All students from Azerbaijan are Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program scholarship winners. Click here to learn more about the FLEX Program.
Three physical features dominate Azerbaijan: the Caspian Sea, whose shoreline forms a natural boundary to the east; the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north; and the extensive flatlands at the country's center. Azerbaijan is also one of the world’s top oil producers. Today, Western influences, including globalized consumer culture, are strong. Folk dancing and art play a large role in Azerbaijani life.
Sport in Azerbaijan has ancient roots and both traditional and modern sports are still practiced. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Azerbaijan's national sport. However today, the most popular sports in Azerbaijan are association football and chess. Backgammon is popular as well and Azerbaijani are considered experts of the game.
Staples in the Azerbaijani diet include meat, vegetables and various types of white bread, though preparation varies by region. In rural areas, there is a tradition of baking flat white bread (churek, lavash, tandyr). Kufte bozbash (meat and potatoes in a thin sauce) is a popular dish. Filled pepper and grape leaves and soups also are part of daily meals. Different types of green herbs, including coriander, parsley, dill, and spring onions, are served during meals both as a garnish and as salad. Pork is not popular because of Islamic dietary rules, but it was consumed in sausages during the Soviet period. The soup borsch and other Russian dishes are also part of the cuisine. Restaurants offer many varieties of kebabs and, in Baku, an increasingly international cuisine.
The official language is Azerbaijani but there are many dialects incorporating bits of Turkish and Russian. About 95% of the population is Muslim.