Samara is a city in southwestern Russia, framed by the Volga and Samara rivers. The central Samara Regional Art Museum, housed in an ornate mansion, exhibits Russian paintings from the 16th century onward. Nearby, Stalin’s Bunker, designed in WWII to protect the political leader, is now a subterranean museum. Farther along the river, Samara Zoological Park is home to monkeys, jaguars and Nile crocodiles.
Russia, the world?s largest nation, borders European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Its landscape ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. It?s famous for Moscow's Bolshoi and St. Petersburg's Mariinsky ballet companies. St. Petersburg, founded by Russian leader Peter the Great, has the baroque Winter Palace, now housing part of the State Hermitage Museum?s art collection.