Kazan is one of Russia's largest cities. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of culture. Since April 2009 Kazan has the legal right to brand itself as the "Third Capital" of Russia, approved by the Russian Patent Office. In 2004 Kazan was named the best city of Russia and became the winner of Russian public award "Russian National Olympus". Kazan celebrated its thousand-year anniversary in 2005. Despite of such venerable age, the city is growing and dynamically developing in all respects. Contemporary changes in the outside appearance of Kazan are contributed by the architects with worldwide known names. Being the city of unique historical monuments, Kazan is included into the UNESCO World Heritage Cities list. The origin of the name is unclear. The literal translation of the Tatar word qazan is a boiler or cauldron. It was believed that the city of Kazan is named after this object because of its geographical similarity with a "qazan"-pan; namely the city is situated in a U-shaped lowland.
Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka rivers in central European Russia. The way from the capital of the Russian Federation — Moscow — to Kazan takes 1 hour by plane, 8-10 hours by train or bus.
Kazan is a significant educational and cultural center of Russia. There are about 40 universities operating in the city. Among them there is the Kazan State Medical University.
There are lots of museums, libraries, concert halls, theaters in this city. Two renowned international festivals: the opera festival named after F.I. Shalyapin and the classical ballet festival named after R. Nuriev have been regularly held for a period of many years.
Kazan is the host-city for the 2013 World Student Games.