Sumgait Travel Guide

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The Dove in Sumqait

The Dove in Sumqait

Erin Gockel

Located on the northern coast of the Apsheron peninsula, on the estuary of the river of the same name,  and with a population of 275.000, Sumgait is the third largest city in Azerbaijan (after Baku and Ganja).

Sumgait is the perfect example of a city resulting from the enormous industrial development effort unchained by Stalin. Until the 40s there was only village with 4000 souls. Re-founded in 1944 as an industrial centre to support Soviet engagement in World War II, it quickly became a major site for chemical and metallurgical industries, benefiting from the local availability of oil and gas.

The city  is a major steel producer, accounting for about 40 percent of the steel produced in the Caucasus region. An aluminium plant was built in the 50s, but Azerbaijan needs to import bauxite. Because of the large deposits of salts nearby and the availability of cheap hydroelectricity, Sumgait is a major producer of caustic soda. Factories based in Sumgait also produce synthetic rubber, fertilizers, detergents, and petrochemicals.

Recently the city has become a free economic zone, in order to obtain much needed foreign investment.

With such a vast industrial portfolio, Sumgait  is a fine example of a grim, Soviet-style industrial city.  It's worth seeing if only to grasp the staggering damage to the environment wreaked by the Soviet authorities. The impact on the health of the population was also dramatic and once Sumgait held records for infant mortality (a visit to the children's cemetery will illustrate this dramatically). The presence of oncologycal and psychiatric hospitals also say something about the place. On top of man's damage, nature also took its toll, and Sumgait was shaken by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in November 2000 causing some material damage and a handfull of fatalities.

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at:


April 23, 2006 change by azerbaijan08 (2 points)

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