Destination: Azerbaijan

Astara: ‘The Tijuana of the Caspian’

The Atlantic’s Peter Savodnik has a fascinating, brief dispatch from the Azerbaijan-Iran border, where a small Azerbaijani town has become a sort of Sin City for Iranians looking to escape the strictures of the Islamic Republic for awhile. He writes:

Books, DVDs, fashions, and—most important—ideas that are inaccessible in Iran are ubiquitous in Azerbaijan. Iranians line up daily to cross the Astara River to buy and sell jeans, chickens, bras, laptops—and often sex and schnapps and heroin. This commerce, combined with cultural curiosity and shared Azeri bloodlines, has transformed Astara into the Tijuana of the Caspian.

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