Azerbaijan, which covers an area of about 86,600 sq km (about 33,400 sq
mi), is a land of high mountain ranges and low river valleys. The Caucasus Mountains
form much of the country's northern border and contain Mount Bazardüzü, which
reaches a height of 4466 m (about 14,653 ft), the highest elevation in the republic.
The tallest mountains of the Lesser Caucasus (Malyy Kavkaz) form the country's
southeastern boundary and attain heights of about 3500 m (about 11,500 ft).
The central portion of the country is dominated by the Aras-Kura river valleys.
With the exception of the Länkäran Lowland in the subtropical southeast and
upper elevations in the mountainous zones, the climate is generally arid. Large-scale
canals divert water, primarily for agricultural purposes. The Verkhne-Karabakhskiy
Canal channels water from the Mingäçevir Reservoir on the upper Kura to the
Aras River. The Samur-Abseron Canal redirects water from the Samur River on
Azerbaijan's northern border to the Abseron Peninsula, which juts into the Caspian
Sea. Forests grow in the subalpine zone, which is inhabited by bear, deer, lynx,
and wild boar. The arid and semiarid lowlands support a great number of lizards,
poisonous snakes, and other reptiles.
The exceptions to this description are the four isolated valleys: one is on the northern slope of the Greater Caucasus (Gusar valley and Samur-Devechi lowlands) another is inside the Transcaucasian highland, (PriAraz valley of Nakhchivan), the third is on the Apsheron Peninsula descending far to the sea and the fourth is Lankaran lowland at the foot of the Talysh Mountains. These most striking features of the surface along with peculiarities of geographical position profoundly determine the diversity and bounties of its unique nature, comprising the features of the Caucasus and Middle Asia. Summers for the better part of the valleys are long dry and hot, landscape is semi-desertous, at times in salt-marsh even desertous. It rains only in cold months, agriculture without irrigation is impossible. In the mountains, steppes and thin forests go along with plentiful, broad-leaf forests. On Greater and Lesser Caucasus a lot of rivers flow from mountains to valleys. Larger rivers cross them while smaller rivers dry out, falling into a range of springs, creating "dry deltas", that flowing together form a line of an oasis so convenient for settling and farming. The main contrasts in the nature of Azerbaijan come from divergences between humid mountains and dry plains and between some separate high zones. The landscape varies from dry, hot or semi-humid subtropics to snow-capped highlands and glaciers. It is worth pointing out the originality of Azerbaijan nature, bound with the influence of certain local conditions on the general landscape, determined by its geographical position.
The Kur valley entirely belongs to Azerbaijan, except for its northwestern part, stretching to Georgia. This part becoming narrow in the northwestern part of the valley is separated by Middle Kur highland into two valleys - Alazan-Agrichay in the north and Ganja-Kazakh in the southwest. The Kur-Araz lowland, which like the Caspian lies entirely below ocean level, is bounded by hills and sloping valleys. On the west, at the foot of the Lesser Caucasus, the Karabakh and Mil plains descend to it on the north at the foot of the Great Caucasus - Shirvan plain. The banks of the Araz and Kur make Mugan plain extending to Iran. The Salyan plain and southeastern Shirvan stretch to the mouth of Kur. Not far from the Caspian coastline, archipelagoes of mud volcano isles emerge from the water, namely the Apsheron archipelago near the Apsheron Peninsula and the Baku archipelago near the coasts of Gobustan and the Kur-Araz lowland.
