The name Baku is believed to mean Gods city which it indeed is, as said that the PROPHET ZOROASTR (ZARATHUSTRA), whose father is said to have come from the APSHERON Peninsula, spent 20 years living in a cave which was lighted by a supernatural flame. First mentioned in the 5th century, Baku is believed to have been in existance at least 2,000 years.
The Apsheron Peninsula is saturated with oil and natural gas seepaging into the surface. It here that Zoroastism had its origins sometime during the 7th century B.C. The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and is one of Azerbaijan's largest cities, the capital. The center of Baku is the old town, which is also a fortress. Most of the walls, strengthened after the Russian conquest in 1806, survive. This section is picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys (1.5m wide) and ancient buildings. Part of a palace, a mosque, and a minaret date from the 11th century. Modern Baku spreads out from the walls, its streets and buildings rising up hills that rim the Bay of Baku. Greater Baku is divided into 11 districts and 48 townships. Among these are townships on islands in the bay and one island built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Baku proper.
Baku is a major cultural and educational center, with a university and other institutions of higher education. One of these specializes in the petroleum and chemical industries. The basis of Baku's economy is petroleum and natural gas. BTC ( Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) pipe line just completed where Azeri's oil is started to flow to Ceyhan port in Turkey, through Georgia. The existence of petroleum has been known since the 8th century. By the 15th century oil for lamps was obtained from surface wells. Commercial exploration began in 1872 by Nobel, and by the beginning of the 20th century the Baku oil field was the largest in the world. Toward the end of the 20th century much of the onshore oil fields had been depleted, and drilling had extended into the offshore Caspian Sea.
Baku ranks as one of the largest centers for the production of oil-industry equipment. Other industries are shipbuilding and repair and the manufacture of electrical machinery. Chemicals, cement, textiles, footwear, famous Azeri carpets (called Sumak), and foodstuffs are also produced. Archaeological evidence indicates that Baku was an ancient settlement.
Persia controlled the site by the 11th century, though for a time during the 13th and 14th centuries it was captured and possessed by the Mongols. In 1723, Peter-I the Great, czar of Russia, captured Baku, but it was returned to Persia in 1735. Russia recaptured the town in 1806, and in 1920 it became the Azerbaijan capital. Wander through the Old City ICHERI SHEHER (insite city, in the city walls) and enjoy its rich history and architectural monuments. The architecture in Baku is a wonderful mix of Oriental and European. Medieval mosques and baths have been preserved, providing a rare glimpse of the rich past. GIZ GALASY (the Maiden Tower) is one of the most outstanding historical monuments of Baku and is a symbol of the city. Add all this to the varied cultural life, museums, theatres, operas and concerts and you will appreciate that Baku has much to offer the visitor.
Baku is now undergoing its second renaissance. This city with its beautiful gardens and fountains, elegant seaside promenade and cosmopolitan restaurants is rapidly establishing itself as the jewel of the Caucasus. Population (2004 estimate), 3,030,000. Azerie speaks Azerbaijanie language which is very similar to current Turkish. Turks can comminicates with them without any problem.