Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, Russia, a city in the southwestern part of the country, about 500 miles (800 km) southeast of Moscow. It lies on the west bank of the Volga River, near the eastern end of the Volga-Don Canal, and is a major river port and industrial center. The city produces steel, aluminum, farm machinery, and river vessels. Oil refining and the manufacturing of chemicals, wood products, and foods are also significant. Volgograd is an important railway junction. At nearby Kapustin Yar is a major center for testing missiles.
Most of Volgograd has been built since World War II, when the city was virtually destroyed during the crucial Battle of Stalingrad. Numerous monuments and shrines, such as the Square of Fallen Heroes and the Volgograd Defense Museum, commemorate the Russians' heroic defense. Other prominent structures include the planetarium and the railway station, with frescoes and bas-reliefs depicting events in the city's history.
Volgograd was founded in 1589 as a Russian frontier outpost called Tsaritsyn. It grew slowly at first, but by the late 1800's had become an important commercial center. In 1918, during the civil war that followed the revolution, Communist forces at Tsaritsyn, led partly by Joseph Stalin, won a major victory over the White army. To commemorate the battle Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad in 1925.
The Battle of Stalingrad, which raged for nearly six months during 1942-43, was a major Soviet victory but left hundreds of thousands dead and the city in ruins. (See World War II, section "The War with Germany and Italy, 1942-45," subtitle The Russian Campaign, 1942: Battle of Stalingrad.) The city was renamed Volgograd in 1961 during the Soviet Union's "de-Stalinization" campaign.