Baku is the capital, largest city and commercial hub of Azerbaijan. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku. Baku’s population (2012) is 2,122,300 and Azerbaijani (or Azeri) is the official language of the residents. Russian is also spoken widely throughout Azerbaijan. In the capital, Baku, young people speak good English and other European languages, such as French and German.
The religion with the largest community of followers is Islam. The majority of the Muslims are Shia Muslims, and the Republic of Azerbaijan has the second highest Shia population percentage in the world after Iran. In 2009, Baku was designated an Islamic Culture Capital.
Baku is divided into eleven administrative districts and 48 townships. Baku area is one of the oil-rich regions of the world. Many major Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters in Baku.
In recent years, Baku has become an important venue for international events such as the European Grand Prix in 2016 and it will host the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017 and UEFA Euro in 2020.
Geography and Climate
Situated on the western coast of Caspian Sea, Baku has a temperate semi-arid climate with warm and dry summers, cool and occasionally wet winters, and strong winds all year long. This is mainly because it is located on a peninsula on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Since the city is extremely windy, so it is known as the "City of Winds".
Baku is one of the most important tourist destinations in the Caucasus. There are many coastal parks and multiple programs including artistic programs, music, theater and opera in this city which have a certain appeal.
It has many popular tourist and entertainment spots, such as the downtown Fountains Square, Flame Towers, the One and Thousand Nights Beach, Shikhov Beach, Oil Rocks, Baku Museum of Modern Art and Azerbaijan State Museum of History, Azerbaijan State Academic Opera, Ballet Theatre and so on.
The old part of the city was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes Shirvan Shah Palace and Qiz Qalasi.
For people in Azerbaijan, food is an important part of their culture and rooted in history, traditions and national values. Fertile land and rich aquatic resources of the Caspian Sea has created a rich diversity of dishes. Azeri people have more than 30 kinds of soup, including those prepared with yogurt, a variety of kebabs, lambs and meatballs, and also rice. Today potatoes are used more in foods than rice. A variety of dried fruits and vegetables are used in cooking, as well.
Tea is the main drink of Azerbaijani people and is served before the meals and is always prepared to welcome guests.
There is a wide range of good restaurants in Baku. Apart from the proper price, there are different foods for various tastes. Azeri dishes, European, Iranian, Asian and fast foods can be found easily. Many teahouses are scattered in the city.