Country Profile: Azerbaijan

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azarbaycan Respublikasi), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Azerbaijan's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. 

Country Background

Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of Southwestern Asia and Southeastern Europe, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia. Its other border countries are Armenia in the west and Georgia to the north. The capital of Azerbaijan is Baku. The official language is Azerbaijani (Azeri). The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 9.8 million, with the highest population density around the capital. Azerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 97% of the population Muslim. Azerbaijan is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Azerbaijan is referred to as a presidential republic. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. Azerbaijan gained full independence from Russia in 1918, becoming the first democratic country in the Muslim world. However, two years later, the country lost its independence to the Soviet Union and by 1922, became part of the USSR. Azerbaijan re-established its independence with the Constitutional Act on Restoration of the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1991. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Azerbaijan.

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Azerbaijan.

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Azerbaijan has no official school of Islamic law, though around 85% of the Muslim population in the country is Shīʿī (adhering to the Ithnā ʿAsharī school) and 15% is Sunnī (adhering to the Ḥanafī school). Under the USSR, Azerbaijan spent 71 years as an atheist republic (ending in 1991), which brought a decline in Muslim practices. Religious affiliation is still nominal in Azerbaijan; percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower (~7%). Religion in Azerbaijan is less a matter of law than a sense of history, morality, and cultural identity.

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].