A former Soviet republic, Russian is spoken in Azerbaijan. As a former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijanís churches developed in the wake of the Soviet Unionís dissolution. Azerbaijanís economy is dependent on oil and gas, but corruption and an authoritarian government have impeded economic growth. Poverty has been reduced in recent years, and the countryís infrastructure is gradually improving. Azerbaijan is predominantly Shiite Muslim. Families are the biggest persecutors of Christians. Azerbaijan has a shame-honor culture in which those who leave Islam are considered to have brought shame on the family. The government also pressures Christians with heavy fines.