Azerbaijan: land of fire

On the Absheron Peninsula of the Caspian Sea thousands of years ago, flames rising from the ground that never flickered out so astonished itinerant Persians that they named the area “Azerbaijan”-the land of fire.Later, fire-worshipers from India, the Zoroastrians, built their Atashgah temple, which still stands, on the outskirts of the oil-rich country’s capital city Baku. Today tourists seek out Fire Mountain and other area sites where natural gas still seeping through fissures in the earth continue to burn.Early area wells (oil “springs”) were dug by hand and oil exported for 2,500 years to Iran and Iraq in camel caravans loaded with skins containing the oi...

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