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Saint Petersburg

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Saint Petersburg
Санкт-Петербург
The Winter Palace
Palace Bridge
Peter and Paul Cathedral
Saint Isaac's Cathedral
The General Staff Building
The embankment along the Moyka river
Russia Saint Petersburg locator map.svg
Coordinates: 59°56′15″N 30°18′31″E / 59.93750°N 30.30861°E / 59.93750; 30.30861Coordinates: 59°56′15″N 30°18′31″E / 59.93750°N 30.30861°E / 59.93750; 30.30861
CountryRussia
Federal districtNorthwestern[1]
Economic regionNorthwestern[2]
Founded27 May 1703 (1703-05-27)[3]
Government
 • BodyLegislative Assembly
 • GovernorAlexander Beglov (UR)[4]
Area
 • Total1,439 km2 (556 sq mi)
 • Rank82nd
Population
 • Estimate 
(2018)[6]
5,351,935
Time zoneUTC+3 (MSK Edit this on Wikidata[7])
ISO 3166 codeRU-SPE
License plates78, 98, 178, 198
OKTMO ID40000000
Official languagesRussian[8]
Websitewww.gov.spb.ru

Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург, tr. Sankt-Peterburg, IPA: [ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk] (listen)), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), is the second-largest city in Russia. It is situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, with a population of roughly 5.4 million residents.[9] Saint Petersburg is the fourth-most populous city in Europe after Istanbul, Moscow and London, the most populous city on the Baltic Sea, as well as the world's northernmost city of more than 1 million residents. As Russia's Imperial capital, and a historically strategic port, it is governed as a federal city.

The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May 1703 on the site of a captured Swedish fortress, and was named after apostle Saint Peter. In Russia, Saint Petersburg is historically and culturally associated with the birth of the Russian Empire and Russia's entry into modern history as a European great power.[10] It served as a capital of the Tsardom of Russia, and the subsequent Russian Empire, from 1713 to 1918 (being replaced by Moscow for a short period of time between 1728 and 1730).[11] After the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks moved their government to Moscow.[12]

As Russia's cultural center,[13] Saint Petersburg received over 15 million tourists in 2018.[14][15] It is considered an important economic, scientific, and tourism centre of Russia and Europe. In modern times, the city has the nickname of being "the Northern Capital of Russia" and is home to notable federal government bodies such as the Constitutional Court of Russia and the Heraldic Council of the President of the Russian Federation. It is also a seat for the National Library of Russia and a planned location for the Supreme Court of Russia, as well as the home to the headquarters of the Russian Navy, and the Western Military District of the Russian Armed Forces. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world, the Lakhta Center, the tallest skyscraper in Europe, and was one of the host cities of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2020.

Etymology

A proponent of westernising Russia, Peter the Great, the then Tsar, who established the city, originally named it Sankt-Pieter-Burch (Сан(к)т-Питер-Бурхъ) in Dutch manner and later its spelling was standardised as Sankt-Peterburg (Санкт-Петербургъ[a]) under German influence.[16] On 1 September 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd (Russian: Петроград[a], IPA: [pʲɪtrɐˈgrat]),[17] meaning 'Peter's city', in order to expunge the German words Sankt and Burg. On 26 January 1924, shortly after the death of Vladimir Lenin, it was renamed to Leningrad (Russian: Ленинград, IPA: [lʲɪnʲɪnˈgrat]), meaning 'Lenin's City'. On 6 September 1991, the original name, Sankt-Peterburg, was returned by citywide referendum. Today, in English the city is known as Saint Petersburg. Local residents often refer to the city by its shortened nickname, Piter (Russian: Питер, IPA: [ˈpʲitʲɪr]).

A former spelling of the city's name in English was Saint Petersburgh, under the influence of burgh. This spelling survives in the name of a street in the Bayswater district of London, near St Sophia's Cathedral, named after a visit by the Tsar to London in 1814.[18]

Saint Petersburg has been traditionally called the "Window to Europe" and the "Window to the West" by the Russians.[19][20] The city is the northernmost metropolis in the world, and is also often described as the "Venice of the North" or the "Russian Venice" due to its many water corridors, as the city is built on swamp and water. Furthermore, it has strongly Western European-inspired architecture and culture, which is combined with the city's Russian heritage.[21][22][23] Another nickname of Saint Petersburg is "The City of the White Nights" because of a natural phenomenon which arises due to the closeness to the polar region and ensures that in summer the night skies of the city do not get completely dark for a month.[24][25] The city is also often called the "Northern Palmyra", due to its extravagant architecture.[26]

History

Imperial era (1703–1917)

Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611, which was later called Ingermanland, which was inhabited by Finnic tribe of Ingrians. The small town of Nyen grew up around it.

At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great, who was interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, wanted Russia to gain a seaport to trade with the rest of Europe.[27] He needed a better seaport than the country's main one at the time, Arkhangelsk, which was on the White Sea in the far north and closed to shipping during the winter.