The southeast of the Lesser Caucasus is within the bounds of Azerbaijan. It is a system of several highlands exceeding 2,000-3,000 m. in height and a range of spurs of medium and low heights. Approximately in the middle the Terter river vale separates the Azerbaijan part of the Lesser Caucasus into two parts - northwest and southeast. The first is formed by a gentle arc of two ranges - Shakhdag with Ginaldag peak (3367 m) and Murov dag with Gyamish peak (3725). Both slopes of Murovdag belong to Azerbaijan and the borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia pass on watershed of Shakhdag range. To the southeast of the Lesser Caucasus rises the Karabakh range with Boyk Kir peak (2725 m). It towers above the Karabakh plain and surroundings of Khankendy: In the south the mountains change from the Geyan steppe to the hilly valleys of Araz. The interiors of Transcaucasian highlands extend far into the territories of Georgia and Armenia and stretch with two small areas into Azerbaijan. To the east of this jut is the Karabakh volcanic highland covered with drift and a series of young but extinct volcanoes. Some high points are over 3,000 m (Ishikhli mount is 3552 m), though 1,500-2,500 m are more usual. On the territory of Nakhchivan the bordering highland ranges - Zangezur and Daralagez are rising. The top of Zangezur range - Kaputjukh mountain (3,904 m) is the highest non- volcanic point of Transcaucasus highlands. The south bottom of the Zangezur ranges are washed by the Araz. The Talysh mountains are of medium height. Their highest point Kyumyurkey mount is 2,477 m. The most northeastern slopes of these mountains are in Azerbaijan. They are divided into three parallel chains by valleys and hollows. The main watershed creates the boundary of Azerbaijan and Iran so the Talysh slopes entirely lie in Iran.
Azerbaijan rich in mineral resources, the most important of which is oil. The most known oil fields are on Apsheron Peninsula and the Caspian Shelf. To the north of Apsheron Peninsula the region of Siyazan oil fields has more prospectives. Oil fields lie to the west and southwest of Apsheron in Gobustan, Shirvan in Salyan valley. The richest deposits of oil have been discovered in the aquatics to the south of Apsheron. Of great importance is the associated natural gas. Not far from Ganja are the layers of unique modification of medicinal oil (Naftalan).
Azerbaijan is rich in iron ore and alunite, pyrite, molybdenum, arsenic. The deposits of polymetalic ores on Filizchay in the upper part of Belokanchay are of industrial importance. The richest deposits of iron ore are in the mountains of the Lesser Caucasus (Dashkesan). On the mount slopes of Lesser Caucasus in Zaglic region the alunite deposits are located, the richest in the world. Not far away (Dashkesan-Ganja district) are considerable deposits of cobalt ore and pyrite. In Nakhchivan rock salt is extracted (Negram field with deposits of 2-2.5 billion tons). Negram deposits are estimated to contain arsenic ore and molybdenum (in Paragachay).
Azerbaijan land is rich in various constructing material. Here, on the territory of the Lesser Caucasus marble is extracted though inferior to Carr marble, and also fine and steady tuff. The deposits of gravel, sand, lime, fire-proof and brick-red loam are being worked out on the Apsheron Peninsula. The deposits of construction stone in the Republic are estimated to 300 billion tons (Gyuzdeck, Mardakyan, Dovletyari, Dilagarda, Shakhbulag, Naftalan, Dash Salakhly) and of facing stone, some 24 millions tons (Gyulbakht, Dashkesan, Shakhtakhty, Kilably).
The number of terminal and mineral springs of Azerbaijan exceeds thousands. The most known are the springs Istisu, Turshsy, Badamli, Galalty, Shikhburnu, Surakhany.
Summer heat and dryness, warm rainfalls, cool and humid winter, changeable spring are typical for lowlands. In general the climate of mountains varies from zones of capped snows and ices to subtropical. However, since different subtropical crops are cultivated, the territory is divided into the zones of dry subtropics, embracing the main parts of plains and humid Allison-Agrichay valley and Lankaran lowlands. Those features of the climate in Azerbaijan are determined by the peculiar geographical position of Azerbaijan, the circulating processes and variety of undersurface layers.
