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City & Municipality
Skyline of Sumgayit
Sumgayit is located in Azerbaijan
Coordinates: 40°35′23″N 49°40′07″E / 40.58972°N 49.66861°E / 40.58972; 49.66861
Country  Azerbaijan
City Sumgait
Founded November 22, 1949
 • Mayor Eldar Azizov
 • Total 83 km2 (32 sq mi)
Elevation 26 m (85 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 312,000
 • Density 3,900/km2 (10,000/sq mi)
Time zone AZT (UTC+4)
 • Summer (DST) AZT (UTC+5)
Area code(s) +994 18
Website Official website

Sumgayit (Azerbaijani: Sumqayıt; also, Sumgait, Sumqayit, and Sumqayyt) is one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan, located near the Caspian Sea, about 31 kilometres (19 miles) away from the capital, Baku. The city has a population of 308,700 (2009 census), making it the third-largest city in Azerbaijan after the capital Baku and Ganja. The city has a territory of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi). It was founded on November 22, 1949.[1] Two settlements are within the city administration: Jorat and Haji Zeynalabdin, a settlement named after oil businessman and philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. It is home to Sumqayit State University.


According to the local folklore the city is named after the Sumqayit River. In retrospect the legend tells the tale of a hero by the name of "Sum", who is chosen by the community to fight a monster that was blocking the Sumqayit River. Sum eventually manages to kill the monster, but when the river is released he is swept by the waters and never seen again. After that, his beloved, Jeyran, inconsolable by Sum's disappearance, would go to the river and cry "Sum qayıt!" (which means "Sum, come back!" in Azerbaijani). So the river became known as Sumgayit, upon the city was named after.


Medieval era[edit]

According to historians, Medean tribes lived in the area. During the construction boom, when the foundation of the executive power building was being excavated, remains of an ancient caravanserai along with personal items and kitchenware was found at the site.

The first reports of settlements at the present site of Sumgayit were in 1580, when English traveller H. Barrow mentioned Sumgayit in his writings and in 1858, when Alexander Dumas wrote about the area in his memoirs Trip to Caucasus, although nothing substantial was created on the site until the Soviet Union gained control over the area in the 1920s.[2]

Modern era[edit]

Main articles: Askeran clash and Sumgait Pogrom

Following the politics of glasnost, initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, civil unrest and ethnic strife grew in various regions of the Soviet Union, including Nagorno-Karabakh,[3] an autonomous region of the Azerbaijan SSR.

On 22—23 February 1988 violence broke out in the town on Askeran, resulting in the death of two Azerbaijanis.[4] The news of the Askeran clash along with ongoing deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia sparked the Sumgait pogrom against Armenian residents of the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan on 27 February.[5] The violence was led, to some degree, by Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia, perhaps as many as 2000[6] of them made even more desperate by being forced to take shelter in the appalling conditions of Sumgait's shantytown.[7] The pogrom resulted in the deaths of 26 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis. As a result, the entire Armenian population fled from Sumqayit. The violence during the Askeran clash and the Sumgait Pogrom marked the starting points of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, which triggered the Nagorno-Karabakh War.[8]

Later the city became home to a number of Azerbaijani refugees internally displaced persons. Most of them where from Qubadli and Zengilan regions.


The first studies in architecture and urban planning of the city of Sumgait were carried out by Azerbaijani and Soviet scientist, academician of the International Academy of Architecture of the Eastern Countries, honored architect of Azerbaijan SSR Dr. Kamal Mamedbekov (PhD in theory and history of architecture and restoration of architectural monuments). The result of years of research were numerous scientific publications and a book about architectural and planning development of the city of Sumgait.[9] Mamedbekov donated a large number of graphics and illustrations made by him to the archives of The City Museum.

