Azerbaijan is known for having nine of the 11 existing ecological zones. Much of the country is temperate year-round. Nation-wide the average temperature for the year is 14-15Â°C 57-59Â°F. The Caucasus Mountains protect the country from the Arctic air masses that affect Russia in winter while the Caspian Sea shields it from the hot, dry air of Central Asia in the summer. Temperatures in the winter are mild 0-15Â°C/32-59Â°F at lower altitudes and along the coast and drops moderately as you head inland and drastically as you head into the mountains -20Â°C/-4Â°F is possible in the Caucasus Mountains). Summers range from warm to hot20-40Â°C/68-104Â°F throughout most of the country, although breezes off the Caspian make life pleasant along the coast. Nakhchivan is quite different, high and arid, summers here can easily surpass 40Â°C 104Â°F while winter nights often drop below -20Â°C -4Â°F...in fact the country's extreme minimum and maximum -33Â°C/-27Â°F & 46Â°C/115Â°F were both recorded in southern Nakhchivan!
Snow is rare in Baku and along the coast in general while common inland and copious in the mountains, where many villages may be cut off during the winter. The southern forests are the wettest part of the country, with plenty of rain in late autumn and early spring. The western central coast is fairly dry. Lankaran receives the most annual precipitation 1600-1800 mm/63-71 in while the region around Baku averages 600 mm 24 in. Baku is very breezy, much like Chicago or Wellington, most of the year.
Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Azerbaijan.
Additionally, some older buildings may be still equipped with Soviet-era outlets. The Soviet GOST-7396 standard was very similar to the current European CEE-7/7 "Schuko plug", but the pins were of a 4.0 mm diameter, while the Schuko features 4.8 mm pins. As such, the pins of a Schuko may be too large to fit into a Soviet-era outlet, although the smaller Europlug will still fit. Although the Soviet-era outlets have largely been phased out, travelers who are particularly concerned with having the ability to plug in at all times may consider packing an adapter for the Soviet-era outlets too, just in case.
Also, make sure to bring your own automated voltage adapter because the electricity in Azerbaijan short circuits and "jumps" a lot and many items may get shocked if you don't bring the adapter.
Azerbaijan regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, which is part of Azerbaijan, was the subject of a war with Armenia that has left it a de facto independent republic, which is not internationally recognized, ironically including Armenia which "supports" it. Azerbaijan has lost 20% of its territory and must support some 800,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Occupied by the local Armenian troops to this day, this conflict has not officially ended with minor skirmishes frequent, and is a major source of contention among Azerbaijanis.
The majority of the population over 90% is composed of Azeris, who share a culture very similar to Turkey. History, with Russian and Persian influence, has left the Azeris of Azerbaijan and Iran with some moderate differences. Minorities in Azerbaijan include Lezghins, Russians, Avars, Turks, Tatars, Ukrainians, & Georgians. Most inhabitants are Shia Muslim, although a long history of European and Russian colonialism has left many with very liberal, laisez-faire attitudes towards Islam and the country is staunchly secular. The government is a kleptocracy of the benevolent Aliyev family and their allies although, while opposition is often sacked or imprisoned, it is not as severe an authoritarian government as you'll find in Turkmenistan, Iran or the Russian Caucasus. Following independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has allowed western companies to develop its neglected, but extensive, oil fields and has seen oil production skyrocket especially since the mid-2000s. Despite this and related investments, most of the new-found wealth remains in the hands of a small number of people and the city of Baku. While Baku is full of new construction and a growing middle class, much of the country remains poor, where most people are rural agrarians and merchants.