Tambovskaya Region was formed on September 27, 1937. It is located in the central part of the Oka-Don Plain and the western part of the Volga Uplands and borders on Penza, Saratov, Ryazan, Lipetsk, and Voronezh regions.
Tambovskaya Region has a favorable geographical location. The Michurinsk-Tambov-Saratov railway line passes through the city of Tambov with a branch line to Kamyshin. The region has connections to Moscow and other industrial cities of central Russia, as well as to Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, and western regions of Russia.
The region is located within the steppe and forest steppe zones. It has a temperate continental climate that becomes increasingly continental from northwest to southeast. Prevailing winds are from the south, southwest, and to some extent from the northwest. The warm period lasts from 175 to 185 days. The average summer temperature is +22°C, and the average winter temperature is -11.5°C. The temperature conditions are favorable for growing all temperate zone crops, including heat-loving crops such as wheat, corn, sunflowers, and sugar beets.
The plain is hilly; flat watersheds (maximum elevation 200-250 m above sea level) are cut by broad river valleys, ravines, and ridges of the Kerensk-Chembar Uplands. The meandering Tsna River flows northward for 286 km within the region.
The regional center is the city of Tambov (pop. 318 400), founded on April 17, 1636. It is an important historical center of Central Russia. The region maintains trade and economic relations with 50 countries.
Several research institutes, higher educational institutions, and a large number of general education and vocational schools operate in Tambov. The names of many famous Russians are associated with Tambov territory, for example, Sergei Rachmaninov, whose name is borne by the Tambov Music School, poet Gavriil Derzhavin, who was once governor of Tambov Province, Evgeny Baratynsky, Aleksei Zhemchuzhnikov, and many others. Materials on them are kept in the local history museum. One of the country's first museums of the history of medicine has operated in Tambov for many years. The drama theater, regional philharmonic, and art gallery are very popular with residents and visitors alike. Modern-day Tambov is a beautiful clean city where former mansions of the nobility, old churches, and modern buildings stand side by side.
The first mention of the city of Tambov is found in the Old Tambov Chronicler and dates to 1636, when construction of the city began on the left bank of the Tsna River by decree of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich.
Tambov was built as a fortress city to protect the southern borders of the Russian state against nomad raids. The city was initially called Tonbov (meaning "whirlpool" in the Moksha dialect of the Mordvin language).
In 1928, the Soviet government included Tambov in the Central Black Earth Region, where it remained for nine years until September 27, 1937, when it became the center of Tambov Region, which also included part of Penza Region. In 1939, the region's borders were modified but remained almost unchanged.
In fall 1941, the German Air Force bombed Tambov and the region. Several evacuation hospitals were opened in the city during the Second World War. More than 400 000 Tambov residents went to the defense of their homeland; 77 000 of them went missing and 102 000 were killed.
After the war, Tambov began to rebuild, and within a short time the factories, hospitals, and apartment buildings were restored. The regional economy also began to revive. On April 25, 1961, by Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Tambov received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor for the great contribution of its citizens during the Second World War.
At the end of the 20th century, Tambov was a major industrial center with well-developed chemical engineering and electrical industries.
Forests cover about 10% of Tambov Region. They consist mainly of mixed forests of pine, oak, birch, aspen, alder and a number of other species, along with shrubs like mountain ash, rose, and filbert. Blackberries and hops grow among the trees and shrubs. Elks, wild boars, foxes, raccoons, wolves, and brown bears are sometimes encountered in the forests. Other forest inhabitants include hares, weasels, martens, and squirrels. Altogether, there are 55 species of woody plants, 110 species of vascular plants, 60 species of mammals, and 161 species of nesting birds (e.g., grouse, woodpeckers, thrushes, blue tits, skylarks, and quail). Fish belonging to the carp, perch, pike, cod, catfish, and other families are abundant in the rivers and lakes. Specially protected areas, including nature preserves, cover 10 700 hectares.
Tambovskaya Region is situated on the watershed of the Volga and Don rivers. The region has a rather strained water-resource balance. The main rivers are the Tsna (Volga River basin) and the Voronezh and Vorona (Don River basin); the remaining rivers are shallow. The Tsna River is Tambov Region's largest waterway. It has its origin in the confluence of the Bakharevskaya and Verkhotsenskaya Tsna rivers in Sampursky District. It flows for 286 km through the region, eventually flowing into the Moksha River (Oka-Volga basin) after 446 km.
