Country profile

Country profile

Web Editor: Galina Polyusuk, e-mail: gpolus1(at)gmail.com

THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION  (RUSSIA) AT A GLANCE

 

Russia is located in the Eastern part of Europe and the Northern part of Asia.
The total area is
17,075,400 km2.

GDP per capita (2008):  $16,100

The population is 142.0 million person (2008), among them urban population is 73.3 %.
Capital - Moscow. The population is
10.5 million person (1st January 2009)
Official language - Russian.
Currency - rouble.
National structure (according to Population Census of 2002): Russians – 79.8 %; Tatars – 3.8 %;

Ukrainians 2.0%, Bashkirs 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, Chechen 0.9%, Armenians 0.8%, Others 10.4%

On the territory of the Russian Federation live over 100 nationalities.

The form of political system is a democratic federal law-bound State with a republican form of government (The Constitution of the Russian Federation).

The administrative and territorial division

The Russian Federation consists of 83 subjects of Federation: republics, territories, regions, autonomous regions and autonomous districts, federally significant cities Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. The subjects of the Federation are incorporated into 7 Federal districts.

Geographic position

The most part of the European territory of the Russian Federation is located within the limits of East European plain. In the south - Northern slopes of Caucasus, in northwest - mountains Hibiny. To the east the territory of the Russian Federation extend up to Pacific. Russia shares borders with the following countries (from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (via Kaliningrad Oblast), Poland (via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan (by the Sea of Okhotsk) and the United States (by the Bering Strait).

Russia is the largest country in the world, it covers more than an eighth of the Earth’s land area; It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones, and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest reserves of mineral and energy resources. It has the world's largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's unfrozen fresh water.

Geography

The two widest separated points in Russia are about 8,000 km (4,971 mi) apart along a geodesic line. These points are: the boundary with Poland on a 60 km (37 mi) long spit of land separating the Gulf of Gdańsk from the Vistula Lagoon; and the farthest southeast of the Kuril Islands, a few miles off Hokkaidō Island, Japan. The points which are furthest separated in longitude are 6,600 km (4,101 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 11 time zones. Russia has the world's largest forest reserves and is known as "the lungs of Europe". 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.

As with its topography, Russia's climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances. From north to south the East European Plain, or Russian 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 largely is taiga. The country contains 23 World Heritage Sites and 40 UNESCO Biosphere reserves.

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, which at 5,642 m (18,510 ft)) is the highest point in both Russia and Europe; and the Altai, and in the eastern parts, such as the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes on Kamchatka. The Ural Mountains, rich in mineral resources, form a north-south range that divides Europe and Asia. Russia possesses 10% of the world's arable land. Russia has an extensive coastline of over 37,000 km (22,991 mi) along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Baltic Sea, Sea of Azov, Black and Caspian seas. The Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Chukchi 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 Severnaya Zemlya, 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 3 km (1.9 mi) apart, and Kunashir Island is about 20 km (12.4 mi) from Hokkaidō.

Russia has thousands of rivers and inland bodies of water, providing it with one of the world's largest surface water resources. The largest and most prominent of Russia's bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest, purest, most ancient and most capacious freshwater lake. Lake Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world's fresh surface water. Other major lakes include Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, two largest lakes in Europe. Of Russia's 100,000 rivers, the Volga is the most famous. The other largest rivers are Lena, Irtish, Yenisey, Ob, Amur.

Russia has a wide natural resource base unmatched by any other country, including major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, timber, ores and mineral resources.

Climate

The climate of Russia is 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. 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.

