Sumgait (//; Azerbaijani: Sumqayıt, Azerbaijani: [sumgɑˈjɯt] (listen)) is the second-largest city in Azerbaijan, located near the Caspian Sea, about 31 kilometres (19 miles) away from the capital, Baku. The city has a population of around 345,300, making it the second-largest city in Azerbaijan after the capital Baku.
|Founded||22 November 1949|
|• Mayor||Zakir Farajov|
|• Total||90 km2 (30 sq mi)|
|Elevation||26 m (85 ft)|
|• Density||4,000/km2 (10,000/sq mi)|
|• Population Rank in Azerbaijan||2nd|
|Time zone||UTC+4 (AZT)|
The city has a territory of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi). It was founded on November 22, 1949. 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 Sumgait 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 Sumgait 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 Sumgait, upon the city was named after.
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 Sumgait were in 1580, when English traveller H. Barrow mentioned Sumgait 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.
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, an autonomous region of the Azerbaijani SSR.
After the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, the city became home to a number of Azerbaijani refugees internally displaced persons, mainly from Qubadli and Zengilan regions. In 1994, Heydar Aliyev initiated a large-scale Free Economic Area project on the territory of the city.
|Climate data for Sumqayit|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.7
|Average low °C (°F)||1.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||24
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 Sumgait, Baku and the Absheron District) 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. Sumgait was named as most polluted place on Earth by the U.S.-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. 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 Sumgait were as much as 51% higher than the national average and that genetic mutations and birth defects were commonplace. 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 the 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 wastewater from industrial production went down from 600,000 m3 (21,000,000 cu ft) during the 1990s to 76,300 m3 (2,690,000 cu ft) in 2005. Solid waste went down from 300,000 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.
According to the State Statistics Committee, as of 2018, the population of city recorded 341.2 thousand persons, which increased by 84,500 persons (about 33%) from 256.7 thousand persons in 2000. 168,3 thousand of total population are men,172,9 thousand are women. More than 23 percent of the population consists of young people and teenagers aged 14–29.
- Population: 240,000 inhabitants
- Density of population, per km2: 3621
- Annual population upsurge (pers): 1944
- Average lifetime: 70 years
Azerbaijanis comprise 97.74% of the population, Lezgin 1.13%, Russians 0.69%, Talysh 0.15%, Turkish 0.06%, and others 0.23%.
Until the events of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was home to 20,000 Armenians, who were displaced as refugees as a result of the Sumgait pogrom.
Sumgait did not have a mosque until after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 2010s, the city has emerged as a center for Salafism in Azerbaijan, a form of Sunni Islam that advocates a return to Islam's earliest practices. The Syrian Civil War and emergence of ISIL forced authorities to take action on crackdown of perceived religious radicals in Sumgait.
|Sumgait's Economy Soviet Period Timeline|
In 1935, the Soviet government decided to develop heavy industry in the Absheron Peninsula, and the future location of Sumgait was chosen based on its proximity to Baku and its key position on the existing railroad lines.
Between 1938 and 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 Sumgait Chemical Plant led to a rapid growth and construction boom, creating a new job market, and a need for a resident population. In 1949, Sumgait gained official city status according to the 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 Sumgait Steel Processing Plant and Sumgait Aluminium Plant were commenced in 1953 and 1955, respectively. In 1957–1955, a number of scientific research facilities and cultural centres 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 the 1970–80s, light industry and mechanical engineering facilities were added to the industrial base of the city. By the end of the 1980s, Sumgait was already the centre of the chemical industry of the USSR.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Sumgait has remained Azerbaijan's second-biggest industrial centre after Baku. Some of the most significant companies operating in the city are Azerpipe, Azeraluminium, Sumgait Aluminium, Sumgait Superphosphate, glass producer Khazar OJSC, Sumgait Knitted Goods Factory, and Sumgait Compressors, many of which have been privatized.
In 2011, the development of Sumgait Technologies Park (STP) and Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park (SCIP) started to receive investor attention. The 167-hectare (410-acre) complex will host pharmaceutical, construction, and agricultural businesses, in addition to chemical, automotive, and electronics producers. It is meant as a self-sufficient complex, which will include residential facilities, an exhibition center, laboratories, sports center, schools, and hospitals. SCIP aims to attract domestic and foreign investors, and its management has already received proposals for 20 investment projects in the complex.
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 Kamal Mammadbeyov. The result of years of research were numerous scientific publications and a book about architectural and planning development of the city of Sumgait. Mammadbeyov donated a large number of graphics and illustrations made by him to the archives of The City Museum. The Flag Museum in Sumgait was opened on December 15, 2017 with the participation of Ilham Aliyev.
Music and media
Sumgait was credited as the main regional driving force behind rock bands of the 1990s including Yuxu, Miraj, Mozalan, and Sirr.
Parks and gardens
During the Soviet rule of Azerbaijan, Sumgait was believed[by whom?] to have the longest boulevard in the republic. The Culture and Leisure Park was laid on 23 hectares (57 acres) of Sumgait 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 sculpture and 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 the 1990s, such as the Black January tragedy and First Nagorno-Karabakh War, led to the 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 a burial ground for thousands of soldiers from Sumgait who died during the war. According to 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 Sumgait. In 1999, Heydar Aliyev Park and Luna Park were built in the rapidly growing city.
The city had a tram system that functioned from 1959 to 2003. Ganja's trolleybus system at its height, it consisted of eight lines and existed until 2006. On June 3, 2015, in Baku, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev opened the reconstructed Baku-Sumgait Railway with trains taking 40 minutes from Baku to Sumgait.
The only university in the city is Sumqayit State University. The university has seven departments and approximately 4000 students.
The city's notable residents include: chess players Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Turkan Mamedyarova and Zeinab Mamedyarova, balaban player Alihan Samedov, footballers Nazim Suleymanov, Kamal Guliyev and Mahir Shukurov, Ilham Zakiyev, two-time world and five-time blind judo champion and two-time gold medalist in the paralympics and karateka Rafael Aghayev.
Twin towns and sister cities
Sumgait is twinned with the following cities:
- Rustavi, Georgia, (since 1952)
- Cherkasy, Ukraine, (since 1972)
- Pitești, Romania, (since 1971)
- Ludwigshafen, Germany, (since 1977)
- Bari, Italy, (since 2004)
- Aktau, Kazakhstan, (since 2009)
- Mogilev, Belarus, (since 2009)
- Nevinnomyssk, Russia, (since 2011)
- Genoa, Italy, (since 2013)
- Zhuzhou, China
- Ceyhan, Turkey
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