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Russia facts & history in brief                 My Russia pages directory    
Map of Russia

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Russia (Rossiya), also the Russian Federation (Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia.
It is a semi-presidential republic comprising 85 federal subjects.
Russia proper shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea.
Additionally, the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad shares borders with Lithuania and Poland.
It is also close to the U.S. state of Alaska, Sweden and Japan across relatively small stretches of water (the Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, and La Pérouse Strait, respectively).

At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi) and with 142 million people, Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's land area, and ninth-largest by population.
It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms.
Russia possesses the world's largest mineral and energy resources, and is considered an energy superpower.
It contains approximately one-quarter of the world's unfrozen fresh water and has the world's largest forest reserves.

The nation's history begins with that of the East Slavs.
Founded and ruled by Vikings and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium.
Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated and the Russian lands were divided.
The most powerful successor state to Kievan
Rus' was Moscow, which gradually came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'.
By the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation and exploration to become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean.

Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the preeminent constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first and largest Communist state.
t is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

Capital: (and largest city) Moscow
Official languages: Russian official throughout nation; thirty others co-official in various regions
Demonym: Russian
Government: Semi-presidential republic
Founded: 862, Arrival of Rurik to Novgorod
Area: 17,075,400 km² (6,592,800 sq mi)
Population: - 2007 estimate 142,200,000
Currency: Ruble (RUB)
Time zone: (UTC+2 to +12) - Summer (DST) (UTC+3 to +13)
Internet TLD: .ru (.su reserved)
Calling code: +7

  • 1 Geography
  • 2 History
  • - o - O - o -

    The Russian Federation stretches across much of the north of the super-continent of Eurasia.
    Because of its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity.
    As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances.
    From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert (fringing the Caspian Sea) as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate.
    Siberia supports a similar sequence but is taiga.
    The country contains 23 World Heritage Sites and 39 UNESCO Biosphere reserves.

    The two widest separated points in Russia are about 8,000 km (5,000 mi) apart along a geodesic line.
    The Russian Federation spans 11 time zones.

    Russia has the world's largest forest reserves and is known as "the lungs of Europe," second only to the Amazon Rainforest in the amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs.
    It provides a huge amount of oxygen for not just Europe, but the world.
    With access to three of the world's oceans - the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific-Russian fishing fleets are a major contributor to the world's fish supply.
    The Caspian is the source of what is considered the finest caviar in the world.

    Map of the Russian Federation

    Topography of Russia

    Most of Russia consists of vast stretches of plains that are predominantly steppe to the south and heavily forested to the north, with tundra along the northern coast.
    Mountain ranges are found along the southern borders, such as the Caucasus (containing Mount Elbrus, Russia's and Europe's highest point at 5,642 m / 18,511 ft) and the Altai, and in the eastern parts, such as the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes on Kamchatka.
    The Ural Mountains form a north-south range that divides Europe and Asia, rich in mineral resources.
    Russia possesses 8.9% of the world's arable land.

    Russia has an extensive coastline of over 37,000 kilometres (23,000 mi) along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Baltic, Black and Caspian seas.
    The Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan are linked to Russia.
    Major islands and archipelagos include Novaya Zemlya, the Franz Josef Land, the New Siberian Islands, Wrangel Island, the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin.
    The Diomede Islands (one controlled by Russia, the other by the United States) are just three kilometres (1.9 mi) apart, and Kunashir Island is about twenty kilometres (12 mi) from Hokkaido.

    Russia has thousands of rivers and inland bodies of water, providing it with one of the world's largest surface water resources.
    The most prominent of Russia's bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest, purest and most capacious freshwater lake.
    Lake Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world's fresh surface water.
    Of its 100,000 rivers, The Volga is the most famous-not only because it is the longest river in Europe but also because of its major role in Russian history.
    Major lakes include Lake Baikal, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega.
    Russia has a wide natural resource base including major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, timber and mineral resources unmatched by any other country.

    The climate of the Russian Federation formed under the influence of several determining factors.
    The enormous size of the country and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the continental climate, which is prevalent in European and Asian Russia except for the tundra and the extreme southeast.

