- Full name: Republic of Azerbaijan
- Capital: Baku
- Largest city: Baku
- Official language: Azerbaijani
- Area: 86,600 km2
- Population: 9,898,100 (2018)
- Currency: Manat (AZN) 1 (AZN) = 100 qəpik
- Foreign tourists: 2 million (2016)
- Travel risks and hazards: Petty crime, a risk of terrorism.
Azer translates to fire. In ancient times, the locals worshipped fire and built temples around the endless flames originating from subterranean gas. Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest religions, originated in Azerbaijan. Ateshgah, a fire temple in the Baku suburbs, was once a significant site. Fire is still an essential part of Azerbaijani identity and culture with the 2012 Flame Towers in Baku paying respect to their heritage.
All visitors traveling to Azerbaijan must have a valid passport. All nationals are able to visit Azerbaijan after obtaining a visa with the exception of Armenia due to the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Citizens of 66 countries and the EU may apply for a visa online. Nationals of certain countries are permitted to obtain a visa on arrival. (list in sources). To drive in Azerbaijan, a foreign driver needs to have a valid driving permit issued by his home country and an international driving permit. The International driving permit is valid in Azerbaijan for no longer than four months. After that, visitors need to get a stamp from the traffic police.
Azerbaijan is rebuilding its roadway system. Although the newer sections of the road system are a marked improvement, the older sections are poorly constructed and poorly lighted. There are unfinished road sections that are extremely dangerous due to a lack of proper construction and hazard signage. Driving hazards, such as open manholes, debris, sinkholes, and potholes, are common in Baku. Many drivers do not pay attention to traffic regulations, signals, lane markings, pedestrians, or other drivers. Drivers often travel at extremely high speeds, and accidents are frequent and often serious. Pedestrians do not use crosswalks to cross the street and often stand in the median between lanes of traffic, even at night. Driving in Baku should be considered extremely hazardous. Outside the city, even where roads are present, conditions are similar. Roads are often in poor repair and unlighted, and they lack lane markings, traffic signs, and warnings. Many rural roads are largely unpaved. Throughout Azerbaijan, traffic police enforce traffic laws inconsistently, and routine traffic stops are common. If stopped, drivers should have all required documents with them, including passport or local registration documents, driver’s license, vehicle registration documents, and proof of insurance.
Azerbaijan has many different species of animals that are potentially dangerous for people. Among these are the brown bears that are present throughout Europe and Asia. These animals, however, prefer to stay away from people and areas of human activity. Hikers should know that making as much noise as possible will deter bears from the area. These animals generally attack when surprised, approached or when with cubs. Grey wolves are present in Azerbaijan. These animals generally do not attack people however there are many reports of wolf attacks from the country. People, however, are most vulnerable to attacks after dusk in the livestock grazing areas. Striped hyenas are present in Azerbaijan. Although attacks of these animals on people are rare, there have been instances where these animals openly attacked humans. The Transcaucasian viper, steppe viper, copperhead snake, and Asia Minor viper are among the most poisonous snakes that are found in the country. There are however over 20 species of snakes in the country of which only the four mentioned above are venomous. Located in the region of the southern Caucasus Mountains, Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea to the east which is very popular with tourists for its beaches. There are no dangerous creatures in the Caspian Sea.
The structure of the landscape, climate, and infrastructure make the Republic of Azerbaijan vulnerable to emergencies as a result of a number of natural disasters like earthquakes, seasonal floods, and landslides.
There are currently no outbreaks of any diseases in Azerbaijan. There are however several vaccinations that are recommended for safe travel. These are the routine vaccines also known as MMR vaccines, hepatitis A and B and rabies vaccine. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination against malaria. The disease is contracted through mosquito bites however there is medicine on prescription against it. An alternative way to protect from contracting the disease is to use mosquito repellants. Despite positive changes in recent years, public healthcare in Azerbaijan remains inefficient and underfunded. Public hospitals in Azerbaijan are state-run and offer free medical care to Azerbaijani residents. Public facilities include polyclinics, which offer outpatient services, and hospitals and specialized clinics, which offer both outpatient and inpatient services. However, most of these facilities are located in Baku and public healthcare is almost non-existent outside the city. Those facilities that do exist suffer an extreme lack of services, equipment, and medical staff. Private medical facilities offer much higher standards of care, including modern equipment and well-qualified staff, and most expats living in Azerbaijan choose to visit private hospitals. The private healthcare sector has undergone expansion in recent years, leaving expats with more choice when it comes to their health.
In case of an emergency dial 103.
Criminal acts committed against foreigners are infrequent in Baku. The majority of reported crimes involve Azerbaijani citizens, with burglary and assault being the most common. Late-night targeted attacks against lone men are the most common crimes perpetrated against foreigners. Petty thefts, while not common, are sometimes perpetrated against foreigners in Baku. Expatriates are at greater risk of being victims of petty crime in areas that attract large crowds or are very isolated. Some women have reported incidents of unwanted male attention, including touching and other inappropriate behavior while walking on the streets alone and when taking taxis. While the number of reported sexual assaults is statistically very low, they are likely underreported due to cultural stigmatization. Azerbaijan is a high threat location for terrorist activity as designated by the US travel advisory. This is due to domestic terrorist groups such as the Azerbaijani Jamaat. Azerbaijan law states that possession of narcotics in quantities deemed too excessive for personal use, but without intent to supply, is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment.
Azerbaijan is certainly an exotic place to visit. The combination of the Caucasus mountains, the Caspian seacoast makes for a perfect outdoor vacation for those who enjoy the beautiful scenery or taking a plunge to cool off. Remember that planning your trip with Travset.com will give you the quickest information about the nearest emergency services and will also help you purchase indispensable travel insurance for the trip of your lifetime. Please feel free to comment and share the experiences of your travels with Travset.com.