Azerbaijan is one of the world's oldest scientific and cultural centers. Residents of this historical territory have created rich material-cultural heritage for thousands of years.

Azerbaijan People Republic (1918-20) has vital role in adoption Azerbaijan science, its intellectual values as national opulence. Establishment of University of Baku, Azerbaijani students’ delivery to the European highest schools, extension of national language and culture were the key factors that affecting generally to Azerbaijan science development. In early 1920, the scientific researches were mainly concentrated at the University of Baku. In 1920-22, Scientific Association was organized comprised of humanitarian, medical and natural sciences research sections. Association aimed at providing comprehensive assistance in research of various scientific problems along with education and training of young researchers and scientists. In late 1921 Society of Naturalists and Medics and then Society of Orientalists and Medics were organized at the University of Baku. In 1920 a technical education provider - Polytechnic Institute was founded in Baku which was engaged to conduct researches in the fields of technical science, economics and agricultural chemistry. 

In 1923 with aim of conducting scientific research the Azerbaijan Society for Scientific Research and Studies was established in Baku by initiative of Nariman Narimanov. This Society became the leading scientific research organization in Azerbaijan. In its early time, Society had History-Ethnography, Economy and Nature sciences sections. In 1925 Turkish Research section attached to the History-Ethnography section was established. With aim of conducting research and studies in various fields of science the commissions and sub-commissions on history, historical-literary studies, ethnography, philology, lexicography, law, industry,  Caspian Sea studies, fine arts, theatre, music and others were organized. The regional branches of the Society were organized in towns of Shamakha, Ganja, Lankaran, Zagatala and some other regional centres along with organizations of branches in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous District. In 1925 the Society was transferred under direct Government control. In 1929 the Society was re-organized into the Azerbaijan State Scientific-Research Institute. The Institute was comprised of Departments of Natural Sciences, Biology, History and Ethnography, Philology, Literature and Art, Philosophy, Soviet and Foreign East, Governmental and Legal. The Institute played important role in coordination of scientific research and education and training of scientific staff in Azerbaijan. Already in 1929-30, 33 young scientists were trained and educated at the Department of Postgraduate Studies of the Institute, and 43 students in 1930-1931, with 34 of them being indigenous Azeri, enrolled at the Institute for postgraduate studies.

By the end of 1932 there were 30 scientific organizations and more than 10 higher education institutions in Azerbaijan. Within that period, there were 800 research scientists, including 87 professors and 138 senior lecturers actively working in Azerbaijan. However, neither the Azerbaijan State Scientific-Research Institute (ASSRI) nor other branch-wise scientific organizations were in position to meet satisfactorily the demands for development of science in Azerbaijan. 

In 1932 on the basis of the ASSRI the Azerbaijan Branch of Trans-Caucasian Affiliate Organization of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was organized in Baku. R. Akhundov was appointed as a Head of Branch. The Branch was comprised of 11 sections and several commissions. A group of famous Russian scientists such as F.Y.Levinson-Gubsky, I.M.Gubkin, A.A.Grossheim, N.Y.Marr, I.I.Meschaninov, A.Mammadov, S.Mumtaz, A.Taghizadeh,  I.G.Yesman, A.N.Derjavin, B.Chobanzadeh, V.Khuluflu, M.Efendiyev and others were actively involved in scientific research at the Branch. 

In 1935, Branch was shifted into Azerbaijan Affiliate of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Then existing sections and commissions were further developed into Scientific Research Institutes of Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, History, Ethnography and Archaeology, Philology and Literature. Along with this the Sections of Energy, Physics, Geology and Soil Sciences were organized as well. Russian Academician I.M.Gubkin was elected as a Chairman of the Presidium of the Affiliate Branch. Later, another Russian Academician S.S. Namyotkin succeeded him in this post.

In addition to the Institutes and Sections of the Branch, Scientific-Research Institutes of Petroleum, Cotton, Petroleum Machine Building, Balneology and Physical Therapy, Hydraulic Engineering and Melioration and a number of other scientific laboratories and base stations were created within the same period of time in Azerbaijan. The active research work was also being conducted at the Institutes of Tropical Diseases, Microbiology, Protection of Maternity and Childhood, Azerbaijan Scientific-Research Institute of Veterinary, Azerbaijan Branch of the Trans-Caucasian Institute of Construction Materials, Lankaran Station of Subtropical Plants, laboratories of the Azerbaijan State University, Industrial Institute, Institutes of Agriculture, Pedagogical and Medical Institutes. By 1940 there were 60 scientific institutions and organizations functioning in Azerbaijan. From 1936 till 1941, 34 Research Scientist and Postgraduate Students successfully defended their dissertations at the Azerbaijan Affiliate Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, including 5 ones for Doctor of Sciences degree. If in 1938 there were 16 Doctors of Sciences and Professors and 20 Candidate of Sciences working at the Affiliate Branch, in 1941 these numbers increased up to 21 and 161 respectively. 

