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Azerbaijan officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, is a transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Located in Asia, Azerbaijan is bordered by four countries – Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. The east of the country is bordered by the Caspian Sea. Swans, flamingos and pelicans all flock to this region. Much of the north and west is covered by the Caucasus Mountains, where roe deer, brown bears and lynx thrive.In parts of Azerbaijan, including just outside the capital city of Baku, the land is dotted with oil and gas reserves. These are areas where oil and gas can be extracted from the earth and used as fuel. Volcanoes have formed above some of the reserves. But instead of spewing lava, the volcanoes erupt with a muddy mix of water, sand, gas and sometimes oil.Azerbaijan is home to around ten million people today. About half of the population lives in bustling urban areas, such as Baku. Azerbaijan is referred to as The Land of Fire for etymological and symbolical reasons. Etymologically, the region in which modern day South Azerbaijan stands was originally called Atropatene and was ruled by the Atropates. The word Atropates comes from the Greek, or possibly Median, for The Land of the Holy Fire or The Protector of the Holy Fire or the Treasurer of the Holy Fire to indicate that the area was home to the Holy Fire and those who inhabited it were protecting it. From Atropates the word evolved into Azerbaijan through the centuries. Although the etymological origin may well be related to the symbolical one, the country has adopted the symbolical meaning in their cultural identity through the centuries and, specifically, after achieving independence from the Soviet Union. The symbolical origin could have been the reason why the area was called Atropatene in the first place and it refers to the many fire-related oddities and natural phenomenon that fill Azerbaijan, like the burning mountain of Yanar Dag or the Fire Temple of Ateshgah which I have written about in the Guide to Baku and Azerbaijan. It is this natural fire and light phenomenon which attracted fire-worshipping Zoroastrians into the country and possibly gave it the name in the first place.

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