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Baku ( ), sometimes known as Baqy, Baky, Baki or Bakou, is the capital, the largest city, and the largest port of Azerbaijanmarker and all the Caucasus. Located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsulamarker, the city consists of two principal parts: the downtown and the old Inner Citymarker (21.5 ha). Baku is one of the oldest and biggest cities in East for antiquity, territory and population. Its urban population in the beginning of 2009 was estimated at 2.0397 million people. In 2003 Baku additionally had 153,400 internally displaced persons and 93,400 refugees.

In 2007 Culture Ministers of the member-states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference declared Baku the capital of Islamic Culture in 2009.The Walled City of Bakumarker along with the Shirvanshah's Palacemarker and Maiden Towermarker were inscribed as a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planet's ranking Baku is also amongst the world's top ten destinations for urban nightlife.

Baku is divided into eleven administrative districts (Azizbayov, Binagadi, Garadagh, Narimanov, Nasimi, Nizami, Sabail, Sabunchu, Khatai, Surakhany and Yasamal) and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on islands in the Baku Bay and the town of Oil Rocksmarker built on stilts in the Caspian Seamarker, away from Baku.


The name Baku is widely believed to be derived from the old Persian names of the city Bād-kube, meaning "Wind-pounded city", in which bād means "wind" and kube is rooted in the verb kubidan, "to pound", thus referring to a place where wind is strong and pounding. Indeed, the city is renowned for its fierce winter snow storms and harsh winds. It is also believed that Baku refers to Baghkuh, meaning "Mount of God". Baga (now bagh) and kaufa (now kuh) are the Old Persian words for "god" and "mountain" respectively; the name Baghkuh may be compared with Baghdādmarker ("God-given") in which is the Old Persian word for "give". Arabic sources refer to the city as Baku, Bakukh, Bakuya, and Bakuye, all of which seem to come from a Persian name.

Various different hypotheses were also proposed to explain the etymology of the word Baku. According to L.G.Lopatinski and Ali Huseynzade Baku is derived from Turkic word for "hill". Caucasian history specialist K.P. Patkanov also explains the name as "hill" but in the Lak language. The Turkish Islamic Encyclopedia presents the origin of the word Baku as being derived from the words Bey-Kyoy, which mean "the main city" in Turkic. Also another theory suggest that the name Baku is derived from the ancient Caucasian Albanian city which present was called Baguan.


The first written evidence for Baku dates to the 6th century AD. Much of its history since that time has been linked to various Persian Empires.

The city became important after an earthquake destroyed Shamakhymarker in the 12th century, when the ruling Shirvanshah, Ahsitan I, chose Baku as the new capital. In 1501, Safavid Shah Ismail I laid a siege on Baku. At this time the city was however enclosed within the lines of strong walls, which were washed by sea on one side and protected by a wide trench on land. In 1540 Baku was again captured by the Safavid troops. In 1604 the Baku fortress was destroyed by Iranian shah Abbas I.

On 26 June 1723, after a lasting siege using cannons, Baku surrendered to the Russians. According to Peter the Great's decree the soldiers of two regiments (2,382 people) were left in the Baku garrison under the command of Prince Baryatyanski, the commandant of the city. In 1795, Baku was invaded by Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar to defend against tsarist Russia's ambitions to subjugate the South Caucasus. In the spring of 1796, by Catherine II's order, General Zubov's troops began a major campaign in Transcaucasia. Baku surrendered after the first demand of Zubov who had sent 6,000 troops to capture the city. On 13 June 1796 the Russian flotilla entered Baku Bay and a garrison of Russian troops was placed in the city. General Pavel Tsitsianov was appointed Baku's commandant. Later, however, Czar Paul I ordered him to cease the campaign and withdraw Russian forces. In March 1797 the tsarist troops left Baku but a new tsar, Alexander I, began to show a special interest in capturing Baku. In 1803, Tsitsianov reached an agreement with the Baku khan to compromise, but the agreement was soon annulled. On 8 February 1806, upon the surrendering of Baku, Huseyngulu khan of Baku stabbed and killed Tsitsianov at the gates of the city.

In 1813, Russia signed the Treaty of Gulistan with Persia, which provided for the cession of Baku and most of the Caucasus from Iranmarker and their annexation by Russia.

Oil boom

The first oil well to be mechanically drilled was in the Bibi-Heybat suburb of Baku in 1846, though hand dug wells pre date this. Large-scale oil development started in 1872, when the Russian imperial authorities auctioned the parcels of oil-rich land around Baku to private investors. Within a short period of time Swiss, British, French, Belgian, German, Swedish and American investors appeared in Baku, among them were the firms of the Nobel brothers together with the family von Börtzell-Szuch (Carl Knut Börtzell, who also owned the Livadia Palacemarker) and the Rothschild family. An industrial oil belt, better known as Black City, was established near Baku. By the beginning of the 20th century almost half of world production was being extracted in Baku.

