Sochi is often called the unofficial 'Summer Capital' of Russia, or the Black Sea Pearl. This is the country's biggest and busiest summer sea resort, attracting more than four million visitors annually with its amazing mountainous coastline, endless shingle beaches, warm sunny days, and bustling nightlife. From May to September Sochi's population at least doubles with tourists, including celebrities and the political elite of the country.
Strangely, only three percent of this visitors' crowd are international travellers, and even the frontier location of the city doesn't help to change the situation. Maybe the most famous non-politician foreign visitor of Sochi was Bono, who was invited to spend some time at President Medvedev's residence in 2010. But, in general, the city remains a very domestic destination, somewhat lacking in appropriate international infrastructure and having the same language barrier most regional centres of Russia do.
Greater Sochi officially includes four administrative districts:
Central Sochi District
The core of the city and its most developed and populated part. Many of the city attractions, hotels and most shopping centres are located there. During the summer season Central Sochi is usually overcrowded and traffic-jammed.
Lazarevskoye District (Ashe, Dagomys, Golovinka, Lazarevskoye, Loo (LO-Oh), Makopse, Solokhaul, Uchdere, Vardane, Volkonka)
The largest (1,744 km²/1,084mi²) district and with the longest (65km/40mi) coastline, includes 34 sub-districts, most of them are spread along the sea shore. Lazarevskoe district is less urbanized than others in Greater Sochi. In fact it has many various settlements, often poorly connected with each other and lacking in basic infrastructure.
Adler District (Adler, Imeretinskaya lowland, Krasnaya Polyana, Vesyoloe.)
The city's important transport hub, which includes Sochi International Airport, Adler train terminal (final point for most trains going to Greater Sochi) and the only open border crossing with Abkhazia. The role of Adler is rapidly increasing now because it will host all the Olympic venues for the 2014 Games (the Olympic coastal cluster at Imeretinskaya lowland and the mountain cluster at Krasnaya Polyana). The district currently looks like a single huge construction site (certainly, the works cause traffic problems). By 2014 the look of Imeretinskaya lowland and Krasnaya Polyana will change completely, as well as the local transport infrastructure.
The best developed, urbanized and monolithic part of Greater Sochi is the coastline between Dagomys (south-east of Lazarevskoe district) and Imeretinskaya lowland of Adler district.