Surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains and bounded by the oil-rich beaches of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is a land of diverse landscapes, climates, flora and fauna. It does not geographically belong to either Europe or Asia, but since it is at the crossroads of two continents, it became a cradle of prehistoric civilization and a hot seat of cultural, religious, and artistic exchanges between its neighbors Russia, Georgia, Iran, and Armenia.
Secular Islamic republic
Although 95 percent of Azerbaijanis are Muslims, the country was the first Muslim nation to have successfully attempted to establish a secular and democratic republic. It remains a secular state today, with high tolerance for religious freedom. Citizens belonging to other religions are given equal rights as the Muslim populace. Although racked by corruption, the parliament boasts of being the first in the Muslim world to have given women the right to vote and the right to equal protection and rights as men.
Geographically, Azerbaijan is home to a variety of ancient environments. Almost half of the world's mud volcanoes are in Qobustan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having 6,000 petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC. In Nakhchivan, there are glaciers linked to the story of Noah's Ark. The Greater Caucasus Mountains that surround the rest of Azerbaijan are home to some of the country's 4,500 species of plants and a wide range of fauna like Karabakh horse, the national symbol and one of the world's oldest horse breeds.
Baku, the national capital, is the most developed city in the Caucasus region. In the city's frontlines are 21st century mansions and skyscrapers, but in its core is the World Heritage-listed Old City, the site of a castle, medieval wall, and a Fire Temple belonging to the Persian Empire.
Like the architectural gems Momine Khatun Mausoleum in Nakhchivan and Palace of Shaki Khans in Sheki, the folk dances, music and art of Azerbaijan have been included in UNESCO's World Heritage List. In particular, the Azerbaijani form of singing called mugam has been declared by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”
Sikkim, a vertical land in India
One of the smallest states in India (which was slightly less than Friuli) had an independent history as far back as 1642, under the dynasty of kings Chogyal, Tibetan term translated from the Sanskrit "Dharmaraja" or "King defender of the dharma." In 1975, through a referendum, it became part of India. In the territory of Sikkim entirely mountainous and with only a few green houses ... Read full Blog post
An Aerial fiesta in Clark Pampanga
Its a party in the sky as multi colored hot air balloons piloted ny different pilots from various partso of the world participated in this annual gathering. As early as 5am, the 2,500 hectare aviation complex at Clar Economic Zone in Pampanga was already crammedi with excitement. Clusters of hot air balloon participants busily prepare their own balloons for liftoff as they need to take advantage of ... Read full Blog post
Laos seems like a long shot to become Southeast Asia’s next big thing. The food doesn’t win any prizes, the roads are severely potholed by frequent flooding and locals regard the prospect of increased tourism with a sunny indifference that exceeds even Mediterranean proportions. Laos is the least developed and most enigmatic of the three former French Indochinese states ... Read full Blog post