    Throughout much of the territory there are only two distinct seasons - winter and summer; spring and autumn are usually brief periods of change between extremely low temperatures and extremely high.
    The coldest month is January, the warmest usually is July.
    Great ranges of temperature are typical.
    In winter, temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east.
    Summers can be quite hot and humid, even in Siberia.
    A small part of Black Sea coast around Sochi is considered in Russia to have subtropical climate.
    The continental interiors are the driest areas.

    The vast steppes of Southern Russia were home to disunited tribes, such as Proto-Indo-Europeans and Scythians.
    Remnants of these steppe civilizations were discovered in the course of the 20th century in such places as Ipatovo, Sintashta, Arkaim, and Pazyryk.
    In the latter part of the eighth century BC, Greek merchants brought classical civilization to the trade emporiums in Tanais and Phanagoria.
    Between the third and sixth centuries AD, the Bosporan Kingdom, a Hellenistic polity which succeeded the Greek colonies, was overwhelmed by successive waves of nomadic invasions, led by warlike tribes, such as the Huns and Turkic Avars.
    A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled the lower Volga basin steppes between the Caspian and Black Seas through to the 8th century.

    The ancestors of modern Russians are the Slavic tribes, whose original home is thought by some scholars to have been the wooded areas of the Pripet Marshes.
    Moving into the lands vacated by the migrating Germanic tribes, the Early East Slavs gradually settled Western Russia in two waves: one moving from Kiev toward present-day Suzdal and Murom and another from Polotsk toward Novgorod and Rostov.
    From the 7th century onwards, the East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugric tribes, including the Merya, the Muromians, and the Meshchera.

    Kievan Rus'
    Scandinavian Norsemen, called "Vikings" in Western Europe and "Varangians" in the East, combined piracy and trade in their roamings over much of Northern Europe.
    In the mid-9th century, they ventured along the waterways extending from the eastern Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas.
    According to the earliest Russian chronicle, a Varangian named Rurik was elected ruler (konung or knyaz) of Novgorod around the year 860; his successors moved south and extended their authority to Kiev, which had been previously dominated by the Khazars.

    In the tenth to eleventh centuries this state of Kievan Rus became the largest and most prosperous in Europe.
    In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Kipchaks and the Pechenegs, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, particularly to the area known as Zalesye.
    Like many other parts of Eurasia, these territories were overrun by the Mongols.
    The invaders, later known as Tatars, formed the state of the Golden Horde, which pillaged the Russian principalities and ruled the southern and central expanses of Russia for over three centuries.
    Mongol rule retarded the country's economic and social development.
    However, the Novgorod Republic together with Pskov retained some degree of autonomy during the time of the Mongol yoke and was largely spared the atrocities that affected the rest of the country.
    Led by Alexander Nevsky, Novgorodians repelled the Germanic crusaders who attempted to colonize the region.
    Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state because of in-fighting between members of the princely family that ruled it collectively.
    Kiev's dominance waned, to the benefit of Vladimir-Suzdal in the north-east, Novgorod in the north, and Halych-Volhynia in the south-west.
    Conquest by the Golden Horde in the 13th century was the final blow and resulted in the destruction of Kiev in 1240.
    Halych-Volhynia was eventually absorbed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while the Mongol-dominated Vladimir-Suzdal and the independent Novgorod Republic, two regions on the periphery of Kiev, established the basis for the modern Russian nation.

    Russian cities in population ranking
    Rank Core City Federal Subject Pop. Rank Core City Federal Subject Pop.
    1 Moscow MOW 10,382,754 11 Ufa BA 1,042,437
    2 Saint Petersburg SPE 4,661,219 12 Volgograd VGG 1,011,417
    3 Novosibirsk NVS 1,425,508 13 Perm PER 1,001,653
    4 Nizhny Novgorod NIZ 1,311,252 14 Krasnoyarsk KYA 909,341
    5 Yekaterinburg SVE 1,293,537 15 Saratov SAR 873,055
    6 Samara SAM 1,157,880 16 Voronezh VOR 848,752
    7 Omsk OMS 1,134,016 17 Tolyatti SAM 702,879
    8 Kazan TA 1,105,289 18 Krasnodar KDA 646,175
    9 Chelyabinsk CHE 1,077,174 19 Ulyanovsk ULY 635,947
    10 Rostov-on-Don ROS 1,068,267 20 Izhevsk UD 632,140
    2002 Census

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