|Form of government||Presidential Democracy|
|Time zone||CET +1 to +11|
|Telephone area code||007 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)|
Russia (Russian Rossija, officially Rossiskaja Federazija – Russian Federation) is the largest country in the world with 17 075 300 km². The country stretches 9,000 km from Eastern Europe to North Asia over eleven time zones; from south to north the largest extension is over 4,000 km.
Russia has 14 neighboring countries. In the European part of the country, these are in the northwest of Norway,Finland,Estonia and Latvia. As an enclave is Kaliningrad (German: Königsberg), surrounded by Polish and Lithuanian territory, on the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea.Belarus and Ukraine are on the western border, the Black Sea and Georgia in the southwest.The southern borders to Azerbaijan,Kazakhstan,Mongolia,China and North Korea follow in the Asian part of Russia.
In the southeast of Russia is the Japanese Sea, in the east the Pacific with the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. In the far east of the country, only the 85 to 100 km wide Bering Strait separate Eastern Siberia from Alaska. The north coast to the Arctic Ocean is divided from east to west into the East Siberian Sea, Laptewsee, Karasee and Barentssee. The total length of the country’s coasts is 37,653 km.
The Ural Mountains form the border between the western part of Europe and the eastern part of Asia. The Urals extend for more than 2,000 km from Lake Karase (Arctic Ocean) in the north to the mouth of the river of the same name, which flows through Russia and Kazakhstan for 2,428 km and at Atyrau (until 1992 Guriev) in the Caspian Sea flows. The low mountain range has a width of up to 150 km, the highest mountain in the Urals is the Naradnaya at 1,894 m.
The European part of Russia is west of the Urals. It is taken up by the Eastern European level, which extends to the Greater Caucasus in the southeast, to the Central European lowlands in the west. In the Caucasus is the highest mountain in Russia with the Elbrus (5 642 m). The Waldai Heights are located in the center of the Eastern European Plain. The rivers Volga, Dnieper and Western Dvina originate here. The Don also originates in the European part of Russia. It flows over the Central Russian Plateau and, after 1 870 km, flows into a large delta into the Sea of Azov, a northern bulge in the Black Sea. The capital Moscow is also in the European part.
The Asian part of Russia is east of the Urals. It is largely taken up by Siberia. Siberia is divided into the West Siberian lowlands (up to the Jenissei river), the Central Siberian highlands (between Jenissei and Lena) and the East Siberian highlands.
High mountain ranges such as the Altai Mountains (highest mountain Belucha at 4,506 m), the Sayan Mountains, Tannu-ola, Tuwabergland and the mountainous countries of Baikal and Transbaikaliens separate Siberia from Central Asia. Another mountain range is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east of Russia. With the Kljutschewskaja volcano still active, it reaches a height of 4,750 m.
The longest river in both Siberia and the whole of Russia is the Lena with a length of 4,313 km. It rises in the Baikal Mountains and flows into the Laptewsee. The Jenissei river is only slightly shorter at 4 102 km. It originates in the Tuvinian Republic (a part of Russia) and flows into the Kara Sea. The Ob forms the main river of Western Siberia. It has a length of 3,650 km and flows from the northern foothills of the Altai Mountains to the obbus of the Karasee named after the river.
The largest lakes in the country are in the European part of Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. Lake Ladoga, north-east of Saint Petersburg, is also the largest lake in Europe with an area of 18,400 km² – its area is about 30 times larger than Lake Constance – and has 660 islands. Lake Onega is a glacial lake in southern Karelia. It has an area of 9,720 km². However, the size of the European lakes is exceeded by the oldest and deepest freshwater lake on earth, Lake Baikal. The water in Eastern Siberia has an area of approximately 31,500 km² and a depth of up to 1,673 m. More than 330 water courses flow into the fish-rich water, which is heavily polluted by industry and agriculture.
The majority of Russia belongs to the temperate climate zone and is characterized by continental influences. Three regions are exceptions: first, the south of the Far East, which has monsoons; secondly, Northern Siberia with an arctic climate and thirdly, the Black Sea coast with a subtropical climate. The predominantly dry continental climate is characterized by cold to very cold winters and warm to hot summers. The cold poles of the northern hemisphere are located near the city of Verkhoyansk in the eastern Siberian mountains. These have temperatures of up to -50 °C in January. In contrast, the temperatures in the Asian steppe areas rise to 25 °C in summer. The average temperatures in the European cities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow are -10 °C and -11 °C in January, 17 °C and July respectively 18 °C. In Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia, the temperatures drop to -21 °C in January and average 15.5 °C in July. In Vladivostok, the country’s largest port on the Pacific Ocean, the average temperature is -14.5 °C in January and 21 °C in July.
