The Samarskaya region is situated in the middle flow of the River Volga. Near the old Zhiguli Mountains the river makes a steep turn bending round the Samarskaya Luka – natural reserve, which is unique by its nature. The Samarskaya region is a forest-steppe region.
The climate here is sharp continental, with the average annual air temperature of +3,8 degrees Celsius, average January temperature -13,9 degrees, average July temperature +20,1 degrees.
Founded in the year 1586 as supporting fortress, Samara became the capital of the province in 1851. During the Great Patriotic War (II World War) the city served as the administrative center of the USSR, where the Soviet Government and the diplomatic corps were evacuated.
The Samarskaya region population is 3239.8 thou (corresponding to 2,3% of the country’s citizens number); of them 80,4% live in cities. The territory of the region gives home to people of about 100 nationalities; Russians account for 83,4% of the total population.
The region covers the territory of 53,6 thou square km, which corresponds to 0,31% of Russian territory.
Administratively-and-territorially the Samarskaya region is broken down into 11 cities, 24 urban-type communities and 27 rural rayons - districts (324 rural administrations and volosts).
The Samarskaya region is situated in the southeastern European part of Russia in the Midstream of the largest river in Europe – the Volga. The Samarskaya region covers the area of 53,6 thousand square kilometers, which makes 0,31 % of the whole territory of Russia. It borders with the Republic of Tatarstan in the north, Saratovskaya region – in the south, Orenburgskaya region – in the east, Ulyanovskaya region – in the northwest. The Samarskaya region stretches on 335 kilometers form north to south, and on 315 kilometers form west to east. Most of the territory of Samarskaya region is forest steppe. Pine and wide-leaf woods are in the north of the oblast, southern and eastern parts are mostly steppes. The largest mountain chain of the region and at the same time the most magnificent in Russia are the Zhiguli Mountains situated in Samarskaya Luka. Besides Volga, the most important water arteries of the region are the Samara, the Sok, the Kinel, the BolshoiIgriz, and the Kondurcha.
The Samara Oblast has a distinct continental climate. The annual air temperature is + 3,8 C. The average temperature in January is 13,9 C, in July +20,1 C.
The neighborhood with the waterless Asian half desserts affects the climate of the southern parts of the oblast. Therefore draughts take place here once in a while. For the same reason, large areas of the oblast are risky for agriculture.
The wild nature, flora and fauna are carefully preserved in the region. The key nature reserves areas are the national park “Samarskaya Luka”, the Zhiguly public nature reserve named after I.I. Sprygin, “Buzuluksky Bor” and some others. Elks, deer, wild boars, roe deer, wolves, hares, dozens of unique species of birds, fish, insects inhabit Samarskaya region, rare plants grow here, too.
The regional capital – the city of Samara (in the years 1935-1991 it was called Kuibyshev) with the population of 1,3 million is located at a distance of 1049 km from the Russian capital. The biggest cities (alongside with Samara) are: Togliatti, Syzran, and Novokuibyshevsk.
In terms of its economic potential the Samarskaya region occupies one of the leading places among the Russian Federation regions. As regards stability of the region, by assessment of the international rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, the Samarskaya region holds the highest rating equally with Moscow and St.-Petersburg.
Over 30 state-run and non-governmental universities, 1,368 state-run elementary and secondary schools and Lyceums, 22 non-governmental schools of general education – all these educational institutions operate in the region. The research-and-technical and technological potential is significant; over 60 organizations are involved in exact sciences and applied sciences, in R&D. The region hosts over 100 theatres – state-run, municipal, private, folk and amateur. The Samarskaya region is a cultural center representing works of Russian and Oriental art, pieces of art executed by avant-gardism artists, sculptors, etc.
The city of Samara is a striking combination of historical monuments, modern residential buildings, and massive industrial structures. It is also a city of high culture, education, and research centers.
Even in the 19th century, Samarskaya region had a very interesting cultural life and rich and varied theatrical traditions. The city's oldest theaters have memories of performances by celebrated artists, such as Fedor Chaliapin, Ivan Kozlovsky, R. Glier, David Oistrakh, L. Utesov, L. Sobinov, and many others. The famous Russian actors Pelageya Strepetova, Modest Pisarev, and Aleksandr Lensky also worked here.
Samarskaya region has considerable cultural potential, with 4 theaters, 12 museums and their branches, a philharmonic, a state symphony orchestra, and one of the finest art galleries in the Volga region. The museum of local history has a superb collection of more than 114 000 exhibits. The Lenin Science Library has unique book stocks; there is also a library for the blind. The 842 state and municipal libraries provide library services for regional residents. The Novokuibyshevsk and Chapaevsk central library systems, the Samara branch of the children's library, and the regional children's library were the winners at the All-Russian library project competition "The Library on the Threshold of the 21st Century" organized by the Open Society Institute.
Residents of other cities besides Samara have a full and interesting cultural life. Togliatti has three professional theaters, a philharmonic, and a museum; and Syzran also has its own theater and museum.
