Leningrad Region is located in the north-west of Russia and is a part of the Northwestern Federal District. In 1708 on the territory of present Leningrad Region there used to be Ingermanland province that was later renamed into St. Petersburg province and after the 1917 Revolution into Petrograd province. In 1924 the city’s name Petrograd was changed into Leningrad and in 1927 Leningrad Region became an established administrative-territorial subject. In 1991 the major city of the region received its historical name of St. Petersburg back.
Leningrad Region borders with three other Regions — Vologda, Pskov and Novgorod Regions, the Republic of Karelia and two countries — Finland and Estonia. In the west the Region is washed by the Gulf of Finland. The territory of Leningrad Region is 85 300 sq. km with population of 1 631 894 citizens.
The administrative centre is St. Petersburg with 4 500 000 population. Distance to Moscow is 679 km. This is the second largest European city that is not a capital. The city is located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland in the Neva river delta.
The relief of Leningrad Region is typical of the Western-European Plain — flat with minor heights. Lowlands are features of the Gulf of Finland and the Ladoga Lake shores and valleys of major rivers, while Karelian Isthmus has distinguished numerous rocky formations. The highest point of the Leningrad region — mount Gapselga (291 m above sea level) — is located on the Vepsovsky Heights.
Leningrad Region is rich with manmade attractions with Peterhoff, Tsarskoe Selo, Pavlovsk among the most famous, and other sights of the Peter the Great and post-Peter epochs. At the same time the region is just as rich with natural and sometimes unique attractions as well as relics of the past.
The climate is humid Atlantic-continental. Relatively mild winters with frequent thaws and moderately warm summers are characteristic of sea cyclones. Winter’s average is — 8– 11C and summer’s +16 +18C.
The territory is abundant with rivers that extend for a total of about 50 000 km and has 1800 lakes with a lot of swampy areas. Over a half of the Region area is covered by coniferous and mixed forests. However, in the past forest resources have significantly decreased leading to reinforcement of the resources conservation policy. The main forested lands are located in the east and north-west of the region with abundant herbs, like lily of the valley, Labrador tea, juniper, immortelle etc., and berries — bilberries, red whortleberries, cranberries and raspberries.
Many regions have been made Federal and Regional nature-protection parks and reserves, thus providing vast opportunities for ecological tourism. Areas of significant interest are the «Babino» bog located in the swampy land «Sokoliy Moh» (Falcon Moss) and famous for adjacent uplands, the Lava river canyon and the Sharya river valley, the «Lisiy Moh» (Fox Moss) swampy land with the Sukhodolnye (Uplands) islands.
Along the Svir River right bank lays the Nizhnee-Svirskiy State Wildlife Reserve. It is the base for preservation and studying the southern Priladozhye (the Ladoga Lake delta) ecosystem. The Reserve is the place for nesting of migrating water fowl and the habitat for rare and valuable bird and animal species like osprey, black stork, eagle owl, great grey owl, common crane, wolverine, flying squirrel and lynx. Svir bay is the place for spawning of rare and valuable commercial fish. Sea and fresh waters are the habitat for over 80 species of commercial fish, for example, Baltic herring, Baltic sprat, cod, garfish, smelt, salmon, brown trout, eel, cisco, pike perch, brim, whitebait. Hunting is allowed on the territory of Leningrad Region; however you are required to get a special permission.
There is a regional geological natural attraction on the Oredezh River in Gatchina District. It is the place where layers of the Devonian and the Ordovician periods crop out revealing unique fossils of fringed-finned fish and armored fish and ancient animals.
Another unique natural complex is located in a place called Sablino 40 km far from St. Petersburg. Sablino is famous for two waterfalls, ancient canyons of the Tosna and Sablinka rivers and cropping layers of the Cambrian and the Ordovician periods. There is also a historical camp site of the Alexander Nevsky army and of course the famous Sablino labyrinth caves that are dozens of kilometers long. Cave walls are red and white sandstone while vaults in individual halls are plates of green glauconitic limestone. Unique cave pearls form here instead of stalagmites. There are lakes and subterranean rivers. It is thought that the Sablino caves have medical air that is good for prevention of various maladies.
120 km far from St. Petersburg and 30 km off the border with Finland there is a town called Vyborg. Its history dates back to 1293 when the Swedes founded the Vyborg castle here (translates from Swedish as «Holy town»), although there was a settlement on this place even earlier. Vyborg preserved a number of monuments of the old times — a knight’s castle on an island, the Old Town with its houses made of boulders, the Clock tower and the Council Hall, ancient fortifications and ancient protestant churches. There are five fortresses on the town’s territory that make Vyborg the unique European town. Those are the actual Vyborg Castle, the earth-made fortress Annenkron, the Round Tower and the Pantserlaks Bastion, which are the remains of the «Horned» Fortress, and fortifications of the Mannerheim Line. The Vyborg Castle hosts annual staged joists and medieval music festivals. There is also the landscape park Monrepo that descends to the bay. Every year the park attracts visitors of the folk festival and various exhibits.
In Volkhov District of the Region there is a settlement called Staraya Ladoga, which is the oldest settlement of Eastern Slavs. It is exactly from Staraya Ladoga and not from Novgorod «has started the Russian land» as chronicles say. The foundation date is thought to be the year 753. Before the XVIII century the town was called simply Ladoga, and only since the building of another settlement called Novaya Ladoga (New Ladoga) the word «Staraya» (Old) was added to the name.
Many historical events are associated with Staraya Ladoga. It was the start-off point of the Trade route «From the Varangains to the Greeks», and in 862 Rurik started his rule here and only later moved to Novgorod. Here, as the legend says, Oleg the Prophet found his death. In 1114 the prince’s representative in Staraya Ladoga Pavel erected the first brick fortress which was soon attacked by the Swedes and stood fast.
There are two churches of the pre-Mongol period in Staraya Ladoga — the St. George and the Assumption churches, the Staroladozhskaya fortress, two monasteries — the St. Nicholas and the Assumption Cathedrals and the oldest Russian street — the Varangian street. The Federal Historical-Architectural and Archaeological Museum-Reserve was opened in Staraya Ladoga in the 1970s with excavations going to this day. The village also hosts the annual «Staraya Ladoga» Festival of the Early Middle Ages that attracts re-enactors, blacksmiths and music ensembles. Participants show off historical costumes and engage in joists with trade and handicraft shops set up along the Varangian street.
For more detailed information on the region, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.