Samara is the sixth largest city in Russia and the administrative center of Samara Oblast. It is situated in the southeastern part of European Russia at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers on the east bank of the Volga. The Volga acts as the city's western boundary; across the river are the Zhiguli Mountains, after which the local beer (Zhigulyovskoye) is named. The northern boundary is formed by the Sokolyi Hills and by the steppes in the south and east. The land within the city boundaries covers 46,597 hectares (115,140 acres). Population: 1,164,685 (2010 Census); 1,157,880 (2002 Census); 1,254,460 (1989 Census). The metropolitan area of Samara-Tolyatti-Syzran within Samara Oblast contains a population of over three million.
Formerly a closed city, Samara is now a large and important social, political, economic, industrial, and cultural centre in European Russia and hosted the European Union—Russia Summit in May 2007. It has a continental climate characterised by hot summers and cold winters. The life of Samara's citizens has always been intrinsically linked to the Volga River, which has not only served as the main commercial thoroughfare of Russia throughout several centuries, but also has great visual appeal. Samara's riverfront is considered one of the favourite recreation places both for local citizens and tourists. After the Soviet novelist Vasily Aksyonov visited Samara, he remarked: "I am not sure where in the West one can find such a long and beautiful embankment.
Samara is the administrative center of the oblast and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Volzhsky District, even though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is, together with two rural localities, incorporated separately as the city of oblast significance of Samara—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the city of oblast significance of Samara is incorporated as Samara Urban Okrug. In April 2015, Samara's nine city districts were granted municipal status.
Samara is a leading industrial center in the Volga region and is among the top ten Russian cities in terms of national income and industrial production volume. Samara is known for the production of aerospace launch vehicles, satellites and various space services (Progress State Research and Production Rocket Space Center), engines (Kuznetsov Design Bureau) and cables (Volgacable, Samara Cable Company), aircraft (Aviakor) and rolled aluminum, block-module power stations; refining, chemical and cryogenic products; gas-pumping units; bearings of different sizes, drilling bits; automated electrical equipment; airfield equipment (Start plant); truck-mounted cranes; construction materials; chocolates made by the Russia Chocolate Factory; Rodnik vodka; Vektor vodka; Zhiguli beer; food processing and light industrial products.
Samara has an opera and ballet theater, a philharmonic orchestra hall, and five drama theaters. There is a museum of natural history and local history studies, a city art museum, and a number of movie theaters. As a dedication to the city's contribution to the development of aerospace industry there is a museum Cosmic Samara and an exhibition of aerospace history in Samara State Aerospace University. In the 2000s there has also occurred a large number of art galleries, dedicated to contemporary art. There is a zoo and a circus in the city.
Samara has 188 schools of general education, lyceums, high schools, and the college of continuous education (from elementary up to higher education) known as Nayanova University existing under the aegis of International Parliament for Security and Peace attached to UNO. Samara is a major educational and scientific center of the Volga area. Twelve public and 13 commercial institutions of higher education as well as 26 colleges.
Samara is the home of Samara State Aerospace University (SSAU), one of Russia's leading engineering and technical institutions. SSAU faculty and graduates have played a significant role in Russia's space program since its conception. Samara is also the hometown of Samara State University, a very respected higher-education institution in European Russia with competitive programs in Law, Sociology, and English Philology. Scientific research is also carried out in Samara. The Samara Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences incorporates the Samara branch of the Physical Institute, Theoretical Engineering Institute and Image Processing Systems Institute. Major research institutions operate in the city. Samara State Technical University (SamGTU) was founded in 1914. There are 11 faculties with over 20,000 students (2009) and 1,800 faculty members. On campus, there are four dormitory and ten study buildings. Samara State Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities was founded in 1911 as Samara Teachers Institute. Currently, the academy offers 42 various specialization in its 12 faculties.