Sumgayit is one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan, located near the Caspian Sea, about 31 kilometres 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 . 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 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.
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 Azerbaijan SSR.On 22—23 February 1988 violence broke out in the town on Askeran, resulting in the death of two Azerbaijanis.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.The violence was led, to some degree, by Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia, perhaps as many as 2000 of them made even more desperate by being forced to take shelter in the appalling conditions of Sumgait's shantytown.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.