What's the capital of Azerbaijan?

And the answer: Baku.

Photo courtesy: Attila Jandi -

Located on the Caspian Sea at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Azerbaijan shares borders with Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Iran. The capital city of Baku is located 92 feet below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world.

Azerbaijan is sometimes known as the "Land of Fire" for its etymological origins in the name Atropatene, coming from Atropates. Atropates, the name of the ruling class, comes from Greek for "The Land of the Holy Fire" or "The Protector of the Holy Fire," indicating the holy nature of the land and its jurisdiction under the empire. It is also said that the symbolic nature of fire comes from the many fire-related oddities and natural phenomenon that fill Azerbaijan, like the burning mountain of Yanar Dag or the Fire Temple of Ateshgah.

Fire Mountain (Yanar Dag) does exactly that: its flames blaze continuously with a natural source of heat to feed the huge underground gas deposits. The mountain, not far from Baku, has entranced travelers and conquerors for centuries – in the 13th century, explorer Marco Polo wrote of the mysterious fires that burned all over on the peninsula. In addition to gas deposits, Azerbaijan is also known for its abundant volcanoes, with over 400 mud volcanoes found in the region (though, with a scent of sulfur that intense, it'd be hard to ignore).

Inhabitance in the region dates back to ancient times – in some remote caves, archaeologists have found tools and human remains dating back 1.5 million years. The early civilizations such as Mana, Scythia, Atropatena and Caucasian Albania appeared on the lands of Azerbaijan as early as 1st millennium BCE!

To learn more about this ancient and fiery country, check out the video below.

And, for a taste of the rich filmmaking culture of the nation, check out the trailer from the Azerbaijan London Film Festival below.

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