In 1917, after the October revolution and amidst the turmoil of World War I and the breakup of the Russian Empiremarker, Baku came under the control of the Baku Commune, which was led by veteran Bolshevik Stepan Shaumyan. Seeking to capitalize on the existing inter-ethnic conflicts, by spring 1918, Bolsheviks inspired and condoned civil warfare in and around Baku. During the infamous March Days, using the support of the Dashnak Armenian militia in the city, and under the pretext of suppressing Musavat party, Bolsheviks attacked and massacred thousands of Azeris and other Muslims in Baku.

On 28 May 1918 the Azerbaijani fraction of the Transcaucasian Sejmmarker proclaimed the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) in Ganjamarker. Shortly after, Azerbaijani forces, with support of the Ottoman Army of Islam led by Nuru Pasha, started their advance into Baku, eventually capturing the city from the loose coalition of Bolsheviks, Esers, Dashnaks, Mensheviks and British forces under the command of General Lionel Dunsterville on 15 September 1918. Thousands of Armenians in the city were massacred in revenge for the earlier March Days. Baku became the capital of the ADR. On 28 April 1920, the 11th Red Army invaded Baku and reinstalled the Bolsheviks, making Baku the capital of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

Historical city core

The centre of Baku is the old town, which is also a fortress. In December 2000, the Inner Citymarker of Baku with the Palace of the Shirvanshahsmarker and Maiden Towermarker became the first location in Azerbaijan classified as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCOmarker.

Most of the walls and towers, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survived. This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings: the cobbled streets past the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, two caravansaries (ancient inns), the Maiden Tower (nice view of the harbor), the baths and the Juma Mosque (it used to house the Carpet and Applied Arts Museum, but now is a mosque again; the carpets got moved to the former Lenin museum).The old town also has dozens of small mosques, often without any particular sign to distinguish them from the next building.

In 2003, UNESCO placed the Inner City on the List of World Heritage in Danger, citing damage from a November 2000 earthquakemarker, poor conservation as well as "dubious" restoration efforts.

See Further reading links below for more information.




During Soviet times, Baku was a vacation destination where citizens could enjoy beaches or relax in now-dilapidated spa complexes overlooking the Caspian Sea. The climate is hot and humid in the summer, and cool and wet in the winter. During the winter gale-force winds sweep through on occasion, driven by masses of polar air (strong northern winds Khazri and southern Gilavar are typical here); however, snow is rare at 28 m below sea level, and temperatures on the coast rarely drop to freezing. The average annual temperature of Baku and that of the Earth differ by less than 0.1°C (0.2°F): it is . The southwestern part of Great Baku is a more arid part of Azerbaijan (precipitation here is less than a year). In the vicinities of the city there are a number of mud volcanoes (Keyraki, Bogkh-bogkha, Lokbatan and others) and salt lakes (Boyukshor, Khodasan etc.).


Districts of Baku

Today, Baku is divided into 11 rayons (administrative districts) and 5 settlements of city type.


Until 1988 Baku had very large Armenian, Russian, and Jewish population that contributed to cultural diversity and added in various ways (music, literature, architecture) to Baku's history treasure chest.Under Communism, the Soviets took over the majority of Jewish property in Baku and Kuba. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev has returned several synagogues and a Jewish college nationalized by the Soviets, to the Jewish community. He has encouraged the restoration of these buildings and is well-liked by the Jews of Azerbaijan. Renovation has begun on seven of the original eleven synagogues, including the Gilah synagogue, built in 1896, and the large Kruei Synagogue. The new Azerbaijan constitution grants religious freedom and asserts that there is no state religion.

Currently the vast majority of the population of Baku are ethnic Azerbaijanis (more than 90%). The intensive growth of the population started in the middle of the 19th century when Baku was a small town with the population of about 7 thousand people. The population increased again from about 13,000 in the 1860s to 112,000 in 1897 and 215,000 in 1913, making Baku the largest city in the Caucasus region.

Baku has been a cosmopolitan city at certain times during its history, meaning ethnic Azerbaijanis did not constitute the majority of population.
Year Azerbaijanis Russians Armenians Iranian Citizens Germans Jews Georgians Total
1897 40,148 37,399 19,060 9,426 2,460 2,341 971 111,904
1903 44,257 56,955 26,151 11,132 3,749 n/a n/a 155,876
1913 45,962 76,288 41,680 25,096 3,274 9,690 4,073 214,672


More than 94% of the residents of Baku practice various forms of Islam. A small minority of the population (about 4%) are Christians (majority Russian Orthodox Church, Georgian Orthodox Church and Molokans). Baku also has three Jewish communities, namely the Ashkenazim Jews, the Mountain Jews, and the Georgian Jews.

