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Voronezh city and Voronezh Region


Voronezh city and the Voronezh Region occupy the territory in the Central European part of Russia. It locates on Srednerusskaya Elevation on the both banks of the Voronezh River, twelve kilometers away from where it flows into the river Don which provides navigable path to the Azov and the Black Seas. Voronezh is situated 587 km from Moscow to the south-west and borders upon Ukraine. The region belongs to the Central Federal District.

The historic centre remaining its modern administrative and business core is situated on the right bank of the Voronezh Reservoir while the left bank is an industrial area.

Human settlement on the site is attested since the Paleolithic age. In 1879 near village Kostenki an early man site was discovered. Later there were opened up and explored more than 26 sites of the Stone Age. Now it is the richest concentration of cultural property sites of Paleolithic age in Russia and well-known among European scientists.

The first reference to Voronezh dates from 1177 when the settlement was mentioned in the chronicles. There were numerous records of the word “Voronezh” related to descriptions of Mongol-Tatar invasion. Nevertheless, the official documents state the year when the fortified town of Voronezh was built at the southern borders of Russia as 1585. Its designation was straightforward – guard the Russian lands against the nomadic raids from the South.

Less than half a century later Voronezh was to play a crucial role in developing of new Russia during the reign of one of the greatest Russian tsars – Emperor Peter the Great. Following defeat at the hands of the Turks at Azov, he decreed that Russia must have a navy. The tsar looking for a suitable place for construction of a future navy upon the Don found out not far from Voronezh primeval 450-year-old oak forest. Moreover the town was an ideal position because of the river Don and the abundance of wood and iron ore available in the local area. In November 1696 Boyars' Council enforced a decree issued by Peter the Great - "Construction of Russian navy in Voronezh". It was 7 years before the foundation of St. Petersburg when in Voronezh the first ever built navy in Russia under the personal control of the Great Russian reformer, was launched and set sail to the Black sea. Uspenskaya church, where the first legendary ships "Principium" and "The Apostle Peter" were christened, still stands on the banks of Voronezh reservoir.

Owing to the Voronezh Admiralty Wharf, Voronezh became for a short time the largest city of Southern Russia and the economic centre of a large and fertile region. Under the rule of Peter the Great Voronezh became an economic centre of Russia and evolved into an important national, military and trade town. On the 19th of November 1698 Peter I started construction of a unique ship "Predestinatsia" and managed the work himself for a few weeks. In spring 1699 Voronezh became the most important political centre of Russia. Here embassies of Germany, Denmark and some other states stayed for a while. The region prospered as the navy grew and supporting industries were established. The city took on a cosmopolitan air as the influence of the influx of foreign craftsmen and stay of the top officials of the Emperor court. European styles of dress and architecture changed to make Voronezh far from an average Russian city.

Prosperous shipbuilding led to establishment of numerous manufactures which gave start to Voronezh as one of the strategic industrial centre. 1741 can be regarded as the year of first scientific visit of European researchers. Their mission was to study biodiversity of Voronezh region. During the reign of Catherine the Great and later in the 19th century, the town continued developing as an industrial and cultural centre of the region. In 1801 the first professional theatre was established. Now it is Koltsov State Drama Theatre. Besides the oldest drama theatre there are 4 city theatres now.

From the beginning of the last century an industry-oriented approach has been adopted in Voronezh. Today the city is a large administrative, industrial, scientific and cultural centre of Russia. About 1 million people live within the bounds of the city on an area of 600 square kilometers.

There are more than 150 industrial enterprises. The most developed sectors are machine-building, metal-working, power engineering (the most technically advanced Novovoronezh atomic power station is located in Voronezh region), food, chemical and petrochemical industries, agricultural products manufacturing and processing, construction materials producing industry, timber and woodworking industries and ferrous metallurgy.

Voronezh Aircraft Production Association is one of the largest aircraft production plants in Russia. It produces passenger jets, recently having the honour of refurbishing the Presidential plane. The Design Bureau of Chemical Automatics is one of the world leaders in development of liquid rocket engines, participant of all Russian man-space flight programmes.

Powerful industrial potential and reputable scientific base provided conditions for successful development of education. At the present time, in terms of student number per 10 thousand people, Voronezh region exceeds medium Russian index. Voronezh is a university city – the city of science. It possesses the developed network of higher professional education represented by 40 institutions of higher education. The city's large student population includes many foreigners as overseas students.

The first higher education establishment - Agricultural Institute - was opened in 1913, and in 1918 the Voronezh State University was created as a part of the Yuryev (Derpt) University which had been evacuated from the Baltic Area. At present Voronezh University is one of the biggest educational and scientific centers of the Russian Federation. The VSU offers academic programmes at all levels: from vocational training to post-doctoral studies, including bachelor, master, graduate and post-graduate courses. It teaches students in 50 specialist, 28 bachelor and 108 master degree programmes. More than 20,000 students are taught by 1,300 academic staff, including 261 professors. Scientific researches in Voronezh region are conducted by about 56 scientific institutions, among them scientific research centers, design offices, etc. Researches are conducted in 25 basic fields of science, and significant results are achieved. Scientific schools in the field of mathematics, solid-state physics, quantum electronics, nuclear physics, physical chemistry, biology, ecology, geophysics, machine building, IT-technologies, automation, archeology, linguistics, etc. are created.

Environment research is of the most priority for Voronezh region.

In 1927 the Voronezh State Natural Biosphere Reserve was established. According to climate conditions its territory is defined as forest-steppe though some indicators show that it is very close to forest zone. One of its peculiarities is the fact that soil, vegetative cover as well as wildlife represent mostly nature of the north than typical forest-steppe. The Reserve’s forests are of natural origin. There are numerous objects of historic and cultural value. First of all, Tolshevskiy Savoir-Transfiguration convent originated since the beginning of XVII century, and hillforts of IX-XI centuries. This reserve is the first forest nursery for beaver in the world. Later the local beavers were distributed in European and other countries.

Another Voronezh regional reserve – Khoper State Reserve – was set up in 1935 and its main objective was to conserve and rehabilitate an endemic – Russian desman. Its territory lies on the border of feather-grass steppe and grassland steppe. On the left beach terrace of the river Khoper more than 50 small and large lakes as well as wetlands are located, the latter are of the northern type.

There are a lot of really unique places in Voronezh region. Among them Belaya Gorka (White Hill) can be mentioned. It is a special artesian spring of mineral water. Volchiy Log (Wolf Narrow) is one of the rare places where on a very short distance different species from Siberia, Kazakhstan and Mediterranean area meet.

Voronezh State University conducts research in the famous reserve "Galichya Gora" located on the right bank of the river Don. The first explorations of the reserve are dated from 1882 when there were found many rocky and rock-steppe kinds of plants in Central Russia. Much attention is paid to the relic plants problem and looking for the territories with plants, those are typical of the Alps. Its herbariums and collections of vertebrate animals are the biggest in the region. Now it is also a nursery of rapacious birds where researchers work on restoration of mostly forgotten Russian falcon hunting traditions.