Astrakhan is a major city in southern European Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast
Astrakhan Oblast
Astrakhan Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Astrakhan.-Demographics:Population: Ethnic groups...

. The city lies on the left bank of the Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 at an altitude of 28 metres (91.9 ft) below the sea level. Population:
Astrakhan is situated in the Volga Delta
Volga Delta
The Volga Delta is the largest river delta in Europe, and occurs where Europe's largest river system, the Volga River, drains into the Caspian Sea in Russia's Astrakhan Oblast, north-east of the republic of Kalmykia. The delta is located in the Caspian Depression—the far eastern part of the delta...

, rich in sturgeon
Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common...

 and exotic plants. The fertile area formerly contained the capitals of Khazaria
The Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people who established one of the largest polities of medieval Eurasia, with the capital of Atil and territory comprising much of modern-day European Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the northern Caucasus , parts of...

 and the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

. Astrakhan' itself was first mentioned by travellers in the early 13th century as Xacitarxan
Xacitarxan or Hajji Tarkhan , Hashtar Khan / Actarxan or Astrakhan, was a medieval city at the right bank of Volga, situated approximately 12 km north of the modern city of Astrakhan. The first mention of the town was recorded in 1333. In the 13th and 14th centuries it was one of the main...