Saint Petersburg

St. Petersburg is the nation's second major industrial, research and cultural center after Moscow. In 1914 the city was renamed Petrograd, and from 1924 to 1991 it was named Leningrad. Its population stands at about 4,500 thousand.

St. Petersburg became Russia's capital in 1712, during which time all government organizations were relocated there. The population grew quickly, as the city continued to develop. St. Petersburg had a population of 95,000 by 1750. By 1853 over 500,000 people inhabited the city.

The first Russian railroad linking St. Petersburg with Tsarskoye Selo was opened in 1837. Another railroad connected the city with Moscow in 1851. St. Petersburg has now become a major Russian railroad junction, serving as the end port of the system of inland waterways which snake their way through European Russia's north-western region. It also serves as this country's most important Baltic Sea port.

The maritime academy was founded here back in 1715. The engineering school was established in 1719, while the miners' school sprang up in 1773. Road engineers' and forestry institutes were established in 1809 and 1811, respectively. As of today, the city has about 50 colleges and 15 professional theaters.

The city also boasts quite a few world famous architectural ensembles -- the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Alexander Nevsky Laura, the Palace Square and Winter Palace, the Decembrists' Square, where a monument to Peter the Great stands, St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Admiralty, the Academy of Arts, as well as numerous bridges.

The 1905-1907 revolution began here, followed by the February and October 1917 revolutions. During the Great Patriotic War Leningrad withstood a 900-day siege by Nazi forces.