The city of Samara was first mentioned in official documents in 1586 in the reign of Fedor Ioannovich when in the spring time construction of a fortress on the Volga was started for protection from the Nogays and Kalmyks, and provision of the waterway from Kazan to Astrakhan. The fortress was small; an impenetrable forest approached almost close to it from the North and East; the river Samara protected it from the South and the mighty Volga - from the West. In 1688 the fortress Samara was renamed to a town.
Samara city (1990 est. pop. 1,256,000), capital of its region, East central European Russia, on the left bank of the Volga and at the mouth of the Samara River. It is a major river port and rail centre (Moscow-Siberian line) and has important industries producing automobiles, aircraft, locomotives, machinery, ball bearings, synthetic rubber, chemicals, textiles, and petroleum products. Grain and livestock are the chief exports. The gigantic Kuibyshev reservoir and hydroelectric plant is a few miles upstream from the city. Industrial and residential satellite cities surround the main metropolis. Founded in 1586 as a Muscovite stronghold for the defense of the Volga trade route and of Russia's eastern frontier, Samara was attacked by the Nogai Tatars (1615) and the Kalmyks (1644) and opened its gates to the Cossack rebels under Stenka Razin in 1670. It grew to be the chief grain center on the Volga and was the seat of immensely rich grain merchants. Its industrial expansion dates from the early 20th cent., when railroads to Siberia and central Asia were built. Samara was (1918) the seat of the anti-Bolshevik provisional government and constituent assembly of Russia. During World War II the central government of the USSR was transferred to Kuibyshev (1941-43) from Moscow. As a result, the population increased tremendously, and the city limits were greatly expanded. The city was named Kuybyshev from 1935 to 1991.
In 1708 in the reign of Peter I Samara ranked the ninth town of the Kazan province, and since 1719 it was attached to the Astrakhan province. At that time there were 210 citizens' homesteads on the territory of the town. Since 1851 Samara was a provincial town with the population of 15 thousand. The Samara province ranked first in the whole of the Russian Empire per the amount of wheat harvested. 375 shops traded colonial, manufactured and other goods. Bazaars took place every week in two squares.
Later in the 19th century there were 46 plant and factories in Samara where 2.5 thousand regular workers were employed. The rise of industry was hampered by absence of the required energy supply. The first city power station in Samara was built in 1900. By 1917 as many as 90 industrial enterprises operated in Samara, e.g. a mechanical bakery and a grain-elevator containing 140 million pounds of grain.
Since the town has a convenient geographical location the Donbass and Urals became major metal suppliers for the industry that laid foundation for the set-up of a lot of big enterprises of the machine engineering and metal processing. There were such natural resources in the vicinity of the town as sulphur, phosphorites, limestone, dolomite, gypsum, chalk, clay and sand. It made for the industry of construction materials. In the 30s Samara became a centre of oil production and processing in Russia. All those natural and economic conditions made for the development of the city as a big industrial city.
During the WW2 the local industrial potential was complemented by powerful industrial base of the enterprises evacuated from Moscow, Leningrad and other cities.
Samara is a cultural centre with two academic theatres - the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Young Spectator's theatre SamART, the art museum, the Philarmonic Society orchestra, the oldest writes' association, art educational institutions. There are 23 museums, including 6 branches with the Museum Fund comprising 395 000 items.
The program on establishing the municipal museums in the towns and rural areas of Samara Oblast is being implemented. The museums in Bolshechernigovsky and Krasnoyarsky districts were set up within the scope of this program.
The Samara municipal museum the Children's Picture Gallery has been accepted into the museum network of Samara Oblast.
There are 841 state and municipal libraries with the fund of 21 000 000 books. The number of registered readers increased by 10 000 people and is 1 162 000 readers.
The central city library of Novokuibyshevsk and the district children's library of the village of Klyavlino have moved into new premises.