The city began as a fortress built on the orders of Ivan IV in 1574, and originally bore the name of the hill it stood on, Tura-Tau. The city began to be called Ufa, meaning "small" in Turkic, by locals and the name stuck. In 1802, Ufa became the principal city of Bashkiria.
In 1918, Ufa was the residence of the Provisional All-Russian Government.
Educational institutions include Bashkir State University, Bashkir State Teachers Training University named after M.Akmulla, Ufa State Aviation Technical University, Ufa State Petroleum Technological University, Ufa Architectural University, Ufa Agricultural University, and others.
Famous natives of Ufa include Vladimir Spivakov, rebel Salawat Yulayev, the Muslim Bolshevik Mirsaid Sultangaliev, the painter Mikhail Nesterov, dancer Rudolf Nureyev, pianist Vera Timanova, NHL ice hockey players Andrei Zyuzin Alexander Semak and Igor Kravchuk, rock singer Zemfira. Navigator Valerian Albanov of ill-fated Arctic ship St. Anna, as well as rock singer Yuri Shevchuk and his band DDT were Ufa residents for some time.