Russian city on the delta of the Volga, and capital of:-
- A Tatar Khanate;
- An Imperial province;
- A present-day region.
The Khanate emerged in 1465 as a result of the disintegration of the Khanate of the Golden Horde. It held the lower Volga region, including the lands between the Volga and the Ural Rivers, and the northeastern Caucasian plains. In 1554 Russian forces advanced through the Khanate and a puppet Khan was appointed; he proved less compliant than expected, and in 1556 Astrakhan was annexed by Russia.
In 1719 an immense province or government of Astrakhan was created, including the Volga region below Samara, extending southwards to the River Terek in northern Caucasia and eastwards to the River Ural. In 1775 the province was reduced to the Volga region below Tsaritsyn (now Volgograd).
The present oblast (region) extends from below Volgograd to the Caspian along both banks of the Volga, except that there is one section where the autonomous republic of Kalmykia crosses to the left bank. To the east lies Kazakhstan, so that the eastern border of the oblast, which in places touches the Volga delta and is never very far from the river, represents the boundary between Europe and Asia. There is no topographical reason for so significant a boundary to be along this line.