Smolenskaya Oblast is situated in the central part of the East European plain. It borders upon Byelorussia, Pskovskaya and Tverskaya, Moscovskaya, Kaluzhskaya and Bryanskaya oblasts.
The main river is Dnepr. The climate is moderately continental. The average temperature of January is -9 degrees, of July - +17 degrees centigrade. Precipitations are about 600 mm a year.
Smolenskaya Oblast was formed on September 27, 1937. Its area is 49,8 thousand sq. km. (0,29 % of the total area of the Russian Federation). Smolenskaya Oblast includes 25 districts, 15 cities, 3 urban districts, 17 urban settlements and 419 villages.
The regional centre is Smolensk. The city was founded in 862.
The distance between Moscow and Smolensk is 419 km. Smolensk consists of 3 districts: Zadneprovsky, Leninsky, Promyshlenny.
Other cities are Vyazma (1239), Gagarin (1776), Roslavl (1408), Safonovo (1952), Yartsevo (1926), Desnogorsk (1974).
The main cities are Smolensk (352,6 thousand inhabitants), Roslavl (61), Vyazma (60), Safonovo (56), Yartsevo (56).
The population is 1152,7 thousand people. Density of population (on January 1, 1998) is 23,1 per 1 sq. km. The first attempts to impart interest to the fine arts and the aesthetic education in the Smolensk region are connected with the name of M.K.Tenisheva. Together with the outstanding Russian artist I.E.Repin she established the first Smolensk drawing school.
Now Smolensk is proud of such names as S.Konenkov, F.Shurpin, B.Rybchenkov, K.Dorokhov, V.Shtranikh, L.Kerbel, O.Vereisky, A.Kokorin, T.Yablonskaya, V.Starov and other known artists who lived in various cities and regions of our vast Motherland.
The Smolensk organization of the Union of Artists of Russia obtained the recognition of Smolensk public, became an essential part of the Russian Union of Artists.
In the scenery genre it is necessary to note such known Smolensk painters as A.Kozikov, A.Tereshenko, V.Petrakovsky, V.Ponomarev, R.Prokhorov, V.Losev and V.Soloviyev and V.Ruzhio.
18 kilometers from ancient Smolensk, near settlement Katyn, there is a place of 90 hectares covered with forest. It is the huge tomb of thousands executed people. They were murdered in the terrible years of reprisals in the USSR (1937-1953). There are about 10 thousand Soviet citizens and more than 4 thousand Polish military men in the common grave.
The Katyn wood became a symbol of martyrdom and equal doom of peoples in the face of the monstrous power of genocide.
Now there is the Russian - Polish memorial complex "Katyn that may be visited by 500 guests simultaneously.