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(Rossiya), also the Russian Federation, Rossiyskaya
Federatsiya; listen is a transcontinental country
extending over much of northern Eurasia (Europe
and Asia). With an area of 17,075,400 km²,
Russia is the largest country in the world, covering
almost twice the total area of the next-largest
country, Canada, and has unparalleled mineral
and energy resources combined with the world's
ninth-largest population. Russia shares land borders
with the following countries (counter-clockwise
from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine,
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia,
and North Korea. It is also close to the United
States (the state of Alaska), Sweden, and Japan
across relatively small stretches of water (the
Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, and La Pérouse
the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
(RSFSR), a republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR), Russia became the Russian Federation
following the dissolution of the Soviet Union
in December 1991. After the Soviet era, more than
half of the area, population, and industrial production
of the Soviet Union (then one of the world's two
Cold War superpowers, the other one being the
United States) passed on to the Russian Federation.
is considered to be an energy superpower. Russia
is internationally recognized as continuing the
legal personality of the Soviet Union and is a
permanent member of the United Nations Security
Council. It is also one of the five recognised
nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's
largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
Russia is the leading nation of the Commonwealth
of Independent States, and a member of the G8
as well as other international organizations.
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
two widest separated points in Russia are about
8,000 km (5,000 mi) apart along a geodesic (i.e.
shortest line between two points on the Earth's
surface). These points are: the boundary with
Poland on a 60 km long (40-mi long) spit of land
separating the Gulf of Gdansk from the Vistula
Lagoon; and the farthest southeast of the Kurile
Islands, a few miles off Hokkaido Island, Japan.
The points which are furthest separated in longitude
are 6,600 km (4,100 mi) apart along a geodesic.
These points are: in the West, the same spit;
in the East, the Big Diomede Island (Ostrov Ratmanova).
The Russian Federation spans eleven time zones.
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.
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.
has an extensive coastline of over 37,000 kilometers
(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.
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
kilometers (1.9 mi) apart, and Kunashir Island
(controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan) is
about twenty kilometers (12 mi) from Hokkaido.
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 and most capacious freshwater lake. Lake
Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world's
fresh surface water.
rivers flow across Russia; see Rivers of Russia.
Of its 100,000 rivers, Russia contains some of
the world's longest. 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; see List of lakes in Russia.
Russia has a wide natural resource base including
major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal,
timber and mineral resources unmatched by any
to its size, Russia's climate also displays both
monotony and diversity. The climate of the Russian
Federation formed under the influence of several
determining factors. One of the most important
is the enormous size and remoteness of many areas
from the sea, resulting in the dominance of the
continental climate, which is prevalent in European
and Asian Russia except for the tundra and the
extreme southeast. Mountains in the south obstructing
the flow of warm air masses from the Indian Ocean
and the plain of the west and north makes the
country open to Arctic and Atlantic influences.
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 (on the shores of the sea—February),
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.
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Review: Russian Ark