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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen
Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire
    2017-June-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

This week, we’ll start visiting a different country each time, coming to grips with the basic facts and some colorful asides regarding the many nations of the world.

First up is Azerbaijan, which lies in the South Caucasus. It is bordered by Russia on the north, the Caspian Sea on the east, Iran on the south, Armenia on the west, and Georgia on the northwest. The official language is Azerbaijani, a member of the Turkic language family. This includes not only Turkish itself, but over 33 others, making it one of the world’s primary language families. Minority languages include Armenian, Georgian, Russian, and over a dozen more.

It is described politically as a “unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic.” That means it has a strong central government ruled by a single party, has both a president and a prime minister, and uses an elective system for choosing its leaders.

It became independent from the Russian Empire in 1918 — then the first democracy in the Muslim east — but fell under Soviet influence two years later. It did not become fully independent again until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Although there is no state religion, nearly 97 percent are Muslim (though in one poll, some 53 percent said religion has little to no importance to them, making it virtually secular). The economy and literacy rate are growing rapidly, and it has a low rate of unemployment.

So much for the bare facts. The country’s name may derive from that of Atropates, a Persian trader and nobleman who served both Darius III (the last king of the powerful Achaemenid Empire, ranked as the 19th largest in history) and later served Alexander the Great (whose empire ranked close behind, at number 21). His name meant something like “protected by fire,” and may have derived from the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, developed some 3,500 years ago in what is now Iran. Thus it is sometimes called “The Land of Fire.”

The 12 stories in the “Book of Dede Korkut” constitute a sort of national epic, portraying a series of cultural heroes (tied also to several other Turkic countries). Other arts include rugs, folk dance, and romantic poetry.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. meeting, dealing with

2. departures from the main point

3. information without additional details

4. placed in order

5. sampling of information

6. not dominant

7. main

8. official belief system

9. old word for “Iranian”

10. floor coverings, carpets

 

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