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Geography, climate and population
Azerbaijan, with a total area of 86 600 km2, is located on the southeastern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. It is bordered to the east by the Caspian Sea, to the south by the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the southwest by Turkey, to the west by Armenia, to the northwest by Georgia and to the north by the Russian Federation. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan in the southwest is separated from the rest of the country by Armenia.
About 43 percent of the area of Azerbaijan is situated more than 1 000 m above sea level. The country can be divided into five main physiographic regions:
- the Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north, extending from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east, over the northern part of Georgia and Azerbaijan and the southern part of the Russian Federation;
- the Lesser Caucasus mountain range, south of the Greater Caucasus and covering the south of Georgia and Azerbaijan and the north of Armenia;
- the lowlands around the Kura and Araks Rivers;
- the Talish Mountains with the adjoining Lankaran lowland in the southeast, along the border with the Islamic Republic of Iran;
- the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in the southwest.
The cultivable area is estimated to be about 4.32 million ha, which is 50 percent of the total area of the country. In 2005, the cultivated area was 2.06 million ha, or 48 percent of the cultivable area, of which 1.84 million ha were annual crops and 0.22 million ha permanent crops (Table 1). Between 1993 and 2005 the cultivated area increased by 15 percent.
Azerbaijan is situated on the northern edge of the subtropical zone. Its climatic diversity is the result of its particular geographical location and landscape, the proximity of the Caspian Sea, the effect of sun’s radiation and air masses of different origin.
The climate in Azerbaijan is continental. The weather in the lowlands is arid, with average summer temperatures of over 22 °C. In the mountain regions, temperatures can fall below 0 °C in winter and in Nakhchivan severe frost may occur. Humid tropical weather prevails in the coastal zone near the Caspian Sea, mainly in the Lankaran lowlands in the southeast. The estimated average precipitation is 447 mm/year.
The total population is 8.4 million (2005), around 50 percent of which is rural. The average population density is 97 inhabitants/km2.
In 2006, 80 percent of the population had access to improved sanitation (90 and 70 percent in urban and rural areas respectively) and 78 percent had access to improved water sources (95 and 59 percent in urban and rural areas) (Table 1).