as bloody pages.
In such difficult times for our Homeland, eminent state person Heydar Aliyev returned to power at the request of the people. Having rescued the people from separation, the country from threat and hardships, he took it to the path of consistent development.
As a result of tense and tireless activity of Heydar Aliyev, the national leader of the Azerbaijani people, the architect and builder of the contemporary Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan took its worthy place in the world society and gained international influence, having strengthened its geopolitical position in the region.
Today, contemporary Azerbaijan has been living its rapid development period under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, the worthy successor of Heydar Aliyev.