NEAR EAST UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF TOURISM AND HOTEL
THM 422 – SOCIOLOGY OF TOURISM
Student: Elchin MAMMADOV / 20090717
Instructor: Derviş YÜKSEL
Culture and Tourism in Azerbaijan
CULTURE AND TOURISM
Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted
behavior that includes the ideas, values, customs,
knowledge and habits shared by the members of a
“ The collective programming of the mind which
distinguishes the members of one group or category
from those of another”
• “Something that shapes behavior or structures one’s
perceptions of the world.”
Cultural tourism - is the form of tourism concerned with
a country or region's arts and culture. It generally
focuses on traditional communities who have diverse
customs, unique form of art and distinct social
practices, which basically distinguishes it from other
types/forms of culture.
Degree of Formality
Azerbaijan, officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, is the
largest country in the Caucasus region located at the
crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.
Population: 9.298 million (2012)
Government: Unitary state, Presidential system,
Constitutional republic, Republic
Continent: Asia, Europe
Ethnic Makeup: Azeri 90.6%, Dagestani 2.2%, Russian
1.8%, Armenian 1.5%, other 3.9% (1999 census)
Religions: Muslim 93.4%, Russian Orthodox 2.5%,
Armenian Orthodox 2.3%, other 1.8%
Azerbaijan- Language, Culture, Customs and
Language in Azerbaijan
The official language is Azerbaijani or "Azeri", a Turkic
language. In 1994 it was estimated that some 82% of
Azerbaijan's citizens speak Azerbaijani as their first
language. In addition, 38% of Azerbaijanis speak Russian
fluently to accommodate Russian domination of the
economy and politics. The Azerbaijani language is part of
the 'Oghuz', or 'Western Turkic', group of Turkic languages,
together with Anatolian Turkish (spoken in Turkey) and
Turkmen (spoken in Turkmenistan). Dialectical differences
between Azerbaijani and Anatolian Turkish have been
attributed to Mongolian and Turkic influences. Despite these
differences, Anatolian Turkish speakers and Azerbaijanis can
often understand one another if they speak carefully. Spoken
Azerbaijani includes several dialects. Since the nineteenth
century, Russian loanwords (particularly technical terms)
and grammatical and lexical structures have entered the
Azerbaijani language in Russian-controlled Azerbaijan, as
have Persian words in Iranian Azerbaijan. The resulting
variants remain mutually intelligible, however.
Azeri Society & Culture
The family forms the basic social structure in
This goes back to many Azeris' history as rural
dwellers where a clan (hoj) would share land and
work together to form a tight circle.
A hoj would sometimes consist of up to 40 members.
Nowadays the family is a lot smaller - usually a
married couple with children and possibly
Families still work as an interdependent unit
andexpect to receive both financial and emotional
support from others.
Gender roles are still fairly traditional in much of
Azeris are still a very hierarchical society.
o Culture, traditions, family and religious affiliation often take precedence over
o When the government has trouble resolving an issue, the president often
appeals to the "agh sakkal" (prominent and respected people) to help find a
solution. "Agh sakkal" means "white beard".
Folklore and Superstition
o Azeri culture, due to its rural roots and culturally rich tapestry, has many
superstitions. Examples include:
- A cat crossing your path means bad luck in business.
- Salt accidentally spilled means you are about to quarrel. Sprinkle sugar on
the salt to counter this.
- Leaving scissors with opened blades brings misfortune and even death.
- If you meet a person with empty buckets, you are bound for misfortune.
- If you meet a person with bread and full bags, you will have good luck.
- Never hurry to a funeral ceremony.
- Do not cross the way the funeral train goes.
- If the first person you meet on your way to work is male, you will have good
- Do not lend money or bread at night.
- Throwing a bowl of water in the wake of a person who sets off for a business
trip or long journey brings the person luck and helps them to return home safe
Azeri Customs and Etiquette
Meeting and Greeting
o Like most cultures in the area, Azeris like warm and
o Men greet each other with a handshake, a kiss on the
cheek and "salaam" (literally 'peace' but meaning 'hello').
o Women hug and kiss each other once on the left cheek.
