The Friendship Symbol: Peoples of Azerbaijan

The Friendship Symbol: Peoples of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is bursting the culture diversity of peoples live in its territory. There are more than hundred nationalities reside here despite the relatively small area. And all representatives live under the same peace sky – Friendship.


Lezgi people are one of the major ethnic groups of Azerbaijan. They live among high mountains in the northern part of the country predominantly in Guba, Gusar and Khachmas regions. Number of Lezgins in Azerbaijan represents 2 per cent of total population – more than 200 000.


Lezgins speak Lezgian language which is a Northeast Caucasian language and belongs to the Lezgic languages. Tabasaran, Aghul, Budukh, Tsakhur, Rutul languages are the most related languages to Lezgian. In Azerbaijan the newspapers Samur and Gusar are published in Lezgian. Unfortunately, Lezgian language is at risk of disappearing.


Lezgi people are Sunni Muslims – representatives of the largest denomination of Islam, followed by 90% of the world’s Muslims. It means that they recognize the first four caliphs as the Prophet Muhammad’s rightful successors.


As most Caucasian nationalities Lezgian are also have got quite interesting wedding traditions which play an important part in their life. Wedding rituals ceremonies in Caucasus region plays a huge role as for bride as for groom.


Historically, Azerbaijan was considered as a “plum” for the foreigners. Advantageous geographical situation, climate and an abundance of fossil fuels and agricultural products made biggest empires and their rulers to be interested in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, throughout the history, was occupied by many empires and countries. One of the last empires, by which rules and policies Azerbaijan was influenced was Tsarist Russian Empire, who occupied Azerbaijan in the beginning of 19th century. That era became an era of migration policies and multiculturalism in Azerbaijan.

Dozens of Russians migrated to Azerbaijan and began their new life in new and unknown country for them. Due to the fact that the 19th century turned into the century of oil and industrial boom, Azerbaijan, as a country that found black gold earlier than others, was settled with dozens of ethnic groups and diasporas who found their new job and business positions in Baku. Russians also were in this list!

Azerbaijani Russians-newcomers actively worked in industrial sector and oil fields. 44% of all Petrol pumps of Absheron peninsula were controlled and owned by Russian entrepreneurs. Russian investors who were driving their business both in Russia and Azerbaijan were actively participating in opening of factories and minor enterprises of Baku city.

Lower class Russians though,  were occupied in agricultural sector of economy. In the middle of 19th century a group of religious Russians from the South Russia immigrated to Azerbaijan. Those were Malakan’s – the religious Russians who settled in the region Ismailli of the north of Azerbaijan. In 1970th the ruler of those Russians – Ivan Pershy established the village Ivanovka, which, in Soviet Times was a village-dominant in collective farming and got a Soviet medal of the Veteran of  Labor. Nowadays, the village of religious farmers consists of 4000 ethnic Russians, people who kept their historical customs, religious rituals and daily routine, which was decades ago,  and opens to the stranger with its hospitality!



Avars- are considered as one of the indigenous nations of the Grand Caucasus, historically living in Dagestan, and also living in Eastern Georgia and Northern Azerbaijan, the most numerous people of modern Dagestan.

Avars living in Azerbaijan mainly live in Belokan, Zakatali, Gakh districts of North Azerbaijan and in the capital  Baku, where according to the 1999 census, their total number was approximately 49800.


The Avar language belongs to the Nakhsko-Dagestani group of the North Caucasian family of languages, it has dialects subdivided into northern and southern groups (dialects), which partly reflects the former division of the accent into the Khunzakh Khanate and “Free Societies”. The first includes Saladav, Khunzakh and eastern, the second – Gidatli, Antsukh, Zakatali(Azebaijan), Karakh, Andalal, Kahib and Kusur; the Batuh dialects occupie an intermediate position.

Between individual dialects and dialect groups, in general, phonetic, morphological, and lexical differences are noted. The Avar language is related to the Ando-Tse languages of Dagestan. After Russians invasion and influence, Russian became the second speaking language for the native Caucasians. Today 80% of Avars can fluently speak and understand Russian language.

Religion: Avars are following Sunni branch of Islam of Shafiite persuasion, common Sufi brotherhoods Naqshbandi, Chazalia, Kadiriya also exist. According to the historical legends, some insignificant part of Avars practiced Judaism before conversion to Islam . Dagestan scholars regard this vague and fragmentary information as echoes of memories of long contacts with the Khazars(Caucasian Tribe that converted to Jewdaism). Among the stones and tracks, we can occasionally see “stars of David”, which, however, cannot serve as an evidence in favor of the fact that these images were made , specifically, by Jews.


The peoples of Azerbaijan are unique, and every nation has its own language, traditions and customs. You will feel the Caucasian spirit with all constituents of it by visiting the northern part of the country; and you can meet with Talyish people — the centenarians of our republic by visiting the southern part of tye country! And if You, dear reader, took in the travel spirit and would like to make friends with the representatives of ethnic groups, there is good news: We will be your faithful guide in this amazing idea! You can learn more about group tours in Azerbaijan through the following link



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