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Photo file Special features How life has changed Countdown to collapse Introduction Russian Version
Collapse of the USSR Countdown to collapse How life has changed Gorbachev webcast Photo file


Independence declared: 30 August 1991

Population: 7.7 million

Capital: Baku

President: Heydar Aliyev (since 18 June 1993)

 Country profile


Thereís a bigger choice of food now, but who can afford to buy it? I used to earn 140 roubles a month. My husband was an academic, and he earned almost 500 roubles. With this money we were able to travel every year throughout the Soviet Union. The bus and the metro cost 5 kopecks. Salaries today arenít even enough for transport. If you donít have a supplementary income from somewhere, you canít survive. I know academics who work as painters and decorators and so on. Iím now very ill, but we have to pay for medicine. In Soviet times, it was free. These days people can find themselves at deathís door, but they still donít go to the doctor because they simply have no money.

Gulnara Gasanova, 61, pensioner

Everyone lived well in Soviet times. Everyone received free education. We had confidence in the future. At weekends everyone relaxed. But today everyone is just trying to find work. People live from hand to mouth. Before, young people had families earlier. But todayís youth first think about where they will find work. And in the search for careers they end up emigrating.

Mariam Teimurova, 63, pensioner

In Soviet times everyone lived communally, there was no unemployment and living standards were high. But we did not value this enough.

Aliya Mamed-Zade, 53, teacher

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Oil field in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has many oil fields

Once the source of almost half of the worldís oil, Azerbaijan is now desperately poor.

With the start of perestroika, the mainly Armenian populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh called for unification with Armenia. Bouts of ethnic violence followed, but it was not until the Soviet Union collapsed that full-scale war broke out.

Azerbaijan lost control of almost a fifth of its land in the conflict, and a tenth of its population are now internally displaced.

Although it has attracted large amounts of foreign investment, enthusiasm to exploit its oil and gas reserves has since waned.

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