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Russia's Physical Features

Total Size: 17,075,200 square km

Size Comparison: approximately 1.8 times the size of the US

Geographical Coordinates: 60 00 N, 100 00 E

World Region or Continent: Asia

General Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions

Geographical Low Point: Caspian Sea -28 m

Geographical High Point: Gora El'brus 5,633 m

Climate: ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast

Major Cities: MOSCOW (capital) 10.523 million; Saint Petersburg 4.575 million; Novosibirsk 1.397 million; Yekaterinburg 1.344 million; Nizhniy Novgorod 1.267 million

Major Landforms: Russia is the largest country in the world by size. Major landforms include the Caucasus Mountains, Altai Mountains, Ural Mountains, Mount Elbrus, Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberian Plain, Siberian Plateau, and the Stanovoy Mountains.

Major Bodies of Water: Volga River, Ob River, Yenisey River, Lake Baikal, Ladoga Lake, Onega Lake, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Sea of Azov, Caspian Sea, Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean

St. Basil's Cathedral

Famous Places: Red Square, Saint Basil's Cathedral, The Kremlin in Moscow, Winter Palace, Bolshoi Theatre, Mount Elbrus, Kizhi Island, Lake Baikal, Hermitage Museum, Suzdal, St. Sophia Cathedral, Catherine Palace, Gorky Park

History of Russia

Brief Overview of the History of Russia

The area that is today the country of Russia has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The first modern state in Russia was founded in 862 by King Rurik of the Rus, who was made the ruler of Novgorod. Some years later, the Rus conquered the city of Kiev and started the kingdom of the Kievan Rus. Over the 10th and 11th century the Kievan Rus became a powerful empire in Europe reaching its peak under Vladimir the Great and Yaroslav I the Wise. During the 13th century the Mongols led by Batu Khan overran the area and wiped out the Kievan Rus.

In the 14th century the Grand Duchy of Moscow rose to power. It became the head of the Eastern Roman Empire and Ivan IV the Terrible crowned himself the first Tsar of Russia in 1547. Tsar was another name for Caesar as the Russians called their empire the "Third Rome". In 1613, Mikhail Romanov established the Romanov dynasty that would rule Russia for many years. Under the rule of Tsar Peter the Great (1689-1725), the Russian empire continued to expand. It became a major power throughout Europe. Peter the Great moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg. During the 19th century, Russian culture was at its peak. Famous artists and writers such as Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky, and Tolstoy became famous throughout the world.

The Palace Square

After World War I, in 1917, the people of Russia fought against the leadership of the Tsars. Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Party in revolution overthrowing the Tsar. Civil war broke out in 1918. Linen's side won and the communist state the Soviet Union was born in 1922. After Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin seized power. Under Stalin, millions of people died in famines and executions.

During World War II, Russia initially allied with the Germans. However, the Germans invaded Russia in 1941. Over 20 million Russians died in World War II including over 2 million Jewish people who were killed as part of the Holocaust.

In 1949, the Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons. An arms race developed between Russia and the United States in what was called the Cold War. The Soviet economy suffered under communism and isolationism. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and many of its member nations declared independence. The remaining area became the country of Russia.

Government of Russia

Government of Russia

Type of Government: federation

Independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

Divisions: The country of Russia is divided up into a complex system of 83 regions called "federal subjects." There are different types of federal subjects including:
  • Oblasts - These are like provinces for most countries. There are 46 oblasts plus one "autonomous" oblast.
  • Republics - These are almost like separate countries, but Russia represents them internationally. There are 21 republics.
  • Krais - Krais are like territories and very similar to oblasts. There are 9 Krais.
  • Okrug - Okrugs are located inside a krais or an oblast. There are 4 Okrugs.
  • Federal cities - There are two cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) that operate as separate regions.
National Anthem or Song: Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii (National Anthem of the Russian Federation)

National Symbols:
  • Animal - Russian bear
  • Symbol - Double-headed Eagle
  • Tree - Birch tree
  • Instrument - Balalaika
  • Coat of arms - A golden double-headed eagle on a red shield
  • Other symbols - Fur hats, Valenki (felt boots), Hammer and sickle (USSR), Mother Russia, Red star (USSR)

Description of flag: The flag of Russia was adopted on December 11, 1993. It is a "Tricolour" flag with three horizontal stripes of white (top), blue (middle), and red (bottom).

National Holiday: Russia Day, 12 June (1990)

Other Holidays: New Years', Christmas (January 7), Defender of the Fatherland (February 23), International Women's Day, Labor Day (May 1), Victory Day (May 9), Russia Day (June 12), Unity Day

The People of Russia

The People of Russia

Languages Spoken: Russian, many minority languages

Nationality: Russian(s)

Religions: Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)

Origin of the name Russia: The name "Russia" comes from the state of Rus. The Kievan Rus was a powerful empire during the Middle Ages. The land became known as the "Land of Rus" which eventually became Russia.

Famous People:

    Mikhail Gorbachev

  • Mikhail Baryshnikov - Ballet dancer
  • Sergey Brin - One of the founders of Google
  • Leonid Brezhnev - Leader during much of the Cold War
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Author who wrote Crime and Punishment
  • Yuri Gagarin - First man in space
  • Mikhail Gorbachev - President of the Soviet Union
  • Mila Kunis - Actress
  • Vladimir Lenin - Revolutionary leader
  • Nastia Liukin - Olympic gold medal gymnast
  • Tsar Nicholas II - Last Tsar of Russia
  • Alexander Ovechkin - Hockey player
  • Vladimir Putin - President of Russia
  • Maria Sharapova - Tennis player
  • Joseph Stalin - Leader of the Soviet Union during WW2
  • Leo Tolstoy - Author who wrote War and Peace