Azerbaijan from the point of view of foreigners and the media
Of course, everyone does a short survey about the country they are planning to go to. Firstly, we find out the weather forecast for the period we plan to go to adapt to the season in the destination country. This necessary research will help us to get prepared according to our destination and conditions. Then, we start to search for the country in general.
Here, our preference will be given to the cities to explore. What are the historical monuments in that country, which restaurants are better, what we should taste, must-see spots, which tourist attractions are the most popular, etc.? This list can be extended. However, the most exciting part of the search is fascinating and strange facts about the country and the locals. It is also essential to do some research on the traditions, lifestyles, and preferences to be able to adapt more quickly and build warm and friendly relationships with the locals. There are many different sources for this. Some of the information is correct, while some are wrong. Thus, information can help you and cause minor problems by misleading you.
So a question arises: Have you ever studied the exciting and strange facts about Azerbaijan? As you read this sentence, you may be surprised and say, “Why do I research if I live here?” However, would it not be interesting to know the thoughts and feelings of foreigners who have visited the country and live here? On the other hand, would it not be fun to know what foreign media write about our country and compare them with the facts we know about? What is so strange and exciting about our country and the people to foreigners? What traditions they like or cannot accept? Which dishes in our cuisine they love to eat and which they take surprisingly? These questions interested me, and I wanted to answer these questions and to put an end to the interest of people who, like me, want the answers by doing a comprehensive search on the popular websites, private blogs, and the less-known websites. Let’s see what the people who come to us from other countries have come to do while researching about our country. Moreover, let’s see out the land from the eyes of the foreigners.
P.S. Note that the data is written without any distortions or changes, regardless of whether it is true or false. Then, the true statements about incorrect information are recorded.
First, we looked at an article in 2018 at www.telegraph.co.uk, and let’s start with the exciting information we found here!
1. It loves pancakes.
Kutabi – filled pancakes – are practically Azerbaijan’s national dish. They’re stuffed with pumpkin, veggies, meat, or just a sprinkling of herbs, then flipped and toasted on a grill. Leave your Nutella at home: Azerbaijan’s pancakes are strictly savory.” As you can see, they think that we prepare Kutabi with pancake dough. It should be explained to them that the dough for Kutabi is ordinary dough and has nothing to do with the dough for pancakes :)
2. “Azerbaijanis take tea with jam. No social occasion is complete without tea, served with myriad trimmings. It’s often sweetened with jam – and flavored with thyme, lemon, mint, or rosewater.” From their point of view, it is understandable, as they do not drink tea with jam regularly. However, let’s hope that they understand that it is not the case for Azerbaijanis.
I also have noticed that the tea is mentioned in all articles written about Azerbaijan. The tea is the detail they are not tired to say repeatedly and love, as they like to drink tea in a pear-shaped glass, tea being served with sweets, lemon, or sugar along with the jam. In general, they enjoy how tea is served. Although many may have been strangely surprised at first, they note that after drinking tea for the first time, they already enjoy it.
3. “No sugar, no wedding. When families are matchmaking, the tea tray gives a good indication of how arrangements are progressing. If it’s served without sugar, more negotiating needs to be done; if it’s sweet, a wedding is definitely on the cards.” I do not know how, but they have learned about this tradition correctly.
4. “Its horses are heroes! The Karabakh horse – renowned for its effortless speed, intelligence, and endurance – is the national animal of Azerbaijan. They are endemic to the country, and one of the oldest breeds in the world. Horsemeat was once widely eaten in Azerbaijan, but now it has fallen out of favor; you’ll find lamb and beef on the menu instead.” – We should be proud to be famous in the world with our Karabagh horses!
5. It enjoys proverbs. Notable examples include “Cheap meat never makes a good soup,” “Politeness is not sold in the bazaar,” and “I tried to draw the eyebrow, but I ended up poking the eye.” I wonder how, where, and whom they have heard these sayings?
6. It is strong. If you find yourself in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, you might want to limber up for an arm-wrestling match: the city is home to the Arm-wrestling Federation, who hosts the country’s professional league. Be warned: this is serious business in Baku’s gyms and bars.” The feature that we consider meaningless seems very important and great detail for the foreigners!
7. “They love a good carpet. Azerbaijan’s Carpet Museum opened in 2014, on Baku’s seafront, in a building that is shaped like a giant rolled-up rug. Inside, you can browse carpets of all ages, from all over the country – a spectacle only trumped by carpet weaving demonstrations.” I think no tourist does not like the carpet museum with marvelous design.
