All About Russia
At one time the largest country in the world was called the Soviet Union, but today it is called Russia, and it expands across two continents, borders three oceans and is nearly twice the size of the United States. Russia accounts for about 10% of the land on Earth and is located mostly in the northern and eastern hemispheres of the planet. It is over 6.6 million square miles compared to the United States' 3.8 million square miles.
Russia sits on the continent of Europe to the west and Asia to the east. The arctic Ocean borders Russia to the north, the Pacific Ocean is to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean reaches the country near its northwest corner. Many European and Asian countries border Russia to the west and south including Norway, China, Ukraine, Poland, North Korea, and several others.
There are a wide range of landscapes making up Russia ranging from deserts to a frozen coastline and from mountains to giant marshes. A region in Russia called Siberia covers about three-quarters of the country's landmass and is covered by pine forest called taigas. Much of Russia is also made up of steppes, which are rolling treeless plains and large areas of grasslands.
Russia is home to over 100,000 rivers of all sizes with its largest being the Volga River, measuring about 2,300 miles in length, and it is the longest river on the continent of Europe. Russia can boast the deepest lake in the world too, Lake Baikal, which contains about 20% of the world's total freshwater.
The Ural Mountains of Russia extends over 1,200 miles north to south from the Arctic Ocean to the Caspian Sea and is a natural border separating the continents of Europe and Asia. Other major landforms include the Caucasus Mountains, Altai Mountains, Mount Elbrus (highest in Russia and Europe), the Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberian Plain, and many others.
The country is not divided into states but into a complex system of 83 regions called federal subjects, which includes oblasts, republics, krais, okrug, and Federal cities. Moscow is Russia's capital city and its most populous with over 13 million people within the city limits and another 17 million in the urban areas. It is the country's major political, economic, and scientific center. It is the 11th most populous city on Earth and the coldest major city on the planet.
Russia's second largest city is St. Petersburg, which is a port city and the country's cultural center. It has about one-third the population of Moscow and can be found near the coast of the Baltic Sea. The city of Vladivostok is the largest eastern city in Russia with a population of just 600,000, not far from the borders of North Korea and China.
Today, Russia is a republic and a democracy with an elected president but was ruled in the 1550s by its first tsar (Russian emperor), Ivan IV. In 1682, Peter the Great became tsar at the age of ten, and for the next forty-two years worked to make Russia more European and modern. However, the people were not happy, and in 1917 the tsar was overthrown and a new government was formed. Eventually, a communist group called the Bolsheviks took control of the country until around 1991 when the Soviet Union became the Russia of today.
Finally, Russia is home to many famous architectural landmarks and attractions including Red Square, The Kremlin in Moscow, Saint Basil's Cathedral, Winter Palace, Gorky Park and many others. There are more than 145 million people in Russia (2016), and is easily one of the most unique places in the world.
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