Astrakhan is a large city in southern European Russian, the capital of Astrakhan region. Astrakhan region with the area of 44,100 sq.km. is located in the south of Russia. It stands on the Volga River delta, on the banks of the Caspian Sea. The population of the region is 1.5 million people. The region borders Kazakhstan, Volgogradskaya region and the Republic of Kalmykia.
The city of Astrakhan lies on the Volga River, close to where it flows into the Caspian Sea. Population of the city is 502,800 people. Urban population makes up 68% of that number. At present, Astrakhan is a large industrial and cultural centre.
Climate and Nature
The climate of the region is very favourable. Winters are not very cold (the average temperature in January is -7 °C) and summers are quite hot (the average temperature in July is +25°Ñ). Springs and autumns are mild and warm.
Astrakhan region is rightly considered the Caspian pearl. Due to its location in the delta of the Volga River which flows for more than 400 km through the region, the territory has an abundance of water resources. The Caspian Sea and the Volga River are its greatest assets. There are about 900 rivers in the Volga delta, the deepest being the Bakhtemir, Staraya Volga, Kizan, Bolda and Kigach rivers. There are also more than 700 salt lakes. The largest is Lake Baskunchak with an area of 115 sq. km. Nature conditions in Astrakhan Region are favorable for the development of recreation facilities and health centers.
The city of Astrakhan was probably settled under the Mongol dynasties in the XIII century. For the first time the city was mentioned in chronicles in the XIII century as one of the Tartar settlements.
In 1552 Tzar Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan and annexed it to the Russian Empire. In 1554 he launched the first expedition against the Khanate of Astrakhan. The city of Astrakhan fell in 1556, and the Khanate was also annexed to the Russian Empire. The city of Astrakhan was relocated from the right to the left bank of the Volga.
The modern city was founded in 1558 as a fortress on a high hill washed by the Volga River. Ivan IV conquered Astrakhan in 1556, thus opening the entire Volga River to Russian traffic, and it became an important trade center.
Economy and Transportation
Astrakhan region is famous for its rich natural resources which include a large number of important resources, such as oil, gas, sulfur, salt, bromine, and iodine. The region's oil fields are the second largest in European Russia, and the Astrakhan gas condensate field is considered to be the largest in Europe. Large deposits of gypsum, clay-gypsum and mineral pigments are being explored and developed.
The region’s main food products are fish, salt, flour, cereals, bread, bakery and alcohol. The region has abundance and variety of valuable fish species. More than 70 species of fish are found in the Volga and Caspian Sea, including unique Russian sturgeon and beluga. Most of the black caviar and sturgeon supplied to the world market come from Astrakhan region. Some 1,652 industrial companies are based in the region.
The region lies on the shortest and most convenient route from Europe to Central and South Asia. There is railway communication with other locations, several highways including Moscow-Tambov-Volgograd-Astrakhan, and through Volga riverways.
Astrakhan is an important local culture center. One of the oldest buildings in the city is the Kremlin built in 1580s. There are also the Uspensky Cathedral (1698-1710), the Troitsky Cathedral (XVI-XVIII centuries) and the Ioan Zlatoust’s Church (1763). In 1947 Astrakhan Kremlin was introduced into the list of the historical monuments protected by the state.
The theatres are the Drama Theatre and the Puppet Theatre. Among the museums, there are the Archaeology Museum, the Gallery of Fine Arts and others. Perhaps the most famous in Astrakhan is the Regional Museum. It’s expositions tell visitors about the history of the region.
The expositions of the Museum of War Glory are dedicated to heroic actions of Astrakhan people during World War II.
Exhibitions of the Museum of Astrakhan Culture tell about poets born in the area and other famous people that lived in or visited the city.
The History of Medicine Museum houses exhibitions dedicated to the doctors of Astrakhan region, history of emergency service development and inventions in the field of medicine.