How does the Russian Federation suffer from its location, physical features, and climate? What is unique about the Transcaucasus area in terms of climate?
· The Russian Federation covers a large area (more than 10,000 kilometers east-west and more than 2500 kilometers north-south); it takes a full week to travel by train from St. Petersburg in the west to Vladivostok in the east. Russia is also predominantly northern, with nearly half its territory north of 60 degrees north latitude. Winters are generally long and cold, which keeps most ports and navigable rivers frozen or impassable for many months each year. With few peninsulas and with coastlines that are frozen for most of the year, Russia has little access to the sea. Land transport is also difficult due to harsh climatic conditions and the great length of roads and rail lines to maintain. The Transcaucasus area has a warmer, drier climate that allows the production of subtropical fruits and vegetables.
Define permafrost, tundra, taiga, steppe, and chernozem.
· Permafrost: soil that is permanently frozen.
· Tundra: zone of arctic wilderness where trees and crops cannot be grown.
· Taiga: zone of northern forests made up primarily of coniferous (evergreen) trees.
· Steppe: zone of leafy trees and/or grasslands that is very desirable for agricultural uses.
· Chernozem: literally “black earth” that results from the organic decay of steppe grasses, producing an extremely fertile, rich, dark soil.
Why is fur far more than an indulgence in Russia? What role did the fur trade play in the expansion of Russia?
· Fur is a prized commodity because it has utility as well as being luxurious. In cold climates, fur clothing helps keep you warm. Depending on the animal that provided it, fur could also be more scarce or more of a status symbol, making it a portable form of wealth. Fur was crucial to the expansion of Russia because its trade drove exploration and conquest of Siberia. The fur trade also led Russia to own Alaska for a short time.
Define soviet, Bolshevik, perestroika, and glasnost.
· Soviet: Within the context of the former Soviet Union, a soviet was a Communist workers’ council that directed government activity.
· Bolshevik: member of larger group of Russian Communists led by Lenin that successfully took control of the government during the October 1917 Revolution based on the belief in equity across all national and ethnic boundaries. This group of internationalist revolutionaries came predominantly from middle class and intellectual families, as well as from the families of skilled industrial workers.
· Perestroika: restructuring of the Soviet economy in the late 1980s under President Mikhail Gorbachev that intended to make the economy more efficient and more responsive to consumer needs.
· Glasnost: a policy put in place under Mikhail Gorbachev that called for direct democratic participation in the government as well as more open discussions about government policies and a freer dissemination of information, which included a call for open elections.
Under Stalin’s rule, how did peasant farmers pay for Russia’s industrialization and modernization?
· Under Stalin, industrialization was the focus of economic development. Peasants paid for this approach to “modernizing” the Soviet economy through compulsory movement of peasants into state collectives where they were expected to produce larger yields. “The state would then purchase the harvest at relatively low prices so that, in effect, the collectivized peasant was to pay for industrialization by ‘gifts’ of labor” (p. 150).
How did the establishment of the Soviet bloc aid development of the Soviet Union following World War II? Discuss with regard to technical optimization, industrialization, and military security.