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Turkic peoples /
Also called: Azeris

Azerbaijanis by country
Last column: % Azeri of the population
Iran 12,000,000 18.0%
Turkey 800,000 1.1%
Other countries 10,000,000 NA
19,000,000 0.5%

*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.

People of the independent state of Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey, counting about 23 million world-wide. The majority of Azerbaijanis live in Iran, about 50% more than in their independent state further north. Some estimates to their number run as high as 40 million.
The Azerbaijanis area categorized as a Turkic people, speaking a language also known as Azeri. It appears that the Azerbaijanis originates from several tribes, making them a mixed people, but their present identity appears to be one. Their origins are in the region where they still live, but this region has also seen numerous waves of immigration. Turkic immigration goes back to at least 2nd century CE.
Among the more famous ancient peoples adding to the Azerbaijanis, were the Medes. There are more theories, involving ethnic kinship with the Oghuz Turks (from which Turks originate) or even Mongoloid peoples.
The making of Azeri identity happened during the Seljuqs, when a long process of Tukicization began.
The large majority of Azeri are Shi'i Muslims, about 90%. There are also a substantial groups of Sunni Azerbaijanis and Alevi Azerbaijanis, as well as small groups of Christians and Baha'is.

By Tore Kjeilen