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Introducing Volga Region

The Volga region (Povolzhye - literally 'Along the Volga River') is the heartland of Russia. 'Mother Volga', the majestic river that dominates the region, is one of the nation's most enduring and endearing symbols. The cultural legacies of Russian merchants, Tatar tribes and German colonists are displayed in the ancient kremlins, spire-topped mosques and Lutheran churches along the river banks. The Volga was the site of WWII's fiercest battle, now marked by a jaw-dropping monument.

The Volga River is immortalised in the Song of the Volga Boatmen: 'Mighty stream so deep and wide. Volga, Volga our pride.' Today the river's lush environs attract boaters, bathers, hikers, birders and fishermen.

The Volga is Europe's longest river at 3700km. Its headwaters lie in the Valdai Hills northwest of Moscow. The river flows eastwards to Kazan, from where it bends southwards, making its way unhurriedly to the brackish delta of the Caspian Sea.

Bisecting the Eurasian continent, the Volga has brought together different peoples and cultures throughout the centuries. It now almost resembles a chain of ethnic republics, a political legacy of Soviet federalism. After the Russians, the most prominent group is the Volga Tatars (6.6 million). The Volga Germans remain widely dispersed, although a small enclave still exists near Saratov.