Russia is the largest country in the world, extending from the
Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the East. Russia is
bordered on the west by Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia,
Belarus, and Ukraine; on the south by the Black Sea, Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China; on the east by the
Pacific Ocean, and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. The area west
of the Ural Mountains is called European Russia; the Asian part
of the country, east of the Urals, is called Siberia. Russia's capital
city is Moscow.
With a total population of 149,300,359, Russia is sixth in the
world in population, after China, India, the United States,
Indonesia, and Brazil. From 1990 to 1992 Russia's population had a
slow rate of increase at 0.4 to 0.5 percent per year.
The value of Russia's money, the ruble, has dropped from the
rate of 2/3 of a ruble for every one dollar in 1988 to more than 1000
rubles for every dollar in 1993. The large government deficit, equals
about one-fifth of total yearly economy.
The total work force in Russia numbers 72.5 million. Industry
is the country's leading employer, with about 30 percent. Agriculture
takes13 percent of all, and construction has 12 percent. Only about 1
million people, 1.5%, are registered unemployed, but the unemployment
rate is much higher. Thousands work with no pay or with very few
Russia was the main country in the Union of Soviet Socialist
The East European Plain is full of rolling lowlands. The
eastern boundary of this region, the Urals, are old mountains that have
eroded. The Urals do not go above 6,200 ft. The Caucasus
Mountains form the southern border of the Russian plain.
West Siberia is swampy and has many features in common with the
rest of Russia. Eastern Siberia includes the Central Siberian
Uplands .The Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin Island, at the
western edge of the Pacific, were formed from young mountains. The
Kamchatka mountain ranges contain active volcanoes. The major
rivers of Russia are the Volga and the Don. An interesting part of
Siberia is Lake Baikal. It is the deepest freshwater lake in the
world. The lake is so deep and has such a large surface area that it
holds one-fifth of the world's supply of fresh water.
Russia's climate is mostly tundra. The temperature in eastern
Siberia reaches a bone-chilling level of -150 degrees F. The
Verkhoyansk area averages about -60 degrees F.
Petroleum, natural gas, precious metals, and other valuable
minerals are found all around. Coal is found in all parts of the country.
Tunguska coalfields are among the largest in the world. The main
petroleum-producing areas in Russia are in the Urals. Siberia's
Tyumen Province has rich reserves. Although large oil deposits lie
off the Pacific coast near Kamchatka and Sakhalin, Russian
attempts to locate these offshore fields have been held back by climate,
technology and transportation. A U.S.-Japanese company was given
the right to drill for oil off Sakhalin Island. Russia also has
reserves of iron ore as well as gold, silver, platinum, lead, molybdenum,
manganese, tungsten, apatite, nickel, titanium, and cobalt.
81.5% of Russia's population are Russians, another 2.9% are
Ukrainian. These people are located in eastern Russia and in
southern Siberia. Almost all speak Russian, even if Ukrainian or
others are their first language.
Other ethnic groups with sizable populations include the
Germans with more than 700,000 people. The number of Jews, has
fallen, and their numbers continue to fall through them moving primarily
to Israel and the United States.
Russian language courses were and are requirement for all
41% of the Russians are Russian Orthodox believers. Other
religious information is unavailable.
Today, eight years of schooling are required. Students who wish
to attend high school for another two years must undergo examination.
Russia has opened a number of business schools, trade schools,
artistic schools and others to give students a choice. University
professors, who used to be paid well, now find themselves with much
lower incomes.
Medical care is free and widely available. There is a serious
shortage of medical equipment, including operating tables and lamps,
bandages, and syringes. Low supplies of syringes and needles have
contributed to the spread of AIDS. The number of people who are
HIV positive or who have actually developed the disease has
Russian doctors fearful of an epidemic. Two-thirds of all doctors are
women. The government introduced some forms of private practice for
doctors, privately financed hospitals, and health insurance.
Russian culture has expanded since the communists. Scholars,
journalists, students, and others are able to study freely. Inflation in
1992 was 2,600%. The following year it dropped to 900%, and since
then the government has been