Russia is a country about 1.8 times the size of the US occupying the vast area between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 10, 672,000 sq. miles (17,075,200 sq.km) and a population of almost 150 million people.
Occupying a large territory in Europe and Asia Russia is spread over all climatic zones except tropical. It takes over 8 hours by plane to reach from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. West of the Ural mountains from the Black Sea in the South to the Arctic Ocean lies a broad plain with low hills where the historical core of the Russian nation is located. East of the Urals from the border with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia to the Arctic coast lies Siberia - a scarcely populated area covered by coniferous forest, swamps and tundra in the north and mountainous terrain in the south.
The country possesses a wide array of natural resources including major deposits of oil, coal, natural gas, many strategic minerals, diamonds and timber. The economic zone along the 23,533 mile (37,653 km) long coastline (Arctic and Pacific Oceans, Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas) holds significant reserves of fish and oil and natural gas on the sea shelf. Most of the country has a so called harsh continental climate characterized by a big difference between summer and winter temperatures (it gets indeed very cold in Siberia during winter, but it is also very hot in the summer). Russia's geographical location presents a significant obstacle to development - dry or cold climate, terrain, distance and remote location from major sea lanes, all these factors contribute to the situation when large parts of the country have almost no population and development. Russia has only 8% of arable land.
Russia is a multiethnic society. The largest ethnic groups include Russians (81.5%), Tatars (3.8%), Ukrainians (3%), Chuvash (1.2%), Bashkir (0.9%), Byelorussians (0.8%), Moldavians (0.7%), etc. Over 80% of the population name Russian - the official language of the country - as their native. Other languages are used in ethnic minority regions. Russia has equal religious diversity: with the main religions being Russian Orthodox Christianity and Muslim overall over 150 confessions could be found across the country.
Administratively, the Russian Federation is divided into 21 republic, 6 krays (federal territories), 2 federal cities, 49 regions, 1 autonomous region and 10 autonomous areas.
The capital of the Russian Federation is Moscow. With its 10 million population it is the largest city in the country, its principal economic and political center - the seat of the President, the government and the State Duma (Parliament).
The Russian Federation, which covers one-eighth of the earth's surface, spans eastern Europe and northern Asia, and ranks as the world's largest nation in terms of its territory. Russia is followed by Canada, China and the United States. Russia's northern regions are bordered by the Arctic Ocean, with the Baltic Sea bordering its western territories. The Russian Far East is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, with the Black Sea bordering southern Russia.
This country stretches 2,500-4,000 km from north to south and another 9,000 km from west to east. Russia's westernmost point is located on the Polish border; its easternmost point is situated on Ratmanov Island (Bering Straits). The southernmost point is located on the Russian-Azeri border, and the northernmost point is on Franz-Josef Land islands.
Russia's borders stretch for a total of 58,562 km (with 14,253 km bordering other states and 44,309 km bordering the sea).
Vast plains cover most of Russia's territory. The Eastern European (Russian) Plain, replete with low plateaus is found in western Russia. The Mid-Siberian plateau, which is gradually transformed into the Central Yakut plain, can be found between two rivers, the Yenisei and the Lena.
Mountain ranges are mostly located in Russia's...