Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as the window to Europe. Thousands of workmen were brought from all parts of Russia to build a new city on the swampy land at the mouth of the Neva River.
Arkhangelsk, also Archangel, city, northern European Russia, capital of Arkhangelsk Oblast, on the Northern Dvina (Severnaya Dvina) River, near the White Sea (Beloye More). It is a major seaport, although icebound in winter months. The city is also a trade and processing center for an important timber-producing region. A maritime school, a forestry institute, and a regional museum are located here.
Arkhangelsk was the chief Russian seaport from its founding (1584) as Novo-Kholmogory until the building of the Baltic port of Saint Petersburg in 1703. It received its present name in 1613. The city declined in the 18th century, but trade revived at the end of the 19th century, when a railroad to Moscow was completed. During World Wars I and II Arkhangel-sk was a major port of entry for Allied aid. The city resisted Bolshevik rule during 1918-20 and was a stronghold of the White Army, supported by Allied forces.
Blagoveshchensk, city in far eastern Russia and capital of Amur Oblast. Located at the confluence of the Amur and Zeya rivers, Blagoveshchensk lies on the border of Russia and China. Its river port promoted the development of the shipbuilding and ship repair industries. Its proximity to deposits of important natural resources stimulated the growth of the production of equipment for the coal and gold mining industries. Other firms produce electrical equipment, paper, furniture, clothes, alcoholic beverages, and meat products. Dairy and milling are also important aspects of the economy. Blagoveshchensk serves an important transportation role in the regional economy; in addition to its river port, the city is the final station on a railroad spur from the Trans-Siberian Railway. The city has numerous educational institutions, including schools of agriculture, teaching, and medicine. The city also has theaters for drama and puppetry and a museum of regional history. Blagoveshchensk was founded in 1856 as a military outpost at the mouth of the Zeya River. The city was constructed with wide, tree-lined streets; recent urban development has emphasized zones with large apartment complexes outside of the city center.
Irkutsk, city, southern Siberian Russia, capital of Irkutsk Oblast, at the confluence of the Irkut and Angara rivers. It is a major industrial and commercial center served by the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Manufactures include aircraft, motor vehicles, textiles, building materials, mining equipment, and leather goods. A large hydroelectric facility is here. A regional cultural center, the city has history and art museums, theaters, a symphony orchestra, and several institutions of higher learning, including a university.
Irkutsk was founded in 1652 as a cossack outpost and developed as a fur- and gold-trading center on the route to Mongolia and China; it was also used by the Russian government as a place of exile. Industrialization accelerated after the coming of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1898.