Cultural establishments[edit]

During the Soviet rule of Azerbaijan, Sumgayit was believed to have the longest and cleanest sea side park in the republic. The Culture and Leisure Park was laid on 23 ha of Sumgayit coastline in 1967. On August 17, 1978 the park was given the name of a distinguished Azerbaijani poet Imadaddin Nasimi. The same year, the city administration raised the Peace Dove monument in the middle of the park assigning the city a symbol of peace. The flora of the park includes 39 types of trees. Events of 1990's such as the Black January tragedy and Nagorno-Karabakh War, led to establishment of Stars (Ulduzlar) and 20 January Monument monuments in the park. In the eastern section of the park, Shehidler Khiyabani similar to Martyrs' Lane in Baku was established as burial ground for thousands of soldiers from Sumgayit who died during the war. According to the Decree No. 132 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan dated August 2, 2001 the park was given the status of national historical importance. Its current size is 80 ha. In addition to Nasimi Culture and Leisure Park, the city administration built Ludwigshafen Park in 1997 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of twin-city relations between Ludwigshafen and Sumgayit. In 1999, Heydar Aliyev Park and Luna Park were built in the rapidly growing city.[10]


The city has extensive communication with Baku through bus services. The building of new subway line from Baku is currently planned.


Sumqayit is located about 31 km (19 mi) (approximately 20 miles) northwest of Azerbaijan's capital Baku, near the Caspian Sea.
  • Population: 308,700 inhabitants, including 62,300 Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs
  • Density of population, per km²: 3621[1]
  • Annual population upsurge (pers): 1944
  • Average lifetime: 70 years


  • Gross domestic product (million AZM): 614,800 (1 AZM = 1.25 USD[11])
  • Gross domestic product per capita (AZM): 2,079.8
  • Import (million AZM): 28,860
  • Export (million AZM): 32,380[1]

Contemporary period[edit]

In 1935, the Soviet government decided to develop heavy industry in the Absheron Peninsula, and the future location of Sumgayit was chosen based on its proximity to Baku and its key position on existing railroad lines.

Main street in Sumqayit

Between 1938–1941, a thermal power station was constructed to power Baku's growing petroleum industry. This was soon followed by more heavy industries. Due to World War II the construction of the area stopped and resumed in 1944, when metallurgical and chemical plants were constructed and put into operation. The first production of Sumgayit Chemical Plant led to a rapid growth and construction boom, creating a new job market, and a need for a resident population. In 1949, Sumgayit gained official city status according to resolution of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan SSR. In 1952, a tube-rolling plant delivered its first produce thus developing black metallurgy production in Azerbaijan. The same year, another new Synthetic Rubber Production Plant started its operations producing ethylene obtained from oil. Operations at Sumgayit Steel Processing Plant and Sumgayit Aluminium Plant were commenced in 1953 and 1955, respectively. In 1957–1955, a number of scientific research facilities and cultural centers were built, leading to further development of the city infrastructure. In 1960, authorities started building the Petroleum Chemical Factory, the largest in Europe at the time. From 1961 through 1968, a brick-producing factory, a polymer construction materials industrial complex, a phosphor production plant were built. In 1970-1980s, light industry and mechanical engineering facilities were added to the industrial base of the city. By the end of the 1980s, Sumgayit was already the center of the chemical industry of the USSR.[2]


Statistics shows that Sumgayit education have been higher from the past. According to statistics, the number of adopting to universities is higher in Sumgayit. There are lyceums and ordinary schools in Sumgayit. In the schools ranking list of Sumgayit, Sumgait Private Turkish High School is the first.[citation needed] Also, TTEL and TET Gymnasium are top schools of Sumgayit. One of the top schools is Idrak school lyceum. It is a newly opened school, founded in 2008. There is a university in Sumqait. Sumqayit State University (Azerbaijani: Sumqayıt Dövlət Universiteti), is a public university located in Sumqayit, Azerbaijan. The university has seven departments and approximately 4000 students.


Sumgayit was credited as the main regional driving force behind rock bands of the 1990s including Yuxu, Miraj, Mozalan, and Sirr.[13][14]


The city has one professional football team competing in the top-flight of Azerbaijani football – Sumgayit PFC, currently playing in the Azerbaijan Premier League.


