People of Azerbaijan

  • 1889

According to the 1999 population census, the ethnic composition of the population is: 90.6% Azeris, 2.2% Lezgins, 1.8% Russians, 1.5% Armenians (almost all live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh), 1.0% Talysh (disputed as too low by Talysh nationalists), 0.6% Avars, 0.5% Turks, 0.4% Tatars, 0.4% Ukrainians, 0.2% Tsakhur, 0.2% Georgians, 0.13% Kurds, 0.13% Tats, 0.1% Jews, 0.05% Udins, other 0.2%. Many Russians left Azerbaijan during the 1990s.

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According to the 1989 census, there were 392,000 ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan, or 5.6% of the population. According to the statistics, about 390,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1989.

Language

Although Azerbaijani (also called Azeri) is the most widely spoken language in the country and is spoken by about a quarter of the population of Iran.

There are 13 other languages spoken natively in the country. Some of these languages are very small communities, others are more vital.

Azerbaijani is a Turkic language which belongs to the Altaic family and is mutually intelligible with Turkish.

The language is written with a modified Latin alphabet today, but was earlier written in the Arabic alphabet (until 1929), in the Uniform Turkic Alphabet (1929-1939), and in the Cyrillic alphabet (1939-1991).

The changes in alphabet have been largely molded by religious and political forces.