On 12 May [O.S. 1 May] 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans and soon replaced the fortress.[28] On 27 May [O.S. 16 May] 1703,[29] closer to the estuary (5 km (3 mi) inland from the gulf), on Zayachy (Hare) Island, he laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city.[30]

The city was built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia; several Swedish prisoners of war were also involved in some years under the supervision of Alexander Menshikov.[31] Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city.[32] Later, the city became the centre of the Saint Petersburg Governorate. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712, 9 years before the Treaty of Nystad of 1721 ended the war; he referred to Saint Petersburg as the capital (or seat of government) as early as 1704.[27] While the city was being built Peter lived in a three-room log cabin with Catherine, where she did the cooking and caring for the children, and he tended a garden as though they were an ordinary couple.[citation needed]

During its first few years, the city developed around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to be built out according to a plan. By 1716 the Swiss Italian Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be on Vasilyevsky Island and shaped by a rectangular grid of canals. The project was not completed but is evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716, Peter the Great appointed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond as the chief architect of Saint Petersburg.[33]

The style of Petrine Baroque, developed by Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such buildings as the Menshikov Palace, Kunstkamera, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Twelve Collegia, became prominent in the city architecture of the early 18th century. In 1724 the Academy of Sciences, University and Academic Gymnasium were established in Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.

In 1725, Peter died at age fifty-two. His endeavors to modernize Russia had met with opposition from the Russian nobility—resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his son.[34] In 1728, Peter II of Russia moved his seat back to Moscow. But four years later, in 1732, under Empress Anna of Russia, Saint Petersburg was again designated as the capital of the Russian Empire. It remained the seat of the Romanov dynasty and the Imperial Court of the Russian Tsars, as well as the seat of the Russian government, for another 186 years until the communist revolution of 1917.

In 1736–1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. To rebuild the damaged boroughs, a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Münnich commissioned a new plan in 1737. The city was divided into five boroughs, and the city centre was moved to the Admiralty borough, on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka.

It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty building and are now known as Nevsky Prospect (which is considered the main street of the city), Gorokhovaya Street and Voznesensky Avenue. Baroque architecture became dominant in the city during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s, Baroque architecture was succeeded by neoclassical architecture.

Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg ruled no structure in the city can be higher than the Winter Palace and prohibited spacing between buildings. During the reign of Catherine the Great in the 1760s–1780s, the banks of the Neva were lined with granite embankments.

However, it was not until 1850 that the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Annunciation Bridge, was allowed to open. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed. Obvodny Canal (dug in 1769–1833) became the southern limit of the city.

The most prominent neoclassical and Empire-style architects in Saint Petersburg included:

In 1810, Alexander I established the first engineering Higher education, the Saint Petersburg Main military engineering School in Saint Petersburg. Many monuments commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812, including the Alexander Column by Montferrand, erected in 1834, and the Narva Triumphal Arch.

In 1825, the suppressed Decembrist revolt against Nicholas I took place on the Senate Square in the city, a day after Nicholas assumed the throne.

By the 1840s, neoclassical architecture had given way to various romanticist styles, which dominated until the 1890s, represented by such architects as Andrei Stackenschneider (Mariinsky Palace, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nicholas Palace, New Michael Palace) and Konstantin Thon (Moskovsky railway station).

With the emancipation of the serfs undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and an Industrial Revolution, the influx of former peasants into the capital increased greatly. Poor boroughs spontaneously emerged on the outskirts of the city. Saint Petersburg surpassed Moscow in population and industrial growth; it developed as one of the largest industrial cities in Europe, with a major naval base (in Kronstadt), river, and seaport.

The names of Saints Peter and Paul, bestowed upon original city's citadel and its cathedral (from 1725—a burial vault of Russian emperors) coincidentally were the names of the first two assassinated Russian Emperors, Peter III (1762, supposedly killed in a conspiracy led by his wife, Catherine the Great) and Paul I (1801, Nikolay Alexandrovich Zubov and other conspirators who brought to power Alexander I, the son of their victim). The third emperor's assassination took place in Saint Petersburg in 1881 when Alexander II fell victim to terrorists (see the Church of the Savior on Blood).

The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg and spread rapidly into the provinces.

On 1 September 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd,[17] meaning "Peter's City", to remove the German words Sankt and Burg.

Revolution and Soviet era (1917–1941)

In March 1917, during the February Revolution Nicholas II abdicated for himself and on behalf of his son, ending the Russian monarchy and over three hundred years of Romanov dynastic rule.

Bolsheviks celebrating 1 May near the Winter Palace half a year after taking power, 1918

On 7 November [O.S. 25 October] 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in an event known thereafter as the October Revolution, which led to the end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, the transfer of all political power to the Soviets, and the rise of the Communist Party.[35] After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, "the city of three revolutions",[36]

referring to the three major developments in the political history of Russia of the early 20th century.

In September and October 1917, German troops invaded the West Estonian archipelago and threatened Petrograd with bombardment and invasion. On 12 March 1918, the Soviets transferred the government to Moscow, to keep it away from the state border. During the Russian Civil War, in mid-1919 Russian anti-communist forces with the help of Estonians attempted to capture the city, but Leon Trotsky mobilized the army and forced them to retreat back to Estonia.

On 26 January 1924, five days after Lenin's death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. Later some streets and other toponyms were renamed accordingly. The city has over 230 places associated with the life and activities of Lenin. Some of them were turned into museums,[37] including the cruiser Aurora—a symbol of the October Revolution and the oldest ship in the Russian Navy.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the poor outskirts were reconstructed into regularly planned boroughs. Constructivist architecture flourished around that time. Housing became a government-provided amenity; many "bourgeois" apartments were so large that numerous families were assigned to what were called "communal" apartments (kommunalkas). By the 1930s, 68% of the population lived in such housing. In 1935 a new general plan was outlined, whereby the city should expand to the south. Constructivism was rejected in favour of a more pompous Stalinist architecture. Moving the city centre further from the border with Finland, Stalin adopted a plan to build a new city hall with a huge adjacent square at the southern end of Moskovsky Prospekt, designated as the new main street of Leningrad. After the Winter (Soviet-Finnish) war in 1939–1940, the Soviet–Finnish border moved northwards. Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Square maintained the functions and the role of a city centre.