The Greater Caucasus range serves as natural barrier preventing cold masses of air from the North, and the Lesser Caucasus preventing the penetration of hot tropical air from the South create quite favorable conditions for the formation of a warm mild climate. Cold masses of air penetrating the territory of Azerbaijan cause storms, snowfalls, hard frosts. It channels strong winds onto the Apsheron Peninsula. The prevailing winds are either Khazri (Baku nord) - strong north wind from the sea and Gilavar - strong southwestern wind. The highest average yearlong temperature of the air is in low-lying parts of Azerbaijan-Kur-Araz and Lankaran lowlands where it exceeds 140. Average January temperature in lowlands exceeds 0, but sometimes falls of temperature follow hard frosts when temperature falls to - 200.
Dry, hot winds - fens that penetrate from Talysh mountains in spring and tropical air in winter often cause a sharp rise of temperature.
The hottest months are July and August. Average temperature of July in the Kur-Araz lowlands, the west of Apsheron Peninsula and foothills of Nakhchivan is 250-270. Only the coastal line is influenced by the Caspian. In separate periods the temperature may rise to 400-430 in lowlands and in PriAraz valleys of Nakhchivan when tropical air penetrates from south. It was here in Julfa that the maximum temperature of 440 was recorded. In Nakhchivan the minimum temperature of -310 has been also recorded in "Dervishlar" meteorological station.
In spite of such large neighboring water reservoir as the Caspian the main source of moisture are the western (Atlantic) air masses. The distribution of rainfall is so uneven that along with regions having 200 mm per year (south of Apsheron Peninsula) there exist the regions with 1600 mm per year (south of Lankaran lowland). It sometimes hails which is harmful for agriculture. The winds blowing in Azerbaijan are various. The prevailing winds of Apsheron Peninsula are of north and south directions, but on lowlands they blow in northwestern and southeastern directions. The speed of the wind does not reach high extreme on the main part of the territory, except for Apsheron Peninsula, where the occurrence of strong stormy winds is considerable. The penetration of cold air masses cause strong north winds (nord or khazri). Their speed reaches a maximum point on coastal zones, slowing down while blowing in the different directions of the sea.
In summer time arids are felt in the Kur-Araz lowlands. Another variety are fens - dry, hot wind, blowing in cold seasons in the direction of lowlands.
Changes and durations of seasons are not clearly defined. Spring begins at the beginning of March in lowlands and the Apsheron Peninsula. Summer is the most long lasting season in Azerbaijan. It starts at the end of May and lasts till mid- or even end of October when the weather is dry and hot in the lowlands. Fall starts in October, when the heat abates and it rains at times. The usual weather is warm and dry, therefore fall in Azerbaijan is considered a "velvet" season. In valleys and foot hills fall is rainy. Winter in Azerbaijan is mild. The incidence of temperature below -0 is rare. The most cold months are January and February. Only in unusual cases there are hard frosts. There are 9 climatic zones in the country out of 13 existing on the planet varying from dry and humid subtropical to the climate of upland tundra with extremes of temperature - 450 in highland to +450 in lowlands. Kur-Araz lowland with the attaching foothills of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus, Samur-Devechi lowland and Apsheron Peninsula with Gobustan have the climate of moderately warm semi-deserts and dry steppes with dry summer, close to that of subtropical; the foothills of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus are characterized by moderate warm climate with dry winter. The moderate humidity is typical for such climate. Land farming is very successful when built irrigation is used. Cold climate of semi-deserts and dry steppes with hot dry summers is typical for PriAraz zone of Nakhchivan. A moderate mild climate with even rainfalls during the year dominates mainly in forest zone of south and northeast slopes of the Greater Caucasus. A moderate warm climate with dry summer but abundant rainfalls in other seasons is characteristic for humid subtropics of Lankaran lowland and surrounding foothills of the Talysh mountains. A cold climate with dry winter is notable for northeast slopes of the Greater Caucasus (1,000-2,700m) and considerable part of Lesser Caucasus (1,400-2,700m). Cold climate with dry summer is characteristic for Nakhchivan. Above 2,700-3,000 m the cold and wet climate of upland tundra prevails. This type of climate is notable for highlands of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus and partly for the Zangezur range of Nakhchivan.
