According to the 2010 Census, Perm's population is 991,162, down from 1,001,653 recorded in the 2002 Census and 1,090,944 recorded in 1989 Census. As of the 2010 Census, the city was the thirteenth most populous in Russia.
The name Perm is of Uralic etymology, likely of Finno-Ugric origin (Komi-Permyak: Перем, Perem; Komi: Перым, Perym). Komi is a member of the Permic group of Finno-Ugric languages, which is also named for Perm. In Finnish and Vepsian perämaa means "far-away land"; similarly, in Hungarian perem means "edge" or "verge". The geologic period of the Permian takes its name from the toponym.
The city is located on the bank of the Kama River upon hilly terrain. The Kama is the main tributary of the Volga River and is one of the deepest and most picturesque rivers of Russia. This river is the waterway which grants the Ural Mountains access to the White Sea, Baltic Sea, Sea of Azov, Black Sea, and Caspian Sea. The Kama divides the city into two parts: the central part and the right bank part. The city stretches for 70 kilometers (43 mi) along the Kama and 40 kilometers (25 mi) across it. The city street grid parallels the Kama River, travelling generally east-west, while other main streets run perpendicularly to those following the river. The grid pattern accommodates the hills of the city where it crosses them.
Another distinguishing feature of the city's relief is the large number of small rivers and brooks. The largest of them are the Mulyanka, the Yegoshikha, the Motovilikha (all are on the left bank of Kama River), and the Gayva (on the right bank).
Perm has a continental climate with warm summers and long, cold winters.
Perm is located in the old Perman area, which was originally inhabited by Finno-Ugric peoples. Perm was first mentioned as the village of Yagoshikha (Ягошиха) in 1647; however, the history of the modern city of Perm starts with the development of the Ural region by Tsar Peter the Great. Vasily Tatishchev, appointed by the Tsar as a chief manager of Ural factories, founded Perm together with another major centre of the Ural region, Yekaterinburg.
In the 19th century, Perm became a major trade and industrial centre with a population of more than 20,000 people in the 1860s, with several metallurgy, paper, and steamboat producing factories, including one owned by a British entrepreneur. In 1870, an opera theatre was opened in the city, and in 1871 the first phosphoric factory in Russia was built. In 1916, Perm State University—a major educational institution in modern Russia—was opened.
After the outbreak of the Russian Civil War, Perm became a prime target for both sides because of its military munitions factories. On December 25, 1918, the Siberian White Army under Anatoly Pepelyayev (who acknowledged the authority of the Omsk Government of Aleksandr Kolchak), took Perm. On July 1, 1919, the city was retaken by the Red Army.
In the 1930s, Perm grew as a major industrial city with aviation, shipbuilding, and chemical factories built during that period. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Perm was a vital center of artillery production in the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Perm became a closed city.
The city is a major administrative, industrial, scientific, and cultural centre. The leading industries include machinery, defence, oil production (about 3% of Russian output), oil refining, chemical and petrochemical, timber and wood processing and the food industry.
Since 2004, the first Muslim Cossack unit in post-Soviet Russia has been based in the city of Perm.
Perm is the administrative centre of the krai and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Permsky District, even though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is, together with two rural localities, incorporated separately as the city of krai significance of Perm—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the city of krai significance of Perm is incorporated as Perm Urban Okrug.
For administrative purposes, Perm is divided into seven city districts:
Perm has the largest industrial output among cities in the Urals, ahead of Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Ufa, although Perm has a smaller population than these. Thirty-five per cent of Perm Oblast's industry is located in Perm. The largest industries in the city are electric power engineering, oil and gas refining, machine building, chemicals and petrochemicals, forestry processing, printing and food industry.
Several major industrial companies are located in Perm: AviraKids, a holding company, that produces 37.5% of Russian gaming equipment; Perm Motors and Aviadvigatel, major suppliers of engines to the Russian aircraft industry; rocket engine company Proton-PM, which will mass-produce the RD-191 engine for the upcoming Angara rocket family; electric engineering firms Morion JSC, Perm Scientific and Industrial Group, and Perm Electrical Engineering Plant; Russia's largest exporter of cables and wires, JSC KAMKABEL; and oil and natural gas companies such as LUKoil-Perm Ltd. and LUKoilPernefteprodukt Ltd.
Perm is an important railway junction on the Trans-Siberian Railway with lines radiating to Central Russia, the north part of the Urals, and the far east of Russia. Perm has two major railway stations, the historical Perm-I and the modern Perm-II. The Kama River is an important direct link between the European part of Russia to the sea ports on the White, Baltic, Azov, Black, and Caspian seas.
Perm is served by the international airport Bolshoye Savino, 16 km (9.9 mi) southwest.
The Perm Metro is a planned construction of a metro system which has been considered. The first plans date back to the 1970s. A feasibility study was compiled in 1990 but economic difficulties during the decade prevented its final planning and construction. The plans were revitalised in the early 2000s, but a lack of funding hampered the project and plans were once again put on hold. Light rail has also been considered.
The Perm Opera and Ballet House is one of the best in Russia.[according to whom?] There are many other theatres in Perm, including the Drama Theater, the Puppet Theatre, the Theatre for Young Spectators, the Theatre "Stage Molot", and the Theatre "Near the Bridge".
Among the cities museums and galleries, the Perm State Art Gallery is recognised for its outstanding collections of art, including paintings from 15th- to 18th-century art movements, and wooden sculptures from the region. It is housed in a notable early 19th-century structure, once an orthodox cathedral. The spire of the museum towers over the rest of Perm, as it is situated on the Komsomolsky Prospect. Perm is receiving attention from the development of the new Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (PERMM) which officially opened in March 2009.
The RAV Vast steel tongue drum was invented in Perm by Andrey Remyannikov. This instrument is unique in the tongue drum and handpan world because each note has multiple harmonic overtones that resonate with other notes in the drum. The sound consequently has long sustain and reverberation.
The Legend of Perm Bear or The Walking Bear is a sculpture, depicts a walking bear (the symbol depicted on the coat of arms of city). It is situated in the central part of city, at the Lenin Street, in front of Organ Concert Hall and close to the building of Legislative Assembly of Perm Krai. The author of the sculpture is Vladimir Pavlenko, a monumentalist sculptor from Nizhny Tagil, a member of Artists' Union of Russia and UNESCO International Association of Arts.
Perm is a scientific centre; some of the scientific institutes are combined in the Perm Scientific Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Perm is a home to several major universities including Perm State University, Perm State Technical University, Perm branch of state university Higher school of economics, Perm State Teachers' Training University, Perm State Medical Academy, Perm State Pharmaceutical Academy, Perm State Agricultural Academy, The Institute of Art and Culture, Perm State Choreographic School, and others. There are also three military schools in Perm.
The following people were either born in Perm or made names for themselves while residing there.
The Nobel-prize-winning writer Boris Pasternak lived in Perm for a time, and it figures in his novel Doctor Zhivago under the fictional name "Yuriatin" where Yuri sees Lara again in the public library.