In December 1931, Leningrad was administratively separated from Leningrad Oblast. At that time it included the Leningrad Suburban District, some parts of which were transferred back to Leningrad Oblast in 1936 and turned into Vsevolozhsky District, Krasnoselsky District, Pargolovsky District and Slutsky District (renamed Pavlovsky District in 1944).[38]

On 1 December 1934, Sergey Kirov, the popular communist leader of Leningrad, was assassinated, which became the pretext for the Great Purge.[39] In Leningrad, approximately 40,000 were executed during Stalin's purges.[40]

World War II (1941–1945)

Citizens of Leningrad during the 872-day siege, in which more than one million civilians died, mostly from starvation. Nevsky Prospect

During World War II, German forces besieged Leningrad following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.[41] The siege lasted 872 days, or almost two and a half years,[41] from 8 September 1941 to 27 January 1944.[42]

The Siege of Leningrad proved one of the longest, most destructive, and most lethal sieges of a major city in modern history. It isolated the city from food supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga, which could not make it through until the lake literally froze. More than one million civilians were killed, mainly from starvation. Many others escaped or were evacuated, so the city became largely depopulated.

On 1 May 1945 Joseph Stalin, in his Supreme Commander Order No. 20, named Leningrad, alongside Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa, hero cities of the war. A law acknowledging the honorary title of "Hero City" passed on 8 May 1965 (the 20th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War), during the Brezhnev era. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded Leningrad as a Hero City the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal "for the heroic resistance of the city and tenacity of the survivors of the Siege". The Hero-City Obelisk bearing the Gold Star sign was installed in April 1985.

Post-war Soviet era (1945–1991)

View of Lermontovski Prospekt, Egyptian Bridge and the Fontanka River
, 1972

In October 1946 some territories along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland, which had passed to the USSR from Finland in 1940 under the peace treaty following the Winter War, were transferred from Leningrad Oblast to Leningrad and divided into Sestroretsky District and Kurortny District. These included the town of Terijoki (renamed Zelenogorsk in 1948).[38] Leningrad and many of its suburbs were rebuilt over the post-war decades, partially according to pre-war plans. The 1948 general plan for Leningrad featured radial urban development in the north as well as in the south. In 1953 Pavlovsky District in Leningrad Oblast was abolished, and parts of its territory, including Pavlovsk, merged with Leningrad. In 1954 the settlements Levashovo, Pargolovo and Pesochny merged with Leningrad.[38]

Leningrad gave its name to the Leningrad Affair (1949–1952), a notable event in the postwar political struggle in the USSR. It was a product of rivalry between Stalin's potential successors where one side was represented by the leaders of the city Communist Party organization—the second most significant one in the country after Moscow. The entire elite leadership of Leningrad was destroyed, including the former mayor Kuznetsov, the acting mayor Pyotr Sergeevich Popkov, and all their deputies; overall 23 leaders were sentenced to the death penalty, 181 to prison or exile (exonerated in 1954). About 2,000 ranking officials across the USSR were expelled from the party and the Komsomol and removed from leadership positions. They were accused of Russian nationalism.[43]

The Leningrad Metro underground rapid transit system, designed before the war, opened in 1955 with its first eight stations decorated with marble and bronze. However, after Stalin's death in 1953, the perceived ornamental excesses of the Stalinist architecture were abandoned. From the 1960s to the 1980s many new residential boroughs were built on the outskirts; while the functionalist apartment blocks were nearly identical to each other, many families moved there from kommunalkas in the city centre to live in separate apartments.

Contemporary era (1991–present)

View of the city from the Saint Isaac's Cathedral

On 12 June 1991, simultaneously with the first Russian presidential elections, the city authorities arranged for the mayoral elections and a referendum upon the city's name, when the name reverted to Saint Petersburg. The turnout was 65%; 66.13% of the total count of votes went to Anatoly Sobchak, who became the first directly elected mayor of the city.

Meanwhile, economic conditions started to deteriorate as the country tried to adapt to major changes. For the first time since the 1940s, food rationing was introduced, and the city received humanitarian food aid from abroad.[44] This dramatic time was depicted in photographic series of Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko.[45][46] Economic conditions began to improve only at the beginning of the 21st century.[47] In 1995 a northern section of the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line of the Saint Petersburg Metro was cut off by underground flooding, creating a major obstacle to the city development for almost ten years. On 13 June 1996 Saint Petersburg, alongside Leningrad Oblast and Tver Oblast, signed a power-sharing agreement with the federal government, granting it autonomy.[48] This agreement was abolished on 4 April 2002.[49]

In 1996, Vladimir Yakovlev defeated Anatoly Sobchak in the elections for the head of the city administration. The title of the city head was changed from "mayor" to "governor". In 2000 Yakovlev won re-election. His second term expired in 2004; the long-awaited restoration of the broken subway connection was expected to finish by that time. But in 2003 Yakovlev suddenly resigned, leaving the governor's office to Valentina Matviyenko.

