In Southern Azerbaijan the Azerbaijani Turkish is spoken by 99 % of the population (25-30 million people). It is a Turkic language that is similar to the language spoken by the Turkish and Turkmen, and distinct from the Iranian state language, Farsi.
Azerbaijani Turkish is widely spoken in everyday life, and in Southern Azerbaijan also used in mosques. However, not many Southern Azerbaijanis are able to read or write in their mother language since the education is centralized and regulated from Tehran, and there is no state education performed in the language.
The Azerbaijanis are followers of Islam. The Muslim population is approximately 95% Shi’a and 5% Sunni; differences traditionally have not been sharply defined. Most Shias are adherents of the orthodox Ithna Ashari school of Shi’a Islam.