The annual rainfall in the European cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg is between 550 mm and 605 mm annually, in the Asian cities it is lower overall: in Verkhoyansk, average values of 135 mm, in Irkutsk by 375 mm and in Vladivostok by 460 mm.
Flora and fauna
Due to the large extent of the country and the resulting climatic differences, there are various vegetation zones. Most of the Arctic archipelagos in the Arctic Sea belong to the region of the polar cold deserts and have little or no vegetation. Large parts of these islands are covered in ice all year round. In the north of Siberia, tundra vegetation predominates from Kamchatka to the Kola peninsula – in an area almost ten times the size of Germany. The taiga connects to the permafrost of the tundra, which is covered with dwarf shrubs, heather, moss and lichen.
The boreal coniferous forest area of the taiga covers an area of approximately eleven million km² – 30 times the size of Germany – and counts numerous peat bogs. Especially in the European part of Russia, the Taiga belt is followed by a zone that is characterized by deciduous forests. The mixed forest in the Asian part goes south first in meadow and forest steppes, in the lower Altai in mountain dry steppes. This is followed by forest-free meadows and black earth steppes as well as short grass dry steppes, to which semi-deserts and deserts border in the extreme southeast of the country.
Just like the flora, the fauna of Russia is very diverse. On the north coast of the Arctic Ocean, where Beluga whales live, there are polar bears, walruses and seals as well as various seabirds. Reindeer live in the tundra region and are also bred by the local population. Arctic foxes, beavers, lemmings and snowy owls can be found in the wild. The vast forests of the taiga are home to numerous fur animals, including squirrels, sables, martens, foxes and wolverines. Elk, bears, wolves and – further south – deer and mink also live here. The steppe regions of Asia offer an ideal habitat for hamsters, ground squirrels and marmots. In the regions around the Volga, Don and Urals, there are still a few desmans (southern Russian musk weevils), a species of mole that is threatened with extinction.
Sturgeon and salmon can be found in the fish-rich Russian waters. The fanfish belonging to the mackerel family live in the waters of northeastern Siberia. So-called oil fish live in Lake Baikal – fatty bony fish that are scale-free and translucent. The fauna in the Caucasus region is Mediterranean and includes lynxes and lizards. Falcons, eagles and cranes can be found all over Russia. A specialty are the Baikal ring seals in the lake of the same name and the Saimaa seals living in the waters of the Finnish Lake District, the only freshwater seal species worldwide.
Russia has a population of around 145.18 million, who are concentrated in particular in the central and southern European part and in the northern foothills of the Greater Caucasus. With a good 10.4 million residents (14 million in the metropolitan area), the country’s largest city is the capital Moscow, located east of the Waldai Heights in the European part of Russia.Other cities with over a million residents are, for example, Saint Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) on the Baltic Sea coast (4.77 million in the metropolitan area); Nizhny Novgorod (1.31 million) and Samara (1.23 million) in the Volga region; Ekaterinburg (1.29 million) and Chelyabinsk (1.13 million) in the Urals and Novosibirsk (1.43 million) in Western Siberia. Check ALLCITYPOPULATION to see other large cities in Russia by population.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 80% of the population are of Russian descent. This proportion is currently increasing as numerous Russians leave the areas in neighboring countries to which they relocated during the Soviet period and move back to the territory of the Russian Federation. In addition to the Russians, more than 70 other nationalities live in the country, the members of which, however, often only count a few thousand people. The Tatars make up the largest minority with 4% of the total population, the Ukrainians make up 2%. Other larger minorities are Chuvash, Bashkirs and Belarusians. Other groups are Yakuts, Tuwines, Chechens and Finnish-Ugric peoples like the Karelier, Mordwinen and Udmurten.Even after extensive emigration since 1991, 0.5% of the population are Russian Germans.
The majority of the population are Christians. With 80 million members, the Russian Orthodox Church is the world’s largest Orthodox national church and is by far the largest religious community in the country. While the vast majority of the Slavic population (like the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Belarusians have Slavic ancestors) are Russian Orthodox, the Turkish-speaking sections of the population are mostly Muslim. Followers of Buddhism occur, for example, in the Caucasus and in the Altai Mountains, in Central Siberia shamanism is still widespread in places.
