About Baku

Baku City

General information

Baku is a capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is one of the largest industrial, scientific and cultural center not only of the country, as well as in the entire region. It is a major port on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, in the southern part of the Absheron Peninsula.

It is a lively and very interesting city, where life does not stop even at night. Over the last ten years, Baku has greatly changed: new multi-storey buildings of shopping centers, hotels and banks harmonize very well with the old buildings. Baku is divided into 11 administrative districts.


Population, language, religion

Baku has always been famous as a multi-ethnic city. The population of the capital of Azerbaijan reflects the ethnic composition of country.

The official language is the Azerbaijani, but historically the Russian language was widespread. In recent years, as the result of the country’s integration into the international community, more and more people, especially young people also know the English language. 

Azerbaijan is the Muslim country according to the religious beliefs and due to the recent information, the population of Azerbaijan is more than 9 million people, the believers from other religions also feel comfortable and safe themselves here.

Geographical location and climate of Baku

Baku is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, its area is approximately 2,2 thousand square kilometers. The central part of the city go down systematically to the Baku Bay like the amphitheater. Modern Baku stretches far beyond the historical center - Old City (Icheri Sheher). Its new buildings were raised on the hills located along the Baku Bay. In a business center and along the highways, the construction is dense but on the suburbs more sparse. Although in recent years this division is rather conditional, because the population grow, the residential districts and surrounding areas are also actively being built.

The climate is temperate in Baku, with hot summer and low humidity and with mild winter. In January the average annual temperature is +3.4 degree C, and in July +25.8. Autumn is warm, much warmer than spring.

Historical note

According to its territory and the number of population, Baku has been considered one of the biggest cities in the East. In the twelfth century, Baku was one of the major cities of the Shirvanshahs state, sixteenth century - the Safavids state, seventeeth century - the Ottoman Empire, eighteenth century - Baku khanate.

History of Baku dates back centuries, and its name is found in the medieval Byzantine, Arab, Persian and European sources, where Baku was showed as a rich city on the Great Silk Way.

People anciently settled in this territory, which eventually has been crowded by settlements establishing a future city. The reason for this is the physical and geographical conditions of the territory, its location in the center of the intersection of migration and trade routes stretching from north to south and from west to east (the “Silk Way”), climatic conditions, as well as a valuable energy substance, from ancient times appearing on the surface of the earth, and called “naphtha”. Actually it was the first oil of the planet, which began to be produced industrially.

Baku was noted as a city of miracles in ancient scripts and has a very old history. Travelers of ancient times visiting these places used to write loads of articles about amazing flames of Absheron peninsula. The first script about Baku was mentioned in the manuscripts the period of reign of the Egyptian Pharaon Menesa, which dates back to the 3500 years B.C. The archeological findings and scripts on the rocks with the age of at least 12.000 years, found in Absheron and Gobustan are the best proof for the ancient history of Baku. Besides, there are numerous archeological monuments of III-I millenniums B.C. in the outskirts of the Baku, like the Lake Zigh, the residential areas Shuvalan, Mardakan, Binaghady, Amirjan and others. The stone scripts about military camps made around the city of Baku (40 km south of the city) by Roman emperors Pompeus and Lukull during their invasion of Caucasus, written by August Guy Octavian are the best examples for this. 

The settlements around Baku also have a very interesting history. Mashtagha is a good example for this as its name related to the tribes of Massagets, which settled here from prehistoric times. The history of the village Turkan is related to the Turkmen tribes proceeding from the opposite shores of the Caspian Sea and spreading over the western coasts of the sea and along Azerbaijan. It is evident that the name of the village is closely related to the name of the ancient tribes of Turkish roots which inhabited this region long ago.

Baruka, Bagavan, Atesh-i Bagavan, Bakukh, Bakuya, Bad-Cuba (Persian - windy), Baku, Baka - the ancient names of Baku city were found in various written sources of antiquity. Byzantine author Priscus Paniysky, who lived in the first half of the fifth century describing the way from Scythia to Midia, informed about the “bursting fire from the sea stone” near Baku. This is the first chronological indication of the lights near Baku. Starting from the ninth century, in Arabic sources for the first time there were words: Baku, Bakukh, Bakuya, Bakuye.


