Theme 2: Place

Physical Geography

The Slavic Countries: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova
The Southern Caucasus: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan
Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan


total: 17,098,242 sq km
country comparison to the world: 1
land: 16,377,742 sq km
water: 720,500 sq km
  • Coastline: 37,653 km
  • Maritime Claims:
    • territorial sea: 12 nm
      contiguous zone: 24 nm
      exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
      continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
General Coordinates: 60 00 N, 100 00 E
Coordinates of Moscow, Russia: 55°45′06″N 37°37′04″E

Land Boundaries:
total: 20,241.5 km
border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 290 km, Finland 1,313 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 17.5 km, Latvia 292 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227 km, Mongolia 3,441 km, Norway 196 km, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 432 km, Ukraine 1,576 km

Land Divisions: The Russian Federation is divided into 21 republics, 6 krays (federal territories), 2 federal cities, 49 regions (oblasts), 1 autonomous region and 10 autonomous areas. It has 1,067 major cities, with 13 having a population of one million, or more.



The broad European Plain, or Volga River Plain extends from the Ural Mountains to its western borders. In the far southwest the Caucasus Mountains slice across the land. The country's highest point, Mt. Elbrus, is located here, at 18,481 ft. (5,633m). The central and southern areas include large fertile areas, marsh, steppes (plains without trees) and massive coniferous forests. Siberia is a combination of frozen tundra, with rolling hills rising to plateaus, and numerous rugged mountain ranges. The northeast, south-central and southeast areas are covered by a wide variety of mountain ranges. A few on the Kamchatka Peninsula are active volcanoes. Russia has more than 100,000 rivers with a length of 7 miles, or greater. Significant rivers include the Volga, Dnieper and Dvina (in the east) and the Lena, Ob, and Yenisey (central). Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, at 5,310 ft. (1,620m).


kurnaevzonesforrollover_000.jpgexternal image fig13_russia.gif

The Tundra, which covers 10% of Russia, have marshy plains that don’t support plant life. The soil is very poor and the low temperature causes plants to decay slowly, resulting in acidic soil. The soil is also frozen most of the time. The Tundra is consisted of mostly of larch, spruce, shrub willows, moss, herbaceous plants and lichen.

The Taiga are the boreal forest zones located in the western region. They’re made up of dense forests with rich soil and grasses, shrubs, and pines. Taiga is the largest timber reserve in the world.

The Deciduous Forests are located in a triangular region, where it’s warmer, Oak, spruce, hornbeam, maple, pine, birch, elm, ash and aspen trees grow here. The mixed forest zone that is found in the Far East is home to elm, hazel, hornbeam and Asiatic oak species.

Wooded steppe is a area that alternates between oak forests and grassland landscapes. The Wooded Steppe eventually flows into the proper Steppe that covers an area of 300 kilometers, as far as the southern parts of the Ukraine, the northern areas of Kazakstan and straight through to the Altai Mountains. Steppe consists of bluegrass, types of bunchgrass, turf grasses and fescue. Mosses and lichen are also amongst the plant life found here. In the south, drought resistant species continues in the dry steppe and the semi desert areas. Russia’s grain sources are grown in this area.



Russia has a largely continental climate because of its sheer size and compact configuration.
Since only small parts of Russia are south of 50° north latitude and more than half of the country is north of 60° north latitude, regions experience six months of snow cover over subsoil. The average yearly temperature is below freezing. The average for most of Siberia is freezing or below. Most of Russia has only two seasons, summer and winter, with very short intervals of moderation between them.

In winter an intense high-pressure system causes winds to blow from the south and the southwest in all but the Pacific region of the Russian landmass. In summer a low-pressure system brings winds from the north and the northwest to most of the landmass. The average January temperatures are -8°C in St. Petersburg, -27°C in the West Siberian Plain, and -43°C at Yakutsk, while the winter average on the Mongolian border, whose latitude is some 10° farther south, is barely warmer. Summer temperatures are more affected by latitude, however; the Arctic islands average 4°C, and the southernmost regions average 20°C. Russia's potential for temperature extremes is typified by the national record low of -94°C, recorded at Verkhoyansk in north-central Siberia and the record high of 38°C, recorded at several southern stations.


Because most of Russia has little exposure to ocean influences, most of the country receives low to moderate amounts of precipitation. Highest precipitation falls in the northwest with amounts decreasing from northwest to southeast across European Russia. The wettest areas are the small, lush subtropical region adjacent to the Caucasus and along the Pacific coast. Along the Baltic coast, average annual precipitation is 600 millimeters, and in Moscow it is 525 millimeters. An average of only twenty millimeters falls along the Russian-Kazak border, and as little as fifteen millimeters may fall along Siberia's Arctic coastline. Average annual days of snow cover, a critical factor for agriculture, depends on both latitude and altitude. Cover varies from forty to 200 days in European Russia, and from 120 to 250 days in Siberia.

Moscow has a continental climate, typified by exceedingly cold, long winters and hot summers. In mid-summer, during July and August, temperatures are pleasantly warm, with occasionally hot spells, and humidity tends to be high. Winters differ drastically, with only about six hours of daylight in the middle of the season and temperatures recorded at way below freezing point. Winter snows start in October and the snow blanket persists well into spring. Moscow has little rainfall, most of its precipitation falling as snow.

