During the early Middle Ages, the region of Perm was populated by pagan Finno-Ugric tribes. Between the 13th and 14th centuries, Russian fur traders and Christian missionaries from Novgorod and later Moscow founded the first settlements in the area Saint Stephen. In the 15th century, the Perm region, because of its highly profitable fur trade, was an object of a bitter rivalry between Novgorod and Moscow, and in 1472 Perm was finally annexed by the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
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 center of the Ural region, Ekaterinburg. By 1797 Perm was already an administrative center of the region with the same name.
In the 19th century, Perm became a major trade and industrial center with a population of more than 20,000 people. 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.
In the 1930s, Perm grew as a major industrial city with aviation, shipbuilding, and chemical factories built during that period. Development continued after the 1940s and virtually every major industry became represented by numerous factories in Perm. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Perm was a vital center of artillery production in the Soviet Union. Today Perm is industrial, scientific, business and cultural center of Perm Krai.