Azerbaijan – Land of Fire

Entering the first Caucasus country from the east will take you to the little known Republic of Azerbaijan, a mostly Muslim country with a lingering soviet past. Apart from its appearance as hosts for the 2012 Eurovision finals, the country is most known for its massive oil reserves under the Caspian sea, responsible for some impressive economic growth, and the transformation of the capital city of Baku where modern architecture now blends eloquently with the medieval old town, Icheri Sheher. The abundance of oil under the sea is evidenced on land, with hundreds of unusual baby mud volcanoes which expel mud bubbles of methane gases. These made world news in 2001 when they erupted in flames and burnt for several days. The country plans to make further headlines with an ambitious Dubai like $100B project, the artificial Khazar Islands, an archipelago of 55 islands and the world’s tallest building, Azerbaijan tower – at 1050m.

The Icheri Sheher (old town) with the Flame towers in the distance

The Icheri Sheher (old town) with the Flame towers in the distance

Bizare baby mud volcanoes south of Baku

Bizare baby mud volcanoes south of Baku

The ubiquitous Lada, parked outside a shop selling Şeki halvasi

The ubiquitous Lada, parked outside a shop selling Şeki halvasi

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