The law on election of the City Governor was changed, breaking the tradition of democratic election by universal suffrage. In 2006 the city legislature re-approved Matviyenko as governor. Residential building had intensified again; real-estate prices inflated greatly, which caused many new problems for the preservation of the historical part of the city.

Although the central part of the city has a UNESCO designation (there are about 8,000 architectural monuments in Petersburg), the preservation of its historical and architectural environment became controversial.[50] After 2005, the demolition of older buildings in the historical centre was permitted.[51] In 2006 Gazprom announced an ambitious project to erect a 403 m (1,322 ft) skyscraper (the Okhta Center) opposite to Smolny, which[according to whom?] could result in the loss of the unique line of Petersburg landscape.[citation needed] Urgent protests by citizens and prominent public figures of Russia against this project were not considered by Governor Valentina Matviyenko and the city authorities until December 2010, when after the statement of President Dmitry Medvedev, the city decided to find a more appropriate location for this project. In the same year, the new location for the project was relocated to Lakhta, a historical area northwest of the city centre, and the new project would be named Lakhta Center. Construction was approved by Gazprom and the city administration and commenced in 2012. The 462 m (1,516 ft) high Lakhta Center has become the first tallest skyscraper in Russia and Europe outside of Moscow.

Geography

The Neva River flows through much of the centre of the city. Left – the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, center – River Neva, Peter and Paul Fortress and Trinity Bridge, right – Palace Embankment with the Winter Palace.

The area of Saint Petersburg city proper is 605.8 km2 (233.9 square miles). The area of the federal subject is 1,439 km2 (556 sq mi), which contains Saint Petersburg proper (consisting of eighty-one municipal okrugs), nine municipal towns – (Kolpino, Krasnoye Selo, Kronstadt, Lomonosov, Pavlovsk, Petergof, Pushkin, Sestroretsk, Zelenogorsk) – and twenty-one municipal settlements.

Petersburg is on the middle taiga lowlands along the shores of the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland, and islands of the river delta. The largest are Vasilyevsky Island (besides the artificial island between Obvodny canal and Fontanka, and Kotlin in the Neva Bay), Petrogradsky, Dekabristov and Krestovsky. The latter together with Yelagin and Kamenny Island are covered mostly by parks. The Karelian Isthmus, North of the city, is a popular resort area. In the south, Saint Petersburg crosses the Baltic-Ladoga Klint and meets the Izhora Plateau.

The elevation of Saint Petersburg ranges from the sea level to its highest point of 175.9 m (577 ft) at the Orekhovaya Hill in the Duderhof Heights in the south. Part of the city's territory west of Liteyny Prospekt is no higher than 4 m (13 ft) above sea level, and has suffered from numerous floods. Floods in Saint Petersburg are triggered by a long wave in the Baltic Sea, caused by meteorological conditions, winds and shallowness of the Neva Bay. The five most disastrous floods occurred in 1824 (4.21 m or 13 ft 10 in above sea level, during which over 300 buildings were destroyed[b]); 1924 (3.8 m, 12 ft 6 in); 1777 (3.21 m, 10 ft 6 in); 1955 (2.93 m, 9 ft 7 in); and 1975 (2.81 m, 9 ft 3 in). To prevent floods, the Saint Petersburg Dam has been constructed.[52]

Since the 18th century, the city's terrain has been raised artificially, at some places by more than 4 m (13 ft), making mergers of several islands, and changing the hydrology of the city. Besides the Neva and its tributaries, other important rivers of the federal subject of Saint Petersburg are Sestra, Okhta and Izhora. The largest lake is Sestroretsky Razliv in the north, followed by Lakhtinsky Razliv, Suzdal Lakes, and other smaller lakes.

Due to its northerly location at c. 60° N latitude the day length in Petersburg varies across seasons, ranging from 5 hours 53 minutes to 18 hours 50 minutes. A period from mid-May to mid-July during which twilight may last all night is called the white nights.

Saint Petersburg is about 165 km (103 miles) from the border with Finland, connected to it via the M10 highway (E18), along which there is also a connection to the historic city of Vyborg.

Climate

Under the Köppen climate classification, Saint Petersburg is classified as Dfb, a humid continental climate. The distinct moderating influence of Baltic Sea cyclones results in warm, humid, and short summers and long, moderately cold wet winters. The climate of Saint Petersburg is close to that of Helsinki, although colder in winter and warmer in summer because of its more eastern location.

The average maximum temperature in July is 23 °C (73 °F), and the average minimum temperature in February is −8.5 °C (16.7 °F); an extreme temperature of 37.1 °C (98.8 °F) occurred during the 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer heat wave. A winter minimum of −35.9 °C (−32.6 °F) was recorded in 1883. The average annual temperature is 5.8 °C (42.4 °F). The Neva River within the city limits usually freezes up in November–December and break-up occurs in April. From December to March there are 118 days on average with snow cover, which reaches an average snow depth of 19 cm (7.5 in) by February.[53] The frost-free period in the city lasts on average for about 135 days. Despite St. Petersburg's northern location, its winters are warmer than Moscow's due to the Gulf of Finland and some Gulf Stream influence from Scandinavian winds that can bring temperature slightly above freezing. The city also has a slightly warmer climate than its suburbs. Weather conditions are quite variable all year round.[54][55]

Average annual precipitation varies across the city, averaging 660 mm (26 in) per year and reaching maximum in late summer. Due to the cool climate, soil moisture is almost always high because of lower evapotranspiration. Air humidity is 78% on average, and there are, on average, 165 overcast days per year.