All rivers of Azerbaijan reach the Caspian Sea. Some of them pour into the Kur river, others flow at first into the Araz, its largest branch, still others run straight to the Caspian Sea. Annual flood of rivers is estimated 7.78 billion cm. The distribution of river net over the territory is uneven. On lowlands with mellow soil permeable to water they are rare but in mountains the number of rivers increases due to abundant rainfalls and relief. The river net is well developed on 1,000-2,500 m heights. Generally, there are 90,000 cub.m of drain per 1 sq.km, that makes 1,270 cub.m per capita. The biggest river in Azerbaijan is the Kur. It is 900 km long within Azerbaijan. The Araz flows into Kur 236 km off its mouth. The Kur forms a delta at its mouth which is 15 km. long. It is drains into Caspian through two branches: northeast, now shoaled and southeast. A navigable one was dug in 1964 in southeastern direction. The second river in size is the Araz which gathers its waters like the Kur in Turkey. It is 1072 km. long. It makes a natural boundary between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran along 580 km. stretch. On the territory of Nakhchivan the river has some branches: the East Arpachay, the Nakhchivan, the Alindjachay, the Gilanchay. After the Acer river joins it, it reaches the Kur- Araz lowland.
In the mountains there are several thousands of small rivers less than 10 km. long. About 800 rivers of the Republic are from 10 to 100 km. long. 23 rivers are over 100 km. long. General resources of river waters of Azerbaijan including the drains of transit rivers bringing waters from neighboring territories constitutes 30 cubic km. per year. Mountain rivers flow to the valleys large masses of soil and stones often in catastrophic streams which cause great damage to agriculture.
Potential hydropower resources of Azerbaijan rivers make 16 billions kw/hour in a year. The main share of which goes to the Kur and Araz rivers.
The rivers of the Greater Caucasus have large resources of hydro-energy due to their sharp falls.
The main hydropower stations - Mingechevir (the biggest in Transcaucasus) and Varvarin are working on the Kur. Only the Kur is important for transportation. The part of the Kur from Yevlakh to its mouth is navigable for small passenger and cargo vessels.
The rivers are valued as fishing farms. Here salmon and sturgeon are caught. In the rivers of the Lesser Caucasus trout is found.
The number of small lakes in Azerbaijan is about 250. The lakes in mountains are of tectonic and glacial origin: Goy-gol (at 1,556 m height), Big and Small Alagel (at 2,730 m height). Along the Caspian coast there are the lakes - Devechi, Gemushovan, Gil, Kildag. Binagadi kir lake on the Apsheron is unique and is the place of mass burial of ancient animals. Along with natural hydrogeographical net in Azerbaijan the system of irrigation acts that is regulated by water reservoirs. The largest is in Mingechevir, built in 1953. The weir of 88 m. height form a water reservoir of 605 sq. km. and by the volume of 16.1 million cub. km. Araz (volume of 1.35 million cub. m.) Shamkhor (2.67 million cub. m.). The irrigating canal takes its beginning from the first reservoir - the Upper Karabakh and the Upper - Shirvan canals. They take their waters to cotton fields of Kur - Araz lowlands. The thickest net of canals of irrigation system is formed on Mughan valley. The total stretch of all canals exceeds 3000 km. On Samur-Devechi lowland the Samur-Devechi irrigation canal passes 191 km. long, that takes its origin from the Samur river up to Jeyranbatan water reservoir, that extends along the Apsheron Peninsula. The waters of this canal not only irrigate dry lands of northwest of Azerbaijan and Apsheron but meet the needs of the population and industry of Baku and Sumgayit. The length of the canals in the Republic is 47,058 km, and 1.4 million hectares of irrigated area.
