Russia (Rossiyskaya Federacija/Russian Federation) is the largest country of the world. Even after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the creation of 15 independent nations Russia possesses by far the largest territory of all successor states of the defunct Soviet Union. This vast country stretches over great parts of Europe and Asia between the Baltic Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between the Arctic Ocean, the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea and Siberia.
Due to its enormous size Russia has borders with various countries of Europe and Asia. In Asia it borders on China, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, while in Europe it has borders with Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Norway. The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad has borders with Poland and Lithuania.
The country is made up of 83 federal entities: provinces called oblasti, autonomous republics, territories (krais), autonomous districts (okrugs) and federal cities. The capital city of Russia is Moscow. Other major cities are St. Petersburg (ex-Leningrad), Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod (ex-Gorky), Yekaterinburg (ex-Sverdlovsk), Samara (ex-Kuybyshev), Omsk and Kazan.
Because of its enormous extent the Russian territory has signicantly different topography, climate and vegetation from area to area. The distance from west to east between the extreme points of the country is around 8.000 km.
The European part of the country is largely formed by the East European Plain (Russian Plain), which is closed toward the east by the mountain range of the Urals and towards the south by the mountains of the Caucasus, where the highest elevation of Russia is to be found: Mount Elbrus with 5.642 m.
The East European Plain is furrowed by numerous rivers, including the Volga, the longest river in Europe, with 3.688 km and the Ural, which both flow to the Caspian Sea and the Don, which flows to the Sea of Azov. The northern region of the European part of Russia is rich in lakes. Among these are Lake Ladoga, the largest lake of Europe with 17.891 km² and Lake Onega ranking second second with 9.894 km².
The Caspian Sea with 371,000 square kilometers is the largest lake in the world and is located in the south of Russia and east of the Caucasus. Beyond the Urals mountains begins the Asian part of the country. Here you find the huge West Siberian Plain with 2,700,000 sq km, crossed by great rivers like the Ob-Irtysh and further east the Jenisej/Yenisei, which is with its tributaries Angara and Selenga the longest river in Russia and the fifth longest river of the world with 5.539 kilometers. This is a region characterized by the tundra, the taiga (coniferous forest) and the steppe.
Between the valleys of the rivers Lena and Jenisej with a length of 4.400 kilometers is the Central Siberian Plateau with 3,500,000 km², located on an average height between 300 and 700 meters, but reaching 1.700 meters in the Putorian mountains. This plateau is after the Amazon basin the largest green lung of the earth. The area is rich in large forests of coniferous trees. In the south there is Lake Bajkal with 31.494 sq km. It is the deepest lake of the world with a depth of 1.673 meters, containing the largest volume of freshwater the world over.
Beyond the Lena River several mountainous areas are located, divided between them by wide river valleys, which slope toward the Pacific Ocean. In the Far East of the country you find the huge peninsula of Kamchatka, which extends for 1.250 km in the noth-south direction. The peninsula has a rich wildlife and significantly high volcanoes. The highest peak is the volcano Kljuevskaja Sopka with 4,750 meters.
Among the Russian islands are significant the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, made up of two main islands Severny ostrov with 48.904 sq km and Yuzhny ostrov with 33.275 sq km, the archipelago of Franz-Joseph- Land and the New Siberian isdlands, all being located in the Arctic Ocean. In the Pacific Ocean there are the Kuril islands and the large island of Sakhalin with 72.492 sq km, being the biggest island of the whole country.
Russia is one of the world-wide richest countries in raw materials. There are extracted large quantities of petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, coal, precious stones and more. Besides rich forest resources agricultural products like cereals, potatoes and flax are grown. Industry is another important source of income: especially steel production, mechanical, chemical and textile industries.
English text correction by Dietrich Köster.
- Area: 17,075,400 sq km
- Population: 142,000,000: Russians 80%, Tatars 4%, Ukrainians 2%
- State Capital: Moscow
- Language: The official nation-wide language is Russian. Alongside Russian there are 27 regional official languages in various republics.
- Religion: Orthodox Christians 60%, Muslim 15%, Catholics 1%.
- Currency: Ruble (RUB)
- Time Zones: UTC+2 to UTC+12, Summer: UTC+3 to UTC+13).
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