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An oil tank that holds petrol from the ships coming in from the Caspian Sea is shown  at Baku, Azerbaijan in January, 2003. Today, life in Azerbaijan is suffering from the hangover of its aborted oil boom. Much of the reserves have been exhausted, and drilling has had to extend outward and into the sea. The beaches are hideously polluted and years of neglect have left the sea and surrounding region in a precarious environmental position. Most daunting is the Azeris dependence on foreign investments. In 1994, nearly two-dozen major oil contracts were signed with international companies and drilling rights were bought for a modest price. In September 2002, a $3.5 billion pipeline, beginning on the outskirts of Baku and partly financed by the U.S. government, broke ground. It will cross more than 1000 miles of terrain and when it is completed, it is expected to provide Western markets with 1 million barrels of oil a day. But few observers expect the project to help two-thirds of the Azeri population. Like the first oil rush that attracted gangsters and mafia looking for quick profits, the story of modern Baku may be just as tempestuous as its past. (Photo by Ami Vitale)