In addition, there are eight explored accumulations of subsurface mineral water with varying degrees of mineralization; total reserves are 1200 m3/day. The mineral waters of the Inzhavinskoe and Morshanskoe deposits are especially well known. They are classified as sodium chloride water in their chemical composition; they also contain microelements such as iodine, bromine, and fluorine. This type of mineral water is currently used in the treatment of certain cardiovascular, skin, and gynecological diseases, as well as chronic diseases of the musculoskeletal system and central and peripheral nervous systems, among others. There are long-term plans to produce and bottle mineral water for delivery to treatment facilities. Sapropel mud from Lake Ilmen (Uvarovsky District) can also be used to treat a number of diseases.
Tambov is one of Russia's main cultural and intellectual centers with a rich and interesting history. It was awarded the status of historic city in 1989. Architecturally, Tambov combines modern buildings and old buildings dating from the 18th and 19th century, which have been restored after many years of work and are now the city's pride and adornment. City authorities attach great importance to preserving cultural, historical, and architectural monuments; for example, the city administration has a multi-year program for preserving monuments of the past.
One of the city's main points of interest is Transfiguration (Spaso-Preobrazhensky) Cathedral, built in 1694 in the likeness of Assumption (Uspensky) Church in the Ryazan Kremlin and reopened for attendance in 1993. Tregulyaevsky Predtechensky and Kazansky monasteries were built in 1685; and Ascension (Voznesensky) Convent, in 1690. Tambov's development as a spiritual center continued throughout the 18th century, and a large number of churches, monasteries, and other religious institutions were built here. Protection (Pokrovskaya) Church, built during this period, is one of the most-visited churches in Tambov. The church houses an icon of Our Lady of Tambov, which draws Christians from all over Russia. Another of Tambov's unique historical monuments that is well worth visiting is Kazanskaya Church, built in the late 18th century in the likeness of Uspensky Church of Sarovsky Monastery and located in the center of the old part of the city. Voznesenskaya Church and Kazansky Monastery School were built in the same period, and a seminary opened. The famous Russian poet Gavriil Derzhavin, who was governor of Tambov Province at the time, contributed to its opening. There were many positive changes during his four years as governor. There was great emphasis on improving the city and expanding education. In that same short period, a public school was opened, classes in grammar, arithmetic, dancing, and other subjects began, a provincial paper began publishing, and a printing press opened. Construction began on a theater, which had started with performances in Gavrila Romanovich's house.
Three professional theaters, a Regional Philharmonic, and more than 700 cultural and entertainment facilities operate in Tambov Region today. The Regional Drama Theater is Tambov's pride. Famous actors such as N.Kh. Rybakov, N.K. Miloslavsky, and P.N. Orlenev are associated with it, and other renowned artists such as Fedor Chaliapin, Maya Plisetskaya, and Dmitry Shostakovich have performed on its stage. In addition to professional theaters, there are theater studios for young people and musical groups.
The names of well-known composers, poets, writers, artists, and sainted priests are associated with Tambov. In 1890, celebrated pianist, composer, and conductor Sergei Rachmaninov visited Tambov Province, where he took up residence at the Satin family estate in Ivanovka. Ivanovka became Rachmaninov's favorite place for relaxation, and he composed many of his best works here. After coming to the estate for vacations for several years, Rachmaninov became its co-owner. Today, a Rachmaninov museum is located on the estate and a music school founded in 1900, which had started with music classes, is named after him. The school's concert hall is one of the finest in the city; music festivals dedicated to Rachmaninov are held here annually.
Tchaikovsky visited Tambov between 1871 and 1876; and the great Russian poet Evgeny Baratynsky was born and raised on the Mara estate in Tambov Province. Aleksei Zhemchuzhnikov, one of the authors of the poem Kozma Prutkov (Kozma Prutkov was also a joint pseudonym of writers Aleksei Tolstoy and the Zhemchuzhnikov brothers Aleksei, Vladimir, and Aleksandr), wrote his works here.
The poetry and beauty of nature in Tambov Region has long been an inspiration for artists. A branch of the Association of Russian Artists was set up in Tambov in 1925 and now has more than 60 members. The works of painters exhibited in the Tambov Art Gallery (founded in 1961) depict nature in the territory and urban and rural landscapes. Its collection includes paintings from the reserves of the local history museum. The gallery is located in the former Popular Readers' Society building constructed in the late 19th century.
The territory's cultural and historical heritage is preserved in 12 regional museums, which have a total fund of 167 000 items. The best known museum of the Tambov Regional Local History Museum, which has a splendid fund of ethnographic and artistic materials, rare books from the 17th-19th centuries, unique collections of porcelain, weapons, and Russian medals, and information on outstanding people whose life and works were associated with Tambov Region. The G.V. Chicherin museum house and one the few museums of the history of medicine in the country are also of great interest.
In addition to museums, the region has an extensive network of libraries. One of the oldest is the Pushkin Pushkin Library, which opened in the early 19th century. Today, 711 public libraries with a stock of 11.1 million books operate in Tambov Region.