For regular readers of AnArt4Life blog you would have followed my travels recently through Central Asia and now I am embarking on The Caucasus - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. As you can see from the map above, I covered just a small area.
As mentioned in my first post on Central Asia, The Caucasus were part of the USSR which existed from 1922 to 1991. Like the other 12 provinces, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia also broke away to each become independent states.
Each of the Caucasus countries are quite different, which I found surprising given they are all comparatively small. Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, became rich on their significant gas and oil deposits. Neither Georgia nor Armenia have oil (for the first time we saw petrol prices similar to ours in Australia) and both are Christian countries.
In Georgian churches, we often needed to be silent, head scarves and coverings are required for women and usually no photos allowed inside, while in Armenia none of these rules applied.
Georgia has a big export market in hazelnuts and walnuts, especially to Germany with whom they have close ties. Exports also include blueberries, tobacco and tea, as well as the lucrative sale of 2nd hand cars.
Armenia is rich is copper which they export to Russia and Europe, electricity to Iran and Georgia (only in the winter, as with 2000 rivers, Georgia provides its own hydro power in summer).
Before I embark on sharing my travels through The Caucasus, please enjoy an overview of these countries and revisit some Central Asian highlights.
Stef Hoffer will take 20 mins of your time, switching between the majestic ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan to the modern capitals of Baku in Azerbaijan and Yerevan, where Mt Ararat dominates the horizon in Armenia's capital along with the churches of Georgia and Tbilisi, its picturesque capital.
He visits Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, which I didn't visit but looks as modern as Ashgabat in Turkmenistan where he stops briefly.
Stef also spends time in the breathtaking landscapes of the Pamir mountains, villages in the lush Fergana valley, herdsmen living in yurts in Kyrgyzstan and showing off their horsemanship. Areas I would have loved to visit.
Join me tomorrow to explore my first Caucasus country - Azerbaijan - the Land of Fire.