Samara formerly (1935–91) Kuybyshev, city in western Russia, administrative center of Samara oblast (region), . It lies along the Volga River at the latter’s confluence with the Samara River. Founded in 1586 as a fortress protecting the Volga trade route, it soon became a major focus of trade and later was made a provincial seat. In 1935 the city was renamed after Valerian Vladimirovich Kuybyshev (1888–1935), a prominent Bolshevik. The city’s growth was stimulated during World War II by its distance from the war zone and the evacuation there of numerous government functions when Moscow was threatened by German attack; the postwar development of the Volga-Urals oilfield also helped. The city reverted to its old name in 1991.
Samara is now one of the largest industrial cities of Russia and the center of a network of pipelines, with oil refining and petrochemicals the major industries, especially in the satellite town of Novokuybyshevsk. There are huge engineering factories making a wide range of products, including petroleum equipment, machinery, ball bearings, cables, and precision machine tools, and there are many building-materials and consumer-goods industries. Much of the city’s power comes from a hydroelectric-power plant completed in 1957 at Zhigulyovsk, a few miles upstream. A group of industrial and residential suburbs and satellite towns ring the city. Samara has excellent communications by ship along the Volga and along rail lines connecting it to European Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia. The city has cultural and research establishments and several institutions of higher education. Pop. (1991 est.) 1,257,300.
Samara oblast (province), western Russia.
It occupies an area of 20,700 square miles (53,600 square km) in the middle Volga River area where the river makes a great loop around the Zhiguli Hills. The hills, heavily forested and deeply dissected by ravines, rise to 1,214 feet (370 m). The Volga left (east) bank, constituting most of the oblast, is largely level plain. The natural oak woodlands and grass steppe of the left bank have been almost entirely ploughed up since Russians began intensive colonization of the area in the 18th century. But the oblast’s agriculture, which is dominated by spring wheat, corn (maize), millet, and sunflowers, suffers severely from recurrent droughts and insufficient irrigation. Market gardening is important near Samara, the oblast headquarters, and fruit growing is important on the Volga right bank. World War II and the presence of abundant petroleum and natural-gas deposits in the oblast led to great industrial development, especially oil refining, petrochemicals, and a broad range of engineering in the towns along the Volga. A large automobile plant began production at Tolyattigrad in 1970. A huge hydroelectric station was built at Zhigulyovsk on the Volga in 1950–57. Pop. (1991 est.) 3,289,600.