Animals and Plants
What is growing in Russia?
As big as Russia is and as much as the landscapes and the climate differ, so are the animals that live here and the plants that grow. Tundra and taiga are the most important landscapes in the country.
In the tundra, where the ground is frozen most of the year, only low plants such as lichens, mosses and grasses grow. Examples of species are Nordic blackberries, bog berries, lingonberries and bog broom herb. The first dwarf birches and willows appear further south. The forest tundra changes into the taiga.
In the taiga to the south, however, there are huge forests. Firs, pines and spruces grow here, larches in the east of Siberia, and deciduous trees such as birches and aspens to the south. There is dense deciduous forest on the subtropical Black Sea. In the steppe, on the other hand, it is so dry that mainly grasses grow here.
What animals live in Russia?
Polar bears make their home in the polar regions in the far north of Russia. Ringed seals, Greenlandic seals, narwhals, beluga whales and walruses inhabit the cold water. Fish and birds are found in far more species than mammals. Bird species include ptarmigan and snowy owl.
Arctic wolves, mountain hares and Siberian lemmings live on the tundra. Wolves and herds of reindeer can also be found here. There are also around 70 species of birds. Among them are the long-tailed duck, the polar diver and many species of snipe.
Biodiversity increases even further south. Moose and brown and black bears live in the forests of the taiga, but also squirrels, foxes, badgers, hares, sables and wolverines. Sables and wolverines are martens. Wild boar, lynx, mink and deer are also found. Many birds live here, for example cranes, hazel grouse, capercaillie, song thrushes, nightingales, jays, owls and owls.
Only in the far east there is the Siberian tiger. Its population is endangered and is estimated at only 500 animals in total. The Siberian tiger is the largest cat in the world. It is similar with the Amur leopard, of which there are said to be only about 60 animals.
The Russian Desman lives in the southwest of Russia, along the Don, Volga and Urals rivers. This is a species of mole that lives near the water. Their nests are underground and only accessible from the water (similar to the beaver).
Hamsters, ground squirrels (ground squirrels), polecats and steppe fox live in the steppe. Here you can also find the saiga antelope with its trunk-like nose.
There is a unique flora and fauna in the Siberian Lake Baikal. Around 1000 species only occur here! This includes the baikal seal, the only species of seal that lives in fresh water. There are also 68 species of fish, including many species of bullhead. They also include the Baikal oilfish. It is scaly and translucent yellow and is eaten by the baikal seals. Flea crabs ensure that the water is naturally purified. They eat algae and bacteria.
Russia is rich in natural resources. Russia’s economic strength rests on them. However, there were and are problems that make it difficult to exploit these rich deposits: outdated factories, high environmental pollution and also the extreme climatic conditions.
The Russian economy has experienced an upswing since 2000 in particular, after initially having to cope with the collapse of the Soviet Union and with it many trade relations. The transition from a planned economy to a market economy was also difficult. In 1998 there was a serious financial crisis. This was overcome with the inauguration of Vladimir Putin and his measures of stronger state control and takeover. Foreign debts were reduced, cash reserves built up. Several special economic zones were set up. There it is easier for companies in certain sectors to invest, for example in industry or tourism.
The international financial crisis of 2009 also hit Russia hard, but the problems were overcome. Russia is one of the largest economies in terms of gross domestic product. Russia’s most important trading partners are China and Germany.
In 2014, the EU and the US imposed economic sanctions on Russia to persuade Russia to give in to the Ukraine crisis.
Mineral oil and natural gas
According to iamhigher.com, the energy industry is of great importance to Russia. Russia produces oil and natural gas and sells it in particular to Western Europe. Russia is the world’s second largest supplier of natural gas (2018, after the USA), and the third largest for crude oil (2018, after the USA and Saudi Arabia). Russia occasionally exploits its position of power, increases prices or delivers less than is needed. That then leads to disputes with other countries.
However, the dependence on the energy industry is great and falling world market prices for crude oil and natural gas immediately mean less and less income. Two thirds of the profits from export trade come from the energy sector.
In order to be able to sell more energy abroad, it is also a goal to save energy in Russia itself or to obtain energy from coal and nuclear power instead of oil and natural gas, which one then prefers to sell.
In order to be as independent as possible from the countries through which the oil or gas flows to the actual customers (for example Ukraine or Belarus), Russia is looking for new ways by building new pipelines. The “Nord Stream” natural gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea has existed since 2011.
Other natural resources
Besides crude oil and natural gas, other mineral resources are of great importance. Russia, for example, has the third largest reserves of gold. Diamonds belong to the mineral resources like iron, nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, zinc and coal.
What is the Agricultural Triangle?
13 percent of Russia’s area is used for agriculture. The majority of it lies in the so-called agricultural triangle. Nothing can be grown north of it because it is too cold there and the ground is permanently frozen. In the agricultural triangle, mainly grain is grown, but also sugar beets, corn and sunflowers.
The black earth soil in a belt in southwestern Russia is particularly fertile. Outside the triangle, fruit and wine are grown on the Black Sea and in the Caucasus, and cotton in Central Asia.
The agriculture makes in agriculture 36 percent, livestock production 60 percent. Mainly cattle, but also pigs, sheep and goats are kept. The sturgeon plays a special role in fishing, because Russian caviar is not only in demand in Russia. This caviar are the eggs of the sturgeon.
Industry in Russia
Major industries in Russia are mechanical engineering, metal processing (iron and other metals, especially steel and aluminum), chemistry, petrochemistry (products made from natural gas and oil) and food.
Russia has huge forests. The timber industry therefore also plays a role. Pine, fir and larch trees as well as birch provide timber.