Azerbaijan, on the ethnic diversity, reminds of a large-size, multi-color carpet.
Languages of the nationalities living in the territory of modern Azerbaijan mainly belong to four large language families which are the Turkic, North Caucasian, Indo-European and Kartvelian language families. However, in today's ethno-linguistic conditions in the country, dominating is the Azerbaijani language that belongs to the Oghuz group of the Turkic languages. So, the vast majority of the population of the Republic of Azerbaijan speaks this language. Modern Azerbaijani language was formed during the long-term historical development on the basis of languages of the Turkic tribes inhabiting the territory of the present Azerbaijan since the beginning of the 1st Millennium.
The North Caucasian languages in the territory of Azerbaijan are presented by the Lezgin, Avar, Tsakhur, Udi, Khinalug, Budug and Kryz languages. These languages are mainly spoken in the northeastern regions of the country. By number of speakers in the territory of Azerbaijan the most widespread North Caucasian language is the Lezgin language that belongs to the Lezgin subgroup of the Dagestani group of the North Caucasian language family.
The Udi language also belongs to the Lezgin subgroup of the North Caucasian language family (note that the question of belonging of the Udi language to the Lezgin subgroup of languages is a controversial issue). At present, the Udis mainly reside in the Nij village of Gabala region, the rest of the Udis live in the region center of Oguz.
The Lezgin subgroup of the Dagestan language group in the territory of Azerbaijan includes the Tsakhur language as well. The Tsakhurs inhabited the territory of 3 regions - Gakh (the Gum and Saribash villages), Zaqatala (Yeni Suvagil, Gezbarah, Kach and Mukhakh villages) and the Balaken region.
The "Shahdag group" of languages spoken in the north-east of Azerbaijan – Khinalug, Budug and Kryz languages – also belongs to the Lezgin subgroup of the Dagestani language group. The Khinalug language is spoken by residents of the Khinalug village in the Guba region. The Budugs live in the villages of Budug, Guney Budug and Deli Gaya of Guba region, while the Kryz - in the Elik, Jek and Haput villages of the same region.
The Avar language, mainly spoken in the territory of Zaqatala and Balaken regions, also belongs to the Avar-Ando-Didoy subgroup of the Dagestan language group of the North Caucasian language family.
The Iranian languages group of the Indo-European family of languages in the territory of Azerbaijan is presented by the Tat, Talysh and Kurdish languages.
The Tat language belongs to the southwestern subgroup of the Iranian languages, mainly spoken in several villages of the Absheron Peninsula and in the territories of Khizi, Siyazan, Shabran and Guba regions. The Tats are divided into three religious groups: Muslim Tats, Christian Tats (Monophysites) and the Tats-Judaists or Mountain Jews.
The Talysh language belongs to the north-western subgroup of the Iranian languages. This language is spoken in the southwest of Azerbaijan - in the territory of Lankaran, Astara, Lerik and Masalli regions.
The Kurdish language belongs to the western subgroup of the Iranian languages. The Kurdish language is spoken in the territories of Lachin, Gubadli, Kalbajar and some other southwest regions of Azerbaijan.
The Indo-European family of languages in the territory of Azerbaijan is presented by the Russian and Armenian languages.
The Russian language belongs to the North Slavic subgroup of Slavic group of the Indo-European family of languages. Speakers of the Russian language in Azerbaijan mainly reside in the cities of the Republic, first of all, in Baku.
The Armenian language represents a separate group of the Indo-European languages, and is spoken in several regions of the mountainous part of Karabakh.
The Kartvelian language family in Azerbaijan is presented by the Georgian language. Speakers of this language are the Muslim and Christian Ingiloys. They are inhabited mainly in the Gakh, Zaqatala and Balaken regions of the country.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has an ethnically diverse population. Representatives of more than 100 ethnos live in the country.Azerbaijanis constitute the majority of the population in Azerbaijan (over 90%) that amount to 9 million 705 thousand people (as of the beginning of 2016). Approximately, more than 50 million Azerbaijanis live in the world today. Millions of Azerbaijanis compactly living in Iran, Georgia and Dagestan are the ancient inhabitants of these areas. 30 million of Azerbaijanis live only in Iran. Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis who were indigenous people of present Armenia in the 20th century repeatedly were deported from these territories. Lots of Azerbaijanis who at various times moved from Azerbaijan, lives in the CIS countries – in Russia, the republics of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, etc. and also in the European and American continents.
