Azerbaijan possesses a rich history of statehood which extends over approximately 5000 years. The first state organizations here have first appearedat the end of 4th millennium andbeginning of 3rd millennium before our era.
Due to advantageous geographical location and favorable climatic conditions, Azerbaijan from ancient times provoked a great interest of various empires and states. In the period from 3rd century to 7th century AD, Azerbaijan was occupied first by the Iranian Sassanid Empire, and then by the Arab Caliphate. Both empires have relocated to the country a large population of Iranian and Arab origin. However, it was the Caliphate and Islam, which they professed, played one of the key roles in the history of the formation of the people and the state of Azerbaijan. It is with the adoption of the Islamic religion that the history of Azerbaijan has undergone a radical change. Islam gave a strong impulse to the formation of a unified nation, language, customs, etc.
The adoption of Islam has played an important role in political development, and the states of ofSajids, Shirvanshahs, Salaries, Ravvadids and Shaddadis were established on the lands of Azerbaijan. The renaissance era has started and each of these states has left an important mark in the nation’s history, by becoming a part of its cultural heritage.
Towards the end of XV century and beginning of XVI century the statehood of Azerbaijan has entered into a complete new phase of its history. The distinguished statesman, Shah Ismail Khatai has united all the southern and northern territories of Azerbaijan under his own state power. Thus, Safavids State, the first united and centralized Azerbaijani state came into existence with Tabriz as its capital, later becoming one of the most powerful empires of the Middle and Near East. This state has covered the territories of modern Azerbaijan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, eastern Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, as well as a part of Pakistan, south of Uzbekistan, eastern part of Syria and the southern part of Russia (Derbent).
The great military commander and warrior Nadir Shah who came to power after the downfall of the Sefevids State, has further expanded the boundaries of the former Sefevid Empire. In the year of 1739, this grand ruler of Azerbaijan conquered Delhi and got hold of the Northern regions of India as well. However, after the death of Nadir Shah, his empire has fallen and collapsed and during the second half of XVIII century Azerbaijan was divided into the different small states – khanates and sultanates.
At the end of XVIII century, the Azerbaijani dynasty of Qajars came to power in Iran. They have started pursuing the policy of bringing all the territories once ruled by Nadir Shah, including the Azerbaijani khanates, under acentral authority. Thus, a longera of wars has started between Qajarsand Russia, which was striving to occupy the Southern Caucasus. As a result, on the basis ofthe Gulustan (1813) and Turkmenchay (1828) agreements, Azerbaijan was divided between the two empires: Northern Azerbaijan was annexed to Russia and Southern Azerbaijan was annexed to Iran.