History of Baku

Baku has been settled since ancient times and first is mentioned in sources of the 5th century. The city is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula and is rich of oil and gaz. 

In early Middle Ages the Absheron Peninsula was part of Shirvan, and in 7th century it became a governorship under Arabian rule.  In 9-14th centuries Baku was part of Shirvanshahs’ Arabian state. There are references concerning Baku from 9th and 10th centuries. Particularly, the testimonies of Arabian travelers and geographers Al-Mukadassi, Al-Masudi and Istahrii concern oil extracting industry and existence of a port in the city. Hamdalah Ghazvini, Abdurashid Bakuvi, Zakaria al-Ghazvini, Yakut Hamavi, the Arabian and Persian authors, also brought evidences about the oil-wells in Baku.  

The core of historic Baku was the fortress of the old city constructed during the reign of Manuchehr Shirvanshah III (1120-1160/4), which was considered one of the inaccessible constructions in Transcaucasia in 15-16th centuries. After an earthquake in Shamakhi city in 1192 rulers from Shirvanshah dinasty transferred the capital of their state to Baku and it became the administrative and political centre of Shirvan. After Baku had become the capital of Shirvanshahs’state, it started the export of local oil to several neighboring countries. In 16-17th centuries the city became one of the knots of Caspian trade.

In 1540 Baku was captured by the Safavid Persia and in 1580 by Ottoman Turkey. Evliya Çelebi, Turkish traveler and historian, visited Baku in 1647 and in his “Travelogue” wrote that Baku as a khanate was part of Shirvan elayet (district) and was the port of Shamakhi city. In 1723 Baku was captured by the Russian troops of Peter I. In 1735 Baku again went under the dominion of Iran.

In 1747 Baku became the centre of its namesake khanate. After 1804-1813 Russian-Iranian war south-eastern Transcaucasia including Baku was annexed to Russian Empire. The khanates of Baku, Derbend, Ghuba, Shirvan or Shamakhi and Shaki subjected to Persia were abolished. The province of Shamakhi was formed in these territories and was renamed to Baku province with Baku as a centre. The transfer of the centre to Baku was of great importance for the later development of the city. Becoming a provincial city due to its natural resources Baku entered a qualitatively new level of development. Masses of peasants for self-support migrated from the whole Transcaucasia to Baku which was one of the largest industrial centers in Caucasus and was in need of labor force. In 1820-1860s Russian authorities used Baku also as a place of exile. 

The trustworthy information about the Baku population comes from the 19th century. According to the census of population of 1899 the number of the Baku population was 182.897. It was a multinational city where besides the Muslims with various ethnic background, Armenians, Russians, Persians, Jews and Georgians a small number of European nationalities (Poles, Swedish, Germans, etc.) lived. In 19th century Baku as a harbor city was engaged in intensive barter and trade with Persia, TransCaspian states, China and other countries. Only in 1851-1860s annually 200 ships entered the port of Baku. In 1870s oil extracting in Baku increased and in 1901 reached its culmination: 706 million pounds of oil was extracted. Due to the oil extracting and oil development the city became a large developing centre of oil industry not only in Transcaucasia but also in the whole Russian Empire attracting also the European states.

In 1897-1907 the first in the world Baku-Batumi oil pipeline was laid by the Armenian industrialists (A. Mantashian, Ter-Akopov, Ter-Margarian and the others). The Armenian oil producers had a significant role in oil extracting in Baku. 
Three times in the history of the city – in 1905, 1918 and 1990 Baku turned into a scene of bloody anti-Armenian pogroms and massacre.

On September 15, 1918, the Turkish troops with irregular bands of Turkish Caucasians breaking the line of defense of the Armenian and British soldiers entered Baku and attacked the Christian population, mostly Armenians. About 10000 Armenians were killed during this massacre.

In September of 1918 Baku became the capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, in April of 1920, after the establishment of Soviet rule, the capital of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. 

In 1991 after the collapse of USSR Baku became the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan.