Azerbaijan (i/ˌæzərbaɪˈdʒɑːn/AZ-ər-by-JAHN; Azerbaijani:Azərbaycan[ɑzærbɑjdʒɑn]), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani:Azərbaycan Respublikası), is a transcontinental country in the Caucasus region, situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. The exclave of Nakhchivan is bounded by Armenia to the north and east, Iran to the south and west, while having a short border with Turkey in the northwest.
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic. It was also the first Muslim-majority country to have operas, theaters and modern universities. The country was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, before the official dissolution of the USSR. In September 1991, the disputed Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh region re-affirmed its willingness to create a separate state as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The region, effectively independent since the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1991, is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan until a final solution to its status is found through negotiations facilitated by the OSCE.
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