The historian Tadeusz Swietochowski calls Azerbaijan “the quintessential borderland, many times over: between Europe and Asia, Islam and Christianity, Russia and the Middle East, Turks and Iranians, Shi’a and Sunni Islam." Although a relatively young country, having declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the culture of its predominately Azeri population stretches back through a colorful history of over a thousand years. Against the backdrop of a beautiful and varied landscape, young population and successful economy, Azerbaijan has become an increasingly fascinating destination for many.
It's culture, affected for centuries by pervading Persian and Russian influence, is not easily summed up, and civil discourse is often preoccupied by the question of what truly makes up the Azeri national character. Of the many facets of the Azerbaijani mentalitet, a warm, generous hospitality, an inspired can-do attitude ("bajarana jan gurban", blessed be the one who can), and a strong sense of family loyalty and care for ones elders, children and extended family, are values shared and cherished above all others.
Culture Smart! Azerbaijan is most valuable in helping us to understand the country's complex present by way of a concise history of the Azeri people, their culture and the land. At somewhat of a cultural crossroads, chapters focusing on local attitudes, values, social and business etiquette mean this guide will help travellers and business people alike navigate this incredibly warm but sometimes complex culture, helping pave the way for greater understanding and ultimately more rewarding experiences in this beautiful land.
A popular saying, “I say this to my daughter, so that my daughter-in-law will hear,” means that many things said in one’s presence often have an underlying meaning. Indirectness is an important part of local etiquette and so learning to decipher the intended meaning of a statement is a very important task!