St. Petersburg Fact File

St. Petersburg’s name

What’s in a name? In Russia, a lot. The history of St. Petersburg’s name:

1703 – 1914 St. Petersburg
1914 – 1924 Petrograd
1924 – 1991 Leningrad
1991 – present St. Petersburg

To Russians St Petersburg is known simply as ‘Piter’.

Some more about the city’s name:

Unlike other names of European capitals that consist of one word, the name Sankt-Peterburg consists of three parts each having its own meaning. Sankt from the Latin sanctus meaning holy; Peter, the name of the one of the twelve apostles, also meaning rock in Greek; and burg from the German and Dutch word meaning town. Thus, the name of the young capital unites the names of Peter the Great, his patron saint, as well as cultures of Ancient Greece and Rome, Germany and Holland. The name of the new Russian city and its symbols emphasize the connection with classical Rome the patron saint of which was the apostle Peter. Even the coat of arms of St. Petersburg with its two crossed anchors is remarkably similar to that of the Vatican. The history of the new Russian capital is imprinted in the architectural appearance of the city. The greatest reigns and architectural chefs-d'oeuvre of the 18th-20th centuries are embraced in one chronicle of St. Petersburg.

Peter the Great – St. Petersburg’s founder

Russian czar. Born Pyotr Alekseyevich, on June 9, 1672, in Moscow, Russia. Peter the Great was the fourteenth child of Czar Alexis by his second wife, Natalya Kirillovna Naryshkina. Having ruled jointly with his brother Ivan V from 1682, when Ivan died in 1696, Peter was officially declared Sovereign of all Russia. Peter inherited a nation that was severely underdeveloped compared to the culturally prosperous European countries.

During his reign, Peter undertook extensive reforms in an attempt to reestablish Russia as a great nation. Peter overcame opposition from the country's medieval aristocracy and initiated a series of changes that affected all areas of Russian life. He created a strong navy, reorganized his army according to Western standards, secularized schools, administered greater control over the reactionary Orthodox Church, and introduced new administrative and territorial divisions of the country.

Peter focused on the development of science and recruited several experts to educate his people about technological advancements. He concentrated on developing commerce and industry and created a gentrified bourgeoisie population. Mirroring Western culture, he modernized the Russian alphabet, introduced the Julian calendar, and established the first Russian newspaper.

Peter acquired territory in Estonia, Latvia and Finland; and through several wars with Turkey in the south, he secured access to the Black Sea. In 1709, he defeated the Swedish army by purposely directing their troops to the city of Poltava, in the midst of an unbearable Russian winter. In 1712, Peter established the city of St. Petersburg on the Neva River and moved the capital there from its former location in Moscow. Shortly after, St. Petersburg was deemed Russia's "window to Europe."

Under Peter's rule, Russia became a great European nation. In 1721, he proclaimed Russia an empire and was accorded the title of Emperor of All Russia, Great Father of the Fatherland, and "the Great." He married twice and had 11 children, many of whom died in infancy. The eldest son from his first marriage, Alexis, was convicted of high treason by his father and secretly executed in 1718. Peter died on February 8, 1725, without nominating an heir. He was buried in the Cathedral of St. Peter in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg's population

total: 5 222 347
men: 45,6 %
women: 54,4 %

St. Petersburg's area

1 439 sq km

St. Petersburg's time zone


St. Petersburg's telephone code

+7 812

St. Petersburg's climate

The climate of St. Petersburg is marked by a moderately warm summer and moderately cold winter.

Average annual temperature
5.3 °C
41.5 °F
Average temperature in July
18.1 °C
64.4 °F
Average temperature in January
-6.3 °C
20.7 °F

Average annual level of precipitations-634 mm. Prevailing winds: west, southwest, and south. The favorite period of the year of both the citizens and tourists is the White Nights (from May 25-26 to July 16-17), when the sun sets only briefly, and the light time of day in the end of July reaches almost nineteen hours.

St. Petersburg’s Economy

St. Petersburg is well ahead of the other regions of North-West Federal Region by the basic indices of social and economic development, especially in civil construction and trade.

Over the last years St. Petersburg made serious progress in the improvement of the municipal laws, improvement of the City territory, strengthening of the City position as one of the large centres of the European Baltic region.

A lot has been done for the development of the transport complex, improvement of the industry structure, attracting tourists, and culture development. All these actions make the basis of the steady economic growth in the next years.

