Azerbaijan and its main cities
According to a modern etymology, the term Azerbaijan derives from that of Atropates, a Persian satrap under the Achaemenid Empire, who was later reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander the Great. The original etymology of this name is thought to have its roots in the once-dominant Zoroastrianism. In the Avesta's Frawardin Yasht ("Hymn to the Guardian Angels"), there is a mention of âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide, which literally translates from Avestan as "we worship the fravashi of the holy Atropatene." The name "Atropates" itself is the Greek transliteration of an Old Iranian, probably Median, compounded name with the meaning "Protected by the (Holy) Fire" or "The Land of the (Holy) Fire". The Greek name was mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. Over the span of millennia, the name evolved to Āturpātākān (Middle Persian), then to Ādharbādhagān, Ādharbāyagān, Āzarbāydjān (New Persian) and present-day Azerbaijan.
The name Azerbaijan was first adopted for the area of the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan by the government of Musavat in 1918, after the collapse of the Russian Empire, when the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was established. Until then, the designation had been used exclusively to identify the adjacent region of contemporary northwestern Iran, while the area of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was formerly referred to as Arran and Shirvan. On that basis Iran protested the newly adopted country name.
During the Soviet rule, the country was also spelled in English from the Russian transliteration as Azerbaydzhan (Russian: Азербайджа́н).