Population and Ethnic Composition
The majority of Azerbaijan's population consists of a single
ethnic group whose problems with ethnic minorities have been
dominated by the Armenian uprisings in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nevertheless, Azerbaijan includes several other significant
ethnic groups. The population of the country is concentrated in a
few urban centers and in the most fertile agricultural regions.
In mid-1993 the population of Azerbaijan was estimated at 7.6
million. With eighty-three people per square kilometer,
Azerbaijan is the second most densely populated of the
Transcaucasian states; major portions of the populace live in and
around the capital of Baku and in the Kura-Aras agricultural
areas. Baku's population exceeded 1.1 million in the late 1980s,
but an influx of war refugees increased that figure to an
estimated 1.7 million in 1993. In 1993 the estimated population
growth rate of Azerbaijan was 1.5 percent per year. Gyandzha
(formerly Kirovabad), in western Azerbaijan, is the second most
populous city, with a population of more than 270,000, followed
by Sumgait, just north of Baku, with a population of 235,000;
figures for both cities are official 1987 estimates. Since that
time, Gyandzha and Sumgait, like Baku, have been swollen by war
refugees. With 54 percent of Azerbaijanis living in urban areas
by 1989, Azerbaijan was one of the most urbanized of the Muslim
former Soviet republics. According to the 1989 census, the
population of Nagorno-Karabakh was 200,000, of which over 75
percent was ethnically Armenian.
In 1989 life expectancy was sixty-seven years for males and
seventy-four years for females. According to legend and to
Soviet-era statistics, unusually large numbers of centenarians
and other long-lived people live in Nagorno-Karabakh and other
areas of Azerbaijan. In 1990 the birth rate was twenty-five per
1,000 population. The fertility rate has declined significantly
since 1970, when the average number of births per woman was 4.6.
According to Western estimates, the figure was 2.8 in 1990.
In 1987 Azerbaijan's crude death rate was about twelve per
1,000. As in other former Soviet republics, the rate was somewhat
higher than in 1970. In Azerbaijan, however, the death rate
continued rising through 1992 because of the escalating number of
accidents, suicides, and murders; fatalities caused by the
conflict with Armenia were also a factor.
According to the 1989 census, about 85 percent of the
population was Azerbaijani (5.8 million), 5.8 percent was Russian
(392,300), and 5.8 percent was Armenian (390,500). The percentage
of Azerbaijanis has increased in recent decades because of a high
birth rate and the emigration of Russians and other minorities.
Between 1959 and 1989, the Azerbaijani share of the population
rose by 16 percent. Since that time, however, growth of the
Azerbaijani share of the population has accelerated with the
addition of an estimated 200,000 Azerbaijani deportees and
refugees from Armenia and the quickening rate of Armenian
emigration. About 13 million Azerbaijanis reside in the northern
provinces of neighboring Iran. Smaller groups live in Georgia,
the Dagestan Autonomous Republic of Russia to Azerbaijan's north,
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
Data as of March 1994