8. All the cool kids can crochet. Girls are taught to crochet from a young age, in preparation for traditional Seven Beauties tournaments: girls must crochet stockings against the clock, and whoever knits the best pair is declared the winner.” Therefore, all cool kids know how to crochet; however, it is an old-fashion tradition for us. Indeed, it is interesting where they got the information.
9. Bread is sacred. When bread goes stale, Azerbaijani cooks do not just chuck it in the bin: they hang it up in bags, separate from the rest of the rubbish, to signify their respect. If you drop bread on the floor, it’s custom to kiss it, as an apology. Is it not pleasant information? It is nice that our beautiful and meaningful tradition is known. I am sure that some were taken as an example.
10. “Many people have golden teeth. A gold, shimmering smile is a common sight, especially among Azerbaijan’s older generations. For some, it is a snazzy way to replace rotten teeth. For others, it’s akin to a savings account.” exciting and smiling results of getting to know the older generation while visiting the country.
11. Its babies are bathed in saltwater. It is thought that washing newborns in saltwater will make them healthy, truthful, and bold. Children’s fingernails and hair are only cut after their first birthday.” Though this tradition is not applied in many places nowadays, it is interesting why this fact was mentioned in an article published not so far in history, but just two years ago in 2018.
12. “Richard Sorge alerted Soviet high command to Operation Barbarossa and is recognized by a rather imposing memorial in Zorge Park, Baku.” One of the strangest facts about our city that I have encountered on almost all sites is Sorge Park. They mostly write about their fear of those eyes in the park rather than the foundation of the park on his behalf.
Now let’s take a look at the article we found at www.wanderlust.co.uk.
1. “Oily Rocks (Neft Dashlar) is the first and largest town on stilts to be constructed at sea. Situated in the Caspian Sea, the town was built in phases after 1947.” Almost all sources say many proud words about the magnificence of the Oil Rocks and admiration to it.
2. In the oldest national holiday of Azerbaijan, Novruz, children leave bags or small caps outside the front door of houses. They knock on the door and hide and, upon return, their bags have been filled with Novruz gifts by the homeowner. As part of Novruz, unmarried girls also throw black coins, which are a symbol of bad luck, into a water-filled jug during the day time to find their perfect match. In the evening, before sunset, they pour this water with the coins outside.” It is great to see how these traditions have attracted so much attention from foreign countries and are so exciting to them.
And other exciting and more scientific facts are mentioned at www.onceinalifetimejourney.com.
1. The origin of the Nobel Prize. Not so much the place where the prize was founded, but the country where the family made their fortunes, through oil. There are not a lot of famous Azeris that made it to the world stage, but one of the most exciting trivia facts about Azerbaijan is the fact that the Nobel family who funded the Nobel Prize made their money through oil digging and trading in the country. Their house-museum is open to visitors, and it is the first house in Azerbaijan that had air conditioning, which came in the form of ice from a glacier in Norway, and a telephone line. It is also interesting to know that their oil wealth was the result of having to pivot their business when the Crimean War ended, and their original family business went bankrupt.” Perhaps one of the most interesting facts that most people do not know. Our oil has always been one of the most talked-about and exciting topics in the media.
2. “45% of the world’s mud volcanoes. Mud volcanoes are an oddity in themselves and one of the fun experiences around Baku. Although mud volcanoes are not exclusive to the country, an interesting fact about Azerbaijan is its dominance in mud volcanoes. Given its location above large gas reserves, the escaping gas channeled through soft soil has created these mud volcanoes. Aside from being a unique site to visit, the locals believe the mud volcanoes are packed with goodness and spend time covered in mud, inside the volcanoes, enjoying their healing properties” – Our ways of treatment and beliefs, which are typical for us, are most appealing and strange things for the world.
An article on www.mytravelaffairs.com covers more exciting and entertaining facts.
1. “Lada Land. Azerbaijan is a country of Lada, and that is my favorite among Azerbaijan interesting facts! You know I love Lada, specifically the old models. I love everything that has to do with transport and public transport. I know I am weird! Therefore, Azerbaijan was like Lada Heaven for me. There were Ladas everywhere. In all colors and shapes. Azerbaijan is in a top 5 of Lada importers, so you can only imagine how many Ladas they have there.” – from the view of Lada lover who traveled Azerbaijan.
2. “Selfies issue. Azerbaijani people love taking pictures of themselves and love when you take pictures of them, especially men! Believe me, the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku is one shooting scene. I went for a boat trip to watch Baku waterfront from the sea, but I was the only person looking at the cityscape! Locals were too busy with their cameras to pay attention! And that applies to everyone, at any time and situation!” - Here are the comments from different and more observational views.