Due to the moderating influence of the Atlantic or Pacific, the most populous areas of the country in European Russia, in the south of West Siberia and in the south of the Russian Far East, including the cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, experience a humid continental climate. Most of Northern European Russia and Siberia between the Scandinavian Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean has a subarctic climate, with extremely severe winters in the inner regions of Northeast Siberia (mostly the Sakha Republic, where the Northern Pole of Cold is located with the record low temperature of −68 °C/−90.4 °F), and more moderate elsewhere. The strip of land along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, as well as the Arctic islands, have a polar climate (extreme polar climate on some of the islands and tundra climate elsewhere). A small portion of the Black Sea coast, most notably in Sochi, possesses a humid subtropical climate with unusually wet winters. Winter is dry compared to summer in many regions of East Siberia and the Far East, while other parts of the country experience more even precipitation across seasons. Winter precipitation in most parts of the country normally falls as snow. The region along the Lower Volga and Caspian Sea coast, as well as some areas of southernmost Siberia, possess a semi-arid climate.

The average January temperatures are 0 to - 50ºC, July temperatures - -1 to 26ºC. Precipitations – 170 to 3200 mm a year.

 

Natural resources and land use

Russia holds the greatest reserves of mineral resources in the world. Though they are abundant, they are in remote areas with extreme climates, making them expensive to mine. The country is the most abundant in mineral fuels. It may hold as much as half of the world's coal reserves and even larger reserves of petro­leum. Deposits of coal are scattered throughout the region, but the largest are located in central and eastern Siberia. The most developed fields lie in western Siberia, in the northeastern European region, in the area around Moscow, and in the Urals. The major petroleum deposits are located in western Siberia and in the Volga-Urals. Smaller deposits are found throughout the country. Natural gas, a resource of which Russia holds around forty percent of the world's reserves, can be found along Siberia's Arctic coast, in the North Caucasus, and in northwestern Russia. Major iron-ore deposits are located south of Moscow, near the Ukrainian border in the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly; this area contains vast deposits of iron ore that have caused a deviation in the Earth's magnetic field. There are smaller deposits in other parts of the country. The Ural mountains hold small deposits of manganese. Nickel, tungsten, cobalt, molybdenum and other iron alloying elements occur in adequate quantities.

Russia also contains most of the nonferrous metals. Aluminium ores are scarce and are found primarily in the Ural region, northwestern European Russia, and south central Siberia. Copper is more abundant and major reserves are located in the Urals, the Norilsk area near the mouth of the Yenisey in eastern Siberia, and the Kola Peninsula. Another vast deposit located east of Lake Baikal only became exploited when the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railroad was finished in 1989.

The North Caucasus, far eastern Russia, and the western edge of the Kuznetsk Basin in southern Siberia contain an abundance of lead and zinc ores. These are commonly found along with copper, gold, silver, and a large amount of other rare metals. The country has one of the largest gold reserves in the world; mostly in Siberia and the Urals. Mercury deposits can be found in the central and southern Urals and in south central Siberia.

Raw materials are abundant as well, including potassium and magnesium salt deposits in the Kama River region of the western Urals. Russia also contains one of the world's largest deposits of apatite found in the central Kola Peninsula. Rock salt is located in the southwestern Urals and the southwest of Lake Baikal. Surface deposits of salt are found in salt lakes along the lower Volga Valley. Sulfur can be found in the Urals and the middle Volga Valley.

Eight percent of the land is used for arable farming, four percent—for permanent pastures, forty-six percent of the land is forests and woodland, and forty-two percent is used for other purposes.

Agriculture in Russia

Russian agriculture today is characterized by three main types of farms: the corporate farms, the household plots and peasant farms.

Agricultural production by categories of farms, bln roubles (for 2008)[1]

 

Farms of the all categories

2602,7

Corporate farms

1283,6

Household plots

1081,2

Peasant farms

237,9

 

Production of the agricultural entities (for 2008)[2]

 

Area under crops, mln ha

58,4

including:

 

crops

35,4

technical crops

6,1

Potato and melon crops

0,3

fodder crops

16,6

Livestock, mln head:

