The city of Saratov, being the centre of Saratovskaya oblast, lies on the right bank of the river Volga in the wide hollow surrounded by mountains on three sides. Saratov is the large railway junction of the Privolzhskaya railway. The population in 1995 totaled about 900 thousand people.
The city was founded in 1590 by the prince G.O. Zasekin and the boyar F.M.Turov as a fortress for protection of southeast boundaries of the Russian state against nomads. The name Saratov originates from 2 Turkic words 'Sary Tau' that means 'Yellow mountain'. They assume that the city was named after the mountain, which now refers to as Sokolova Mountain. The majority of researchers suppose that the first Saratov was laid on the right bank of Volga near the village Pristannoye.
Four centuries the city suffered attacks of steppe nomads, Cossacks and devastating fires. Saratov twice changed its place.
The geographical position of the city, natural resources (fertile soils, fish, salt), and actions of the government contributed to transformation of Saratov of the 17-18 centuries into the trading and merchant centre and the important reloading point on the Volga river.
In 1782 with formation of the Saratov province the city became an administrative centre and received its own arms - three starlets on the blue background meaning great abundance of this fish in the land of Saratov.
The abolition of serfdom in Russia, construction of the Ryazano-Uralskaya (today the Privolzhskaya) railway and development of steam navigation on Volga helped Saratov of the end of XIX - the beginning of XX centuries to become one of the largest commercial and industrial centres of the Middle and Lower Volga region. The population in 1897 was 137 thousand people. Saratov by right was called 'the capital of the Volga region'.
Bread is the main article of Saratov in the end of XIX century. The city also played a role of the large intermediary in the trade in oil products, meat, fish, salt and wool.
The industry of Saratov was designed basically for processing of agricultural products. Saratov was a leading manufacturer of flour, mustard and sunflower oils. At the end of XIX century first metal-working enterprises appeared here. They are the machine-building plant name after Bering (1888), the Volga steel mill (1889), the wire-nail plant named after Gaptke (1898), etc.
Significant role in the cultural life of the pre-revolutionary city played theatres. They are the City Theatre (nowadays the Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre) and the Popular (National) Theatre (now the Academic Theatre named after K. Marx founded in the 1st half of XIX century).
In 1885 appeared the first provincial popular Art Museum named after Radishev.
In 1909 the Saratov University was established by efforts of the Chairman of Council of Ministers, Minister of Internal Affairs P.A.Stolypin, who in 1903-1906 was the Saratov governor. It was the first higher educational institution in the province. For this event P.A. Stolypin was awarded the rank of the Honored citizen of Saratov.
In 1912 in the city the 3d after Moscow and Saint Petersburg conservatory was established.
In 1920-30 in Saratov became evident the rise in development of industrial production. In the 30s there were built such new enterprises as a silicate brick plant, combine harvesters plant, a refinery and other enterprises. In the pre-war period Saratov produced machine tools and bearings, measuring devices and electric equipment. In 1939 the former plant of combine harvesters began to produce planes YAK-1.
In 1995 in Saratov were registered over 130 plants and factories. Now the city is known for the machine-building, aircraft, chemical, oil refining, electrotechnical, glass, polygraphic, food and other industries.
There are eleven higher educational institutions in Saratov. Among them are the Saratov State University named after N.G.Chernyshevsky, the Technical, Medical, Agricultural universities; the Academy of Law, the Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology, Economic and Agricultural Academies, the Pedagogical Institute, the Conservatory, the Volga Region personnel centre.
Saratov is the large cultural centre of the Volga region. Here are the Theatre of young spectator and the Puppet Theater 'Teremok', the philharmonic society and circus.
The history of Saratov is inextricably connected with the history and culture of Russia. Here were Stepan Razin and Emeliyan Pugachev. N.G.Chernyshevsky lived here more than 20 years.
Names of well-known writers, artists and actors are connected with Saratov. Here were born and lived such writers as M.A. Voronov and I.A. Salov.
Among scientists the outstanding place is occupied by the names of inhabitants of Saratov. They are the known electrical engineer P.N.Yablochkov, physicist and biologist P.I.Bakhmetiyev, outstanding scientist, biologist, geneticist and botanist N.I.Vavilov, chemist N.N.Semenov, chief designer of planes O.K. Antonov.
The first cosmonaut Y.A.Gagarin studied and mastered skills of the pilot in Saratov too.