Azerbaijan is one of the oldest spots of civilization, a country with a rich and ancient history. A rich cultural heritage has been created on its territory over the span of many millenniums, contributing to the treasure-house of World culture. The discovery of Azykh cave, the earliest habitation of man to be found in the world, and a number of habitations of the ancient Stone Age prove that Azerbaijan enters the zone of anthropoids to reveal the birthplace of mankind. The main traces of civilization are viewed in Azerbaijan. In the 3rd millennium B.C. the process of tribe formation was going on here and by the 1st millennium B.C. the first political formations had emerged. Azerbaijan State system was being formed in the 9th century B.C.: Manna state with high economic and cultural level had emerged.
The pantheons of divinities were created. Manna believed in natural phenomena; the Sun, the Moon. The first part of the 6th century B.C. Manna was conquered by Media. The official religion was Zoroastrism, the spread of which was connected with self-kindled resources of oil and gas. A great part was played by the Atropatena and Caucasian Albania in the process of the formation of separate state structure on the territory of Azerbaijan in antiquity. The name of the country is connected with the name of the Atropatena ruler – Atropat which was later transformed into Azerbaijan. It is in Atropatena that the process of formation of Azerbaijan nationality began. In the 3rd -5th centuries the Azerbaijan state system was strengthening. Christianity was petrating into Azerbaijan. In Transcaucasus one of the first apostolic Christian churches appeared spiritual and secular life was progressing. At the beginning of the 5th century the Albanic alphabet was introduced and promoted the development of education. The unique monuments of culture and literature, architectural traditions of that period have been preserved to the present. Azerbaijan was conquered by Arabs at the beginning of the 8th century and made part of the Arab Khalifat as the vilayet Arran.
The 20th century entered the history of the Azerbaijan people as the period of radical changes in socio-economic, political and cultural life. A range of upstream and downstream industrial branches were intensively developing in Azerbaijan. Baku turned into the world centre of oil extraction and refinery yielding more than half of the worlds and 95 % of Russia’s oil extraction totals. The cultural life enlivened.
Archaeologist dates the first human settlements in present day Azerbaijan to the Stone Age. Pre-historic cave dwellings have been excavated throughout Azerbaijan, one of the more important being the excavation at Gobustan, famous for its rock paintings.
The roots of present day Azerbaijan trace back to the fourth century B.C., with the emergence of the two kingdoms of Caucasian Albania in the north, and the Atropatan in the south. The latter takes its name from its founder, Atropat, a satrap of Alexander the Great. In fact many historians believe the word “Azerbaijan” itself derives from Atropatan, whereas others think that it means “The country of fire”