Azerbaijan, a special blend of cultures and traditions

Submitted 1 year 4 months ago by CultureWhiz.

Not many outside of the Caucasus know anything about Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan people. Visiting voyagers will in general be overpowered with the superb food, profound established social conventions and the cordiality of local people.

Arriving In Azerbaijan

You're going to need a visitor eVisa that you can get online at https://evisa.gov.az/en make sure you only use this government site and not others with inflated costs. The government site is cheap and fast. Make sure that you print your eVisa and show it to the immigration officer upon arrival. Sadly, the eVisa is only valid for 30 days.

For those of you who have Armenian entry or exit stamps, expect to be questioned by immigration. Tourism is the recommended response. Under no circumstances should you inform them that you have visited Nagorno-Karabakh (their disputed territory now controlled by Armenia). Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees were forced out of their villages in the Karabakh a generation ago. People are still bitter. Tensions run deep. Ceasefires are regularly ignored.

The Population

First off, I would say that Azerbaijan is culturally far closer to Iran than to Turkey. Starting with their cuisine, as variety of Plovs, Fisinjan, Kuku etc. You will find much more similarities with Iranian cuisine. Mugham, a sibling of the Iranian Dastgah, is a key part of their traditional music culture. Iran and Azerbaijan share the common schools of carpet weaving. For both countries, carpets are one of the major elements of culture. Both Iran and Azerbaijan are culturally strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism. They share the same traditions of Nowruz. Both Iran and Azerbaijan are culturally highly influenced by Shi'a Islam. The Month of Muharram as an example (even if Azerbaijanis aren't religious today). Both Iran and Azerbaijan have common heritage in literature. Nizami Ganjavi, Fuzuli, Shahriyar are significant poets for both countries.

There are a multitude of traditions that only Iran and Azerbaijan share. In addition, Iran and Azerbaijan have shared their home together for centuries. If I were to inquire, I would say that neither Tajikistan nor Afghanistan is as close to Iran as Azerbaijan is. However, socially I would say that Azerbaijan is closer to Armenia and Georgia than to Turkey. As they have a similar mindset from the existence of the Soviet Union. Many people in Baku speak or at least understand Russian. Many in the countryside seldom do so, and new arrivals in Baku generally do not. Because BP and other major oil companies have been working in Baku for decades, people are now semi-used to Westerners.

Ignoring the Old City and Baku Bay, this trio of high rises command Baku's horizon. Opened in 2013, Flame Tower 1 flaunts the title of the nation's tallest high rise at 597 feet. The structures are formed like flares as a tribute to Baku's history and are secured with LED screens to put on a daily light act that switches back and forth among blazes and the banner of Azerbaijan.

Women

Since Azerbaijan is a secular Muslim country, traditionally, the notion in the society was that the young woman should go to school, then get higher education diploma, but not necessarily for a career. Rather, it would be used as a supplement for the dowry. She would further be expected to have no sexual contacts before marriage, although dating is commonplace. Open premarital sexual activity are discouraged for women, for example living with a partner outside a wedlock. If this happens, she would get a negative word of mouth PR, which spreads surprisingly quickly, even in a city as big as Baku.

In marriage, the woman would be expected to take care of the house, cook, raise children, and support and follow her husband, who is the head of the household.

This type of social norm notion is likely prevalent in the rural areas of Azerbaijan. In big cities it is not commonplace, but still might exist in some families.

As more women get educated overseas, become westernized and open minded, get good careers with a solid income, they become more independent and these norms change drastically, especially in big cities. Just like in the western countries, this has a negative downside, resulting in later marriages and pregnancies, growth of divorce rates and single mothers.

Just like in most western countries, women are favored by the court system during the divorce and most of the times retain children, born in the marriage. Single mothers get laid off last during downsizing. Women get up to 6 months of paid maternity leave, extendable to up to 3 years(unpaid, but guaranteed to come back).

If you manage to get a date with Azerbaijani girl, most of them do not think of this as a temporary thing. They think about the future with you.

If you are dating Azerbaijani girl, prepare to take care of all expenses. When you go out for dinner with Azerbaijani girl, never pay only for your part of the meal, otherwise this date can be considered as a failure! Even though after some time, they try to pay for both in some cases & then even ask you not to pay for all. But for the beginning, you need to keep this in your mind.

Being introduced to her family or introducing her to your family means marriage. If you do this, then think about it.

Azerbaijanis are a Turkic people and they are closely related to Turks of Turkey. Body types vary, but most of the girls from 18 to 25 are usually thin. Girls in the late 20s to mid 30s are thicker. Although Azeris women can be attractive, the best looking women are Azerbaijani of Iran.

Men

Local guys tend to be helpful towards tourists. Ask someone for help, and they’re likely to be approachable and happy to give you advice. Nothing is ever too much for the typical Azeri, especially with the younger generations. Hospitality in the Caucasus is second to none. Hosts welcome guests into their homes and offer endless cups of Azerbaijani tea while serving jam and other condiments. The roots of the hospitality date back centuries.

In local traditions, it’s more important to enjoy time with friends than to meet deadlines. If someone has a meeting at noon but finds themselves still chatting and sipping coffee, they arrive 30 minutes late.

Summary

Fire symbolises Azerbaijan. From Baku’s Flame Towers to Zoroastrian fire temples and burning water, infernos have deep ties to Azerbaijan culture. Check out our experience section and find a local to show you around. Walk around the streets of Azerbaijan at any time of the day or night, and it feels safe. Crime rates and the perceived level of crime are much lower than in the West.