Underground waters used in agriculture of Azerbaijan are of importance in water supply of some districts. They are a bit salty in Apsheron.
The Caspian Sea is the largest salty lake on the earth. But its size and hydrological characteristics and origin give ground to call it a sea. In its geological past the Caspian had been connected with world oceans in the west and in the north. Some facts of paleontology as well as the species of fauna preserved in Caspian (15 types of shellfish and fish represent cold water fauna) refer to the links of the Caspian sea with the North seas.
The Caspian Sea has an ancient history. More than 2 thousand years have passed since Herodot said: "It is a separate sea that does not join any other". Patrokol - the ruler of the Caspian regions in the Kingdom of Selevk Nikator, one of the successors of Alexander the Great objected to Herodot. Looking for the shortest way to India he made a long and dangerous travel on the Girkan (so was the Caspian called then). Then Patrokol reached Apsheron and decided that the North or Skifs Ocean started further and the Caspian was its gulf. Ptolomey violently opposed this hasty statement but Patrokol was believed for many hundreds of years until the navigator Rubruk made this traveling. In 1924 the description of ports of the Caspian Sea appeared with a long title: "About the way to the Persian Kingdom and from Persian to Turkish lands, to India and Yrmus where the ships pass, written by a Moscow merchant Fyodor Afanasyevich Kotov".
The description contained details but it was not very precise and at times fantastic, because it was based on rumors. Only during the time of Peter I scientific data on the Caspian Sea was received. On March 18, 1707 the first Russian printed newspaper "Vedomosty" informed: "In 1703, Captain of Navy Yeremey Meyer was sent to the Khvalin Sea that borders Moscow state on Persian and other lands to make a map of that sea for better voyages. And the captain made the map of the Khvalin Sea and many copies of it".
The Meyer map was far from authentic Caspian and the navigators Karl Verden, Fyodor Soymanov Vasili Ursov had sailed for two years at near west and south coast to describe the sea. Finally Verden made "The flat Picture of the Caspian Sea" where ancient Khazar had approximately precise outlines. It was engraved in Petersburg in 1720 and later was printed in France by the astronomer Delil. The Paris Academy of Sciences elected Peter I its member for that publication. Peter I was not only the organizer of scientific expedition on the Caspian. Verden, Soymonov and Urusov investigated the sea with a lead that had been invented by him.
In the middle of the 18th century captains Ladishevsky and Tokhmachev explored the eastern coast of Khazar and discovered a deep bay Kendirly. But not a single Russian ship appeared in the waters of Dead Kulguk and Kaydan bays. The navigators had most vague ideas about the Caspian isles. At the end of the 18th century one of the Caspian travelers wrote: "It is not round as it was thought before, but not very prolonged and is cut into many bays". Description of Russian trade across the Caspian Sea and its possibilities in Russia point out that in 913-914 "Rus" made a march on the Caspian, dragged the vessels from the Don to the Volga, they reached the mouth of the river and scattered on the sea in different directions, going to the coast. The "rus" appeared on the "oil land" in Baku, too.
This voyage was not accidental. In 850 the Azerbaijan writer Ibn-Khodabey in his book "Ways And States" noted: "Slav merchants attended the Jurjik Sea and put in any shore".
The first sea from 3 that the merchant from Tver, the author of "Beyond The Three Seas" Afanasy Nikitin sailed was the Caspian. Although Nikitin had lost two of his vessels, on the ship of an Ambassador of Shemakha he reached Derbent and Baku where the "fire burnt unfading" and then he left for India. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the delegation headed by Boris Pazikhin left Astrakhan, reached Khiva, Bukhara and returned to Moscow via Baku. In 1697 another merchant Malenkov visited India. He delivered a caravan of goods there and presented credentials and gifts of the Russian tsar to Great Mongol. Malenkov's road lay via Caspian. He passed away not far from the Caspian shores in Shemakha. The total area of present Caspian comprises 394,000 sq.km., larger than most seas of the World ocean. The volume of water equals to 76,000 cub.km. The coastal length is about 6,380 km. Within the limits of Azerbaijan it comprises 800 km. In the north Azerbaijan is washed by the Middle Caspian, in the southeast by the South Caspian.
