The most part of Penzenskaya Oblast is occupied by the Privolzhskaya height (331 meters high). In the south Penzenskaya Oblast borders upon Saratovskaya Oblast, in the west - upon Tambovskaya Oblast, in the north - upon Ryazanskaya Oblast, the Republic of Mordovia, in the northeast and the east - upon Ulyanovskaya Oblast.
The main rivers here are Sura, Moksha and Khoper. The climate is moderately continental. The average temperature of January is 12 degrees below zero; the average temperature of July is +19 degrees centigrade. Precipitations are about 600 mm a year. Forests occupy 20 % of the territory of the oblast.The oblast was formed in February 4, 1939. Its area is 43,2 thousand sq. km. Penzenskaya Oblast consists of 28 districts, 10 cities and towns, 4 urban districts, 16 settlements and 359 villages.
The regional centre is the Penza city. It was founded in 1663. The distance to Moscow is 709 km. The population totals 540 (in 1987), 548 thousand people (in 1994). The city includes 4 districts: Zheleznodorozhny, Leninsky, Oktyabrsky, Pervomaysky.
Penzenskaya Oblast is included into the Volga economic region. The basic industries are the machine-building industry (chemical, textile, compressor equipment, diesel engines, agricultural machines, devices, bicycles), the light (textile, shoe), food (sugar, flour-and-cereals and other), woodworking, paper industries and the industry of building materials.
The largest industrial centers are Penza and Kuznetsk. Penza is the administrative, industrial, transport and cultural centre of Penzenskaya Oblast. The city stands on the banks of the river Sura. Penza was founded as a fortress in 1663 (1596 according to the newest research). Situated in the chernozem zone Penza developed as a trading center in the 18th century. Penza has the highly developed light and woodworking industries. Manufacture includes diesel engines, compressor equipment, computers, agricultural machines, bicycles, etc.
Among places of interest are the Cathedral of Peter and Paul of the 18th century, the Cathedral of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery built in 18-19th centuries, the Museum of Local Lore, the Picture Gallery named after K.A.Savitsky.
Penzenskaya Oblast is known for its cultural traditions. The Penza territory is motherland of many famous people. Here live or were born such outstanding people as M.Y. Lermontov, A.N.Radishev, V.G.Belinsky, M.N.Zagoskin, I.I.Lazhechnikov, M.E.Saltykov-Shedrin, V.O.Klyuchevsky, D.V.Davydov, N.P.Ogarev, F.I.Buslayev, A.I.Kuprin, A.G.Malyshkin, V.E.Mayerhold, I.I.Mozzhukhin, K.A.Savitsky, A.V.Lentulov, N.N.Burdenko, N.F.Filatov, G.A.Zakharyin, P.N.Yablochkov; M.M.Speransky, A.B.Kurakin, S.F.Golitsyn, etc.
Penza Drama Theatre is more than 200 years old now. It was founded in 1793. In 1874 in Penza was opened the first Russian Stationary circus, which has recently celebrated its 125th anniversary.