St. Petersburg
St Petersburg's climate is mild, though unpredictable. Winters are cold, with freezing winds and snowfall, and temperatures average about 9°F to 10°F (-13°C to -12°C) in January and February (the coldest months), sometimes dropping lower. June to August is usually the warmest time of year, though temperatures are still relatively low and average in the mid-60s Fahrenheit (about 20°C). Summer tends to be the most popular time to travel to St Petersburg.

Human Geography

Religionexternal image 250px-St_Basils_Cathedral-500px.jpg

70 percent of the country's population is Russian Orthodox. Even after the break-up of the Soviet Union, substantial numbers of Muslims, Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Buddhists remain within Russia's boundaries. The largescale emigration of Jews during the past two decades has reduced Judaism's ranks to fewer than one million. The picture on the right depicts a Russian church.


It's traditional do draw icon. The Russian icon tradition is not about the representation of physical space or appearance. Icons are images intended to aid prayer and because of that there is more importance in giving mental impact and visual. It is also unnecessary to draw realistically. Icon paintings aren't very visually appealing but they weren't painted to be charming but to inspire reflection and self-examination.
For the most part of Russian history, architecture has been about religion. The basic elements of Russian church design emerged fairly early, around the eleventh century. The plan is generally that of a Greek cross (all four arms are equal), and the walls are high and relatively free of openings. Sharply-sloped roofs (tent roofs) and a multitude of domes cover the structure. The characteristic onion dome first appeared in Novgorod on the Cathedral of Sancta Sophia, in the eleventh century. On the interior, the primary feature is the iconostasis, an altar screen on which the church's icons are mounted in a hierarchical fashion.
But during the nineteenth century a fresh interest in traditional Russian forms arose. Like the associated movement in the visual arts, this revival of older styles participated in the creation of an avant-garde movement in the early twentieth century. For a brief period following the 1917 Revolution, the avant-garde Constructivist movement gained sufficient influence to design major buildings. Lenin's Mausoleum, designed in 1924 by Alexey Shchusev, is the most notable of the few remaining Constructivist buildings. By the late 1920s, the avant-garde found itself repudiated by Stalin's increasingly conservative state. Moving away from modernism, Stalinist-era architecture is best exemplified by the seven nearly indistinguishable "wedding-cake" skyscrapers that dominate the city's skyline.

In more recent years, the dissolution of the Soviet state and a renewed interest in traditional Russian culture have produced a new appreciation of more modest folk architecture. The few remaining examples of traditional wooden architecture, such as those on display in the outdoor architectural museum in Kostroma, are now among Russia's most treasured architectural monuments.


GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.266 trillion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$2.146 trillion (2007 est.)
$1.985 trillion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.677 trillion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
5.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
8.1% (2007 est.)
7.7% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$16,100 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$15,200 (2007 est.)
$14,000 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.7%
industry: 37.6%
services: 57.7% (2008 est.)


Of Russia's estimated 150m population, it is thought that over 81% speak the official language of Russian as their first and only language. Most speakers of a minority language are also bilingual speakers of Russian. There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today, the most popular of which is Tartar, spoken by more than 3% of the country's population. Other minority languages include Ukrainian, Chuvash, Bashir, Mordvin and Chechen. Although few of these populations make up even 1% of the Russian population, these languages are prominent in key regional areas.


Russia is a federation. They use a civil law system. The judicial branch reviews the legislative acts. Russi has not yet accept the compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Executive Branch:The Presidential Administration (PA) that provides staff and policy support to the president, drafts presidential decrees, and coordinates policy among government agencies; a Security Council also reports directly to the president The cabinet is picked by the president.
Elections: presidents are elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term) and there is no vice president; if the president dies in office, cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is impeached, or resigns, the premier serves as acting president until a new presidential election is held, which must be within three months; premier appointed by the president with the approval of the Duma
Judicial Branch:
The Judicial Branch consists of the Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Supreme Arbitration Court. Judges for all courts are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president

Political Parties:
A Just Russia [Sergey MIRONOV]; Communist Party of the Russian Federation or CPRF [Gennadiy Andreyevich ZYUGANOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Russia or LDPR [Vladimir Volfovich ZHIRINOVSKIY]; Patriots of Russia [Gennadiy SEMIGIN]; People's Union [Sergey BABURIN]; Right Cause [Leonid Yakovlevich GOZMAN, Boris Yuriyevich TITOV, and Georgiy Georgiyevich BOVT] (registration pending; formed from merger of Union of Right Forces, Democratic Party of Russia, and Civic Force); United Russia [Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN]; Yabloko Party [Sergey Sergeyevich MITROKHIN]


external image 20090930214200%21Population_Pyramid_of_Russia_2009.PNGOverview
Russia's population is decreasing fast. It is highly unlikely that a child will see his 60th birthday. Experts are saying that in the middle of the century, Russia's population will likely be two thirds of what it is today.
Total population:

Age Distribution:
0-14 years: 14.8% (male 10,644,833/female 10,095,011)
15-64 years: 71.5% (male 48,004,040/female 52,142,313)
65 years and over: 13.7% (male 5,880,877/female 13,274,173)

Median age:
total: 38.4 years
male: 35.2 years
female: 41.6 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.467% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 226
Ethnic Make-up: Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Belarusian  0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1% (1989)
Ethnic Make-up: Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Belarusian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1% (1989)

Birth rate:
11.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177

Death rate:
16.06 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16

Net migration rate:
0.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.44 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 10.56 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 152
male: 12.08 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.94 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.03 years
country comparison to the world: 162
male: 59.33 years
female: 73.14 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.41 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194