Being founded in 1586 as a small wooden fortress, Samara now is the sixth largest city in Russia. It is situated in the southeastern part of European Russia on the east bank of the Volga river, which acts as its western boundary; across the river are the Zhiguli Mountains.
Formerly a closed city, Samara is now a large and important social, political, economic, industrial and cultural center. Over 1,164,000 people live in Samara and the metropolitan area of Samara-Togliatti-Syzran within Samara Oblast constitutes the population of more than 3.0 million people. Over 100 nationalities and ethnic groups can be found in Samara region (Russians, Ukranians, Tatars, Germans, Koreans, Bashkirs, etc.). Most of them are historically represented. However, greater diversity can be noticed in the area now due to a large number of foreign students from all over the world (Asia, Africa, Latin America) coming to get their education in Samara.
The life of Samara's citizens has always been linked to the Volga river, which has not only served as the main commercial thoroughfare of Russia throughout several centuries, but also has great visual appeal. Samara's river-front is one of the favorite recreation places for local citizens and tourists.
Samara is a major transport hub with good railway links, river port and international airport.
Samara is a leading industrial center in the Volga Area and is among the top ten Russian cities in terms of national income and industrial volume. The city is known for the production of heavy and light industrial products such as aerospace launch vehicles, satellites and various space services as well as chocolate, beer and many others.
Cultural life is very rich in the region. Samara has an opera and ballet theater, a philharmonic orchestra hall, and five drama theaters. There is a museum of natural history and local history studies, a city art museum and a number of art galleries and cinemas. Samara often welcomes world-known performers and people of art: musicians, artists, actors, sculptors. Multiple music festivals, concerts and exhibitions are regularly held in the city (Grushinskiy festival and Festival of cultures are among them).
Samara is the home for the football and hockey clubs, the world women's and men's basketball clubs as well as a number of prominent individual sportsmen.
Samara is a major educational and scientific center of the Volga area. Over 30 higher educational establishments train highly qualified specialists in various fields of studies including law, medicine, aerospace engineering, sociology, agriculture, economics, telecommunication etc. Scientific research is also carried out in Samara. The Samara Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences incorporates the Samara branch of the Physical Institute, Theoretical Engineering Institute and Image Processing Systems Institute. Major research institutions operate in the city.