One of the six independent Turkic states in the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south and west, while having a short border with Turkey to the northeast. The majority-Armenian populated Mountainous Karabakh autonomous region in the southwest of Azerbaijan declared independence in 1991 after which Azerbaijan launched a war that lasted from 1991-1994.
Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It holds observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and the World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union.
Azerbaijan is a nation with a majority Turkic and Shi’ite Muslim population is a secular and a unitary republic. Along with the other nations in the Transcaucasus, Azerbaijan gained short-term independence for the first time ever in 1918-1921 before joining the Soviet Union.
Azerbaijan is one of the founding members of GUAM and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and joined the Commonwealth of Independent State in 1993. A Special Envoy of the European Commission is present in the country which is also a member of the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the NATO Partnership for Peace program.