The capital city and major urban centre of Azerbaijan. Population: 1.7m. (estimate). The natural Baku harbour provides the best port on the Caspian Sea. Settlement at the site dates back to several centuries BC but the first historical reference dates from 885 AD. Long dominated by the Persian Empire, Baku became an important economic and administrative centre. Russian rule first came in a 12-year spell from 1723 and was finally established permanently in 1806. After the Russian Revolution Baku was made the capital of the Azeri republic, a role it maintained after the country's independence in 1991.
The oil industry has long dominated Baku's economy. Surface wells have been exploited for fuel since the 15th century. Modern commercial collection began in 1872, the second such venture in the world (after that in Ploieşti in Romania). Although the city's surrounding sources have largely dried up, Azerbaijan's claims in the Caspian remain bountiful and there are other sites inland. Along with extraction Baku has specialized in associated manufacture, producing equipment and machinery for the oil and chemical industries.
The stock exchange for Azerbaijan, based in Baku. Originally established in 1886 BICEX was re-formed in June 1993 and trading began in August 1994. BICEX performs chiefly as a currency market, regulating exchange rates, but also trades in securities.
Address: Ingilab St 57, Baku 370110.
Telephone: (12) 906309.
Fax: (12) 906516.