A college town or university town is a community (often a separate town or city, but in some cases a town/city neighborhood or a district) which is dominated by its university population. The university may be large, or there may be several smaller institutions such as liberal arts colleges clustered, or the residential population may be small, but college towns in all cases are so dubbed because the presence of the educational institution(s) pervades economic and social life. Many local residents may be employed by the university — which may be the largest employer in the community — many businesses cater primarily to the university, and the students' population may outnumber the local population.
In Europe, a university town is generally characterized by having an old university, often founded before, or in some cases shortly after, the industrial revolution. The economy of the city is closely related with the university activity and highly supported by the entire university structure, which may include university hospitals and clinics, university printing houses, libraries, laboratories, business incubators, student rooms, dining halls, students' unions, student societies, and academic festivities. Moreover, the history of the city is often intertwined with the history of the university itself. Many European university towns have not been merely important places of scientific and educational endeavor, but also centers of political, cultural and social influence to their respective societies throughout the centuries. Examples of these cities include Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Szeged, Kraków, Leiden, Groningen, Grenoble, Montpellier, Bologna, Coimbra, Salamanca, Leuven, Ghent, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Fribourg, Göttingen, Trondheim, Pisa, L'Aquila, Marburg, Jena, Ferrara, Uppsala, Siena, Pavia, Eskişehir, Delft, Tartu, Tübingen, or Poitiers. Potchefstroom, Grahamstown and Stellenbosch are South African examples of university towns in the European tradition.
Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the city is the centre of southern Estonia. The Emajõgi river, which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia, traverses Tartu. The city is served by Tartu Airport.
Historical names of the town include Tarbatu, an Estonian fortress founded in the 5th century, Yuryev (Russian: Юрьев) named c. 1030 by Yaroslav I the Wise, and Dorpat as first known by the German crusaders in the 13th century.