Language of the Azerbaijanis belongs to the southwestern or the Oguz group of Turkic languages. This language is very close to the Turkish, Turkmen and Gagauz languages, and also to the language of the Crimean Tatars. The Azerbaijani language has historically played a role of communication not only within the country, but also among the peoples living in all the Caucasus and in the Asia Minor. In the 19th century, outstanding writers and travelers of Europe and Russia (E. Reclus, A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, F. Bodenstedt, M. Lermontov, etc.) have highly appreciated the role of Azerbaijani language in the region. The Russian writer A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky wrote that the Azerbaijani language of the Caucasus slightly differs from the Turkish language. Just as knowing the French you can walk around all Europe, in the same way, knowing the Azerbaijani language, you can walk across all Asia.
It should be certainly noted the binding role of Azerbaijanis among the nations living in this country. Undoubtedly, this phenomenon stems from the national mentality of Azerbaijanis, their tolerance towards cultures of other peoples.
Along with Azerbaijanis, representatives of a number of other small peoples and ethnic minorities live in the republic. The Tats, Talyshes, Kurds, Mountain Jews belonging to the Iranian languages group of the Indo-European family of languages, the Lezgins, Avars, Udis, Tsakhurs, belonging to the Avar-Ando-Tsez subgroup of the East Caucasian (Dagestani) group of the Caucasian family of languages, the peoples of “Shahdag group” (Khinalug, budug, Kryz), the Ingiloys belonging to the Kartvelian group of the Caucasian languages family and speaking on an Ingiloy dialect of Georgian language, live here. Besides, the Russians who have settled in the 30s of the 19th century and belonging to the East Slavic languages group, and also since 50-60s of the 20th century the Meskhetian Turks live in Azerbaijan.
The territorial unity, similar socio-economic, geographical and historical conditions have led to the formation of the common features of life and culture, customs and traditions of Azerbaijanis and small peoples.Undoubtedly, in this, an important role was played by intensive trade-economic and ethno-cultural relations among the peoples.
Throughout history there were established harmonious, peaceful, inter-ethnic relations among the peoples living in Azerbaijan, and there was no ground for the ethnic conflicts and tension.The common and peculiar features of traditional life and culture of the peoples living in Azerbaijan are in close unity and complement each other. At the same time, each people, irrespective of the number of his representatives, have specific and local culture. The cultural centers functioning in the Republic of Azerbaijan plays an important role in revival and preservation of national customs and traditions of these people. These peoples take an active part in socio-political life of the Republic.
According to the population census of Azerbaijan conducted from April 13 to April 22, 2009, the number of Talyshes in the territory of the republic has amounted to 112 thousand people.
The Jews (9.1 thousand people, 2009). The Mountain Jews living in Azerbaijan have settled in the Krasnaya Sloboda (Red Settlement), Guba region, in the center of Oguz region and in Baku. The Red Settlement is the biggest settlement of compacted residence of the Jews. In the documents of the population census in Azerbaijan conducted in 1999, the data on Mountain Jews have been provided in composition of data on the European Jews (Ashkenazi). The Mountain Jews who have once left their historical Homeland, and arrived to Iran have acquired the Tat language here, and have preserved the main essence of Judaic religion. During the Sassanid period they have been moved to the Northern Azerbaijan.
Migration of the European Jews from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland to Azerbaijan began in the early 19th century. Their migration to Baku increased following the development of the oil industry since the 70s of the 19th century. Most of the European Jews live in the cities (in particular, in Baku).
As a result of the policy pursued by Armenians throughout centuries, a part of Udis (living in the settlement of Nij) were Gregorianized by Armenians and the other part (living in Oguz) has undergone the influence of the Georgian Orthodox Church and became Georgians. Traditional occupation of Udis is agriculture. In the past, they were also engaged in silkworm breeding and national crafts (woodcarving, weaving, etc.).
Armenians (120.7 thousand, 1999) live mainly in the mountainous part of Karabakh. Their mass resettlement from Iran and Turkey to this region began in the 20-30s of the 19th century. The Armenian language belongs to the Indo-European language family. The Armenians are Christian Monophysites. It was impossible to conduct a population census in 2009 in the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast occupied as a result of the territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan.
According to population census of 2009, 25.2 thousand Tatars and 21.5 thousand Ukrainians live in Azerbaijan.
Besides, more than 10 thousand representatives of other nationalities live in the territory of the country.
In Azerbaijan, representatives of all nationalities, small peoples, ethnic minorities and ethnic groups live together in harmony, in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect.