Astrakhan - city (1990 pop. 521,000), capital of Astrakhan region, South-Eastern European Russia, large industrial and cultural centre and the largest river and sea port in the Volga-Caspian basin. The population of the city is 612,200 people.
Astrakhan is situated on the islands in the delta of the Volga river. The greatest part of its territory lies below the spring flood levels of the Volga, so dams were built in many places. There are more than 30 bridges in the city. In ancient times Astrakhan was called "The Venice of Asia".
Astrakhan was first mentioned in the 13th century; situated at the cross of caravan and water routs, Astrakhan turned into a large trade city very quickly. It was the main city of Astrakhan Khanate in 1459-1556.
The construction of a new fortress on a high Zayachy, or Dolgy hill in 1558 gave birth to the modern city.
In the middle of the 17th century Astrakhan became one of the border fortresses of Russia, protecting the mouth of the Volga. In the 18th century a strong fleet, the Admiralty, the dockyards and a port were created in Astrakhan, and it became the main centre of trade with in the Caucasus and Trans-Caucasus, Central Asia, Iran and India. In the late 19th century the development of oil industry in Baku made Astrakhan port one of the largest cities in the country.
Fish processing at fish refrigeration plants and at fish factories plays the leading role in the economy of the city.
The monuments of architecture are extremely interesting. There is a Kremlin in the centre of Astrakhan. It is surrounded by walls with eight towers, built in 1580-1620, the Troitsky Cathedral, built in 1700 and the Uspensky Cathedral, built in 1700-1710.
Astrakhan region administration