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An In Depth Look At Russia

1849 words - 7 pages

Introduction Top of Page Background: The defeat of the Russian Empire in World War I led to the seizure of power by the communists and the formation of the USSR. The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1924-53) strengthened Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the communist period. Russia Geography Top of Page Location: Northern Asia (that part west of the Urals is sometimes included with Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean Geographic coordinates: 60 00 N, 100 00 E Map references: Asia Area: total: 17,075,200 sq km land: 16,995,800 sq km water: 79,400 sq km Area - comparative: slightly less than 1.8 times the size of the US Land boundaries: total: 19,961 km border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 294 km, Finland 1,313 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 19 km, Latvia 217 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227 km, Mongolia 3,485 km, Norway 167 km, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Ukraine 1,576 km Coastline: 37,653 km Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM Climate: ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m highest point: Gora El'brus 5,633 m Natural resources: wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber note: formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources Land use: arable land: 8% permanent crops: 0% permanent pastures: 4% forests and woodland: 46% other: 42% (1993 est.) Irrigated land: 40,000 sq km (1993 est.) Natural hazards: permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula Environment - current issues: air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial,...

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