Sochi (Russian: Со́чи) is the most popular Russian resort, situated in the Krasnodar Krai, near the Russian border with Abkhazia, Georgia. Geographical location 43°35′ N 39°44′ E. It is located in a spectacular natural setting with snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus mountains overlooking gentle shores of the Black Sea. A UNESCO World heritage site, the Caucasian natural reserve, sprawls just north from the city.
Sochi was founded in 1838 as Alexandria settlement (Navaginskoye fortification, 1864 – Dakhovskiy Outpost, 1874 – Dakhovskiy Posad). It had been incorporated as a city and got its present name in 1896. Sochi was established as a fashionable resort area in the years of the Soviet regime, when Joseph Stalin had his favourite dacha built nearby.
The resort has a temperate climate and boasts many sanatoria and mineral baths. There are also tea plantations, the most northerly in Europe. The permanent population is about 315,400 (2004) but millions more arrive each summer, when the city is home to the annual Film Festival "Kinotavr" and the vacation place of Russian leaders.
Apart from the majestic Caucasus mountains, pebbly and sand beaches, Sochi attracts vacation-goers with its subtropical vegetation, numerous parks, monuments, and extravagant Stalinist architecture. The local markets are made primarily of kiosks grouped together in areas with pavillions and more permanent larger structures. Sochi is also remarkable for its sport facilities: a local tennis school spawned the careers of such notable players as Maria Sharapova and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.