Azerbaijan formed as an independent state in 1917 when Russia was embroiled in its communist revolution. In 1919 the country issued its first banknotes. The first banknote Azerbaijan 25 Rubles P-1, is a gorgeous and colorful banknote. The country is primarily Muslim and the Middle East influence is obvious in the design.

Azerbaijan 25 Rubles Banknote, 1919, P-1
Source: Banknote World Educational

Azerbaijan’s independence was short lived. It was absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1920 leading to a 72 year hiatus for its own banknotes. Like many satellite countries, Azerbaijan declared independence after the fall of the Soviet Union but did maintain close connections to Russia. As a result, in 1992, the Central Bank issued a new series of banknotes under the denomination name of Manat which means money and was the name used in Azerbaijan for the Ruble. For example, the first issue were extremely basic in their design and were similar to the utilitarian Soviet banknotes. The designs remained simple until the ‘second issue’ Manat in 2005. It was this series that Azerbaijan Manat themes highlighted local culture and buildings. It was in 2009 that the designs evolved to high security, complex and modern designs.

Azerbaijan 100 Manat | 1993 | P-18b |
Source: Banknote World

Evolution of Azerbaijan Banknotes

The 2009 1 Manat (P-31) was a clear evolution of background designs and complex line structures that made the banknote much harder to counterfeit. As a result, over the next 10 years, each of the denominations upgraded to new features including SICPA SPARK and G&D threads. For instance, the 2018 200 Manat (P-37a) is a very modern and secure banknote. It shows The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku on the front and middle eastern carpets and ornaments on the back. This note is a good representation of the balance between modern culture – funded by petrodollars and ancient history.

Azerbaijan 200 Manat | 2018 | P-37a |
Source: Banknote World Educational

In conclusion, Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan is on my bucket list. It has an old castle and old city surrounded by modern skyscrapers. Also it hosts an annual Formula 1 street race through the city.

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