|Azerbaijan Table of Contents
In the nineteenth century, Russian influence over daily life in Azerbaijan was less pervasive than that of indigenous religious and political elites and the cultural and intellectual influences of Persia and Turkey. During most of the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire extracted commodities from Azerbaijan and invested little in the economy. However, the exploitation of oil in Azerbaijan at the end of the nineteenth century brought an influx of Russians into Baku, increasing Russian influence and expanding the local economy.
Although ethnic Russians came to dominate the oil business and government administration in the late 1800s, many Azerbaijanis became prominent in particular sectors of oil production, such as oil transport on the Caspian Sea. Armenians also became important as merchants and local officials of the Russian monarchy. The population of Baku increased from about 13,000 in the 1860s to 112,000 in 1897 and 215,000 in 1913, making Baku the largest city in the Caucasus region. At this point, more than one-third of Baku's population consisted of ethnic Russians. In 1905 social tensions erupted in riots and other forms of death and destruction as Azerbaijanis and Armenians struggled for local control and Azerbaijanis resisted Russian sovereignty.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress