Astrakhan ăs´trəkăn, Rus. ä´strəkhənyə [key], city (1990 pop. 521,000), capital of Astrakhan region, SE European Russia. A Caspian Sea port on the Volga River's southern delta, it is a center for river transport thanks to a canal built for barge traffic. Russia's Caspian flotilla is based at the port. Astrakhan is also an important rail junction and a major transshipment center for oil, fish, grain, and wood.
The capital of the khanate of Astrakhan (see Tatars) from the 1460s, the city was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1556. Astrakhan had a flourishing trade with Persia, Khiva, and Bukhara until 1917. It has a kremlin (1587–89) and a cathedral (1700–1710).
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