Samara region, forms the urban district of Samara.
It is a city of Labor and Military Glory (2016). Population -
1,163,399 people. (2018). It is the ninth most populous city in Russia.
More than 2.7 million people live within the agglomeration (the
third largest population in Russia). Samara is located on the left low
bank of the Saratov reservoir opposite the Samara Luka, at the
confluence of the rivers of Samara (hence the name of the city) and
Soka. For the first time the name of the river of Samara is
mentioned in the notes of the secretary of the Arab embassy and
traveler Ahmed Ibn Fadlan (921) as “Samur”.
Samara it is a large economic, transport, research, educational and cultural center. The main industries are engineering, oil refining and food processing. Samara was founded in 1586 as a guard fortress. From 1935 to 1991, the city was called Kuibyshev, in honor of the Soviet party and state leader Valerian Vladimirovich Kuibyshev. In Samara, one of the longest river embankments in Russia and the tallest building of the railway station in Europe. In addition, the square named Kuibyshev is the largest square in Europe. In 2018, the world football championship matches were held in the city.
Samara is named after the Samara River, which probably means
"summer water" (signifying that it froze in winter) in the
Indo-Iranian language which was spoken here 2000 years ago. The
Samara city gives its name to the Samara culture, a neolithic
culture of the 5th millennium BC, and the Kurgan hypothesis
associates the region with the original homeland (urheimat) of the
Samara, together with its northern neighbor Kazan, is at the centre of the Idel-Ural historical region. Ahmad ibn Fadlan visited the area that is now Samara around 921 while on his journey to the Volga Bulgars who then controlled the region from their capital Bolghar.
Legend has it that Alexius, Metropolitan of Moscow, later Patron Saint of Samara, visited the site of the city in 1357 and predicted that a great town would be erected there, and that the town would never be ravaged. The Volga port of Samara appears on Italian maps of the 14th century. Before 1586, the Samara Bend was a pirate nest. Lookouts would spot an oncoming boat and quickly cross to the other side of the peninsula whenever the pirates organized an attack. Officially, Samara started with a fortress built in 1586 at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers. This fortress was a frontier post protecting the then easternmost boundaries of Russia from forays of nomads. A local customs office was established in 1600.
As more and more ships pulled into Samara's port, the town turned into a centre for diplomatic and economic links between Russia and the East. Samara also opened its gates to peasant war rebels headed by Stepan Razin and Yemelyan Pugachyov, welcoming them with traditional bread and salt. The town was visited by Peter the Great and later Tsars.
In 1780, Samara was turned into an uyezd town of Simbirsk Governorate overseen by the local Governor-General, and Uyezd and Zemstvo Courts of Justice and a Board of Treasury were established. On January 1, 1851, Samara became the centre of Samara Governorate with an estimated population of 20,000. This gave a stimulus to the development of the economic, political and cultural life of the community. Samara was outside of the Pale of Settlement and as such did not have any significant Jewish population until the late 19th century. In 1877, during the Russian-Turkish War, a mission from the Samara city government Duma led by Pyotr V. Alabin, as a symbol of spiritual solidarity, brought a banner tailored in Samara pierced with bullets and saturated with the blood of both Russians and Bulgarians, to Bulgaria, which has become a symbol of Russian-Bulgarian friendship.
The quick growth of Samara's economy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was determined by the scope of the bread trade and flour milling business. The Samara Brewery came into being in the 1880s, as well as the Kenitser Macaroni Factory, an ironworks, a confectionery factory, and a factory producing matches. The town acquired a number of magnificent private residences and administrative buildings. The Trading Houses of the Subbotins, Kurlins, Shikhobalovs, and Smirnovs—founders of the flour milling industry, who contributed a lot to the development of the city—were widely known not only across Russia, but also internationally wherever Samara's wheat was exported. In its rapid growth Samara resembled many young North American cities, and contemporaries coined the names "Russian New Orleans" and "Russian Chicago" for the city.
By the start of the 20th century, the population exceeded 100,000, and the city was the major trading and industrial centre of the Volga region. During the October Revolution of 1917, Samara was seized by the Bolsheviks. However, on June 8, 1918, with the armed support of the Czechoslovak Legions, the city was taken by the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly, or Komuch, who organised a "democratic counter-revolution", which at its height encompassed twelve million people. They fought under the Red flag against the Bolsheviks. On October 7, 1918, Samara fell to the Fourth Army of the Red Army.
In 1935, Samara was renamed Kuybyshev in honour of the Bolshevik
leader Valerian Kuybyshev.
During World War II, Kuybyshev was chosen to be the alternative capital of the Soviet Union should Moscow fall to the invading Germans, until the summer of 1943, when everything was moved back to Moscow. In October 1941, the Communist Party and governmental organisations, diplomatic missions of foreign countries, leading cultural establishments and their staff were evacuated to the city. A dugout for Joseph Stalin known as "Stalin's Bunker" was constructed but never used. To mark its role as wartime national capital a special Revolution Day parade was held at the city's Kuybyshev Square on November 7, 1941, and since 2011 has been remembered in an annual military parade organised by the city government.
As a leading industrial centre, Kuybyshev played a major role in arming the country. From the very first months of World War II the city supplied the front with aircraft, firearms, and ammunition. Health centres and most of the city's hospital facilities were turned into base hospitals. Polish and Czechoslovakian military units were formed on the territory of the Volga Military District. Samara's citizens also fought at the front, many of them volunteers.
After the war the defence industry developed rapidly in Kuybyshev; existing facilities changed their profile and new factories were built, leading to Kuybyshev becoming a closed city. In 1960, Kuybyshev became the missile shield centre for the country. The launch vehicle Vostok, which delivered the first manned spaceship to orbit, was built at the Samara Progress Plant. Yuri Gagarin, the first man to travel in space on April 12, 1961, took a rest in Kuybyshev after returning to Earth. While there, he spoke to an improvised meeting of Progress workers. Kuybyshev enterprises played a leading role in the development of Soviet domestic aviation and the implementation of the Soviet space program. There is also an unusual monument situated in Samara commemorating an Ilyushin Il-2 ground-attack aircraft assembled by Kuybyshev workers in late 1942. This particular plane was shot down in 1943 over Karelia, but the heavily wounded pilot, K. Kotlyarovsky, managed to crash-land the plane near Lake Oriyarvi. The aircraft was returned to Kuybyshev in 1975, and was placed on display at the intersection of two major roads as a symbol of the deeds of home front servicemen and air-force pilots during the Great Patriotic War.
In January 1991, the historical name of Samara was given back to the city. Samara is one of the major industrial cities of Russia and has a multiethnic population.