Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Azerbijan

AZERBI JAN (so called, according to Sir William Ouseley, from a fire-temple ; azer, fire, and baijan, a keeper), a pro-

vince of Persia, corresponding to the ancient Atropatene. It is separated from a division of the Russian Empire on the N. by the Biver Araxes, and from Irak on the S. by the Kizil-Uzen, or Golden Stream, while it has the Caspian Sea and Ghilan on the E., and Asiatic Turkey on the W. Its area is estimated at 25,280 square miles. The country is superior in fertility to the southern provinces of Persia. It differs entirely from the provinces of Fars and Irak, as it consists of a regular succession of undulating eminences, partially cultivated, and opening into extensive plains such as Anjan, Tabreez, and Urumiyah or Van. Near the centre of the province the mountains of Sahend or Serhund rise in an accumulated mass to the height of 9000 feet above the sea. The highest point, Mount Sevellan, towards its eastern frontier, attains a height of about 12,000 feet according to some authorities, but according to Khani- koff, it is 15,400; and the Talish Mountains, which run from N. to S. parallel to, and at no great distance from, the Caspian, have an altitude of 7000 feet. Except the boundary rivers already mentioned, there are none of any great extent ; but these both receive a number of tribu taries from the province, and several streams of consider able volume, such as the Jughutu, the Agi, and the Shar, belong to the basin of the Lake Urumiyah. This lake is about 300 miles in circumference, and 4200 feet above the sea. Its waters are more intensely salt than the sea, and it is " supposed to contain no living creature except a kind of polype ;" but it is the resort of great flocks of the flamingo. The country to the N. and W., namely, the districts of Urumiyah and Selmart, is the most picturesque and prosperous part of Azerbijan ; yet even here the tra veller from the more civilised regions of Europe laments the want of enterprise among the inhabitants. Azerbijan is on the whole, however, reckoned one of the most pro ductive provinces of Persia, and the villages have a more pleasing appearance than those of Irak. The orchards and gardens, in which they are for the most part embosomed, yield delicious fruits of almost every description, which are dried in large quantities. Provisions are cheap and abundant, and wine is made in considerable quantities. There is throughout the district a lack of forests and of timber trees. Lead, copper-, saltpetre, sulphur, and coal are found within the confines of Azerbijan ; also a kind of beautiful transparent marble or jasper, which takes the highest polish, and is used in the buildings of Tabreez, Shiraz, and Ispahan, under the name of Tabreez or Belghami marble. There -are exports of silk and cotton, textile fabrics, leather, hides and lambskins, dry-fruits, sugar, drugs, tobacco, and wax, &c., the lotal value in 1870, a year of great trade depression, being 422,632. In the same year the imports amounted to 1,094,717. The chief towns are Tabreez, Urumiyah (the supposed birthplace of Zoroaster), Ardebil, Khoee, Maragha, Dilman, Abbasabad, Mehrand, Siral, and Souj-Bolak. The climate is healthful in summer and autumn hot, but cold in winter. The cold is severely felt by the lower orders, owing to the want of fuel, for which there is no substitute except dried cow-dung, mixed with straw. The spring is temperate and delightful in the plains, but on the moun tains snow lies eight months in the year ; and hail-storms are so violent as frequently to destroy the cattle in the fields. The best soils yield from fifty to sixty fold when abundantly irrigated; and supplies of water for this purpose are drawn from the many small rivers by which the province is intersected. Oxen are generally used to draw the plough. The population is of a very varied character, comprising Kurds, Armenians, Syrians, Tatars, Persians proper, and other tribes or nationalities, and is roughly estimated at 2,000,000. The Persian army is largely composed of natives of Azerbijan, who make ex cellent soldiers; they are subject to compulsory enlistment. The province is under the government of the heir-apparent to the Persian throne. (Kinneir s Geographical Memoir of the Persian Empire, 1813 ; Eraser s Travels and Adven tures in the Persian Provinces on the Caspian Sea ; Rawlinson s " Tabriz to Takhti Suleiman," in Jour, of Roy. Geog. Soc., 1840 ; Chesney s Euphrates and Tigris Expedition, 1850; Abbott s "Memorandum" in Proc. of Roy. Geoff. Soc., 1864.)