Climate data for Saint Petersburg (1991–2020; extremes 1743–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 8.7
(47.7)
10.2
(50.4)
15.3
(59.5)
25.3
(77.5)
33.0
(91.4)
35.9
(96.6)
35.3
(95.5)
37.1
(98.8)
30.4
(86.7)
21.0
(69.8)
12.3
(54.1)
10.9
(51.6)
37.1
(98.8)
Average high °C (°F) −2.5
(27.5)
−2.4
(27.7)
2.3
(36.1)
9.5
(49.1)
16.3
(61.3)
20.5
(68.9)
23.3
(73.9)
21.4
(70.5)
15.9
(60.6)
8.7
(47.7)
2.8
(37.0)
−0.5
(31.1)
9.6
(49.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.8
(23.4)
−5.0
(23.0)
−1.0
(30.2)
5.2
(41.4)
11.5
(52.7)
16.1
(61.0)
19.1
(66.4)
17.4
(63.3)
12.4
(54.3)
6.2
(43.2)
0.9
(33.6)
−2.5
(27.5)
6.3
(43.3)
Average low °C (°F) −7.2
(19.0)
−7.6
(18.3)
−4.0
(24.8)
1.7
(35.1)
7.2
(45.0)
12.2
(54.0)
15.3
(59.5)
13.9
(57.0)
9.4
(48.9)
4.1
(39.4)
−0.9
(30.4)
−4.5
(23.9)
3.3
(37.9)
Record low °C (°F) −35.9
(−32.6)
−35.2
(−31.4)
−29.9
(−21.8)
−21.8
(−7.2)
−6.6
(20.1)
0.1
(32.2)
4.9
(40.8)
1.3
(34.3)
−3.1
(26.4)
−12.9
(8.8)
−22.2
(−8.0)
−34.4
(−29.9)
−35.9
(−32.6)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 46
(1.8)
36
(1.4)
36
(1.4)
37
(1.5)
47
(1.9)
69
(2.7)
84
(3.3)
87
(3.4)
57
(2.2)
64
(2.5)
56
(2.2)
51
(2.0)
670
(26.4)
Average extreme snow depth cm (inches) 15
(5.9)
19
(7.5)
14
(5.5)
1
(0.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
3
(1.2)
9
(3.5)
19
(7.5)
Average rainy days 9 7 10 13 16 18 17 17 20 20 16 10 173
Average snowy days 25 23 16 8 1 0.1 0 0 0.1 5 16 23 117
Average relative humidity (%) 86 84 79 69 65 69 71 76 80 83 86 87 78
Mean monthly sunshine hours 22 54 125 180 260 276 267 213 129 70 27 13 1,636
Source 1: Pogoda.ru.net[53]
Source 2: NOAA (sun 1961–1990)[56]


Toponymy

The first and fairly rich chapter of the history of the local toponymy is the story of the city's name. The name day of Peter I falls on 29 June, when the Russian Orthodox Church observes the memory of saint apostles Peter and Paul. The consecration of the small wooden church in their names (its construction began at the same time as the citadel) made them the heavenly patrons of the Peter and Paul Fortress, while Saint Peter at the same time became the eponym of the whole city. When in June 1703 Peter the Great gave the site a new name after Saint Peter, he did not issue a naming act that established an official spelling; even in his own letters he used diverse spellings, such as Санктьпетерсьбурк (Sanktpetersburk), emulating German Sankt Petersburg, and Сантпитербурх (Santpiterburkh), emulating Dutch Sint-Pietersburgh, as Peter was multilingual and a Neerlandophile. The name was later normalized and russified to Санкт-Петербург.[57][58][59]

A 14- to 15-letter-long name, composed of the three roots proved too cumbersome, and many shortened versions were used. The first General Governor of the city Menshikov is maybe also the author of the first nickname of Petersburg which he called Петри (Petri). It took some years until the known Russian spelling of this name finally settled. In 1740s Mikhail Lomonosov uses a derivative of Greek: Πετρόπολις (Петрополис, Petropolis) in a Russified form Petropol' (Петрополь). A combo Piterpol (Питерпол) also appears at this time.[60] In any case, eventually the usage of prefix "Sankt-" ceased except for the formal official documents, where a three-letter abbreviation "СПб" (SPB) was very widely used as well.

In the 1830s Alexander Pushkin translated the "foreign" city name of "Saint Petersburg" to the more Russian Petrograd in one of his poems. However, it was only on 31 August [O.S. 18 August] 1914, after the war with Germany had begun, that Tsar Nicholas II renamed the capital to Petrograd. Since the prefix "Saint" was omitted,[61] this act also changed the eponym and the "patron" of the city from Saint Peter to Peter the Great, its founder.[59]

After the October Revolution the name Red Petrograd (Красный Петроград, Krasny Petrograd) was often used in newspapers and other prints until the city was renamed Leningrad in January 1924.

A referendum on reversing the renaming of Leningrad was held on 12 June 1991, with 54.86% of voters (with a turnout of 65%) supporting "Saint Petersburg". Renaming the city Petrograd was not an option. This change officially took effect on 6 September 1991.[44] Meanwhile, the oblast whose administrative center is also in Saint Petersburg is still named Leningrad.

