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Caucasian Albanians, the original inhabitants of northeastern Azerbaijan, ruled that area from around the 4th century BC, and established an independent kingdom.The Sasanian Empire turned Caucasian Albania into a vassal state in 252, while King Urnayr officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century.

The pre-Turkic population that lived on the territory of modern Azerbaijan spoke several Indo-European and Caucasian languages, among them Armenian Locally, the possessions of the subsequent Seljuk Empire were ruled by Eldiguzids, technically vassals of the Seljuk sultans, but sometimes de facto rulers themselves.In the Avesta, Frawardin Yasht ("Hymn to the Guardian Angels"), there is a mention of âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide, which literally translates from Avestan as "we worship the fravashi of the holy Atropatene." The Greek name was mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo.Over the span of millennia the name evolved to Āturpātākān (Middle Persian) then to Ādharbādhagān, Ādharbāyagān, Āzarbāydjān (New Persian) and present-day Azerbaijan.Later it became part of Alexander the Great's Empire and its successor, the Seleucid Empire.During this period, Zoroastrianism spread in the Caucasus and Atropatene.Despite Sassanid rule, Albania remained an entity in the region until the 9th century, while fully subordinate to Sassanid Iran, and retained its monarchy.

Despite being one of the chief vassals of the Sasanian emperor, the Albanian king had only a semblance of authority, and the Sasanian marzban (military governor) held most civil, religious, and military authority.

Most Azerbaijanis, however, do not actively practice any religion, and the country has been seen to be one of the most irreligious countries in the Muslim world, with 53% stating religion has little to no importance in their lives, according to Pew Research Center and Gallup polls.

The original etymology of this name is thought to have its roots in the once-dominant Zoroastrianism.

The power vacuum left by the decline of the Abbasid Caliphate was filled by numerous local dynasties such as the Sallarids, Sajids, and Shaddadids.

At the beginning of the 11th century, the territory was gradually seized by waves of Oghuz Turks from Central Asia.

It is bound by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south.