Baku (aka Bakı, Бакы, Baky or Baki) is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is also the center of the "Russian" oil industry. From the map, you can see its location on the southern side of the Abşeron peninsula that juts out into the Caspian Sea.
Well, from a geographic/natural resources point-of-view, Baku means "oil." The city has always been the center of the "Russian" oil industry, kind of like the "Texas" of Russia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baku is now the center of a thriving petroleum industry in Azerbaijan. Here are two photos of Baku today; both photos are courtesy Lindsay Fincher.
Now compare those photos with some images of the nascent Russian oil industry at the turn of the twentieth century, complete with then state-of-the-art wooden derricks and oil gushers. (I admit that picture quality leaves a little bit to be desired.)
How about the beach in Baku, looks inviting?
Photo courtesy Lindsay Fincher.
"Commercial"--technically it was commercial, but it was so very, very primitive--development of the oil resources in the Baku region began in the 1870s, but commercial exploitation continued fitfully, on an uneconomical scale, until foreign capital and expertise arrived at the turn of the twentieth century. At that time, the Baku oil fields were the largest in the world. With the start of the twenty-first century, there is again massive foreign investment--talk about history repeating itself-- to develop the offshore oil reserves (both shallow and deep water in the Caspian Sea) and also the available natural gas fields. Azerbaijan is again becoming one of the world's most important oil and gas producers.
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