Having passed the role of capital to Petersburg, Moscow never relinquished the title of "capital", being called pervoprestolnaya ("first-throned") for 200 years. An equivalent name for Petersburg, the "Northern Capital", has re-entered usage today since several federal institutions were recently moved from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. Solemn descriptive names like "the city of three revolutions" and "the cradle of the October revolution" used in the Soviet era are reminders of the pivotal events in national history that occurred here. Petropolis is a translation of a city name to Greek, and is also a kind of descriptive name: Πέτρ- is a Greek root for "stone", so the "city from stone" emphasizes the material that had been forcibly made obligatory for construction from the first years of the city.[60] (The proper Greek translation is Αγία Πετρούπολη, Agia Petroupoli.)[62]

Demographics

People walking on the main street of Saint Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt

Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. As of the 2017 Rosstat, the federal subject's population is 5,281,579 or 3.6% of the total population of Russia;[citation needed] up from 4,879,566 (3.4%) recorded in the 2010 Census,[63] and up from 5,023,506 recorded in the 1989 Census.[64]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1897 1,264,920—    
1926 1,590,770+0.79%
1939 3,191,304+5.50%
1959 3,321,196+0.20%
1970 3,949,501+1.59%
1979 4,588,183+1.68%
1989 5,023,506+0.91%
2002 4,661,219−0.57%
2010 4,879,566+0.57%
2022 5,376,672+0.81%
Source: Census data
Vital statistics for 2016[65]
  • Births: 72 879 (13.9 per 1000)
  • Deaths: 61 459 (11.7 per 1000)
Total fertility rate:[66]
  • 2010 – 1.38
  • 2011 – 1.38
  • 2012 – 1.48
  • 2013 – 1.48
  • 2014 – 1.52
  • 2015 – 1.59
  • 2016 – 1.63
  • 2017 – 1.50
  • 2018 – 1.47
  • 2019 – 1.40
  • 2020 – 1.37

Ethnic composition of Saint Petersburg

Ethnicity Year
1939[67] 1959[68] 1970[69] 1979[70] 1989[71] 2010[72]
Population Percentage Population Percentage Population Percentage Population Percentage Population Percentage Population Percentage
Russians 2,775,979 86.89% 2,951,254 88.86% 3,514,296 88.98% 4,097,629 89.69% 4,448,884 89.14% 3,908,753 92.5%
Ukrainians 54,660 1.71% 68,308 2.05% 97,109 2.45% 117,412 2.57% 150,982 3.02% 64,446 1.5%
Belarusians 32,353 1.01% 47,004 1.41% 63,799 1.61% 81,575 1.78% 93,564 1.87% 38,136 0.9%
Tatars 31,506 0.98% 27,178 0.81% 32,851 0.83% 39,403 0.86% 43,997 0.88% 30,857 0.7%
Jews 201,542 6.31% 168,641 5.07% 162,525 4.11% 142,779 3.12% 106,469 2.13% 24,132 0.6%
Uzbeks 238 - - - 1,678 - 1,883 - 7,927 0.15% 20,345 0.5%
Armenians 4,615 0.14% 4,897 0.14% 6,628 0.16% 7,995 0.17% 12,070 0.24% 19,971 0.5%
Azerbaijanis 385 - 855 - 1,576 - 3,171 - 11,804 0.23% 17,717 0.4%
Tajiks 61 - - - 361 - 473 - 1,917 - 12,072 0.3%
Others 89,965 2.81% 53,059 1.59% 68,678 1.73% 76,228 1.66% 113,135 2.26% 90,310 2.1%
Total 3,191,304 100% 3,321,196 100% 3,949,501 100% 4,568,548 100% 4,990,749 100% 4,879,566 100%

During the 20th century, the city experienced dramatic population changes. From 2.4 million residents in 1916, its population dropped to less than 740,000 by 1920 during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Russian Civil War. The minorities of Germans, Poles, Finns, Estonians and Latvians were almost completely transferred from Leningrad during the 1930s.[73] From 1941 to the end of 1943, population dropped from 3 million to less than 600,000, as people died in battles, starved to death or were evacuated during the Siege of Leningrad. Some evacuees returned after the siege, but most influx was due to migration from other parts of the Soviet Union. The city absorbed about 3 million people in the 1950s and grew to over 5 million in the 1980s. From 1991 to 2006 the city's population decreased to 4.6 million, while the suburban population increased due to privatization of land and massive move to suburbs. Based on the 2010 census results the population is over 4.8 million.[74][75] For the first half of 2007, the birth rate was 9.1 per 1000[76] and remained lower than the death rate (until 2012[77]); people over 65 constitute more than twenty percent of the population; and the median age is about 40 years.[78] Since 2012 the birth rate became higher than the death rate.[77] But in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in birth rate, and the city population decreased to 5,395,000 people.[79]

Religion
Clockwise from left: Kronstadt: the Naval Cathedral on Yakornaya Square; the Church of St. Catherine; the Saint Petersburg Mosque; and the Grand Choral Synagogue of St. Petersburg

According to various opinion polls, more than half of the residents of Saint Petersburg "believe in God" (up to 67% according to VTsIOM data for 2002).

