Vladimir is located on the high west bank of the Klyazma River in what was once an even more heavily wooded area than it is today.
The vast forests of the Vladimir region protected the relatively small Slavic and Finnish tribes that lived there from nomadic warriors who frequented the more open terrain of the south. At the same time, the region's vast network of rivers and tributaries allowed the inhabitants to conduct trade with merchant cities in the south, including Kiev, and those further north such as Novgorod.
The location's favorable geography contributed to Vladimir's growth in importance and its eventual status as the capital of ancient Rus. For one thing, the protection offered by the forests became more appealing to the Slavic tribes in the south as “barbarian” raids and princely feuds became more frequent in that region. The resulting continuous flow of southern Slavs to the north led to a blending of people, culture, and language that is still reflected in today's Vladimir.
According to two different Russian sources, as of the beginning of 2005, Vladimir's population was between 310 and 316 thousand. At the end of 2005, beginning of 2006 the City's boundaries were extended to include several nearby communities. This added an additional 10,000 residents--and moved Vladimir from the 58th to the 51st largest city in Russia. As of January 1, 2008, the official population of Vladimir was 39,500.