Azerbaijan uses the manat as its currency. This is represented by the letters AZN on the currency markets.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The manat is a decimal currency and it is divided into 100 qepik. The ‘e’ in that word appears upside down in the local language. The symbol for the currency is a semi-circle with a vertical line through the middle of it, which must surely rank as one of the more interesting ones you might see!
There are six coins in use which are all denominated in qepik. These are the 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 50 qepik coins. In contrast there are another six banknotes. These are the 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 manat notes, so there is a good range of both coins and notes you can use to pay for goods and services.
From past to present – the history of the Azerbaijani manat
The manat was first created back in 1919. At this point there were two republics forming the country as a whole, and each had its own type of money. It must have been a bit confusing though as they both chose the name manat! There were no coins issued at this point, only bank notes. This situation lasted until 1923 when the Tran Caucasian Soviet ruble took over.
It would not be until 1992 that the manat was seen again, because this was when independence saw the need for a new currency. This manat – the second in the country’s history – lasted until 2006, when it was replaced by the third issue of the currency.
How to get hold of the Azerbaijani manat
Many of the major bureaux de change do not provide the manat as a currency you can buy prior to going to the country itself. This means the best way to get hold of it is actually to wait until you get there. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem since there are cash machines in the bigger cities. The one thing you should remember is to ask your bank whether your cash card will work in the cash machines in Azerbaijan – before you get there to try it out!
If you want to take in some traveller’s cheques you can do so; banks would be the best place to go to exchange them for the manat. Very often many traders will want cash for purchases so be sure you always have some manat with you, regardless of where you go. It also means you will be less likely to get stuck without means of payment.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Azerbaijani manat
It can be interesting to see how many units of a particular currency you can get for your own. The best way as always is to check the latest information via the currency converter you typically use. While the manat is not the most popular or best-known of currencies, it is still available to check on many of the more advanced converters. Make sure you use one that has over 100 currencies on it and you should find it with no problems. Use the currency code AZN to locate it as quickly as possible (this is also a good way of seeing if the currency is there or not without it taking ages).
If you do look up the latest information for the currency the chances are good that you will want to find out more about the country as well. Perhaps you are considering going there for some reason. If this is the case you should visit the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the UK – and you can do this online. Just go to http://www.azembassy.org.uk/ to find out more about the country and the embassy itself.
Travelling safely with the Azerbaijani manat
As with any country you are unfamiliar with, it is a good idea to discover the latest situation there prior to travel. While most people travelling to the country from places like the UK are on business trips rather than those for pleasure, safety is still an important issue.
For the most part the main area of concern is known as Nagorno-Karabakh. Check information on this area and the rest of the country ahead of any trip to the country. The UK government does not recommend you travel to that particular area because it is occupied by the military and there are conflicts happening around that area.
Despite this most other areas are relatively safe to be in. Crime isn’t a huge problem except for the usual petty crime you would come to expect from many parts of the world. Make sure you do not present an attractive target for any pickpocket, since this can be an easy way to lose a lot of cash or valuables very quickly indeed. Use common sense and keep your valuables locked up safely in your hotel safe, as well as minimising the cash you carry on your person. As always, make sure you don’t take too much cash out of a cash machine at any one time, and be alert to who and what is going on around you. Try and avoid using them at night and if you are on your own since these will likely pose the biggest potential dangers.
Where to spend your manat in Azerbaijan – and what to spend them on
Azerbaijan is a country situated where Eastern Europe meets with Western Asia. It shares borders with Russia, Iran, and Georgia, and the Caspian Sea lies to the east of the country.
There are many stunning attractions you can see in the country, so you will never be short of things to do. Let’s begin by exploring the Gobustan National Park. All national parks around the world have a lot to offer and this one is no different. This is particularly true since it has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its Gobustan petroglyphs. These date back thousands of years through history to 10,000 BC and they provide an insight into the people who lived in the area then. The park also has a series of mud volcanoes. Indeed it is the proud home of over 50% of all the mud volcanoes in the entire world. That’s some claim to fame!
Elsewhere you can visit the Maiden Tower in Baku. Baku itself is the capital of the country and it has many great features. This too has been recognised by UNESCO as the Walled City of Baku. The tower mentioned previously dates back to the 12th century and it is quite an imposing feature in the city. It stands in contrast to the many modern buildings elsewhere, but it can be found in the old city when you visit.
While you are in Baku you may wish to see some of the greener areas it has to offer. There are plenty of parks and gardens to explore, but the Baku Boulevard is particularly interesting. It is right by the seafront so you can enjoy looking out onto the Caspian Sea and also simply wandering along looking at the many sights you will see. Watch out for the yachts and see if you can spot the famous parachute tower (even though it is no longer used for this purpose). You might even want to go into the amusement park that is provided nearby.
We’ll stay in Baku for the Shirvanshah’s Palace, which is perhaps the most notable feature here. It is extremely big and is in the walled city, the older part of the area. The building dates from the early 1400s and took some years to build, mainly because of its sheer size and the complexity of the structure. You’ll note the efforts were thoroughly worthwhile though, because the resulting building you will see today is quite stunning.
Azerbaijan may not be the first location you’d start looking up when the time comes for a holiday. However you can see it has a lot to offer, and we have merely scratched the surface here.
There are many other attractions to visit too. For example you could visit the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature, or explore the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, which is incredibly fascinating. These are just a sample of the many great features and attractions the country has to offer, not to mention the history it has. Indeed you may be surprised at how far back the history goes here, and how many signs there are of times gone by. Sometimes, as is the case in the capital, you can see there are many layers of history there to be discovered. These layers sit alongside the modern buildings to create a truly engaging and mesmerising city that begs to be visited and explored.
So if you want to try somewhere you’ve never been and spent a few manat while you are at it, perhaps Azerbaijan will be the solution for you.