General background

Baku is the capital and the largest city of Republic of Azerbaijan. The city is situated on the Western Coast of the Caspian Sea in the southern part of the Apsheron Peninsula in the latitude of 40º23' and in the longitude of 49º51'. The city boundaries of Great Baku include a vast territory with an area of nearly 2.2 thousand, which is not only the city itself, but also a vast municipal agglomeration. From the administrative point of view Baku is divided into 11 districts – Azizbayov, Binagady, Garadagh, Narimanov, Nasimi, Nizami, Sabail, Sabunchu, Khatai, Surakhany and Yasamal.

The central part of the city is situated in the amphitheatre with descending terraces towards the Baku Bay. The layout of Baku is rectangular, only in the oldest part of the city within the fortress walls the streets are crooked and narrow. In the centre and along the highways the construction is dense and it is free in the outskirts. The suburbs of Baku are the centres of oil extraction where the enterprises of railway transportation, of machine-building and construction materials (quarries of stone blocks, cement and lime production) are located and where one can see mineral sources (Shikh, Surakhany). In the vicinities of the city there are a number of mud volcanoes (Keyraki, Bogkh-bogkha, Lokbatan and others) and salt lakes (Boyukshor, Khodasan and others). The boundaries of the city include a health resort area of the Apsheron Peninsula with coastal beaches. The coastal area of Baku is 28 m below the world ocean level.

The Climate of the Apsheron Peninsula where Baku is situated is moderately warm with hot dry summer and short mild winter. Being situated in the same latitude with Greece and Italy, Apsheron is distinguished by higher average annual temperature and less quantity of precipitation. The Caspian Sea does not freeze in this latitude, therefore the Baku seaport functions all the year round. The average annual temperature of Baku and that of the Earth come together to the tenth portions (14.2ºC). The average temperature in July is +26ºC, in January it is +3ºC. The precipitation is from 180 mm to 300 mm a year. The southwestern part of Great Baku is a more arid part of Azerbaijan. The precipitation here is less than 150 mm a year. Strong northern winds “Khazri” and southern winds – “Gilavar” are typical here.

The population of Baku officially comprised about 1.8 million people in the year of 2000, though unofficially it has long overstepped the boundaries of two million. The intensive growth of the population started in the middle of the XIX century when Baku was a small town with the population of about 7 thousand people all in all.

The table shows the dynamics of the population growth in Baku in this period (in thousands).

year 1850 1874 1898 1905 1918 1930 1935 1967 1970 1985 2000
population 7.4 16 150 207 248 310 660 780 1000 1700 1800

Modern Baku is a large industrial complex with a developed extraction of oil and gas, petro-chemical, machine-engineering and metalworking industry, production of construction materials.

Scientific and cultural life of the country is concentrated in Baku. It was here that the first national theatre in the entire Islamic East raised its curtains and the first opera was sounded, the first University was opened, the first Azerbaijani newspaper was published, the first Azerbaijani library and reading-hall was opened.

Baku is a great transport junction. The leading part in freight turnover belongs to the commercial seaport. Airlines connect Baku with a number of cities in the world. The railway lines connect Baku with Georgia, Russia, Iran.

Baku’s twin cities are Izmir (Turkey), Naples (Italy), Dakar (Senegal), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Bordeaux (France), Basra (Iraq), Houston (the USA) and Meinz (Germany).