This essay focuses on Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan – two emerging Central Asian countries that share parts of the oil-and-gas-rich Caspian Sea. It is written for the participants in the Chief Executive Organization’s college, Caspian Journey: Traveling to a New World, September 7-15, 2017.
To provide historical context, I first review the heritage of both new countries – the emergence of horse-based pastoral nomadism, the settlement of Turkish-speaking peoples, the formation of separate Azeri and Kazakh cultural identities and nations, the takeovers and transformations by imperial Romanov Russia, and Soviet political repression and economic modernization in the seven decades before independence in 1991. I then search for contrasting trends in contemporary Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan – political stability, economic slump, boom, and stagnation, and oil-and-gas development. I conclude the essay with an analysis of the world petroleum economy, seeking an explanation of why world oil prices have been so unstable. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
Caspian Journey: Traveling the Road to a New World, Astana, Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Kazakhstan, Baku, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, Sheki and Kish, Azerbaijan, Absheron Peninsula and Qala, Azerbaijan, Zoroastrian,