Like its neighbours including Armenia, the so-called ‘Land of Fire’ Azerbaijan is located at the point where Europe and South West Asia meet – something which is reflected in the diverse heritage and culture of this beautiful country. Formerly a Soviet republic, this oil-rich part of the world has worked hard to develop its international outlook in recent years and is welcoming a growing number of tourists who are keen to learn more about the region. Among those are scientific minds no less, as the landscape of Azerbaijan continues to fascinate – particularly off the beaten track where interest is high in its strange and rather otherworldly mud volcanoes. For a more classic city break, the capital of Baku has much to offer, including the stunning walled Inner City. This UNESCO World Heritage Site not only includes the 5th-century Shirvanshahs' Palace, but also the 12th-century Maiden Tower. Both are an absolute must-see if you are planning to try somewhere different and explore this fascinating country.