The city of Sumqayit, third largest city in the Azerbaijani republic, is situated on the northwestern coast of the Abseron Peninsula 35 km from Baku. Its territory is 96 square km. Population is 406,100 (2008). Among the residents are ethnic Azeris, Russians, Lezgis, Ukrainians, Talysh, Tatars, Tats and Armenians.
The excavations and research by historians and archeologists proves that there was a settlement of the Medes (a people of the ancient state of Media on the territory of modern-day Azerbaijan) as early as in the 7th century BCE. When foundation pits were dug in the center of Sumqayit, in particular, for what is now the city's executive authority building, potteries, hollow-wares and coins were found. It was established there was an ancient city here. The ruins of a bridge and caravansaries, which were found during the archeological excavations, confirmed the hypothesis that a caravan route ran along both banks of the Sumqayitcay river.
There are several legends about the name of the city of Sumqayit. According to one of them, a following story took place long time ago. A caravan passed through this area, with which a couple of lovers travelled -- a young man called Sum and a girls called Ceyran. They ran out of water, and then Sum, unwilling to see Ceyran to suffer from thirst, went on to look for a spring. In search for water, Sum found a dragon which blocked the way to a spring. In a battle, the young man defeated the monster, reached the river, but its waters washed away Sum, tired in the battle. Beautiful Ceyran looked for her lover for a long time and, when she reached the river, kept weeping for Sum and moaned: "Sum, qayit, Sum, gayit!" which in Azeri means "Sum, come back!" From that time on, the river is called Sumgayitcay, and the name was then given to the settlement on the river bank. For many centuries, Sumqayit was a small settlement on the caravan route.
In historical documents, Sumqayit was first mentioned in 1580 by English traveler H. Barrow. In 1858, in French writer Alexandre Dumas' travel memoir, Trip to the Caucasus, mentions a post house in a place called Sumqayit. The Russian traveler I. Berezin wrote in his travel noted: "A river flows near the city, called either Sumqait or Sugayit. The name was chosen because in the heat, the water in the river dries up, and during the raining season, the river flows full." I. Berezin thought that the name of the river might mean "su" (water in Azeri) and "gayit" (come back, return in Azeri).
In the Soviet period, the unprecedented progress in the industrial development, the decision was made to build a large oil industry and petrochemical combined near the Sumqayit village. In the 1935, the decision was made at a meeting of the Collegium of the USSR People's Commissariat for Heavy Industry with participation of the Azerbaijani specialists to choose a location on the Abseron Peninsula to build industrial facilities and a heating and power plant. Some time later, the northwestern part of Abseron was chosen as a place where a new industrial city would be built, near the railroad station of Sumqayit about 30-35 km from Baku.
The construction projects which eventually gave rise to the city were launched in 1939, when the industrial facilities were built, but the Great Patriotic War interrupted for several years implementation of these plans. On 22 November 1949, by decision of the Presidium of the Azerbaijani Republic Supreme Council, the status of city was granted to Sumqayit. Large-scale construction and infrastructure projects were launched here, which developed into an all-Union international development project with participation of the specialists and workers from all over the USSR.
In a short period, already by 1950s, Sumqayit became a major city in Azerbaijan. It rapidly developed into a major industrial center in the Caucasus. If in 1939 there were 6,000 residents in Sumqayit, in 1962 the city's population was 78,000, and in 1970, the number or residents increased to 124,000. The population of the city was growing mainly because of the arrival of young construction specialists, chemists, oil industry workers and specialists and workers from all over the USSR, so Sumqayit became a symbol of internationalism for the Soviet people.
Sumqayit manufactured more than 40% of the petrochemical industry products, chemical rubbers, inorganic fertilizers and different types of chemical substances and detergents in the Caucasus. The industrial complex which was created there gradually started to play an important role in the Soviet petrochemical industry.
On New Year's Eve of 1952, first boron products were produced at the Stan-140 boron mill. In 1952, the first petrochemical facility -- the Synthetic Rubber Plant -- was put into operation, and that facility manufactured ethyl alcohol from oil processing products in August 1952 and synthetic rubber in September 1952.
On 23 October 1953, the open-hearth plant of the boron mill created its first steel alloy. On 8 March 1955, the Caucasus's first Sumqayit Aluminum Plant was put into operation and manufactured its first product.
In 1957-1959, together with industrial enterprises, a number of scientific research institutions were created in Sumqayit, nice high-rise buildings, cultural centers, social infrastructure facilities, schools and preschool institutions started to appear.
In1954, the city's general plan was developed for Sumqayit, and that plan envisaged increasing the city's population to 85,000 by 1970. However, by 1970 the population increased to 135,1,00. In 1960, construction of the largest petrochemical combine in Europe started in the city. When the combine was put into operation, it started to manufacture different types oil products.
From 1969, the G. Arablinskiy State Musical Drama Theater has been producing plays in Sumqayit. The city has 47 secondary schools and 2 boarding schools, a lycee, four vocational schools, 57 preschool institutions, eight cultural centers, six clubs, 20 state libraries, five music schools, four specialized secondary schools, one art gallery, four cinemas, one history museum and one hotel.
The secondary education institutions employ 5,190 teachers and educate 60,804 students. The city has the Sumqayit State University, Sumqayit Branch of the Institute for Retraining of Teachers, State Technical College, Medical School, Music College, Pedagogical Seminary and music schools.
There are 30 healthcare facilities, with 5,599 health professionals, including 1,109 doctors and 2,616 nurses.
The population of Sumqayit increased rapidly, and when it reached a quarter of a million, the city started to experience acute shortage of housing. To address this problem, a new general plan for Sumqayit was developed, and residential communities of 9-12-storey apartment blocks were built in a short period of time.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and collapse of the integrated industrial economic complex, the majority of Sumqayit's plants and factories stopped working. The Azerbaijani Government is working hard to rebuild and upgrade the city's industrial infrastructure. Sumqayit has great summer beaches in the city and its vicinity, green parks, gardens, and recreation areas, and a beautiful boulevard along the beach. Sumqayit at present is a cultural center with restaurants and cafes and is covered in lush greenery of trees and flowers.
Places of interest:
The Museum of the city's history
Theaters -- 5
Puppet show on the water (the only one of its kind in Azerbaijan)
Cinemas - 18
Palaces of culture - 8
M. Husayinzada Stadium
Central Tennis Arena with four courts
Beaches -- 24
Chemists' Palace of Culture
AF Hotel and water park
Hotels -- 27
Universities and institutes - 13
Colleges -- 6
Lycees -- 58
Boarding schools -- 5
Preschool institutions -- 61
Police precincts -- 9
Fire brigades of the Ministry for Emergency Situations -- 5
Health care institutions -- 40, including 16 hospitals, 4 children's policlinics, 11 clinics, 4 ambulance stations, 3 maternity clinics, 2 eye clinics.
Olympic sports centers -- 10, including 1 paralympic center
Banks - 38
Dining -- 170 facilities, including 70 restaurants, 65 cafes, 7 fast food restaurants
Hostels - 4
Clubs - 16,
Railway station -- 1
Bus station --1
Today, Sumqayit is a rapidly developing city with its unique infrastructure and petrochemical and industrial facilities. According to the program of social and economic development, the city is implementing a plan of transformation which aims to address the problem of communal utilities, improve the infrastructure and make Sumqayit even more attractive.