Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, lies on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and the southern side of the Apsheron Peninsula, around the wide, curving sweep of the Bay of Baku. The bay, sheltered by the islands of the Baku Archipelago, provides the best harbour of the Caspian Sea, while the Apsheron Peninsula gives protection from violent northerly winds. Baku derives its international importance from its huge oil industry. The walled old town is highly picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings, such as the Palace of the Shirvan-Shahs and the Synyk-Kala Minaret and Mosque.


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