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BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT AZERBAIJAN

The Republic of Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Southwestern  Asia, surrounded by the Greater and Lesser Caucasus in the north and west, the Talysh Mountains in the south and 825 km coastline along the Caspian Sea in the east. It is the largest  country in the Southern Caucasus (86,600 km2), with a population of over ten million people. The wide range of soils and climatic  conditions, as well as the historical development of ecosystems in Azerbaijan support high biodiversity and rich genetic resources. Almost all types of ecosystems, from glacier-capped high mountains to semi-deserts, exist in the country. 

Orography

The relief of Azerbaijan is very diverse and complex which consists of mainly two forms – plains and mountains.
Plains, steppes, and deserts occupy 31.8% of the territory, and more than half of the country is mountains and highlands. The Kura Araz lowland surrounded by the main geomorphic units – the Greater Caucasus, the Lesser Caucasus (along with the Garabagh volcanic upland) and the Talysh Mountains from the north, west and south-east. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is located in the middle stream of the Araz River and the bordering highland ranges – Zangazur and Daralayaz.
The average height of the Republic is 400 meters. However the Caspian lowland is below the sea level (currently -26.5m), while the highest peak is Mount Bazarduzu, which lies 4466 meters above the sea level.

Hydrology

There are about 8400 rivers of various lengths within Azerbaijan and length of most of these rivers is less than 10 km. Only 24 rivers are over 100 kilometres long. According to flow, rivers can be grouped as constant flowing rivers, drying rivers and temporary flowing rivers. Flow of rivers depends on the amount of underground and rain waters.
All rivers in Azerbaijan belong to the Caspian Sea basin and they are divided into 3 groups:
- rivers belonging to Kur river basin (left and right banks) except Araz river;
- Araz river basin and;
- directly flowing into Caspian Sea (rivers in north-eastern part of Azerbaijan and Lankaran region rivers).
The Kur river is the biggest river in Azerbaijan and almost in South Caucasus. It originates from Turkey. Its length is 1515 km and it covers 900 km of Azerbaijani territory. The biggest branch of the Kur is Araz and its length is 1072 km. The basin of Araz is about 54.2 % of the Kur river’s basin, but its discharge is nearly 2 times less than Kur. The Araz river forms the Azerbaijan-Iran border in the distance of 580 km.

According to the mode of origin and runoff, there are about 250 natural fresh and salty lakes in Azerbaijan, except the artificial reservoirs and the Caspian Sea. Tufangol is a glacial lake for its origin, as well as Göy-göl, Maral-gol, Gara-gol, Batabat are landslide lakes; Aghgol, Sarysu, Mehman, and Hajigabul are oxbow lakes; Ajinohur, Boyukshor, Binagadi are the largest saline lakes.

Climate

The geographical characteristics of the location, the difficult relief, the distribution and features of the weather, temperature, humidity,
and precipitation stipulate the exceptional diversity of the weather and the climatic types. Therefore, nine out of 13 climate patterns can be found in Azerbaijan based on the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system.

The main climate groups – semi-arid (steppe), temperate (humid subtropical and marine west coast), and continental climates are observed.

The semi-arid (steppe) or dry subtropical climate is characteristic of the Kur-Araz lowland and Absheron. The humid subtropical climate is found only in the south of the Talysh Mountains and it is typical of the lowlands and the Lankaran lowlands. The temperate climate is observed mainly in the slopes covered with the forests of the Greater and the Lesser Caucasus, which have dry, mild dry, mild humid and mild cold temperatures. A hot-summer humid continental climate usually occurs in the highlands of the Lesser Caucasus. A cold climate is observed in high mountain ranges, peaks of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, and in the foothills of alpine and subalpine meadows.

The average annual temperature in the lowlands and the coastal regions south to the Absheron Peninsula is +14– 15⁰C, while it declines with proximity to the mountains, ranging from 4– 5⁰C to less than 0⁰C. The absolute maximum temperature is 43⁰C, but the absolute minimum drops to -30⁰C, both of which are observed in the Nakhchivan depression and at the highlands.

The annual rate of relative humidity has a specific character. Near the sea, the average monthly value of this indicator is 80-85 % in winter and 70-75% in summer, and in mountains - 70 %. The relative humidity in summer is much less in the area far from the sea than in coastal areas (on average 20% less).

The rainfall is also unevenly distributed across the country. During the year, less average annual rainfall (less than 200 mm) falls on the Absheron peninsula and the Araz valley strip of the Nakhchivan. It is 200-300 mm in the Kur-Araz lowland, 600-800 mm in the Lesser Caucasus and northeastern slopes of the Greater Caucasus. The precipitation can reach 1200-1300 mm at the altitudes of 2000-2500 meters of the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus, and with the highest rainfall (1200-1700 mm) in the south of the Lankaran lowland and at the foothills of the Talysh Mountains.

Landscape and floristic division

The diverse landscapes of Azerbaijan are mainly stipulated by the influence of climatic and geomorphological factors. Some types of landscapes are changed from the west to the east in connection with the arid climate in this direction and the altitude due to the changing thermal conditions and moisture while climbing in the mountains.

In accordance with modern phytogeographic division, Azerbaijan is situated at the junction of mainly three floristic regions:
- Circumboreal;
- Mediterranean;
- Irano-Turanian.
The analysis of Azerbaijan flora and the geographic distribution of plant species, and the determination of the main natural areas were carried out by many researchers during XX century. In recent decades, many references have been made to the floristic and botanical-geographical delineation of the Caucasus according to the “sectoral” principle of A.A. Grossheim (1928, 1936, 1946, 1948).

According to L. Prilipko (1960), Azerbaijan can be divided into twenty botanical-geographical regions. 
1. Samur-Devechi lowlands
2. Caspian lowlands
3. Quba massif in the Greater Caucasus
4. Eastern (AZ) Greater Caucasus
5. Western (AZ) Greater Caucasus
6. Alazan-Ayrichay valley
7. Bozgir plateau
8. Gobustan
9. Absheron
10.Kur plain
11.Kur-Araz lowlands  
12.Northern (AZ) Lesser Caucasus
13.Central (AZ) Lesser Caucasus
14.Southern (AZ) Lesser Caucasus
15.Mountain part of Nakhchivan
16.Nakhchivan plain
17.Lankaran-Mugan
18.Mountain part of Lankaran
19.Lankaran lowlands
20.Diabar (Zuvand)


 

 
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