Capital city of the republic of Azerbaijan, located on the Apsheron Peninsula on the western shore of the Caspian Sea; population of the city (2013 est) 1,200,300; population of the metropolitan area (1997 est) 1,727,200. Baku is an important industrial city and port. It has been a major centre of oil extraction and refining since the 1870s; the oilfields here are linked by pipelines with the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi, while petroleum exports to Russia are shipped across the Caspian to Astrakhan and along the Volga River. Heavy engineering enterprises in the city produce equipment for the oil industry and ships; other industries include electrical machinery, chemicals, cement, textiles, leather tanning, footwear, and food processing. Baku has a hot climate and is subject to strong northwest winds.
History There has been settlment at Baku since the 8th century. It was successively under Arab, Shirvan, and Persian rule. A number of buildings dating from
the 11th–17th centuries have survived. Russian forces gained control of the city from the Persians in 1723–35, but it was only finally absorbed into the Russian empire in 1806. It became capital of Baku Province in 1859, and was part of the briefly independent Azerbaijan Republic (1918–20) until captured by the Red Army in 1920.
Late-20th century In January 1990, as ethnic tensions arose during the disintegration of the USSR, Baku was the scene of violent clashes between the Azeri majority and the Armenian minority, and Soviet troops were sent to the region; over 13,000 Armenians subsequently fled the city. Following Azerbaijan's independence, opposition political forces orchestrated protests in Baku in March 1992 that led to the resignation of President Mutalibov.
Famous people Baku was the birthplace of the cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.