Samara the sixth largest city in Russia and capital of an eponymous region, lies on the Volga River in European Russia. It is a major economic, industrial and cultural centre and has a population of over 1,164,000.

Samara was officially founded in 1586 with the construction of a Russian fortress on the Volga. However, settlement there had been mentioned since at least the 14th century. During World War II, Samara, then named Kuibyshev, was the second capital of USSR. The city's growth was stimulated during the war due to its proximity to Moscow but distance from the war zone; several government offices were evacuated to Kuibyshev when Moscow was under threat. The post-war development of the Volga-Urals oilfield also helped. Kuibyshev reverted to being Samara in 1991.

As a cultural centre, Samara has attracted several famous creative Russians. The likes of writers Tolstoy and Gorky, painters Ilya Repin, Vasily Surikov and Ivan Aivazovsky, and revolutionaries Michael Frunze and Vladimir Lenin have all lived in the city. Even Alexandre Dumas visited in 1858, he describes his whole journey, including his impressions of Samara, in "From Paris to Astrakhan".