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Russia is a land of superlatives. By much the world’s largest country, the covers nearly twice the territory of Canada, the second largest. That extends across the entirety of northern Asia and also the eastern 3rd of Europe, extending 11 time zones and also incorporating a good range the environments and also landforms, from deserts to semiarid steppes come deep forests and Arctic tundra. Russia consists of Europe’s longest river, the Volga, and its largest lake, Ladoga. Russia additionally is home to the world’s deepest lake, Baikal, and the nation recorded the world’s shortest temperature external the North and also South poles.


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Explore the rebuilt Orthodox churches, Soviet monuments, and also urban parks the Moscow, the funding city that Russia
Time-lapse video clip of Moscow.

The occupants of Russia are fairly diverse. Most are ethnic Russians, however there also are much more than 120 various other ethnic groups present, speaking many languages and also following disparate spiritual and cultural traditions. Many of the Russian population is focused in the European part of the country, particularly in the fertile an ar surrounding Moscow, the capital. Moscow and St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) are the two many important social and financial centres in Russia and also are amongst the many picturesque urban in the world. Russians are additionally populous in Asia, however; beginning in the 17th century, and an especially pronounced throughout lot of the 20th century, a steady flow of ethnic Russians and also Russian-speaking civilization moved eastward right into Siberia, where cities such together Vladivostok and also Irkutsk currently flourish.

St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Russia.
Cathedral that the Resurrection of Christ, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Cathedral that the Resurrection of Christ (commonly recognized as the Church that the Savior on spilled Blood) is illuminated at night in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Geoff Tompkinson/GTImage.com (A aramuseum.org publishing Partner)

Russia’s climate is extreme, with forbidding winters that have several time famously conserved the country from international invaders. Return the climate to add a great of challenge to daily life, the soil is a generous resource of crops and also materials, including substantial reserves that oil, gas, and precious metals. The richness that resources has not interpreted into an easy life for many of the country’s people, however; indeed, much of Russia’s background has been a grim tale of the really wealthy and powerful couple of ruling end a an excellent mass of their poor and also powerless compatriots. Serfdom sustained well into the modern era; the year of Soviet communist dominion (1917–91), especially the long dictatorship the Joseph Stalin, observed subjugation of a various and an ext exacting sort.

Russia: administrative divisions
Administrative departments of Russia.
Encyclopædia aramuseum.org, Inc.

The Russian republic to be established instantly after the Russian revolution of 1917 and also became a union republic in 1922. During the post-World war II era, Russia was a main player in international affairs, locked in a Cold War struggle with the unified States. In 1991, adhering to the resolution of the Soviet Union, Russia join with several other former Soviet republics to form a loosened coalition, the republic of Independent claims (CIS). Although the demise of Soviet-style communism and also the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union carried profound political and also economic changes, including the beginnings of the formation of a big middle class, for much of the postcommunist era Russians had to endure a usually weak economy, high inflation, and also a facility of social ills that served to lower life expectancy significantly. Despite such extensive problems, Russia verified promise of achieve its potential together a world power once again, as if to exemplify a favourite proverb, declared in the 19th century through Austrian statesman Klemens, Fürst (prince) von Metternich: “Russia is never ever as solid as she appears, and also never together weak together she appears.”

Russia can boast a long heritage of excellence in every element of the arts and sciences. Prerevolutionary Russian society produced the writings and also music of together giants of world society as Anton Chekhov, Aleksandr Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolay Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and also Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The 1917 revolution and the changes it brought were reflect in the functions of such detailed figures as the novelists Maxim Gorky, Boris Pasternak, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the composers Dmitry Shostakovich and also Sergey Prokofiev. And the so late Soviet and postcommunist periods witnessed a revival of interest in once-forbidden artist such as the poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and also Anna Akhmatova when ushering in new talents such as the novelist Victor Pelevin and the writer and also journalist Tatyana Tolstaya, whose celebration the the arrival of winter in St. Petersburg, a lovely event, says the resilience and also stoutheartedness of her people:

The snow starts to autumn in October. Civilization watch because that it impatiently, transforming repeatedly to look outside. If only it would come! everyone is worn down of the cold rain that taps stupidly ~ above windows and also roofs. The residences are so drenched that they seem around to crumble into sand. But then, simply as the gloomy skies sinks even lower, there comes the hope the the boring north of water indigenous the clouds will ultimately give means to a flurry of…and there it goes: tiny dry grains at first, climate an exquisitely carved flake, two, three ornate stars, complied with by fat fluffs that snow, climate more, more, more—a good store of cotton tumbling down.

For the geography and history of the other previous Soviet republics, see Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine. See also Union that Soviet Socialist Republics.