The level of the sea is 2.8 m. below the level of the World oceans. But in the past it has been both lower and higher, say historical materials, archeological monuments and coastal terraces.
The level of the Caspian Sea is changing now too. It influences the growth of sea transport, oil extraction on the shelf, fish farming and other branches.
The level of the Caspian sea has lowered to 2.5 for the last 40 years. It can mainly be explained by the rise of temperature on planetary scale and less by use of the rivers for the needs of farming. The annual deviations equal to 0.5-0.6 m and they are connected with the changes of the level of water in river branches. The salt concentration comprised 11-13%, and the color of water changes from blue - green to grayish - brown near the coasts and the river mouth. During strong north storms the rough water reaches 9-10 m high and at deep waters the height of waves can reach 14-15 m. The Apsheron sea shore with its strong storms is considered the most difficult for navigation and hydro-technical construction. The maximum depth is 1,025 m.
The coastal line of Caspian is characterized by active mud volcanoes - the entire isles go under the water and emerge again. With this respect there exist some legends, about the sunk cities, isthmus, that used to connect west and east shores of the sea. The underwater city Yunan-Shakher (the Greek city) is mentioned as one of them.
The traces of wheels, were found as the remains of a previously existing road. On one of the islands of the Apsheron archipelago in stoned sands. In 1940 when the level of the Caspian lowered, a small island emerged with walls and towers in the Baku bay. The Arab geographer Istakhri (951-100 B.C.) gave information about the city on the island called "The devil city". That city coukd be found in the plan of Baku isles drafted in 1825 as well. In 1869 a shoal appeared again. For the following decades the island has emerged and disappeared several times. The rivers Kur, Lenkoran, Garachay, Gudyal, Gusar, Vilesh flow into the Caspian Sea.
The Caspian Sea has great influence on the nature and economy of the Republic. It is an important and cheap transport means, its waters contain trillions tons of different salts; oil and natural gas are extracted from its bottom, with 67% of oil condensates and 95% of gas referring to offshore oil fields. The shallow shores of Apsheron makes it possible to exploit the oil fields widely, example for it is "Oil Rocks" trestles for the space of 400 km.
The fishing wealth of Azerbaijan is unique. It includes 80% of the world resources of sturgeon fish, and a considerable share of world's production of caviar. Unfortunately, the catch is decreasing from year to year. Compare with the catch of the 1980's (of 50-60,000 tons a year) in 1990 it was 37,400 tons; the following years - in 1992- 28,200, in 1994 - 18,300 tons, in 1995 - 10,000 tons were caught. Caviar is a steady source of hard currency and 10% of its world production belong to Azerbaijan. If provided the entire export, it would give 1-2 million pounds sterling and after the sale in western shops the profit would yeild to 5-10 million pounds sterling a year. The soils surface of Azerbaijan has a spectrum of types from mountain - meadow soils of Alpine highlands to dry sands of semi-deserts and yellow earth of Lankaran subtropics. This variety was provided by complex geological structure relief, hydro-climatic conditions and vegetation. The farming industry has also influenced the shape of soil of Azerbaijan.
The soil of the oasis bear the impact of land farming. It is subjected to intensified washing under conditions of artificial irregation (often to a second salting), significantly enriched with fertilizers and became the element of cultivated landscape. They are affected by doubled irrigation (at times twice the salinity) and are fertilized. Beneath mountainous forests and steppes is highly fertile black earth. A peculiar type of soil, yellow, is viewed in the Talysh and Lankaran regions. The abundance of warm and humid air intensively drives away chemicals and the soil in the upper layers concentrates in itself ferrous oxide and alumina and acquires a yellow color changing into orange.
