Russia Overview

Russia, a republic that extends across eastern Europe and northern Asia, formed by 21 ethnic republics and an autonomous oblast (region), in addition to ten other autonomous okrugs (or national zones). Officially known as the Russian Federation , the Federated Soviet Socialist Republic of Russia (RSFSR) was formerly integrated into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics .

It is the largest country in the world, with 17,075,400 km2 of surface. Moscow is the capital. It is surrounded to the north by a series of arms of the Arctic Glacial Ocean and to the east it is bordered by the Bering Strait, the Bering Sea and the Seas of Okhotsk and Japan.

The far south-east of Russia is demarcated by North Korea. To the south it is bordered by China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Black Sea; to the south-southwest with Ukraine, to the west with Poland, Belarus (Belarus), Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland, and to the northwest with Norway. In the Arctic Glacial Ocean are the Land of Francisco José and the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya. In the Pacific Ocean are the Kurilas Islands and the great Sakhalin Island.

According to, Russia can be divided into three vast regions: European Russia, west of the Ural Mountains; Siberia, which extends eastwards from the Urals; and eastern Russia, which encompasses the most sudoriental part of the country and the Pacific coast.

Territory and resources


The continental mass of the republic is a huge plain, located to the west and north, garnished by a discontinuous belt of mountains and plateaus to the east. European Russia is a rolling plain with an average altitude of 180 m, bordered to the east by the Ural Mountains, a series of very worn mountain ranges, with an average elevation of 600 m. To the east of the Urals, the plateau region continues into the lowlands of western Siberia. This huge expanse, exaggeratedly flat, is poorly drained and very swampy.

To the east of the Yenisei River, the lowlands of the central Siberian platform begin; here the elevations oscillate between 500 and 700 m; rivers have eroded the surface and in some places have formed deep canyons.

To the east of the Lena River appears a series of mountains and valleys, such as the mountains Verkhoyansk, Cherski and Kolyma; towards the Pacific Ocean the mountains are higher and steeper and there is constant volcanic activity on the Kamchatka peninsula and the Kurilas islands.

The southern border of European Russia comprises the Caucasus mountain range, which reaches its highest point on the Elbrus (5,642 m), and the Asian part has a series of mountain ranges, such as the Altai, Sayan, Jablonovi and Stanovoi mountain ranges.


Russia’s longest rivers are found in Siberia and eastern Russia. The main river systems are Obi-Irtysh and Amur-Shilka-Onon. The longest river in length is the Lena (4,300 km); follow Irtysh and Obi; the Volga is the longest river in Europe.

The Soviet government developed an important plan to build dams to generate electricity, implement irrigation systems, control floods and make rivers navigable, which has caused some of the river basins to be completely transformed.

There are many natural lakes in Russia, especially in the northwest, such as Ladoga and Onega, of glacial origin. The largest, however, are to the south, such as the Caspian Sea, a salty lake, and Lake Baikal.


Russia’s climatic conditions are harsh, with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Temperatures are extreme: the lowest in winter take place in eastern Siberia.

The high mountains of the southern border do not allow the entry of tropical air masses. The main marine influence comes from the Atlantic Ocean, especially during the summer, when the territory receives the greatest amount of rainfall.

Precipitation is very scarce. On the European plateau, the average annual rainfall drops from something over 800 mm in western Russia to less than 400 mm along the coast of the Caspian Sea. In Siberia and the easternmost region, it ranges between 500 and 800 mm; and in the inner valleys it only exceeds 300 mm per year.

The Russian territory covers distinct climatic zones that extend in a latitudinal direction. The tundra climate prevails on the Arctic coast. To the south, a wide belt of subarctic climate advances to the city of St. Petersburg and extends to the east of the Urals to encompass almost all of Siberia and more eastern Russia. Almost all of European Russia is under the influence of a more moderate continental climate. The wide belt of dry steppe climate characterized by its cold winters starts at the Black Sea and extends towards the northeast.


The vegetation zones are related to the different climatic zones of the country.

The tundra extends to the north , with mosses, lichens and dwarf birches, where the soil is permanently frozen (permafrost).

To the south of the tundra, the forest zone is divided into the boreal forest, or taiga , in the northern areas, occupied by conifers and small-leafed trees and a much smaller area occupied by the mixed forest, which extends through the central part of the eastern European plain.

To the south, the mixed forest becomes a narrow fringe of forest steppe , before passing to the authentic steppe, a mixture of herbaceous trees with undeveloped trees, which extends through the western half of the northern Caucasus plain, southern Volga valley, south of the Urals and some areas of western Siberia. Like the forest steppe, it is a cultivable area.


The fauna is abundant and varied. In the tundra, it comprises polar bears, seals, sea lions, polar foxes, reindeer and the white hare.

The avifauna is formed by the white partridge, the white owl, seagulls and fools.

The taiga offers important habitat for the moose, the brown bear, the reindeer and the lynx, among others.

The deciduous forests are home to species such as the wild boar, deer, wolf and fox.

The forests of eastern Russia are known for the presence, among other species, of the famous Siberian tigers of the Ussuri, in addition to leopards, foxes and deer.

In the steppe live rodents, the steppe antelope, the ferret and fox of Tartary, the crane, the eagle and the hawk. The Caucasus region has particularly important wildlife.

Russia Overview