Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and it is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku. At the beginning of 2009, Bakus urban population was estimated at just over two million people, officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Bakus metropolitan area. Baku is divided into administrative districts and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on the islands of the Baku Archipelago, the Inner City of Baku, along with the Shirvanshahs Palace and Maiden Tower, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planets ranking, Baku is also among the top ten destinations for urban nightlife. The city is the scientific, cultural and industrial center of Azerbaijan, many sizeable Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters there. The Baku International Sea Trade Port is capable of handling two million tons of general and dry bulk cargoes per year, in recent years, Baku has become an important venue for international events. The city is renowned for its winds, which is reflected in its nickname. Indeed, the city is renowned for its fierce winter snow storms and this is also reflected in the citys nickname as the City of Winds. A less probable folk etymology explains the name as deriving from Baghkuy, baga and kuy are the Old Persian words for god and town respectively, the name Baghkuy may be compared with Baghdād in which dād is the Old Persian word for give. Arabic sources refer to the city as Baku, Bakukh, Bakuya, around 100,000 years ago, the territory of modern Baku and Absheron was savanna with rich flora and fauna. Traces of human settlement go back to the Stone age, from the Bronze age there have been rock carvings discovered near Bayil, and a bronze figure of a small fish discovered in the territory of the Old City. These have led some to suggest the existence of a Bronze Age settlement within the citys territory, further archeological excavations revealed various prehistoric settlements, native temples, statues and other artifacts within the territory of the modern city and around it. In the 1st century, the Romans organized two Caucasian campaigns and reached Baku, near the city, in Gobustan, Roman inscriptions dating from 84–96 AD were discovered. This is one of the earliest written evidences for Baku, during the 8th century Baku was the realm of the Shirvanshahs. The city frequently came under assault of the Khazars and the Rus, shirvanshah Akhsitan I built a navy in Baku and successfully repelled another Rus assault in 1170. After a devastating earthquake struck Shamakhy, the capital of Shirvan, the Shirvan era greatly influenced Baku and the remainder of Azerbaijan
Image: Baku montage 3
Roman stone inscription in Gobustan dating back to 84–96 A.D.
A miniature painting marking the downfall of the Shirvanshahs at the hands of the Safavids.