Russia is bounded come the north and also east by the Arctic and Pacific oceans, and also it has little frontages in the northwest ~ above the Baltic Sea in ~ St. Petersburg and also at the detached Russian oblast (region) that Kaliningrad (a part of what to be once eastern Prussia annexed in 1945), which additionally abuts Poland and Lithuania. To the southern Russia boundaries North Korea, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. To the southwest and also west it borders Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, and also Estonia, and Finland and also Norway.

Extending almost halfway about the northern Hemisphere and covering lot of eastern and also northeastern Europe and every one of northern Asia, Russia has actually a best east-west extent of some 5,600 miles (9,000 km) and a north-south broad of 1,500 to 2,500 miles (2,500 come 4,000 km). Over there is one enormous variety of landforms and also landscapes, which happen mainly in a series of wide latitudinal belts. Arctic deserts lie in the excessive north, giving method southward to the tundra and also then to the woodland zones, i beg your pardon cover about fifty percent of the country and also give it lot of its character. Southern of the woodland zone lied the wooded steppe and the steppe, past which are small sections that semidesert along the northern shore the the Caspian Sea. Much of Russia lies in ~ latitudes where the winter cold is intense and where evaporation can barely keep pace with the build-up of moisture, engendering plentiful rivers, lakes, and swamps. Permafrost covers part 4 million square miles (10 million square km)—an area 7 times larger than the drainage basin of the Volga River, europe longest river—making settlement and road building complicated in huge areas. In the European locations of Russia, the permafrost wake up in the tundra and the forest-tundra zone. In west Siberia permafrost occurs follow me the Yenisey River, and also it covers nearly all locations east that the river, other than for southern Kamchatka province, Sakhalin Island, and Primorsky Kray (the naval Region).


On the communication of geologic structure and also relief, Russia can be split into two main parts—western and eastern—roughly along the line of the Yenisey River. In the west section, i beg your pardon occupies part two-fifths that Russia’s complete area, lowland levels predominate over huge areas broken only by low hills and also plateaus. In the eastern ar the bulk of the terrain is mountainous, return there room some substantial lowlands. Provided these topological factors, Russia might be subdivided right into six key relief regions: the Kola-Karelian region, the Russian Plain, the Ural Mountains, the West Siberian Plain, the central Siberian Plateau, and also the mountains of the south and also east.

The Kola-Karelian region

Kola-Karelia, the the smallest of Russia’s relief regions, lies in the northwestern component of european Russia between the Finnish border and also the White Sea. Karelia is a low, ice-scraped plateau through a maximum elevation of 1,896 feet (578 metres), but for the most component it is listed below 650 feet (200 metres); low ridges and also knolls alternate with lake- and also marsh-filled hollows. The Kola Peninsula is similar, however the tiny Khibiny mountain selection rises to nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). Mineral-rich old rocks lie in ~ or close to the surface in countless places.

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The Russian Plain

Western Russia provides up the largest part of one of the good lowland locations of the world, the Russian level (also referred to as the eastern European Plain), i beg your pardon extends into Russia indigenous the western border eastward because that 1,000 mile (1,600 km) come the Ural Mountains and also from the Arctic Ocean more than 1,500 mile (2,400 km) come the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea. About fifty percent of this large area lies in ~ elevations of less than 650 feet (200 metres) above sea level, and also the highest allude (in the Valdai Hills, northwest that Moscow) reaches just 1,125 feet (343 metres). Nevertheless, the thorough topography is quite varied. North of the latitude on which Moscow lies, functions characteristic the lowland glacial deposition predominate, and morainic ridges, of which the many pronounced are the Valdai Hills and also the Smolensk Upland, which rises to 1,050 feet (320 metres), stand out above low, poorly drained hollows interspersed v lakes and also marshes. South of Moscow over there is a west-east alternation of roll plateaus and extensive plains. In the west the main Russian Upland, v a maximum elevation of 950 feet (290 metres), separates the lowlands that the top Dnieper flow valley native those the the Oka and Don rivers, past which the Volga Hills rise gently come 1,230 feet (375 metres) before descending abruptly to the Volga River. Small river valleys room sharply incised into these uplands, conversely, the significant rivers overcome the lowlands in broad, shallow floodplains. East of the Volga is the huge Caspian Depression, parts of i beg your pardon lie an ext than 90 feet (25 metres) listed below sea level. The Russian Plain additionally extends southward v the Azov-Caspian isthmus (in the phibìc Caucasus region) come the foot that the Caucasus Mountains, the crest line of which creates the boundary in between Russia and the Transcaucasian states of Georgia and Azerbaijan; simply inside this border is mountain Elbrus, which at 18,510 feet (5,642 metres) is the highest suggest in Russia. The large Kuban and Kuma plains of the north Caucasus space separated by the Stavropol Upland in ~ elevations that 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 come 600 metres).