Background. A secular nation comprising a largely Muslim-Turkic population (known as Azeris), this Caucasus-region country was first declared a state in 1501 under Shah Ismail Safavi. Gradually, it was absorbed into present-day Iran and then Czarist Russia. When the Russian Empire collapsed after World War I, the country briefly formed a republic with fellow Caucasus neighbors Georgia and Armenia, known as the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative...
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