Theater studios for youth and musical arts groups operate in addition to the professional theaters. Many creative events, including international events, are held with the participation of professional unions of architects, designers, writers, composers, artists, theater workers, and journalists. The Dmitry Kabalevsky competition for young Volga pianists, jazz festivals, the "Sounds of the Volga" festival, and the All-Russian competition for solo folk dance performers and choreographers are held in Samara. The State Volga Russian Folk Choir and the Valery Grushin memorial festival of amateur traveler's songs are known far beyond Russia.
The people of the Volga have tradition of forming cultural and business ties with foreign twin cities, for example, Samara and Stuttgart (Germany), St. Louis (USA), and Stara Zagora (Bulgaria); Togliatti and Flint (USA), Wolfsburg (Germany), Valence (France), and Kazanlyk (Bulgaria).
Samara is the capital of the region. Official records are dated back to 1586, when tsar Fedor Ivanovitch ordered to build a fortress on the place of Samara settlement. Samara has gained its splendid history since then. A few famous people used to live and work in the city-on-the-Volga. Among them are: peoples noter Stepan Razin, Lev Tolstoy, Mikhail Frunze, Maxim Gorky, Lenin. Samara has become the second capital during the Great Patriotic War. The government and foreign embassies were moved to the city; here was constructed a bunker for Stalin, which is still open for excursions.
Samara is famous for the biggest and most comfortable quay. Clean beach, neatly cut vegetation, ural granite decoration, and alfresco cafes – all this is on the bank of a wide blue-green Volga. The Volga has been thankfully and blandly called Mother form ancient times. It has a significant role in the region’s life. Placatory, relaxing excursions down the river are very popular. In the centre of the region the Volga loops, what is called Samara Luka. A loop’s mysterious history is very interesting. All ancient settlements were established on the banks of surface waters. The Samara settlement appeared on the bank of the Samarka River. The Volga was far that time. With life, trade and shipbuilding development, it became clear that the town-settlement had won more by standing on the Samarka and not on a long, wide Volga. But it is impossible to turn back time, isn’t it? That time one couldn’t trench water channels. But the Volga suddenly changed its direction and arching, it came to the settlement; without harming it, but, v.v. becoming a reliable friend in need for the settlement in its future history.
The Zhigulev Mountains are the treasure of the Samara region. A chain of green, covered in forests mountains is the centre of walkabout. The most popular place in the Zhigulev Mountains is a Stone Bowl – not only journey on foot avid lovers but also pilgrims, who believe in the holiness of the land, wish for reaching it. Urologists acknowledged that the Zhigulev Mountains are energetically strong, what attracts UFO.
There is entertainment for every taste in Samara and its outskirts. There are a lot of casinos in the city. Samarian hippodrome has resumed its work after several years of dead time. Horse races, moto- and car races often take place there. There is a huge modern aqua-park in Samara, due to which one can enjoy warm, swimming and water attractions even in winter. Sport-liking people visit a tennis-court with pleasure. This is an unusually-looking building with a huge, wall-sized window in the shape of an eye, is open for everyone. There are 10 big cities besides Samara in the region: Tolyatti, Otradny, Kinel, Syzran, Zhigylevsk, Novokuibyshevsk, Pokhvistnevo, Oktyabrsk, Chepaevsk, Neftegorsk. Some cities are “decorated with grey marks”, other are young, not more than 50 years of old. Tolyatti, Stavropol (the city of a cross) in old style, is the second populated and important city in the region.
There is possible a rest for every taste in the Samar region. Everyone finds here something special for himself: traditional fishing and falcon hunting; family rest and bachelors’ parties. Parachute sport and sky surfing are well developed here. You can hire a plane for small excursions in private air companies. Ski resorts in winter and horse resorts in summer are available for active rest lovers.
In little out-of-the-way places you can have a calm and troublefree family rest. If you wish for the comfort of a modern life – resorts and sanatoriums provide with spacious rooms and separate houses. A fuller rest is in far-from-the-life-of-today villages. There are not only Russian but also national Chuvash, Mordovian, Tatar and Ukranian villages. Every has its own traditions and way of living. A dive into a peacefully running, simple, traditionally natural life helps establish peace and agreement within a family.
Mineral water springs well in the region, which are used for treatment in sanatoriums and resorts. Two main resorts are: Mineral Waters of St.Sergius and “the Volga Cliff”. The latter has been the governmental sanatorium since the Soviet times. In its time the Russian Federation first president Boris Eltsin used to spend time here. Grushinsky festival is the most striking event here. Every year in July’s first weekend guitar songs, bonfires and traveling romance lovers gather on a huge mountain at a village Mastryukovo. There is established a guitar-shaped stage on the shore of the lake, where bards perform. The Festival lasts not long, but it provides for vivacity and high spirits boost for long.
Life in the Samara region is events-filled. Cultural and sport attractions are held regularly, entertaining, exciting and festive filled. And somewhere, beyond big cities runs another pace of untouched clear nature and outlandish villages. But these both lives are beautiful and every visitor will get something to keep in the heart.