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Samara (Russian: Сама́ра) was called Kuybyshev (Russian: Ку́йбышев) from 1935 to 1990 during the Soviet era. It is the sixth largest city in Russia situated in the southeastern part of European Russia in the Volga Federal District, at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers. Samara is also the administrative center of Samara Oblast. The metropolitan area of Samara-Tolyatti-Syzran within Samara Oblast constitutes a population of more than 3 million people. Formerly a closed city, Samara is now a large and important social, political, economic, industrial and cultural center of European Russia, which in May 2007 played host to the European Union — Russia Summit. Samara is located on the east bank of the Volga River which acts as its western boundary. Across the river are the Zhiguli Mountains, after which a local brew called Zhiguli beer (Russian: Zhigulyovskoye) is named.
Its northern boundary is formed by the Sokolyi Hills (Russian: Сокольи горы) and by the steppes in the south and east. The land within the city covers 46,597 hectares. Samara has a continental climate characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The life of the citizens of Samara has always been intrinsically linked to the Volga River, which has not only served as the main commercial thoroughfare of Russia throughout several centuries, but also has great visual appeal. Samara's riverfront is one of the favorite recreation places for local citizens as well as tourists. After the Soviet novelist Vasily Aksyonov visited Samara, he remarked:
"I am not sure where in the West one can find such a long and beautiful embankment. Possibly only around Lake Geneva".
Samara is a leading industrial center in the Volga Area, and is among the top ten Russian cities in terms of national income and industrial volume. Samara is known for the production of aerospace launch vehicles, satellites and various space services, engines and cables, aircraft and rolled aluminum, block-module power stations. Refining, chemical and cryogenic products; gas-pumping units; bearings of different sizes, drilling bits; automated electrical equipment also. Airfield equipment, truck-mounted cranes, construction materials as well. Chocolates made by the Russia Chocolate Factory, Rodnik Vodka and Zhiguli Beer.
There is a beach by the Volga in the city center. Tourists can also Visit the space museum and the shopping street - Leningradskaya. Night life in Samara is quite lively. The main dance clubs are: Beerja (Stock Exchange), KINUP, Zvezda (Star), Aura (The Aura), Postel (The Bed), Long Bar. There are also numerous restaurants and bars in Samara. The cost for nightclubs are the same or can even be higher than in Europe and America, though not so high as the clubs are in Moscow. Samara has an opera and ballet theater, a philharmonic orchestra hall, and five drama theaters. There is also a museum of natural history and local history studies, a city art museum and a number of cinemas. There is also a zoo and a circus in the city. The 20th Century Russian writer Alexey Tolstoy lived in Samara, and there is a museum in the city dedicated to him. Dimitri Shostakovich also lived in Samara during World War II and wrote his Seventh Symphony there.
Samara is a major transport hub - Kurumoch International Airport handles flights throughout Russia, Central Asia and to Frankfurt, Prague and Dubai. There are up to ten depatures daily from Moscow as well as direct flights to Samara from many other Russian cities including Saint Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Perm, Rostov-on-the-Don and Vladivostok. The Samara railway station has rail links to Moscow and other major Russian cities. Samara is a major railway junction and almost all trains connecting with Siberia and the Russian Far East call here. There are at least five departures every day from Moscow, including the Zhiguli deluxe train. Journey times vary between 14-20 hours depending on which train the traveler chooses. Another train is avalible from Saint Petersburg every second day taking just over 23 hours. Most other major cities in central Russia also have overnight trains to Samara. The once a week Sibirjak train originating in Berlin calls in Samara - a nice journey taking four nights. It's also possible to get on this train in Warsaw or Minsk. The new, unusual-looking railway station building was completed in 2008. A cheaper alternative is to travel by over-night buses which are avalible from nearby cities such Nizhny Novgorod, Perm and Moscow. If traveling by rental car, Samara is along the M5 Highway, also known as the Ural Highway. The distance from Moscow is just over 1000 kilometers. Samara is also a major river port. The transportation services within the city include the Samara Metro, trams, municipal and private bus lines, and trolley buses with local trains serving the suburbs.
In January of 1991 the historical name of Samara was given back to the city. At the dawn of the 21st century Samara has become one of the major industrial cities of Russia with a powerful cultural heritage, multi-ethnic population and esteemed history. Nowadays Samara is not a closed city any longer. Tourists from all over the world visit as they are attracted by the beautiful scenery and the mighty Volga River. Foreign businessmen live and work in Samara due to the great number of international companies and plants located in the city. Samara has St Louis. Missouri, USA as a sister city. The Sister City relationship with Samara, Russia was formalized with St. Louis County in 1992. A committee was formed as an all-volunteer organization to represent Greater St. Louis in an all ongoing cultural exchange and economic development with the Russian Sister City.
Today, the committee works with hospitals, universities, regional municipalities and businesses to promote the two cities. Dmitriy Kabargin has been serving as a President of The Greater St Louis-Samara Sister Cities Committee since 2007. Both cities have much in common and share a lot of similarities. Both are located on big rivers (the Volga and the Mississippi), have many big schools and big hospitals, aviation industries, automotive industries and breweries - Zhiguli and Budweiser. In addition both cities have Arches, although in Samara the arch is much smaller than the St. Louis Arch.