In the course of its comparatively short history, Rostov-on-Don has grown from a small port to a large city with a population over one million. Rostov-on-Don is unofficially known as the gateway to the Northern Caucasus region, Russia's southern capital, as well as the Don capital, the agricultural combine capital, and Papa Rostov.
In Rostov-on-Don, more than anywhere else in Russia, people continue to follow the traditions of the Don Cossacks, a warrior class that emerged in the mid-16th century. Settlements around Rostov-on-Don are not called villages but stations, the most famous being Vyoshenskaya, the birthplace of the well-known Russian novelist Mikhail Sholokhov. Various Cossack-themed events are often held in Rostov-on-Don, such as military competitions during which Don Cossacks face off in horse-riding and shooting, demonstrate their courage and strength, and with their victories bring glory to their lineage and their stations.