Baku, or Baky, Azerbaijan, the nation's capital and largest city. It lies on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. Baku is a Caspian port and a major industrial and oil-producing center. Industries include the refining and transporting of petroleum; the manufacturing of oil-field equipment, machinery, and petrochemicals; shipbuilding; and the processing of food and tobacco products. Baku has ancient buildings and monuments, modern high-rises, a broad seaside promenade, and a subway. The Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences and the Baku State University are among its institutions.
Baku was first mentioned in 9th-century chronicles. It was a trade and craft center in medieval times and flourished in the 15th century under local shahs. From 1509 until 1806, when it was annexed by Russia, Baku was almost continuously under the rule of Persia. Oil production began late in the 19th century.
The city was taken by the Red Army in 1917, by the White Army in 1918, and again by the Red Army in 1920. In 1936 Baku became the capital of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, a part of the Soviet Union. An electrical fire in Baku's subway killed nearly 300 people in 1995. In the late 1990's, oil production boomed with the discovery of massive reserves in the Caspian Sea.