Located on the River Tom, Tomsk was founded in 1604 as a military outpost against nomad tribes. Later it became a place of exile, trade and the center of transportation. The city fathers refused to have the Trans-Siberian Railway pass through, fearing noise, dirt and disruption. Instead they found economic isolation, and the once important trading center dwindled. However, it survived as a university city.
Today, Tomsk has a population of around 500,000, of which every sixth person is a student coming from all over Siberia, Central Asia and even the European part of Russia.
Tomsk is proud of its half a dozen major academic establishments making it the major educational center of Siberia. The scientific resources of the city are represented by a large number of scientific institutions. Tomsk may boast of 9 research, engineering and design institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 5 institutes of the Russian Medical Academy, 20 organizations focused on industrial science, and 11 research institutes based on Tomsk universities.
Special Economic Zone
Tomsk Special Economic Zone of Technical and Innovative Type was established in 2005 in the city. The priority areas of focus for research and development activity in the territory of Tomsk SEZ are: IT and electronics, medicine and biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and new materials, resource saving technology. Today, about 60 companies have offices in the territory of the Special Economic Zone.
The main advantages of SEZ for its residents are the system of tax benefits and a free custom zone. During the first five years the residents were exempt from property and land taxes, as well as import and export duties.
Tomsk region is historically rich in natural resources: oil and gas reserves, brown coal, and the second rank in Russia by the reservoir of peat, metallic ore reservoirs, and wood. In the structure of Tomsk region economy mining operations, engineering, metalwork, wood and oil traditionally dominated.
Tomsk is also a place of culture with its relatively intact architecture preserved in part. It combines endless examples of theatres, museums, churches and cathedrals, fine wooden mansions, some grand century-old commercial buildings and a dynamic, modern outlook.