Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург) is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. In 1914 the name of the city was changed to Petrograd (Russian: Петроград; IPA: [pʲɪtrɐˈgrat]), in 1924 to Leningrad and in 1991 back to Saint Petersburg.
In Russian literature, informal documents, and discourse, the "Saint" (Санкт-) is usually omitted, leaving Petersburg (Петербург,Peterburg). In common parlance Russians may drop "-burg" (-бург) as well, leaving only Peter.
Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, Saint Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia. In 1918 the central government bodies moved from Saint Petersburg (then named Petrograd) to Moscow. It is Russia's second largest city after Moscow with 5 million inhabitants reached in September 2012. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural center, and also an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea.
Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. It is also the northernmost city in the world to have a population of over one million. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is also home to The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. A large number of foreign consulates,international corporations, banks and other businesses are located in Saint Petersburg.
St. Petersburg started as a fortress to protect the lands along the banks of the Neva river and the Gulf of Finland from Sweden. In fact these lands had always been an apple of discord between Russia and its "northern neighbor" Sweden. Separate fights were held throughout centuries up until 1700 when a war was started that was one of the most important happenings in the history of St. Petersburg and Russia and that came down into history as the Northern War. It was started by the Swedish king Karl XII. For Peter I who was the ruler of our country then the main purpose of the war was to regain the lands along the Neva and the Gulf of Finland that were lost to Sweden in 1617 as a result of a peace treaty. The beginning of the 17th century was a hard time for Russia when Lithuania and Poland were trying to capture Moscow. Russia was weak and without a tsar then and it asked Sweden for help. As a result of this "help" Russia lost the access to the Baltic Sea.
The country could not develop without it that is why in 1700 Peter entered this war that lasted for 21 years and was ended in 1721 with a total victory of Russia.
To protect the newly regained lands Peter and Paul's Fortress was founded on a little Hare's Island.
The fortress developed into a city under the rule of the Romanovs — the ruling dynasty in Russia from Peter's grandfather Mikhail until the last Russian emperor Nicholas II.