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city and capital of Mordvinia, in western Russia. It lies along the upper Insar River and on the western flank of the Volga River uplands. The city was founded in 1641 as a stronghold on the Saransk defensive line. It is an important route centre, with railways to Ryazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, and Penza. Industrial development was greatly stimulated in World War II, and a wide range of factories now produce machinery, electrical equipment, penicillin, and consumer goods. Saransk has a university founded in 1957 and a research institute of Mordvinian culture. Pop. (1991 est.) 319,600.