By decree of the Council of the People’s Commissars of the USSR dated January 23, 1945 the Azerbaijan Affiliate Branch was transformed into Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences. At that time the Academy was comprised of 4 sections, 16 Scientific Research Institutes, Scientific Research Departments, 3 museums, Central Scientific Library, Scientific Bases in Nakhchivan, Ganja, Khankendi and Guba. Within the same year. On March 31, 1945 at the General Meeting of the Academy M.Mirgasimov was elected as the President of the Academy. After that this post at various times was held by Y.Mammadaliyev (1947-1950, 1958-1961), M.Aliyev (1950-1958), Z.Khalilov (1961-1967), R.Ismayilov (1967-1970), H.M.Abdullayev (1970-1983), E.Y. Salayev (1983-1997), F.G. Magsudov (1997-2000), M. Kerimov (2001-2013). At the last elections held in 2013 Academician Akif Alizadeh was elected as a new president of the Academy.

Currently, ANAS consists of 6 Departments: Physical-Mathematical and Technical Sciences (Institutes of Radiation Problems, Physics, Mathematics and Mechanics, Information Technology, Control Systems and Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory named after Nasraddin Tusi, Institute of Biophysics), Chemical Sciences (İnstitute of Petrochemical Processes named after Academician Yusif Mammadaliyev, İnstitute of Catalysis and İnorganic Chemistry named after Academician Murtuza Naghiyev, İnstitute of Chemistry of Additives named after Academician Ali Guliyev, İnstitute of Polymer Materials), Biological and Medical Sciences (Institute of Botany, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies, Institute of Zoology, Institute of Physiology named after Academician Abdulla Garayev, Institute of Microbiology, Institute of Dendrology, Central Botanical Garden, Institute of Genetic Resources, Institute of Soilscience and Agrochemistry), Humanitarian sciences (Institute of Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi, İnstitute of Linguistics named after Nasimi, İnstitute of Folklore, İnstitute of Architecture and Art, National Museum of Azerbaijan Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi, Huseyn Javid's Memorial Flat, Institute of Manuscripts named after Mahammad Fuzuli), Social sciences (Institute of History named after Abbasgulu Agha Bakikhanov, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Institute of Economy, Institute of Philosophy, Institute of Law and Human Rights, National Museum of Azerbaijan History, Institute of the History of Science, Institute of Caucasian study, Institute of Oriental Studies named after Academician Ziya Bunyadov) Earth sciences (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, İnstitute of Geography named after Academician Hasan Aliyev, İnstitute of Oil and Gas, Republican Seismic Survey Center), 2 regional departments operates in ANAS: Nakhchivan Scientific Branch (Institutes of History, Ethnography and Archaeology, Art, Language and Literature, Natural Resources, Bioresources, Manuscripts Foundation, and Batabat Astrophysical Observatory), Ganja Branch (Nizami Ganjavi Center, Institute of Humanitarian Researches, Institute of Local-lore, Institute of Ecology and Natural Resources, Institute of Bioresources, Institute of Agrarian Problems and Botanical Garden); as well as Sheki and Lankaran Regional Scientific Centers. 

In addition, a number of organizations operate attached to the Presidium of ANAS: Central Scientific Library, Research Center of "Azerbaijan National Encyclopaedia", Museum of Nature History, "Cybernetics" Special Constructor Bureau, Republican Council for Coordination of Scientific Research, Free Trade Union, Council of Veterans, Council of Young Scientists and Specialists, Scientist's House, "Ashgar" Scientific-production association, Interdisciplinary Analytical Center, "Nafta" Scientific-production association, "Science" Publishing House, Limited Liability Company "High Technologies Park of ANAS". 

By order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev dated January 12, 2004 Encyclopedia has been assigned to ANAS and pursuant to another order dated May 5, 2004, "Azerbaijan National Encyclopedia" Scientific Centre was established.

Currenlty, more than 10 thousand employees, including 4939 scientific workers, 560 doctors, and 2046 doctors of philosophy operate in Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. There are 72 active and 112 corresponding members in ANAS.

ANAS gets in touch with foreign organizations, holds exchange of view to the foreign scientists on the modern problems of science and scientific organization. Scientists of the academy deliver lectures in the international scientific congresses and symposia on urgent roblems of science and technology. International scientific meetings and conferences are held periodically by organization and initiative of ANAS. 604 book s and 4208 papers (2427 papers on the journals with impact factor) were published by academy scientists. ANAS is a member of many prestigious international scientific organizations, its employees conduct researches via leading scientific organizations of CIS countries, USA, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and other countries within  the framework of the joint program, attend the staff trainings and data exchanges. 

During the period of Heydar Aliyev, significant measures have been taken in the spheres of science development, strengthening scientific and technical capacity, and training of higly qualified staff. By the Decree of President Heydar Aliyev dated May 15, 2001, Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences has gained the status of “National Academy of Sciences”. This decree proves the fundamental achievements of science in Azerbaijan, role of science in socio-economic, cultural and spiritual formation of Azerbaijan, and its prestige in social-political life of the country.

By the Heydar Aliyev's decree dated January 4, 2003, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences was charged the status of a public authority implementing scientific and technical policy of the state. Its charter was given state's charter document, and its president was assigned the member of supreme executive power. Thus, there was a legal basis for the development of ANAS, expanded the scope of the academy, increased powers and governmental responsible tasks were put before.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev consistently continues Heydar Aliyev’s strategy, program and care in the fields of science, education and culture.