Azeri women do not generally shake hands among
themselves, although many will shake hands with a
o Males should wait and see if a woman extends her hand
(although most will the more religious may not) - if they do
shake it lightly.
o Always take a moment to ask about family, health and
o First names are generally used in social situations if the
speakers are of similar ages.
o If you do not know the person well, use their first name
followed by an appropriate title. For women, use "hanum"
Gift Giving Etiquette
o Azeris mainly exchange gifts for birthdays, weddings
o In Azeri culture it is the thought behind the gift, rather
than the price, that matters.
o It is customary to refuse a gift at least twice before
reluctantly accepting it. Always insist it is too much and
the giver should not have gone to any trouble.
o If you are invited to an Azeri's home for dinner, bring
flowers or pastries to the hostess. Ask the shop where
you buy them to wrap them for you. It is considered
polite to reciprocate hospitality with a small gift.
o Always give an odd number of flowers. Even numbers
are reserved for funerals.
o Avoid giving alcohol unless you are certain your host
o Gifts are generally not opened when received.
If you are invited to a Azeri home for food:
o Remove your shoes before entering the house. You may
be offered slippers to wear.
o Punctuality is not paramount. Arriving within 30 minutes of
the stipulated time is socially acceptable,
o Dress casually but smartly. Never wear tight or revealing
o If there are many people present shake hands with
o Table manners are fairly formal. If in doubt watch what
o Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be
shown to a particular seat.
o Keep your elbows off the table and your hands above the
table when eating.
o The hostess generally serves the food. The elderly are
served first, then the guests, and finally the children.
Cultural Tourism in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a country of rich cultural and historic
heritage. Over thousands of years it cradled high
culture and was in the thick of major historic events.
Many caravan routs including the Great Silk Way run
through Azerbaijan. They linked ancient civilizations
like Sumer, Assyria, Greece, Rome, Iran, Turkey, India,
China and other. Most of those civilizations left their
mark on the history and culture of Azerbaijan. Today,
more than 6 thousand historic and cultural monuments
are scattered over the country, 65 of which belong to
the monuments of universal importance. Walled City of
Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden
Tower, as well as Gobustan Rock Art Cultural
Landscape are included in the World Heritage List by
Currently, Azerbaijan is proposing a number of
international historical and cultural routes, which are
now prepared for international certification in
collaboration with European cultural route institutions.
These include the Wine Tour, Great Silk Way,
Alexander Dumas in Caucasus, reflecting the variety of
tastes and preferences.
There is a tradition of announcement of cultural and art
capitals of Azerbaijan in various areas for each year.
For instance, in year 2012 Masalli is announced the
"Capital of folklore", Guba the "Capital of Crafts" and
Gedabek the "Capital of Legends". Also Baku was
announced the Capital of Islamic Culture for year 2009
The people of Azerbaijan are among the oldest nations
in the world with the rich culture, art and music. It is no
coincidence that the richest museums in the world
possess numerous pieces of Azerbaijani material and
spiritual culture. Moreover, the traditional art of
Azerbaijani carpet weaving, the art of Azerbaijani
ashiqs, Novruz and Azerbaijani mugham are among
the elements of the intangible cultural heritage of
humanity, the list of which is held by UNESCO. There
are 226 museums in the country itself, which offer their
visitors a possibility to plunge into the world of history,
culture and art of the Azerbaijani people.
At present, the day-to-day life in Azerbaijan is also rich
of many cultural events both of national and of
international importance. Exhibitions, literary evenings,
theater festivals are of regular occurrence. Azerbaijan
hosts each year annual international music festivals like
Gabala International Music Festival, International
Rostropovich Festival, International Vocalists Contest,
Baku Jazz Festival, International Mugham Festival that
attract world-famous music figures and connoisseurs.
These festivals are justifiably ranked among
authoritative international cultural events of a year. In
2012, the city of Baku hosted the "Eurovision"
international song contest following its success in the
last year's round. The number of guests who visited
Azerbaijan during the Eurovision - 2012 song contest,
including contestants and delegation, is in the range of
6000 to 7000 people. In addition 103,000 people had
crossed the border of Azerbaijan during the 15 days.
Baku will host the first European Games in 2015,
FIDE World Cup 2015 and World Chess Olympiad
2016. These major events in the World of Sport will
play a significant role in tourists attraction and the
development of tourism infrastructure in Azerbaijan.
The number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan for the
purpose of acquaintance with its national history and
culture, as well as to participate in various cultural
events is increasing fast.