Among the believers, the overwhelming majority of the residents of the city are Orthodox (57.5%), followed by small minority communities of Muslims (0.7%), Protestants (0.6%), and Catholics (0.5%), and Buddhists (0.1%).[80]

In total, roughly 59% of the population of the city is Christian, of which over 90% are Orthodox.[80] Non-Abrahamic religions and other faiths are represented by only 1.2% of the total population.[80]

Religion in Saint Petersburg as of 2012 (Sreda Arena Atlas)[81][82]
Russian Orthodoxy
50.3%
Other Orthodox
1.4%
Other Christians
3.2%
Islam
1.1%
Spiritual but not religious
20.5%
Atheism and irreligion
15.4%
Other and undeclared
7.6%

There are 268 communities of confessions and religious associations in the city: the Russian Orthodox Church (130 associations), Pentecostalism (23 associations), the Lutheranism (19 associations), Baptism (13 associations), as well as Old Believers, Roman Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Georgian Orthodox Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Judaism, Buddhist, Muslim, Bahá'í and others.[80]

229 religious buildings in the city are owned or run by religious associations. Among them are architectural monuments of federal significance. The oldest cathedral in the city is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, built between 1712–1733, and the largest is the Kazan Cathedral, completed in 1811.

Government

The city assembly meets in the Mariinsky Palace
.

Saint Petersburg is a federal subject of Russia (a federal city).[83] The political life of Saint Petersburg is regulated by the Charter of Saint Petersburg adopted by the city legislature in 1998.[84] The superior executive body is the Saint Petersburg City Administration, led by the city governor (mayor before 1996). Saint Petersburg has a single-chamber legislature, the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly, which is the city's regional parliament.

According to the federal law passed in 2004, heads of federal subjects, including the governor of Saint Petersburg, were nominated by the President of Russia and approved by local legislatures. Should the legislature disapprove the nominee, the President could dissolve it. The former governor, Valentina Matviyenko, was approved according to the new system in December 2006. She was the only woman governor in the whole of Russia until her resignation on 22 August 2011. Matviyenko stood for elections as member of the Regional Council of Saint Petersburg and won comprehensively with allegations of rigging and ballot stuffing by the opposition. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has already backed her for the position of Speaker to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and her election qualifies her for that job. After her resignation, Georgy Poltavchenko was appointed as the new acting governor the same day. In 2012, following passage of a new federal law,[85] restoring direct elections of heads of federal subjects, the city charter was again amended to provide for direct elections of governor.[86] On 3 October 2018, Poltavchenko resigned, and Alexander Beglov was appointed acting governor.[4]

Saint Petersburg is also the unofficial but de facto administrative centre of Leningrad Oblast, and of the Northwestern Federal District.[87] The Constitutional Court of Russia moved to Saint Petersburg from Moscow in May 2008.

Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, being two different federal subjects, share a number of local departments of federal executive agencies and courts, such as court of arbitration, police, FSB, postal service, drug enforcement administration, penitentiary service, federal registration service, and other federal services.

Administrative divisions

Saint Petersburg is divided into 18 administrative districts:
Administrative divisions of the city of Saint Petersburg
  1. Аdmiralteysky
  2. Vasileostrovsky
  3. Vyborgsky
  4. Kalininsky
  5. Кirovsky
  6. Kolpinsky
  7. Krasnogvardeysky
  8. Кrasnoselsky
  9. Kronshtadtsky
  1. Kurortny
  2. Moskovsky
  3. Nevsky
  4. Petrogradsky
  5. Petrodvortsovy
  6. Primorsky
  7. Pushkinsky
  8. Frunzensky
  9. Tsentralny
Within the boundaries of the districts, there are 111 intra-city municipalities, 81 municipal districts, and 9 cities: (Zelenogorsk, Kolpino, Krasnoe Selo, Kronstadt, Lomonosov, Pavlovsk, Petergof, Pushkin, and Sestroretsk), as well as 21 villages.[88]

Economy

Saint Petersburg is a major trade gateway, serving as the financial and industrial centre of Russia, with specializations in oil and gas trade; shipbuilding yards; aerospace industry; technology, including radio, electronics, software, and computers; machine building, heavy machinery and transport, including tanks and other military equipment; mining; instrument manufacture; ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy (production of aluminium alloys); chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment; publishing and printing; food and catering; wholesale and retail; textile and apparel industries; and many other businesses. It was also home to Lessner, one of Russia's two pioneering automobile manufacturers (along with Russo-Baltic); it was founded by machine tool and boilermaker G.A. Lessner in 1904, with designs by Boris Loutsky, and it survived until 1910.[89]

Ten per cent of the world's power turbines are made there at the LMZ, which built over two thousand turbines for power plants across the world. Major local industries are Admiralty Shipyard, Baltic Shipyard, LOMO, Kirov Plant, Elektrosila, Izhorskiye Zavody; also registered in Saint Petersburg are Sovkomflot, Petersburg Fuel Company and SIBUR among other major Russian and international companies.

The Port of Saint Petersburg has three large cargo terminals, Bolshoi Port Saint Petersburg, Kronstadt, and Lomonosov terminal.[citation needed] International cruise liners have been served at the passenger port at Morskoy Vokzal on the south-west of Vasilyevsky Island. In 2008 the first two berths opened at the New Passenger Port on the west of the island.[90] The new passenger terminal is part of the city's "Marine Facade" development project[91] and was due to have seven berths in operation by 2010.[needs update]

A complex system of riverports on both banks of the Neva River are interconnected with the system of seaports, thus making Saint Petersburg the main link between the Baltic Sea and the rest of Russia through the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

The Saint Petersburg Mint (Monetny Dvor), founded in 1724, is one of the largest mints in the world, it mints Russian coins, medals and badges. Saint Petersburg is also home to the oldest and largest Russian foundry, Monumentskulptura, which made thousands of sculptures and statues that now grace the public parks of Saint Petersburg and many other cities. Monuments and bronze statues of the Tsars, as well as other important historic figures and dignitaries, and other world-famous monuments, such as the sculptures by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, Paolo Troubetzkoy, Mark Antokolsky, and others, were made there.

