Sumgayit (Sumqayıt; Сумгаит; also, Sumgait and Sumqayyt) is a city in Azerbaijan, located near the Caspian Sea, about 30 kilometres away from the capital, Baku. The city has a population of 357,900, making it the third-largest city in Azerbaijan. The city has a territory of 83 km². It was founded on November 22, 1949. Two settlements are within the city administration: Corat and a settlement named after Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. It is home to Sumqayit State University.
Between 1938-1941, a thermal power station was constructed to power Baku's growing petroleum industry. This was soon followed by more heavy industries. After a pause due to World War II, more metallurgical and chemical plants were constructed. This rapid growth created a number of jobs, and a need for a resident population. By 1949, Sumgayit gained official city status.
However, as a result of the Soviet planning of that era, the city became heavily polluted. Soon after Azerbaijan's independence, the industrial sectors went into decline. The Apsheron Peninsula (which consists of Sumqayit, Baku and the Abşeron rayon) is considered by scientists to be the most ecologically devastated part of Azerbaijan. The city is known for its children's cemetery, known as the "Baby Cemetery" which contains the many graves of infants born with deformities and mental retardation that were further complicated by the lack of adequate medical care for the poor. In 2007, Time magazine placed Sumqayit on their list of The World's Most Polluted Places. Scientific American, has also placed Sumqayit on their top ten most polluted places in the world.
On February 29, 1988, violence erupted against the ethnic Armenian population living in Sumqayit, setting off a series of killings involving Azeris and Armenians. Approximately 260 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis died, with over 2000 injuries in 3 days of ethnic rioting. As a result, the whole Armenian population was forced from Sumqayit. The Sumqayit riots marked the beginning of the long-term stand-off between Armenians and Azeris, culminating in the later Nagorno-Karabakh War and continuing into the present. The city has become home to a number of refugees from the latter war.