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The ethnic minorities of Azerbaijan

  


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The contemporary Azerbaijan geographically located on the border of European and Asian continents was emerged in the intersection of cultures of various civilizations in the past: Ahamanids-Sassanid, Roman- Byzantine, Scythian-Caspian and Turk-Oghuz. 
The favorable geographical location and rich natural resources caused this area to become a large settlement since ancient times. 
Both in ancient time and the modern time Azerbaijan was noted as a region distinguished by its high tolerance. This is the home of the religion of Zoroastrianism, the first cradle of Christianity in the Caucasus, the area of wide spreading of Islam, the area inhabited by different ethnic groups and coexisted in peace, the land rich in diverse cultures. The historical sources always showed that the ethnic composition of Azerbaijan was expanded.
Today, Azerbaijan is distinguished with ethnic diversity. Besides Azerbaijani Turks, Mountain Jews, Tats, Talysh, Kurds, Molokans, Ingiloys, Tsakhurs, Avars, Lezgins, Khynalygs, Buduqlus, Grysz and other ethnic groups live in its territory. Although the representatives of ethnic groups consider themselves as Azerbaijanis but each group has retained distinctive elements of their different culture. This culture is reflected in domestic life, crafts, in kitchen and various ceremonies.

Ethnic groups
The Jews
One of the most ancient peoples living in Azerbaijan is the Jews. 
The Jews presently live in Baku, Sumgayit, Guba, Oguz and Goychay regions. Red settlement in Guba region is the most densely populated area of mountain Jews in the world for their number. 
Historically Judaism was represented in Azerbaijan by Mountain Jews. Moisey of Kalankat relates the arrival of Jews in the Caucasus Mountain in I century BC. Researchers have different opinions about it. According to one opinion, one of the oldest Jewish communities, Mountain Jews are sons of Israel withdrawn from Philistine by the Assyrian and Babylonian kings and then settled in Midia. Their ancestors were the first who believed in Judaism. So while being in Midia they mixed with tats. Under this influence the Mountain Jews speak in Tat language, which is a dialect of mixture of the ancient Persian dialect, arami and Jewish words. Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan are divided into 3 local groups:
Guba people (guboi) - Guba region of Azerbaijan, mainly Red  Settlement
Shirvan people  (shirvoni) - the north-east of Azerbaijan, the former Meji village of Shamakhi region, as well as Baku
Oghuz people - Oguz city, Ganja, Ismayilli, Shamakhi.

Talyshes
It is a people living in the south-east of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in Lankaran, Astara, Masalli and Lerik regions, as well as in the north of Iran. They speak in the Talysh language belonging to the family of Iranian languages. Former Soviet scientists considered the Talysh as local population. Thus, they considered them as generation of most ancient local tribes of Azerbaijan, kadusi. However, Western scholars have doubtful approach to it.  In their opinion, the arrival of the Talyshs in Azerbaijan (XIII century) connected with the warlord of Genghis Khan with Talysh name. Talyshs’ material and spiritual culture does not differ from the population of Azerbaijan so far.

Kurds
Presently Kurds live in the regional center of Sadarak of Nakhchivan AR, in the Teyvaz village of Julfa region and  darakand  village of Sharur region, as well as before the Armenian occupation they lived in  Lachin (Garakechdi, Minkend,  Chıraqly villages), in Kelbajar (Agjakend, Zar villages in full and in other rural villages in mixed environment), in Gubadly (Zilanly village) region. Kurds speak in Kurd language belonging to Iranian languages.

Tats
The people with small number live in Guba, Khyzy and Khasmaz region of Azerbaijan and in some villages of Baku. According to some researchers, tats are ancestors of ancient Persians resettled here along the western coast of Caspian Sea from Apsheron to Derbent, and they no doubt are the most ancient ethnic layers of the territory of Shirvan.

Avars
Avars is one of ethnic minorities living in the Republic of Azerbaijan, in Zagatala and Balakan regions. They speak in Avar language, belonging to the family of the North Caucasus languages.
The mixed with Azerbaijanis much. At present, they line in a compact settlements together with Azerbaijanis in Gabaqchol settlement of Balakan region, Jar, Zilban, Mazykh, Beretbina, Jinjartala, Katekh, Meshasambul, Mahamalar,  Goyatala villages. Their religion is Islam.

Shahdagh peoples and Shahdagh national ethnic group
They are an integral part of Azerbaijan. Ethnic groups of Shahdagh are called according to the villages of Guba region, where they settled like Khynalyq, Qryz, Rutul, Buduqlus and etc. Although they are less in number, but the population of these villages consist a separate ethnic group in self.
• The  khynalyqs
The khynalyqs have unique features among the aboriginal ethnic minority peoples of Azerbaijan. This ethnicity belongs to Caucasian language family, and in historical and ethnographic literature for their settlement around Shahdagh is called as Shahdag peoples. The khynalyqs are Azerbaijan’s most ancient inhabitants. This ethnicity has the only language and the settlement in the world. In other words, in the ethnic map of the world, there is the only village of Khynalyq and khynalyq language, which exist in Guba region of Azerbaijan.
• Gryzli
It is a small ethnic group living in the northern zone of Azerbaijan, in the villages of Guba and Khachmaz regions. They speak in gryz language belonging to Nakh-Dagestan language family, Lezgin language group.
• Rutuls
Ethnic group in Azerbaijan and Russia. They believe in Islam religion. Since the 7th century with invasion of Arabs in the Caucasus the Islam began to spread among them. The main spoken language is rutul. At the same time, rutuls know the languages of the countries in which they live at a very good level (accordingly Azerbaijani and Russian languages).
• Buduqlus
National ethnic representatives of Azerbaijan distinguished as Shahdag national ethnic group. The first official document related to buduqlu us the decree issued by the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas in 1607. Buduqlu historically were divided in generations, small and big family communities, and now known by the name of the same generation. As other mountainous population, buduqlus used to have a sedentary lifestyle. 
Lezgins
One of the Caucasian peoples, live in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan they mainly live compactly in Guba, Khachmaz regions, as well as in Baku, Ganja, Sumgait and Mingechevir, Gabala, Ismayilli, Oghuz, Goychay cities. The Lezgins constitutes 2.2% of the population of Azerbaijan.

Molokans
Currently molokans live in Baku, Sumgait, Shamakhi, Ismayilli, Gadabey and Guba regions of the Azerbaijan. 
The first molokans communities appeared in Azerbaijan in the middle of the XVIII century. So they were exiled here from Russia for acting against the Orthodox Church.
At present in popular Ismayilli region, in Ivanovka village of Azerbaijan the followers of molokans shifted to these places from Russia, continue to live.

Ingiloys
Mainly live in the territory of Gakh and Zagatala regions of Azerbaijan. During Shah Abbas I they adopted Islam. Mainly Moslems and small part of Christians from this group speak the south dialect of Georgian language. The main engagement of inglioys living in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains is tobacco growing, wheat growing, grape, nuts and fruits growing and cattle breeding.

Roma (gypsies) 
One of the nomadic peoples. They are of Indo-European origin. Roma can be found in all of Eurasian.
In Azerbaijan gypsies were resettled in Balakan area during Shah Abbas I to prevent revolts of local tribes. Mainly they live in Shambulbina, Guluzanbina, Melikzada villages. In Balakend the Roma are Farsi speaking. In addition, the Roma live in Shamakhi, Yevlakh regions and Borchali.
Roma historically lived the nomadic life-style. Traditionally they engaged in horse breeding and cattle breeding, but also used to have a farrier job, the art in grandfathers, producing of small household appliances, agricultural (to work at soil) tools.

Assyrians
It is one of the ethnic groups living in Azerbaijan. Their roots linked with Assyrians lived in ancient Iran and Turkey. At present, they settled as small ethnic group Zagatala zone. 

Udis
They are one of aboriginal native nations of Azerbaijan. The ethnicity inhabited in Uti province of the ancient Caucasian Albania, and in the nineteenth century in several residential villages of Nuha (present-day Sheki region) region. In modern period they live in Nij village of Gabala region and partly in the center of the Oguz region. Udi ethnicity only lives in the territory of Azerbaijan according to map of the world\'s ethnicities. Udis are ancient inhabitants of the Caucasus and belong to the lezgin subgroup off the Caucasian language family who managed to preserve many of the ancient elements. Historically, worshipping to the Sun and Moon Udis had accepted Christianity in the beginning of the fourth century and preserved it to the present days.



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