As a result of the Soviet planning of the industrial boom era, the city became heavily polluted. Soon after Azerbaijan's independence, the industrial sectors went into decline. The Absheron Peninsula (which consists of Sumqayit, Baku and the Absheron Rayon) was considered by scientists to be the most ecologically devastated part of Azerbaijan. The city was known for its children's cemetery, known as the "Baby Cemetery" which contains many graves of infants born with deformities and mental retardation that were further complicated by the lack of adequate medical care for the poor.[15] Sumgayit was named as most polluted place on earth by the US based environmental group the Blacksmith Institute in 2006 and placed on their list of The World's Most Polluted Places by Time magazine in 2007.[16] The report noted the former Soviet industrial base was polluting the local environment with industrial chemicals like chlorine and heavy metals. The report also mentioned cancer rates in Sumgayit were as much as 51% higher than the national average and that genetic mutations and birth defects were commonplace.[17] The city administration prepared an environmental protection plan for 2003–2010 which has been steadily decreasing the levels of pollution to minimal. The program oversees 118 activities aimed at minimizing pollution at all possible levels of economic production. The program was prepared with participation of all industrial enterprises in the city and its enforcement is being regulated by the executive power of the city. For instance, the amount of waste water from industrial production went down from 600 thousand m3 during 1990's to 76.3 thousand m3 in 2005. Solid waste went down from 300 thousand to 3,868 tons a year. The World Bank has issued a loan to the Azerbaijani government for construction of a burial range for mercury waste.[18]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Sumqayit is twinned with:[19]

Notable people from Sumgayit[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Sumqayıt şəhər icra hakimiyyəti. Şəhərin pasportu" [Sumgayit Executive Power. Resume]. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  2. ^ a b "Sumqayıt şəhər icra hakimiyyəti. Yaranma tarixi" [Sumgayit Executive Power. History]. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  3. ^ Michael P., Croissant (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: causes and implications. United States of America: Praeger Publishers. pp. 36, 37. ISBN 0-275-96241-5. 
  4. ^ The New York Times, 11 March 1988, p. A6
  5. ^ Ethnic Fears and Ethnic War In Karabagh - Stuart J. Kaufman - Page 23
  6. ^ Tamara Dragadze, “Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijanis,” in Graham Smith, ed., The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union (London: Longman, 1990), p. 175.
  7. ^ Moskovskie novosti, 17 April 1988, tr. in CDSP vol. 40, no. 17, pp. 12–13.
  8. ^ Modern hatreds: the symbolic politics of ethnic war - Page 63 by Stuart J. Kaufman
  9. ^ Mamedbekov, Kamal (1988). Sumgait: Architectural and planning development. Baku: Elm, Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR. p. 119. Retrieved 2013-01-03. 
  10. ^ "Sumqayıt şəhər icra hakimiyyəti. Parklar və istirahət bağları" [Sumgayit Executive Power. Parks and Leisure facilities]. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  11. ^ "Currency converter". Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  12. ^ (Russian) Karabakh: Timeline of the Conflict. BBC Russian
  13. ^ "Yenə də Sumqayıt…". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "Sumqayıt rok ənənələrini bərpa edir". www.inradiotv. (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  15. ^ Sumgayit: Soviet's Pride, Azerbaijan's Hell by Arif Islamzade at, Autumn 1994
  16. ^ Sumgayit, Azerbaijan – The World's Most Polluted Places TIME, September 12, 2007
  17. ^ World's Worst Polluted Places — by the Blacksmith Institute (accessed 2007-12-3)
  18. ^ "Sumqayıt şəhər icra hakimiyyəti. Şəhərin ekoloji vəziyyəti" [Sumgayit Executive Power. Environmental conditions in the city]. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Twin-cities of Azerbaijan". Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  20. ^ Interview with Michael Schmunk, Chargés d'Affaires of Germany in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan International, Spring 1995 (3.2)
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "Sumqayıt şəhər icra hakimiyyəti. Beynəlxalq Əlaqələr" [Sumgayit Executive Power. International Relations]. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°35′23″N 49°40′07″E / 40.58972°N 49.66861°E / 40.58972; 49.66861