Naftalan is a sahar (ceety) in Azerbaijan, surroondit bi the rayon o Goranboy. It is on an agricultural plain near the Lesser Caucasus Muntains. The wird naftalan means a petroleum product an aw, ane that can be obtained thare.
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The wird Naftalan, can be tracit tae the Greek wird "naphtha" ("νάφθα"), meanin pertainin tae ile, an the Azerbaijani suffix "-alan", which is o the verb "tae tak" (an literally meanin "ile buyer"). It is the centre o a unique petroleum industry, wi a grade o ile referred tae as "Naftalan". While Naftalan crude ile is too hivy for normal export uises (unlik Azerbaijan's plentiful Caspian Sea ile), it contains aboot 50 percent naphthalene, a hydrocarbon that is the active ingredient in coal tar soaps, which are uised tae treat psoriasis. As sic, it is anerlie uised for medicinal purposes. Fowk uisin the ile generally sit in a bath an are covered in ile up tae thair necks (see petroleum spas belaw).
Airchaeological fyndins in the region date tae the 12t century AD. The qualities o Naftalan ile haes been kent syne early times; Marco Polo notit them. The ile in the aurie wis kent tae fowk as far as Cheenae an Indie, an wis tradit bi caravans ootower kintras o the Near East. Modren uise o the ile haes datit tae the 1870s unner Czarist Roushie. Bi 1912, a German jyint-stock company wis foondit tae export an tred the ile, whilk wis usied as a treatment in the Russo-Japanese War. Research on the properties o the ile continues tae be duin at Azerbaijan Medical University an the Scienteefic Arthritis Center o Azerbaijan.
The aurie is hame tae petroleum spas (or "ile spas"), ance popular vacation spots o the Soviet Union that is makkin a return in popularity. Ile frae thir spas is claimit tae be an effective treatment again psoriasis, arthritis an rheumatism. At the hicht o thair Soviet-era popularity, the spas in Naftalan haed 75,000 visitors a year. The combination o violent ethnic conflict in nearbi Nagorno-Karabakh an the end o Soviet-sponsored free trips brocht the industry tae its knees in the late-1980s. Aw but ane o the aulder spas wur convertit intae refugee hoosin. The naphthalene in the ile gies it therapeutic properties, housomever it isna clear whether it mey be a carcinogen an aw. The remainin spa, the Naftalan Therapeutic Center, haed 1,000-beds. New spas are planned tae attract tourists.
- The state statistical committee of the Azerbaijan Republic
- Eldar Abbasov, Naftalan - The Miracle Oil: Azerbaijan's Therapeutic Oil, Azerbaijan International, (10.2) Summer 2002, Accessed on December 4, 2006
- Dr. D. Y. Huseinov and Dr. A. I. Rustamov, Naftalan: The Oil that Heals, Azerbaijan International, (3.4) Winter 1995, Accessed on December 4, 2006
- Andrew E. Kramer, Bathing in Black Gold for Health and Profit in Azerbaijan, The New York Times, December 4, 2006.