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Seeing beyond Baku

Ganja - Sheki: Seeing more of Azerbaijan

Over the past two days I ventured outside the have had an interesting journey seeing more of Azerbaijan. When an person is living and working in another country, they mainly live in the capital, but its easy to become stuck in the "Capital-bubble", not fully understanding the country and what builds up the mentality, traditions, culture and subtle gestures that is so important for understanding the country you are living in.


In the Soviet Union Baku was a cosmopolitan city with a large number of Russian, Armenian and Jewish Populations. At one point there was only about 27% Azeris living in Baku. However after the collapse of the Soviet Union and release of the Karabakh war, these expats moved back to their native lands. This left a huge population void to be filled, and many Azeris moved from the country side in to the city. Now 90% of the population are Azeris, most of them being first or second generation Bakuvian.

The new Bakuvians bring with them the traditions, experience and culture from their own place, so even to understand Baku's urban population you have to understand where people are coming from.

Because of this I decided I needed to see and travel beyond Baku to get a fuller picture on the country as a whole. My first stop (9 hour train from Baku) was the 2nd largest city in Azerbaijan; Ganja. The city has a population of about 313 000, and is mainly agricultural based as well as having some industries around. It also has some universities, but many of the youth travel to Baku for university. Ganja also had a big armenian population, but they left when the war started.


There are a lot of NGOs present in the city, and AIESEC is also represented, I had a chance visit to the AIESEC in Ganja and we had some trainings.

By the time we were finished with the trainings the last bus to out next stop had left, so we took a taxi (3hours) to out next stop; Sheki. We arrived it was late, but we found a hotel that was still open, and got a cottage to stay for the night. We decided to take a walk to see what was around. There were no streetlights on the street we were at, so the only light came from the cars that sped by in the night.

Sheki is a small city in the north of Azerbaijan, on the edge of the Greater Cacuasus Mountain range. There are some industries, but tourism is a big part of the economy. Tourist from Azerbaijan as well as foreigners come to relax and see the sights. Among other things the Caravansarai, an old "hotel", which was constructed by the Sheki Khans to house caravans as they passed through on the Silk Road to and from China.


The trip was insightful and for me exposed me to some "exotic" new sights, like cows, chickens and sheep wandering the streets, 30 people crowding around the ATM trying to take out their salary, semi-desert landscape. I will definitely try to go out of the city as soon as possible again to see, learn and understand more.

Until the next time I will enjoy Baku.

Posted by CamillaS 11:12 Archived in Azerbaijan

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Veldig fint å se at du har det bra og bloggen din er skikkelig bra Camilla.:)

by kristinmarie

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