Penza is the administrative center of Penza region (since 1939).
The city was founded in 1663 on the high bank of the river as a supporting observation post for protection of southeast borders of the Russian state.
The area of the city is 288,5 sq.km, the population is 524,9 thousand people (2005).
The city is located on Volga height, on the river Sura (the inflow of the Volga). The distance from Moscow is 709 km by rail train, or 630 km by motor-car (the automobile line Moscow-Chelyabinsk M5). The city is to the southeast from Moscow.