Saratov sərä´təf [key], city (1991 est. pop. 910,000), capital of Saratov region, E European Russia, on the Volga River. It is a major industrial, transportation, and cultural center of the lower Volga region. Its river port is a transfer point for the agricultural products of the lower Volga valley and for petroleum from Bakı. Saratov's industries produce precision instruments, building materials, machine tools, and electric generators. There are oil refineries, flour mills, sawmills, furniture and chemical factories, and gas plants. A bridge built in 1965 spans the Volga. The city was founded c.1590 as a Russian sentry post on the Volga. Although its military importance declined in the 18th cent., the city retained significance for its river trade. In the late 19th cent. railroad construction tied Saratov to central European Russia. The city has a museum and a university named in honor of the literary critic N. G. Chernyshevsky, who was born there.
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