Saratovskaya oblast is situated in the southeast of the East European plain. Saratovskaya oblast borders upon Volgogradskaya, Voronezhskaya, Tambovskaya, Penzenskaya, Ulyanovskaya, Samarskaya oblasts and Kazakhstan.
The main river Volga divides oblast into two parts. The climate is continental. The average temperature of January is -12 degrees, of July - +22 degrees centigrade. Precipitations are 250-450 mm a year. Saratovskaya Oblast was formed in January 10, 1934. Its area is 100,2 thousand sq. km. (0,59 % of the total area of the Russian Federation).
The oblast consists of 38 districts, 17 cities and towns, 34 urban settlements, 597 villages. The regional centre is Saratov. The city was founded in 1590. The distance between Moscow and Saratov is 858 km.
Other cities of the region are Atkarsk, Balakovo, Balashov, Volsk, Krasnoarmeysk, Marx (1918), Petrovsk (1780), Pugachev (1835), Rtishevo (1920), Khvalynsk (1780) and Engels (1914).
Saratov Territory, renamed in 1936 into Saratovskaya Oblast, exists since 1934. Predecessors of the oblast were the Saratov region ruled by governor-general (1780-1797) and then the Saratov province (1797-1928).
Having arisen at the border of forest-steppe and steppe at the end of XVI century as a fortress, Saratov in XVIII century became the largest trans-shipment point for fish, salt and grain trade. Bread and the advantageous geographical position made Saratov one of the main cities of the Volga region and the country.
At the close of the XIX century - beginning of XX century the Saratov land was one of "the painful spots" of Russia. Among all the Chernozem provinces Saratov was most droughty and infertile. It was the consequence of the unlimited freedom, Razin's and Pugachev's regimes. There were disorder and constant peasant revolts. For the appointed governor P.Stolypin it was the most suitable place to show his stern character and abilities to suppress distemper that were necessary for this future Minister of Internal Affairs and the Chairman of the government. Saratovskaya oblast is the unique historical and cultural region of Russia. The Saratov theatre of G.V.Gladkov was one of the first Russian theatres (1803); in 1890 here appeared the Folk Theatre. Today there are 13 theatres in Saratovskaya Oblast. Personnel of about 15 thousands work in them, including 16 national and 52 honored artists of the Russian Federation.
Saratov was the city where the first national circus appeared (1873).
Saratov is famous for its musical and theatrical traditions - opera troupes, choruses, orchestras, singing culture, national creativity.
Saratovskaya oblast is the educational centre of experts for culture and art. Here work the Saratov State Conservatory named after L.V.Sobinov, 7 specialized secondary educational institutions, including those of art, culture and music.