Ulyanovsk, formerly Simbirsk, is a city on the Volga River in Russia, 893 km east from Moscow. It is the administrative center of the Ulyanovsk region, and the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin. Population: 635,947 (2002 Census). Area: 316.9 sq. km.
A frontier fort of «Simbirsk» or «Sinbirsk» was originally built in 1648 on top of the hill on the Western bank of the Volga River, designed to protect the eastern edge of the growing Russian Empire from the nomadic tribes. As the eastern border of Russia was rapidly pushed into Siberia, Simbirsk soon lost its strategic status and started to grow as a provincial town. It was promoted to city status in 1796. The population of Simbirsk reached 26,000 by 1856; 43,000 by 1897. In 1924, the city was renamed Ulyanovsk in honor of its recently-deceased Vladimir Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, the leader of the 1917 socialist revolution, who was born there. Another Russian revolutionary leader Alexander Kerensky was also born in Simbirsk.
A railway bridge across the Volga was built in 1912–1916 and two automobile lanes were added to it in 1953–1958, allowing the city to expand on the Eastern bank of the river and turning it into a transportation hub. The Kuybyshev hydroelectric plant was built 200 km south of Ulyanovsk in 1955–1957, flooding significant territories north and south of Ulyanovsk and increasing the width of Volga by up to 25–35 km in some places, 3–6 km near Ulyanovsk.
Ulyanovsk is the birthplace of many prominent people, such as historian Nikolai Karamzin and writer Ivan Goncharov.
Ulyanovsk is a significant industrial city. It is home to UAZ, a large automobile manufacturing plant, and Aviastar, an airplane plant that is best known as the manufacturer of the heavy aircraft An-124 «Ruslan», as well as a number of smaller factories.
Ulyanovsk is warm from about mid-May to early September. The average summer temperature is +22° C. July is typically the warmest month with highs reaching 30° C, although heat waves can occur even as early as the last decade of May. Snow arrives in late November-early December and stays until late March-early April. The average winter temperature is −10° C, although it can drop as low as −30° C. Winters are windy and snowy. Late autumn and winter have very little daylight, just 5–6 hours, December 22 being the shortest day of the year. In March-April, snow begins melting, and the thaw lasts for about a month.