In 2007, Toyota opened a Camry plant after investing 5 billion roubles (approx. 200 mln dollars) in Shushary, one of the southern suburbs of Saint Petersburg. Opel, Hyundai and Nissan have also signed deals with the Russian government to build their automotive plants in Saint Petersburg. The automotive and auto-parts industry is on the rise there during the last decade.

Saint Petersburg has a large brewery and distillery industry. Known as Russia's "beer capital" due to the supply and quality of local water, its five large breweries account for over 30% of the country's domestic beer production. They include Europe's second-largest brewery Baltika, Vena (both operated by BBH), Heineken Brewery, Stepan Razin (both by Heineken) and Tinkoff brewery (SUN-InBev).

The city's many local distilleries produce a broad range of vodka brands. The oldest ones is LIVIZ (founded in 1897). Among the youngest is Russian Standard Vodka introduced in Moscow in 1998, which opened in 2006 a new $60 million distillery in Petersburg (an area of 30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft), production rate of 22,500 bottles per hour). In 2007, this brand was exported to over 70 countries.[92]

Saint Petersburg has the second-largest construction industry in Russia, including commercial, housing, and road construction.

In 2006, Saint Petersburg's city budget was 180 billion rubles (about 7 billion US$ at 2006 exchange rates),.[93] The federal subject's Gross Regional Product as of 2016 was 3.7 trillion Russian rubles (or around US$70 billion), ranked 2nd in Russia, after Moscow[94] and per capita of US$13,000, ranked 12th among Russia's federal subjects,[95] contributed mostly by wholesale and retail trade and repair services (24.7%) as well as processing industry (20.9%) and transportation and telecommunications (15.1%).[96]

Budget revenues of the city in 2009 amounted to 294.3 billion rubles (about 10.044 billion US$ at 2009 exchange rates), expenses – 336.3 billion rubles (about 11.477 billion US$ at 2009 exchange rates). The budget deficit amounted to about 42 billion rubles.[97] (about 1.433 billion US$ at 2009 exchange rates)

In 2015, St. Petersburg was ranked in 4th place economically amongst all federal subjects of the Russian Federation, surpassed only by Moscow, the Tyumen and Moscow Region.[98]

Cityscape

Saint Petersburg has three skyscrapers: Leader Tower (140 m), Alexander Nevsky (124 m) and Atlantic City (105 m) all far from the historical centre. Regulations forbid the construction of tall buildings in the city centre. The 310-meter (1,020 ft) tall Saint Petersburg TV Tower is the tallest completed structure in the city. However, there was a controversial project endorsed by the city authorities, and known as the Okhta Center, to build a 396 meters (1,299 ft) supertall skyscraper. In 2008, the World Monuments Fund included the Saint Petersburg historic skyline on the watch list of the 100 most endangered sites due to the expected construction, which threatens to alter it drastically.[99] The Okhta Center project was cancelled at the end of 2010 and the Lakhta Center project began in the city's outskirts. The complex includes 463-metre-tall (1,519-foot) office skyscraper and several low rise mixed-use buildings. The Lakhta Center project has caused much less controversy. Unlike the previous unbuilt project, it is not seen by UNESCO as a potential threat to the city's cultural heritage because it is far from the historical centre. The skyscraper was completed in 2019, and at 462.5 metres, it is currently the tallest in Russia and Europe.

Unlike in Moscow, the historic architecture of Saint Petersburg's city centre, mostly Baroque and Neoclassical buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, has been largely preserved; although a number of buildings were demolished after the Bolsheviks' seizure of power, during the Siege of Leningrad and in recent years.[citation needed] The oldest of the remaining building is a wooden house built for Peter I in 1703 on the shore of the Neva near Trinity Square. Since 1991 the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The ensemble of Peter and Paul Fortress with the Peter and Paul Cathedral takes a dominant position on Zayachy Island along the right bank of the Neva River. Each noon a cannon fires a blank shot from the fortress. The Saint Petersburg Mosque, the largest mosque in Europe when opened in 1913, is on the right bank nearby. The Spit of Vasilievsky Island, which splits the river into two largest armlets, the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva, is connected to the northern bank (Petrogradsky Island) via the Exchange Bridge and occupied by the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Rostral Columns. The southern coast of Vasilyevsky Island along the Bolshaya Neva features some of the city's oldest buildings, dating from the 18th century, including the Kunstkamera, Twelve Collegia, Menshikov Palace and Imperial Academy of Arts. It hosts one of two campuses of Saint Petersburg State University.

On the southern, left bank of the Neva, connected to the spit of Vasilyevsky Island via the

are all along that avenue.

The Alexander Nevsky Lavra, intended to house the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky, is an important centre of Christian education in Russia. It also contains the Tikhvin Cemetery with graves of many notable Petersburgers.

On the territory between the Neva and Nevsky Prospekt the

Many notable landmarks are to the west and south of the Admiralty Building, including the Trinity Cathedral, Mariinsky Palace, Hotel Astoria, famous Mariinsky Theatre, New Holland Island, Saint Isaac's Cathedral, the largest in the city, and Senate Square, with the Bronze Horseman, 18th-century equestrian monument to Peter the Great