The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (Azərbaycan Demokratik Respublikası) is a transcontinental state in both Europe and Asia. It borders Georgia, Armenia, Russia, and Iran. It is notable for being the second secular, democratic republic in the Muslim world.
The Persians turned Caucasian Albania, which is an entirely separate entity from the nation of Albania, part of which is in modern-day Azerbaijan, into a vassal in BCE 252. King Urnayr of Albania accepted Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century CE. While fully subordinate to Persia, Albania retained its monarchy. In the first half of the 7th century AD, the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate repulsed both the Persians and Byzantines from the Caucasus region and turned Albania into a cassal state. It remained under Muslim rule through the Islamic conquest of Persia as it made up part of their territory upon the advent of the conquest. After the decline of the Caliphate, the power vacuum was filled by numerous different monarchies including the Sallarids, Sajids, Shaddadids, Rawadids and Buyids. The territory of Azerbaijan was later seized by waves of Oghuz tribes from Central Asia. The first of these Turkish dynasties were the Seljuqs, who entered modern Azerbaijan in 1067 CE. The pre-Turkic population that lived on the territory of modern Azerbaijan Democratic Republic spoke several Indo-European and Caucasian languages, among them the Armenian and an Iranian language known as Old Azari, which is the predecessor to the modern Azerbaijani language. Locally, the possessions of the subsequent Seljuq Empire were ruled by Atabegs, who were technically vassals of the Seljuq sultans. During their conquest and persecution by the Iranian Safavids in 1501, the last dynasty imposed Shia Islam upon the formerly Sunni population, as it was battling the Ottoman Empire. This, in combination with other events, made Azerbaijan and Iran the only Shiite-majority nations. Azerbaijan was briefly administered by the Russians during the Russo-Persian War, foreshadowing Azerbaijan's later fate.
After the Safavids, the area was ruled by the Iranian dynasties of Afshar and Zand and briefly by the Qajars, until the area was ceded to Russia during the early 1830s. However, de facto independent khanates emerged in the area. These khanates, while often self-ruling, were vassals of the Iranian shah. After this war, Russia changed to a more aggressive stance against its two rival southern neighbors; the Persians and Ottomans, which started back in 1795 when Russia annexed modern-day Georgia from Iran. Following Qajar Iran's loss in the 1804-1813 war, it was forced to concede suzerainty over most of the khanates (alongside Georgia and Dagestan) to Imperial Russia. As a result of this, the Azerbaijani ethnic group is divided between Iran and Azerbaijan. After the collapse of Imperial Russia, Azerbaijan, along with neighboring Georgia and Armenia, merged to become the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. However, this didn't last long and all three nations went their separate ways. When the republic dissolved in May 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The ADR was important for being the second secular and democratic nation in the Muslim world, as well as giving equal suffrage and political rights to women and men. It also founded the Baku State University, the first modern-type university in its area. Azerbaijan is a relatively wealthy nation benefitting from oil trade and its strategic position between two major powers; Iran and Russia.