The Government of St. Petersburg represented by the Committee for Economic Development, Industrial Policy and Trade is happy to welcome you on the pages of the Business Support Structure in St. Petersburg Government Site. St. Petersburg is a strong leader in the ratings of the most investment-attractive regions of Russia. Its great intellectual, scientific and personnel potential and stable development in the previous years allow us to say that the city has comfortable atmosphere for business start-up and development. The Government of the city is trying to encourage economic growth and assist business community in the solution of problems.

The main priorities of the Government are:
  • to develop city infrastructure;
  • to eliminate administrative barriers for the implementation of economic initiatives;
  • to create favorable legislative atmosphere for business;
  • to ensure access to information required for business activities.

Religions in St. Petersburg

While Russian orthodoxy is still the most popular religious faith in St. Petersburg, in fact there are 268 confessions and religions groups in the city, including:

  • 131 Group of the Moscow Patriarchy, including:
    The Russian Orthodox Church (129 groups)
    The Russian Orthodox Unitary Church (1 parish)
    The Georgian Orthodox Church (1 parish)
  • Old Believers churches
  • 2 parishes of the Armenian Apostle Church
  • 7 parishes of the Roman Catholic Church
  • 19 groups of Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • 3 Muslim groups
  • 5 Buddhists groups
  • 9 Judaic groups
  • 13 groups of Evangelical Baptist Christians
  • 6 parishes of the Church of the Seventh-Day Adventists
  • 1 group of the Salvation Army
  • 23 groups of Pentecostal Denomination
  • 2 groups of Jehovah Witnesses
  • 2 groups of Mormons
  • The Anglican Church
  • The Reformed Church
  • The Dutch Reformed Church
    and others.

There are 229 cultural buildings and structures that are utilized or owned by religions organizations (including built or under construction) St. Petersburg’s churches are among its most admired attractions.

Tourism in St. Petersburg

According to the UN rating, St. Petersburg occupies the eighth place in the list of the most attractive cities in the world for tourism. Its unique architecture, historical monuments and museums account for the world fame of St. Petersburg. These include the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, as well as the Mariinsky Theater, the Academy of the Russian Ballet, the Philharmony, the University, the Russian National Library, the Pushkin House, and the parks and palaces of Peterhof, Tsarsoe Selo, and Pavlovsk.

Attendance in 2002:

  • over 2.6 million international guests
  • over 800,000 Russian tourists annually
  • over 200 sea cruise boats
  • over 150,000 sea cruise tourists
  • over 450 river cruise boats
  • around 250,000 river cruise tourists
  • the average term of tourists staying in the city is 2.7 days
  • over 3 million overnight stays annually

Apartments and other tourist complexes

  • 133 facilities accommodating around 30,000 people, including:
    5 first-class apartments, including the Grand Hotel Europe, Nevsky Palace, and Astoria
    43 medium-class apartments
    43 economy-class apartments
    42 departmental apartments
    43 sanatorium-resort facilities accommodating 13,000 people

Other interesting St. Petersburg facts

  • Already in the end of the 19th century, St. Petersburg became the largest in Russia and one of the most important industrial, credit and stock exchange centers in Europe. In 1913 there were 1, 012 large and medium-scale industrial firms with 234,000 employees.
  • After the government of the country moved to Moscow in 1918, the Northern Capital became the second most important city in Russia.
  • For the past several years, however, St. Petersburg has been actively restoring its former role of the wide-open "gateway" of Russia to the outer world.
  • St. Petersburg, which is located in the center of the intersection of sea, river, and land routes, is the European gateway of Russia and its strategic center, the closest point to the countries of the European Community.
  • St. Petersburg is the administrative center of the Northwest Federal District that includes the Republic of Karelia, the Republic of Komi, the Arkhangelsk Region, the Vologda Region, the Kaliningrad Region, the Leningrad Region, the Murmansk Region, the Novgorod Region, the Pskov Region, and the Nenetsk Autonomous District.
  • The Northwest Federal District has significant natural resources, a well-developed industry, and a high-density transport network. Through the seaports of the Baltic and the Arctic Ocean, St. Petersburg provides the connection of the Russian Federation with the outer world.
  • St. Petersburg is the second largest (after Moscow) city in the Russian Federation. The area of the city is 606 km², if counted with the closes environs located in the lowland close to the Neva and along the Gulf, the total area is 1,439 km². The geographic coordinates of the center of the city are 59º57' North latitude and 30º19' East longitude.
  • One of nicknames of St. Petersburg is the Northern Venice. Internal waters occupy about ten per cent of its territory.
  • Above all, St. Petersburg is known for its rivers, canals, and bridges. Here are some fascinating, facts about St. Petersburg and its waterways.

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