Art and Culture

Baku has a vibrant life regarding theatre, opera and ballet, drawing both from the rich local dramatic portfolio and from the international repertoire. The main movie theatre is "Azerbaijan Cinema". The Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, designed by architect N. G. Bayev, is one of the most ornate music halls in the city. The State Philharmonic Hall with excellent acoustic conditions often holds performances outside, in a pleasant park. The Carpet and Applied Arts Museum exhibits the carpets from all periods, styles and from both Azerbaijan proper and the Azeri provinces in Iran. Baku also houses country's biggest art museum - Azerbaijan State Museum of Art, a depository of both domestic and foreign works of art, Western and Eastern, and the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature.

Heydar Aliyev Palacemarker, one of the main venues featuring sizeable performances (e.g. that of Coolio), has recently reopened after a major refurbishment.

Most of the pubs and bars are located near Fountain Square and are usually open until the early hours of the morning. There are several British, Scottish and Irish style public houses, among them "The Clansman", "Corner Bar", "Shakespeares", "Finnigans" the "Rig Bar", "O'Malley's" and the "Phoenix Bar". There is also a Jazz Club. The Baku International Jazz Festival is organized annually.

Notable beaches include Shikhovomarker, "Amburan" in Bilgahmarker and "One Thousand and One Nights".


Baku has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife, and many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city.

Some of the most popular discotheque and night club include, "X-Site", "Le Chevalier" at Grand Hotel Europe, "Zagulbamarker Disco Club" and "Le Mirage". Most of them are open till the early hours of the morning.

According to Lonely Planet, Baku is one of world's top 10 party cities for having ultimate experience.

Monuments and Landmarks

Azerbaijan National Dramatic Theatre.

The Martyrs' Lane, formerly the Kirov Park, is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives during the Nagorno-Karabakh War and also to the 137 people who were killed on Black January, 1990.



Historical monuments






Shrines and tombs




Theatres and concert halls

Parks and gardens

  • Baku Boulevard is a promenade that runs parallel to Baku's seafront.

Other prominent parks and gardens include:
  • Heydər Əliyev parkı (Heydar Aliyev Park)
  • Səməd Vurğun parkı (Samad Vurgun Park)
  • Nərimanov parkı‎ (Narimanov Park)
  • Fəvvarələr Bağı (Fountains Park)


Office buildings at Jafar Jabbarli St.
The basis of Baku's economy is petroleum. The existence of petroleum has been known since the 8th century. In the 10th century, the Arabian traveler, Marudee, reported that both white and black oil were being extracted naturally from Baku. By the 15th century oil for lamps was obtained from hand dug surface wells.Commercial exploitation began in 1872, and by the beginning of the 20th century the Baku oil fields were the largest in the world. Towards the end of the 20th century much of the onshore petroleum had been exhausted, and drilling had extended into the sea offshore. By the end of the 19th century skilled workers and specialists flocked to Baku. By 1900 the city had more than 3,000 oil wells of which 2,000 of them were producing oil at industrial levels. Baku ranked as one of the largest centres for the production of oil industry equipment before World War II. The World War II Battle of Stalingradmarker was fought to determine who would have control of the Baku oil fields. Fifty years before the battle, Baku produced half of the world's oil supply: Azerbaijan and the United States are the only two countries ever to have been the world's majority oil producer. Currently the oil economy of Baku is undergoing a resurgence, with the development of the massive Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field (Shallow water Gunashli by SOCAR, deeper areas by a consortium lead by BP), development of the Shah Deniz gas field, the expansion of the Sangachal Terminal and the construction of the BTC Pipeline. The old Intourist Hotel was one of Baku's largest, now demolished, but overshadowed by the newer Hyatt Park, Hyatt Regency, Park Inn and Excelsior.

The Baku Stock Exchange has been operating since February 2001.


Bulk power supply of Baku is provided by five 110 kV lines. As of 8 February 2008 three of them (total length ) have been completely refitted and modernized with their carrying capacity being doubled. Three 110 kV and twelve 35 kV substations were commissioned recently.Water supply is secured by several lines, the purest water comes from Khachmaz and Shollar lines.


Baku had its first permanent internet link only in 1995, through the Academy of Sciences. Dial-up internet access has been available since 1991. ADSL service was made widely available in 2007. The city is served by the English language paper Baku Today.


Baku is served by the Heydar Aliyev International Airportmarker and the Baku Metro. There were once also trams. There are two official taxi companies in the city: the yellow Star cabs and the white taxis with blue sign from "Azeri Taxis". The van buses stop at any point along that route when flagged down or told to stop. Shipping services operate regularly from Baku across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashimarker (formerly Krasnovodsk) in Turkmenistanmarker and to Bandar Anzalimarker and Bandar Nowsharmarker in Iran.


