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Culture & Identity of Azerbaijan

Introduction

The way of life in Azerbaijan results from their Islamic faith, former Soviet rule, economic opportunities, and numerous others. Due to numerous natural resources the economy and way of life is changing, but for many of the people in more rural setting little has change for some time.

Only about half of Azerbaijan's population is urbanized and the occupations of the people reflect this as nearly 40% of the people work in agriculture, only about 10% work in industry, and the last half work in the services field. For this large farming population the day tends to begin and end with the sun, even on weekends little changes to this pattern. The greatest differences for these farmers is seasonal as summers occupy many working hours producing cotton, grains, rice, and others, while the winters tend to be slow. For the industry and service workers the way of life is much more consistent year round. Work generally begins at about 9:00 am and ends at about 5:00 pm, but the setting can vastly alter these hours, especially for service jobs outside the major cities.

Like the service and industry workers, school life is on a more regular schedule as classes run from September to May with more regular hours. On farms the children tend to help the family during their summers off.

Evenings and weekends (Saturday-Sunday, although Friday is the holy day so things tend to close early on Fridays, especially in more conservative towns), or occupied with a large number of things. Although primarily Muslim, many people in Azerbaijan drink alcohol and going out for a drink, or for coffee for the non-alcohol drinkers, is a common way to socialize amongst young singles. For families the life is more focused on children, whether that be schoolwork or socialization.

Identity

The people of Azerbaijan struggle to find a unifying way to identify. Generally, the people identify as "Azeri" or "Azerbaijani," but how those identities are defined are questionably. To be a member of this identity generally means that a person is an ethnic Azerbaijani, speaks the language, is a Muslim, and is a citizen of Azerbaijan. However, it is not entirely an identity defined by nationality, nor is it completely an identity based on ethnicity; in a way it is defined in contrast to what it is not, which is one of its neighbors of Armenia and Georgia.

This page was last updated: November, 2013