There are more than a hundred different languages in the federal territory of Russia. Russian is the national and official language. Russian belongs to the eastern group of the Slavic language and is spoken by about 180 million people as mother tongue. Outside of Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the Baltic States, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Tajikistan, and the United States, Canada, Israel, and Western Europe have larger Russian-speaking minorities. The Cyrillic script created by the Slav apostle Kyrillos is the Russian written language in a reformed manner.
Life expectancy is 67 years in the large-scale state, in which poor medical care can only be guaranteed in many rural areas in Asia. The population is currently decreasing by 0.4% per year. Only a very small proportion of Russians (0.4%) cannot read and write.
According to the constitution, Russia has been a presidential democracy with a federal structure since 1993. The president, who has been directly elected by the people for six years (Vladimir Putin since May 2012), has extensive powers. He is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and, with the consent of Parliament, appoints the head of government (Dmitri Medvedev since May 2012) and – at his suggestion – his cabinet members. The president also determines the guidelines for domestic and foreign policy, he can introduce laws and dissolve parliament. He also has the option of governing by decree.
The Parliament (Federation Assembly) is divided into two. It consists of the Federation Council and the State Duma. The council is made up of two representatives from each federal subject (166 members in total) and has extensive powers. It plays an important role as a counterweight to the State Duma; his deputies, who are appointed by the President, are in office for a four-year term. The 450 members of the Duma are elected every five years by proportional representation. The country’s main parties are the United Russia (ER) party, the Communist Party of Russia (KPRF), the Just Russia Party and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).
The legal system is based on civil law, the judges of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the proposal of the President.
The administration of the Russian Federation is divided into eight federal districts with 83 territorial units (subjects of the federation): 21 republics (respublic), nine regions (kray), 46 regions (oblast), two autonomous cities (gorod), one autonomous region and four autonomous regions Circles (okrug).
The strengths of Russia as a business location are the areas of space technology, modern materials, biotechnology and laser technology as well as a well-educated population. However, the energy and raw materials sector is still crucial for economic growth. Raw materials represent four fifths of Russian exports and around half finance the state budget. Only a fifth of exports are products based on technological knowledge. Another problem is that the dominance of the state in the economy distorts competition.
Although 11% of the population live below the poverty line and despite high income differentials, the social situation in the country appears stable. A low unemployment rate of 5.5% (2013) and a recent significant increase in income signal an improvement in the social situation.
Agriculture now only generates 4% of gross domestic product (GDP). The most important crops are potatoes and cereals, and despite high yields, the company’s own needs for cereals cannot be covered. Cattle breeding is the most important agricultural area even before plant cultivation. Cattle breeding is mainly carried out in the Volga region, in western Siberia and the European center, pig breeding is also found in the Volga region, but also in the North Caucasus and the central Black Earth region. Sheep breeding focuses on the regions of Eastern Siberia, North Caucasus and the Volga region. Large surpluses are generated in fisheries and the timber industry that are exported. In the inland fishery, the sturgeon supplies the world-famous Russian caviar.
Russia has extremely rich deposits of various mineral resources. This includes 18% of the world’s known coal deposits. In addition, the country benefits from extensive oil and gas deposits, particularly in Western Siberia, Sakhalin, the North Caucasus, the Komi Republic and the oil regions in the Volga-Ural region. Ore mining also plays an important role, so there are numerous iron and non-iron ore smelters in the country. The heavy and arms industry is concentrated in the Urals around Yekaterinburg, the chemical industry and the petroleum industry can be found in the northern and eastern parts of the country. At the old main industrial locations of Moscow, the Volga region, the northwest and the Urals, numerous machine and vehicle industries produce, but also the manufacture of equipment and systems is located here.
The most important export goods are petroleum, natural gas, petrochemical products as well as iron, steel and non-ferrous metals. Mainly machines, motor vehicles, chemical products (especially medicines) and food are introduced. The country’s most important export partners are the countries of Europe and China. North America and Japan also play an important role in imports. Russia has been a member of the WTO since 2012.
About two thirds of the energy required can be generated using fossil fuels, almost 20% by hydropower and the rest by nuclear power.
The most important seaports in Russia are Nakhodka-Vostochny, Vladivostok, Saint Petersburg, Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Novorossisk and Astrakhan. The main airports are Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
The currency is the ruble (= 100 kopecks).