The territory of Azerbaijan counts over 4100 species of vegetation. Over 200 are indigenous - they are found nowhere except for Azerbaijan and Georgia, for example, the Elder pine. In the Kur delta area, the Caspian is famous for its beauty (it can be seen near Astrakhan too); in the Talysh forests there are species of plants that can be found in the north of Iran.
The general view of vegetation of Azerbaijan not only imprints the history of nature but also its location on the juncture of distribution of several varieties of flora and a present variety of natural conditions of its existence. The tugay forests along the banks of rivers abounding in water are unique, they cross dry valleys formed at the flood of the Kur, the Araz, the Alazan and are soil protecting. They include oak, poplar, ash, willow, nut-trees, (Gazaoglan, Jirdahan, Babanlar, Varvara).
The slopes of mountains (600-700 to 1800 m. height) are covered with broad-leafed forests of oak, hornbeam, beech, maple, and ash covering 10% of the whole territory of Azerbaijan. Mountain forests are of vital water-preserving and soil-protecting importance. They are attractive as hunting, recreation and tourism sites.
The mountain broad-leafed forests of Talysh-Lankaran are peculiar. Ancient relic varieties of trees grow here: silk acacia, iron tree, sinking in water.
The flora of Azerbaijan is a source of valuable raw materials, food products and constructing material, includes medical, tannery, dying, vitamin rich wild fruit, forage plants. In the forest reserve of Zakatala dzenshen is being cultivated since 1953, in Talysh-Lankaran region there are plantations of tunga, "pheykhoa", laurel, and on the Kur-Araz lowlands sudangrass - mogar - is cultivated.
Over 12 thousand species of animals inhabit Azerbaijan, of which there are 92 -mammals, 350 - birds, 49 - creepers, only 9 are amphibious, 88 - fish and 10 thousand insects. Like vegetation, the animal world of Azerbaijan is also influenced by the history of nature. Several zoologeographical provinces are attached here, each being characterized by its own set of fauna.
The fauna of dry lowlands is characterized by the abundance of rodents, creepers and reptiles. One can see the Middle Asian gazelle or jeyran in the plains. Their beauty was described by our classics (Nizami Ganjavi) and contemporaries (Samed Vurghun) as well.
The world of birds is also diverse. In Kizilagadj reserve, in damp forests and marshes of Lankaran lowlands over 200 species of birds hibernate, what is more, over million gather at migration time including: pelicans, flamingo, swan, heron, sultanka.
The fauna of forests of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus is quite distinguished. For the foothills bats are very typical; besides partridge, bluish dove, pheasant, gyurza - snake are also met. Among reptiles gekkon, catty-snake, and rock lizards are noticable.
In the forests of the Greater Caucasus deer is not rare. Leopards make forests interesting.
On the grass - lands of the Greater Caucasus indigenous aurochs, the herds of chamois graze. On the Lesser Caucasus moufflons and goats emerge. Alpine highlands are inhabited by the bearded - vulture, blackjack and Caucasian Ulan. The tiger emerging in the forests of Talysh from Iran added to the peculiarity of these forests. Porcupine can be met in Talysh forests too.
The Caspian Sea is rich with fish. The catch includes herring, Caspian salmon, sturgeon, white sturgeon, sevruga, Caspian loach, kutum, djerikh. In the Kur river there are 50 species of fish of which 23 are of industrial importance. Seals appear in the Azerbaijan shore in March, April when they migrate to the south and in October, November, when they return back to the north.
A very rare fish - pike perch - inhabits areas near the coastline.
To preserve rare and valuable species of plants, fish and animals reserves have been created. The most well-known are: Zakatala, Kizilaghaj, Girkan, Turinchay, Krarayazi - Agstafa, Guba-Gusar, Goy-gol, Lachin, Bandovan reservations. Over 100 species of animals are including in the Azerbaijan "Red Book".
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