 

cattle

21,1

including cows

9,2

pigs

16,3

sheep and goats

21,6

Farm produce, mln ton

 

grain

108,2

sugar beet

29,0

sunflower seed

7,4

  soya, thou.ton

746

  winter rape

0,2

  spring rape 

0,5

flax fibre, thou. ton

52

potatoes

28,8

vegetables

13,0

cattle and poultry

6,1

milk

32,4

Eggs, bln

37,8

 


[1] Under the data of the Federal State Statistics Service (http://www.gks.ru/)

[2] Ibid

 

Planting and harvest dates

The winter-crop planting season stretches over nearly three months. The sowing campaign begins in August in the north and advances southward, concluding in late October in the Southern district. Spring grain planting in European Russia usually begins in April and progresses from south to north. The "summer" crops - chiefly corn and sunflowers - are last to be sown, and planting is approaching completion by late May or early June. The harvest of the small grains (chiefly wheat and barley) moves from south to north and begins in late June in extreme southern Russia. Harvest operations are in full swing by early July and largely finished by mid-to-late August. Corn and sunflower harvest begins in September and continues through October.

In the spring wheat region, planting typically begins in May. Oats are sown first, followed by wheat, then barley. Planting is concluded by June. Spring wheat advances through the reproductive stage during mid-July, when temperatures climb to their highest levels and grains are most vulnerable to heat stress. Grain harvest begins in late August and continues through October. It is not unusual for a significant portion of the Russian grain crop--millions of hectares in some years--to remain unharvested, due chiefly to unfavorable weather during the harvest campaign. In an average year, 10 percent of the area planted to spring wheat is abandoned compared to 97 percent of the country's winter wheat area.

The main cultivation areas are:  wheat - the Volga Region, Northern Caucasus, the Western Siberia, the Urals, and the Central Chernozem Area; flax – the Central District and Northwest; sunflower – Northern Caucasus, the Volga Region and the Central Chernozem Area; beet flower – the Central Chernozem Area and Northern Caucasus.

Foreign relations

Russia has a multifaceted foreign policy. As of July, 2009, it maintains diplomatic relations with 173 countries and has 142 embassies.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia#cite_note-121#cite_note-121 Russia's foreign policy is determined by the President and implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia plays a major role in maintaining international peace and security, and plays a major role in resolving international conflicts by participating in the Quartet on the Middle East, the Six-party talks with North Korea, promoting the resolution of the Kosovo conflict and resolving nuclear proliferation matters. Russia is a member of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, the Council of Europe, OSCE and APEC. Russia usually takes a leading role in regional organizations such as the CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO, and the SCO.

 

Demographics

The largest cities of Russia (2002 Census)

 

Rank

Core City

Federal Subject

Pop.

Rank

Core City

Federal Subject

Pop.

1

Moscow

Moscow

10,126,424

11

Ufa

Bashkortostan

1,042,437

2

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

4,661,219

12

Volgograd

Volgograd

1,011,417

3

Novosibirsk

Novosibirsk

1,425,508

13

Perm

Perm

1,001,653

4

Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod

1,311,252

14

Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk

909,341

5

Ekaterinburg

Sverdlovsk

1,293,537

15

Saratov

Saratov

873,055

6

Samara

Samara

1,157,880

16

Voronezh

Voronezh

848,752

7

Omsk

Omsk

1,134,016

17

Tolyatti

Samara

702,879

8

Kazan

Tatarstan

1,105,289

18

Krasnodar

Krasnodar

646,175

9

Chelyabinsk

Chelyabinsk

1,077,174

19

Ulyanovsk

Ulyanovsk

635,947

10

Rostov-on-Don

Rostov

1,068,267

20

Izhevsk

Udmurtia

632,140

Language

Russia's 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages. Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to Russian. Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic language.

The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Religion

Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism are Russia’s traditional religions, deemed part of Russia's "historical heritage" in a law passed in 1997.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia#cite_note-203#cite_note-203 Estimates of believers widely fluctuate among sources, and some reports put the number of non-believers in Russia as high as 16–48% of the population. Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in Russia. 

 

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