Border to Baku

Azerbaijan is a country of contrasts, as these photographs show -- a blend of ancient and modern, the stone battlements of the 12th Century Maiden Tower standing guard in Baku's Old Town over a harbor dotted with the oil derricks and tankers that bespeak the country's oil-and-gas boom. In this mostly Muslim yet heavily secularized society alcohol flows freely and yet some women wear head scarves and veils. Billboards everywhere depict the late President Heidar Aliyev and his son-successor Ilham, a reminder that this is closer to big-man dictatorship than democracy. While over-fishing and pollution have put the Caspian Sea at jeopardy, salesmen at the city market still hawk some of the world's best - and most expensive -- caviar.