The Samara Oblast is situated in the southeastern European part of Russia in the Midstream of the largest river in Europe the Volga. The Samara Oblast 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, Saratov Oblast in the south, Orenburg Oblast in the east, Ulyanovsk Oblast in the northwest. The Samara Oblast stretches on 335 kilometers form north to south, and on 315 kilometers form west to east. Most of the territory of Samara Oblast 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 oblast 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.
According to archeologists' data the first human settlements in the Mid-Volga region date from the late Paleolithic period. The main activity of ancient people here was hunting for animals. In ancient times this region was rich in animals like hair rhinoceros, mammoths, diehards, elks, giant deer, etc. In the antiquity odd Scythian and Sarmatian tribes migrated on the territory of Samara Oblast. Archeological findings in the burial barrows of these peoples prove it. Since the VIIth century AC the Mid-Volga Region fell within the power of the Khazar Horde. But after the victory of the Kiev prince Svyatoslav in the Xth century, the Volga region inhabitants became independent of Khazars.
In the Middle Ages on the present territory of Samara Oblast there was the southern border of the Volzhsko-Kamskaya Bulgaria. After the invasion of Europe in the XIII the century by the Mongol and Tatar troops of Khan Baty, the Mid-Volga region has become a part of the Golden Horde and then of its successor - the Khazan Khanstvo. In 1391 on the Kondurcha river one of the most prominent fights of the Middle Ages between the troops of the Central Asian Sovereign Timur and the last Khan of the Golden Horde Tokhtamysh took place. In ended with the Timur's victory. With the growth of power and influence of Rus, the Moscow princes showed in particular interest in Samarskaya Luka due to its extremely attractive econimic and military strategic position. Right after the fall of Khazan, by the order of Tsar Fyodr Ioannovich in 1586 at the mouth of the Samara river a fortress with the same name was founded. It became a stronghold of the Russian state to protect it from the forays of the nomads. The prince Grigory Zasekin became the first Samara voivode.
The origin of the name Samara still remains an enigma, and its meaning has lost with time. Anyways, the Venice geographic maps of the XIV century already had the Samarskaya Luka place, marked Samar, as a convenient anchor stop for ships. It is most likely that the meaning of the word SAMARA is hidden in the forgotten language of a disappeared people. The live crossroad trade and fertile chernozem soil, rich pastures and plentiful fishing craft stimulated the influx of population and a fast colonization of this land. In 1850 the Samara Gubernia became an independents administrative division and enjoyed the reputation of the greatest center of bread trade and agricultural production.
A lot of prominent people of the Russian and world culture worked in Samara. Among them are A. N. Tolstoi, V.G. Korolenko, N.M. Garin-Mikhalovsky, A.M. Gorky, I.E. Repin, Y. Gashek and many others.
Dramatic collisions taking place in Russia at the beginning of the XXth century affected Samara as well. Three revolutions, WWI and Civil Was had a huge impact on the history of the region. In 1935 Samara was renamed into Kuibyshev, so the name of the oblast changed as well. It was a common practice back then. The present boundaries of the oblast were established in 1936.
During WWII Samara became on of the greatest industrial centers of the country. A lot of machinery construction and aviation enterprises were evacuated from the west of the country. After the main government and diplomatic institutions moved in 1945 to Kuibyshev, the city was fairly called the capital of the rear. After the war Samara oblast continued to extend its economic potential developing petroleum, aerospace industries, machinery construction, hydroenergy and automobile industries. Today, together with Moscow, St, Petersburg, the Ural region, Samara makes the basis for the industrial might of the country.
In 1990 the city and the oblast were given back their historic names - Samara and Samara Oblast.
Over 3,279,000 people live in Samara permanently. The largest cities are Samara (1210,6 thousand people), Togliatti (724,1 thousand people), Syzran (187,3 thousand people), Novokuibyshevsk (117,6 thousand people), Chapayevsk (86,7 thousand people), Zhigulyovsk (59,8 thousand people), Otradny (53,4 thousand people).
The oblast is quite diverse in terms of its ethnic identity. The Russians make the larger part of the oblast population - 83,4%. Other nationalities are represented in the following way: Tartars - 3,6%, the Mordvinians 3,6%, the Chuvashes 3,6%, the Ukranians 2,5%, the Belorussians 0,6%, the Kazakhs 0,4%, the Jews 0,4%, Germans 0,3%, the Bashkirs 0,2, the Mari 0,1 %, other nationalities 1,3%. Currently the Cossak movement, the first outlaws, is being revived in Samara Oblast.
Samara Oblast territory comprises 11 towns (the cities of Samara and Togliatti are made up of 12 city districts), 24 urban villages and 27 rural districts(comprising 324 local rural administrations).
Samara Oblast is made up of the following cities and towns: Samara, Togliatti, Syzran, Novokuibyshevsk, Chapayevsk, Otradny, Zhigulyovsk, Oktyabrsk, Kinel, Pokhvistnevo, Neftegorsk. And the rural districts of Alekseyevka, Bezenchuk, Bogatoye, Bolshaya Glushitsa, Bolshaya Chernigovka, Borskoye, Volzhsky, Elkhovka, Isakly, Kamyshly, Kinel, Kinel-Cherkassy, Klyavlino, Koshki, Krasnoarmeysk, Krasny Yar, Neftegorsk, Pestravka, Pokhvistnevo, Sergievsk, Stavropolsky, Syzran, Khvorostyanka, Chelno-Vershiny, Shentaly and Shigony districts.
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