As Azerbaijan's centre of education, Baku boasts many universities and vocational schools. After Azerbaijan gained independence, the fall of Communism led to development of a number of private institutions. Baku also houses the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan founded here in 1945 .

Public universities

Private universities


Baku was bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but was eliminated on 4 June 2008.

The city's two main football clubs are Neftchi Baku (currently in the Azerbaijan Premier League) and FK Baku, both of whom play at the Tofik Bakhramov Stadiummarker. Neftchi has won five Azerbaijani titles, whilst FK Baku has won twice. Baku also has several clubs in the premier and regional leagues, including Inter Baku, Olimpik-Shuvalan in Premier League, MOIK Baku, Adliyya Baku and Bakili Baku in Azerbaijani First Division.

In the Azerbaijan Basketball League, Baku is represented by Gala BC Baku, whose home is the Palace of Hand Games.


The large majority of Azerbaijan’s media companies (including television, newspaper and radio) are headquartered in Baku. The films The World Is Not Enough and The Diamond Arm are set in the city. Amphibian Man also included several scenes filmed in Baku.


Some of national TV channels which broadcast in Baku are AzTV, ANS, Azad Azerbaijan TV, Ictimai TV, Lider TV, Space, Khazar Tv.


Out of the city’s radio stations ANS ChM, Ictimai Radio, Radio Antenn, Burc FM, and Lider FM Jazz are some of the more influential competitors with large national audiences. ANS ChM was one of the first private and independent FM radio broadcasting service in the Caucasus and Central Asia regions when it was established in May 1994.


Baku has a number of newspaper publishing houses. Some of the most noteworthy newspapers include the daily Zaman ("The Time"), Bakinskiy Rabochiy ("Worker of the Baku"), Echo, the English-language based Baku Today

Notable residents

Because of intermittent periods of great prosperity and as the largest city in the Caucasus and one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in the Soviet Union, Baku prides itself on having produced a disproportionate number of notable figures in the sciences, arts and other fields. Some of the houses they resided in display commemorative plaques.

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Baku is a member of Sister Cities International, and isPartnership relations at different levels were established with Berlinmarker, Parismarker, Aberdeenmarker, Viennamarker, Stavangermarker, Tbilisimarker, Astanamarker, Minskmarker,Volgogradmarker Kizlyarmarker, Tashkentmarker and Chengdumarker.

City Country Year

Moscowmarker Russiamarker From
Ammanmarker Jordanmarker From
Bordeauxmarker Francemarker From 1985
Johannesburgmarker South Africa From
Kievmarker Ukrainemarker From
Durbanmarker South Africa From
Londonmarker United Kingdommarker From
Mainzmarker Germanymarker From 1984
Naplesmarker Italymarker From
Saint Petersburgmarker Russiamarker From 1998
Sarajevomarker Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker From 1972
Tabrizmarker Iranmarker From
Dakarmarker Senegalmarker From
Houstonmarker United Statesmarker From 1976
Ankaramarker Turkeymarker From
Ardahanmarker Turkeymarker From
Kuwait Citymarker Kuwaitmarker From
Honolulumarker United Statesmarker From
Izmirmarker Turkeymarker From 1985
Balakovomarker Russiamarker From
Erzurummarker Turkeymarker From
Vung Taumarker Vietnammarker From
Konyamarker Turkeymarker From
Jeddahmarker Saudi Arabiamarker From
Malatyamarker Turkeymarker From
Basramarker Iraqmarker From
Ispartamarker Turkeymarker From
Tekirdağmarker Turkeymarker From


File:SV100067.jpg|Baku landmarkFile:FilarmonaSide.JPG| Philharmonic HallFile:Azerbaycan Cumhuriyeti Milli Meclisi.JPG| Parliament building of the Azerbaijan republicFile:Baku-super142546.jpg| Baku bay at nightFile:Baku002.jpg| Bank Standard's buildingFile:Bakufount.jpg| Fountains in Baku boulevardFile:Baku.aeroport.jpg| Baku Int. AirportFile:Milli Kitabxana.JPG|National LibraryFile:Baku State University New Building 3.jpg|Baku State Universitymarker new buildingFile:Qafqaz Universiteti.jpg|Qafqaz UniversityFile:SV100240.jpg|Philharmonic HallFile:Baku7.jpg|Nizami parkFile:Baku TV tower.jpg| Baku TV towerFile:Bibi Heybat Baku2.jpg|Bibi Heybat mosque

Further reading

See also




  • Abbasov, Mazakhir. Baku During the Great Patriotic War.
  • Madatov, G. Azerbaijan During the Great Patriotic War. Baku, 1975.

External links

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