According to the Arabic traveler Abu Dulaf, in 10th century there was an income of 720 thousands dirhams obtained from the two oilfields in Baku. Baku, which was located on the intersection of trade roads, played an outstanding role in development of commercial relationships between Western and Eastern countries. If the entire Azerbaijan is a country on the virtual border of Europe and Asia, then Baku-Absheron is one of the main gates for the Europeans wishing to know Asia and Far Eastern countries and their population who aspired to visit Europe. They all passed through Baku where caravans travelling on the Great Silk Way stopped.

At the period when the Shirvanshahs state was established, Baku has become even more important. Baku became famous as a port city since X century. From the end of XI to the beginning of XIII centuries Baku was flourishing. When Qizil Arslan occupied Shamakhy in 1191, Baku temporarily became the capital of Shirvanshakhs’ state. Shivanshahs’ dynasty used to pay special attention to the strengthening of the city. In XII century Baku was surrounded by double walls and a deep trench. The “Maiden Tower” was included into the defense system of the city and Shirvanshakhs’ created a very powerful fleet in the Caspian Sea. Baku became a strategic port on the Caspian Sea, creating additional conditions for its prosperity.

In connection with increasing Baku’s economical and political role in the second half of the XIV century, the Caspian Sea was sometimes referred to as the Sea of Baku (it is mentioned in the map, which was created in 1375, in Catalan language). The historical-architectural buildings preserved up to present days in Baku, like Bukhara Caravanserai (XIV century), Multan (Indian) Caravanserai (XV-XVI centuries) not far from the Maiden Tower and others demonstrate the existence of wide range trade relationship with Eastern countries. During the reign of Shirvanshakh Khalilullah (1417-1462) significant constructions were made in Baku. The complex of Shirvanshakhs’ Palace was constructed at this period.


In 1501, Shakh Ismail attacked Shirvan and occupied Baku and in 1538 the head of Safavids, Takhmasib annexed Shirvan, including Baku into his empire and it initiated a long-lasting rivalry between two Turkish countries – Ottomans and Safavids. The empowerment of the central government was a strong stimulus to the progress of the city in XVII century. Copper money was produced in Baku during the Safavid reign. The main part of people in Baku and Absheron peninsula were busy with carpet-weaving. In XVI-XVIII centuries craftsmanship, especially carpet-weaving was highly developed. Weaving was also extremely popular in Baku.

The first oil well was mechanically drilled in the Bibi-Heybat suburb of Baku in 1846. Within a short period of time foreign investors appeared in Baku. Among them were the Nobel brothers. By the beginning of the 20th century, almost half of world production was being extracted in Baku. Cultural life flourished in Baku: there were opened theatres and was built the opera house. In those days, it was called the “Paris of the Caucasus.”

On September 15, 1918, the National Army of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and troops of Ottoman Turkish Islamic Army under the head of the army Nuru Pasha freed Baku from bolshevik, armenian-dashnak and English military groups and Baku became the capital of the first ever democratic government in the Turkish and Islamic world – Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. On 28 April in 1920, the 11th Red Army invaded Baku and the soviet period began in Baku.

In Soviet times, Baku became the capital of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, and has become one of the largest administrative, industrial, scientific and cultural centers of the USSR. During the World War II, Baku was a major strategic hub to fuel military aircrafts and armored vehicles, which was one of the most important factors of the USSR victory. After the war, Baku also remained significant oil-producing region of the USSR.

At that time, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR Heydar Aliyev and mayor of city Alish Lemberansky played an important role in the modern image of Baku during the Soviet period.

The Republic Palace (now the Heydar Aliyev Palace), State Circus, Baku Seaport building, “Gulistan” Palace, Musical Comedy Theatre, Green Theatre, Baku funicular, as well as the hotels “Moscow”, “Azerbaijan”, “Absheron”, and many other important facilities are products of those years.

In the second half of the 80s, the political and economic crisis was created a new reality in the life of Soviet Azerbaijan and Baku, as a series of tragedies, the community split and led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Again in 1991, 18th of October, when Azerbaijan declared its independence, Baku became the capital of the sovereign country of Azerbaijan.