3. “The last kolkhoz on Earth? Have you ever heard about ‘kolkhoz’? Yes, it is a collective farm from Soviet Union times. And you can visit one in Azerbaijan! Yes, it is still working and applying all the rules of the collective community. Meaning that all the people work for the same salary. There is no private property; they share what they produce etc. Not only is it super exciting and quirky, but the place itself and the area are super beautiful. Ivanovka is a place not to miss.”
4. “Watermelon land. Azerbaijan is a country of watermelons that goes without saying. However, there is something particular about how you should eat watermelon there. Always with white cheese and bread! Yes, I meant to write white cheese and bread. If you ask me, what is Azerbaijan famous for or what is Azerbaijan known for I think I would say for eating watermelon with cottage cheese :) Of course, there are many facts about Azerbaijan, its culture and heritage that Azeri people should be proud of it but that is just my quirky choice.” Yes, Cheese, watermelon, bread is the favorite for Azerbaijanis during the summertime, and always served during the meal. The savior of our hot days, the taste we enjoy, and eat during lunch and dinner! There is also a version of eating the watermelon with grape, cheese, bread or melon, cheese, sour cream, etc. I wonder if there are aware of these versions.
The article I met at www.theculturetrip.com reads:
1. “Unparalleled Hospitality. Visit Azerbaijan and experience some of the world’s best hospitality. Locals go to great lengths to help, and guests are a valued commodity. Stay in a homestay, and hosts treat guests with endless cups (or armuda) of tea, snacks, and anything else. Ask for directions, and they might show rather than tell. The younger ones who speak some English are often happy to chat about their country. Giving good hospitality is deeply ingrained in Azerbaijan culture.” - Our hospitality is the saga among the countries of the world!
2. “Girl Power. A positive legacy of almost two centuries of Russian rule is the way men respect women. Men give their seats on the bus, insist on paying, and hold doors open. In 1918, Azerbaijan became one of the first countries to give women the right to vote — the first in the Islamic world. Women also hold high positions in government and serve in the military”.
3. “Tolerance. Azerbaijan follows Shia Islam, the same as neighboring Iran. Nothing unusual here. Nevertheless, they consider Sunni Turkey to be their brothers. The country has good relationships with Israel, something unheard of in the Islamic world. And that’s not all. After centuries of influence from Russia, many Azerbaijanis tend to be pro-Russian. The same people are pro-Western too. In short, Azerbaijan culture seems to have a tantalizing blend of the best of everything.”
www.daniellaattinella.com - Daniella Attinella is a freelance designer from Minnesota, United States of America currently living in Azerbaijan. She has written a fascinating and informative article with facts about Azerbaijan based on her experiences and observations after she started living in Azerbaijan. We learn the views of not only the travelers but also those who have lived here for years, from the article.
1. “The capital Baku is the lowest-lying capital in the world, at 28 meters below sea level.” - Yes, it is. Baku, geographically, is the lowest capital in the world and is the largest city in the world below sea level.
2. “Baku is known for being incredibly modern with architecturally impressive buildings (it is referred to as “The Dubai of the Caucasus”), but unlike Dubai, Baku has a deep-rooted history and is one of the oldest in the world. They put great care in preserving and cherishing its walled Old City (or “Icheri Sheher”) that dates back as far as the 7th century (included to a UNESCO World Heritage site) nestled in the middle of it all.”
3. “It was one of the leading countries to welcome equal voting rights for women in 1918. Two years before the United States and the first country in the East.”
4. “Many people in Azerbaijan are fluent in Russian, and increasingly more (especially the younger generations) are very good in English. It is not uncommon to meet someone able to speak in at least four languages. (Azeri, Turkish, Russian, English) Many will watch movies or YouTube channels, for example, in Russian or Turkish.”
5. “In Azeri culture, taking care of your family members is highly valued. It is respected and encouraged for example for young adults to live with their family after school and/or college until they get married. It might be seen as ‘weird’ if you live in the same city as your parents but in your apartment.”
6. “Baku is home to the Baku Museum of Miniature Books, the only museum of miniature books in the world.” I hope you all visited this museum in Icheri Sheher. If you have not seen it yet, go without wasting time. Small books that are astonishing in size 2x2 mm are available here.
As we have seen from many sources, our country is charming to any person and is remembered with exciting memories. It attracts everyone with its either holidays, traditions, or cuisine. All these cause a beautiful moments that will be remembered in the future with a smile. I am sure you feel proud while reading this post, the same as me, while writing this. I would like to mention a phrase often found in almost all sources and all articles while doing my search: “It is a small country with great history!” It should mean a lot to us. Not only Azerbaijanis living in Azerbaijan, but also Azerbaijanis all over the world, must protect and value this country, one of the oldest living places in the world, with rich history and culture!