Samara, known from 1935 to 1991 as Kuybyshev, is the sixth largest city in Russia and the administrative center of Samara Oblast. It is situated in the southeastern part of European Russia at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers on the east bank of the Volga. The Volga acts as the city's western boundary; across the river are the Zhiguli Mountains, after which the local beer (Zhigulyovskoye) is named. The northern boundary is formed by the Sokolyi Hills and by the steppes in the south and east. The land within the city boundaries covers 46,597 hectares (115,140 acres). Population: 1,164,685 (2010 Census); 1,157,880 (2002 Census); 1,254,460 (1989 Census). The metropolitan area of Samara-Tolyatti-Syzran within Samara Oblast contains a population of over three million.
Formerly a closed city, Samara is now a large and important social, political, economic, industrial, and cultural centre in European Russia and hosted the European Union—Russia Summit in May 2007. It has a continental climate characterised by hot summers and cold winters. The life of Samara's citizens 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 considered one of the favourite recreation places both for local citizens and 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."