Country Listing

Azerbaijan Table of Contents


Smaller Ethnic Minorities


Figure 9. Ethnic Groups in Azerbaijan

After the Azerbaijanis, Russians, and Armenians, the next largest group is the Lezgins (Daghestanis), the majority of whom live across the Russian border in Dagestan, but 171,000 of whom resided in northern Azerbaijan in 1989 (see fig. 9). The Lezgins, who are predominantly Sunni (see Glossary) Muslims and speak a separate Caucasian language, have called for greater rights, including the right to maintain contacts with Lezgins in Russia. In October 1992, President Elchibey promised informally that border regulations would be interpreted loosely to assuage these Lezgin concerns.

In 1989 another 262,000 people belonging to ninety other nationalities lived in Azerbaijan. These groups include Avars, Kurds, Talysh, and Tats. The Talysh in Azerbaijan, estimates of whose numbers varied from the official 1989 census figure of 21,000 to their own estimates of 200,000 to 300,000, are an Iranian people living in southeastern Azerbaijan and contiguous areas of Iran. Like the Lezgins, the Talysh have called for greater rights since Azerbaijan became independent.

In 1992 Elchibey attempted to reassure ethnic minorities by issuing an order that the government defend the political, economic, social, and cultural rights and freedoms of nonAzerbaijanis , and by setting up the Consultative Council on Interethnic Relations as part of the presidential apparatus. At no point were Armenians mentioned, however, among the protected ethnic minorities.

Data as of March 1994