The Orenburg Region was established in 1934. Its area is 124 thousand sq. km, its population amounts to about 2 million, 57% of which live in towns and cities. The majority of the population is the Russian; the region also has large Kazakh, Tatar, and Bashkir communities.
The administrative centre of the region is the city of Orenburg, situated 1,200 km away from Moscow (in a straight line), in the Moscow +2 time zone. The southern end of the Ural Mountains, the Trans-Ural area, and the river systems of the Ural basin (the Ural, the Ik, the Samara) and the Volga basin are located in the territory of the region; a large area is occupied with the steppe forming the steppe belt of Eurasia (from the Danube to the Manchukuo). The region has a dry continental climate with large difference between the average temperatures (34 — 38 degrees).
The Orenburg Region is famous for its steppe; even the Steppe Institute is functioning here, and, naturally, the steppe reserve exists. Its area is 21.7 thousand hectares, and steppe ecosystems are preserved there intact.
Besides the steppe, the Orenburg Region is rich in forests, which are also protected. For example, the Buzulukskiy Bor (Pine Wood) national park may be mentioned, 57 thousand hectares in the area, with a major portion of its territory consisting of sands, originated from Permian depositions, and impressive pine-trees. On every side, a huge pine wood is surrounded with a leafy forest. Water basins in the pine wood are harboured with 24 species of fish (nerflings, loaches, burbots, riffle minnows, brown trouts); 44 animal species are harbouring in the wood. Zoologists take special interest in the giant noctule, a rare bat with a wingspan up to 40 cm. The points of interest of the pine wood are the Losinaya Pristan (Elk Quay) sphagnum bog, the Zhuravliniy Gai (Small Crane Forest in Floodland) cane bog, and a dendrological garden.
Those fond of folk trades will be attracted with traditional downy shawls of outstandingly neat workmanship, with an original ornament and trimming. They may be bought at special souvenir boots or ordered from a craftsman.
For those who travel to improve their health, the Guy balneological health resort is functioning in the Orenburg Region.
Popular tourist sites are linked with natural miracles, such as a strange Camel Mountain, resembling a lying camel 20 meters in height. Forest plantations by A.N. Karamzin, a grandnephew of the great historian, may be called a monument of culture and nature. About a century ago, he brought to the site small pine-trees by carts and sledges, planted birches, elms, maples, Siberian pea shrubs, and a large grove may be seen on the site of those plantations now.
For those fond of the history of earlier times, the Zmeinaya (Snake) Mountain in the village of Mikhailovka will be of interest, where a lot of remains of Jurassic sea invertebrates were found in sandstones. The section of Upper Jurassic depositions may be seen on the steep. Excursions are held there, and you can take a belemnite or ammonite shell as a souvenir.
Those interested more in the practical aspect of nature are awaited in the Shiyliagash cherry wood — a place where cherry trees form a solid thicket several hundred hectares in the area. Cherry harvesting is permitted!
Tourists are invited to a historical and cultural monument — an old village of Aksakovo, with old houses and trees remembering S.T. Aksakov himself, a well-known Russian writer of the 19th century.
Orenburg, the administrative centre of the region, was founded in 1743. A rich history of the town is represented in the exhibition of the local history museum, founded in 1930 with assistance of the town’s intellectual elite and the author of the Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language V. I. Dahl. The museum building is an architectural monument of the 19th century, and the museum collection contains any material evidence of the epochs having gone. Those taking interest in a more recent history should visit the apartment museum of Y. I. Gagarin, where the belongings of the small Yuri and his parents are kept.
For more detailed information on the Region, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.