of the Russian Federation
Russia today is an encounter with an undiscovered land.
Visitors have a fresh opportunity to explore and travel a vast array of exciting and ancient cultures, from the grand imperial Russia of St. Petersburg to the timeless small town life of Siberia. One of the most notable features of present day in Russia is a renewed celebration of the wealth of its past and its potential for the future. Throwing off the blanket of communist uniformity, Russia today is a nation of enormous diversity and tremendous vitality, and an open gate for all, this change made it easier in getting travel visas to visit our country. A new Russia is now in full bloom.
General Russia Information
Formerly the prominent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Russia has been an independent nation since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. As part of the Soviet Union, it was called the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, or the Russian Federation.
With an area of 6,592,800 square miles (17,075,300 square kilometers), Russia is the world's largest country, almost twice the size of either China or the United States. Covering 1/8th of the earth's surface and much of Eastern Europe as well as the whole of Northern Asia, Russia extends nearly halfway around the Northern Hemisphere. It stretches some 4,800 miles (7,700 kilometers) along the Arctic Circle and from 1,250 to 1,800 miles (2,000 to 2,900 kilometers) north to south. Its most characteristic landscape is a rolling to flat plain. Two such plains are divided by the Ural Mountains that form the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia. In contrast, eastern Siberia is hilly to mountainous tableland. There are active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands.
The country has a tremendous wealth of natural resources, producing 17% of the world's crude oil, 25-30% of its natural gas, and 10-20% of all nonferrous, rare and noble metals mined across the globe.
Russia has the world's fifth largest population (148.8 million people) after China, India, the United States and Indonesia. It contains some 130 nations and ethnic groups including Russians, Tartars, Ukrainians, Chuvashs, Jews, Bashkirs, Byelorussians and Mordovians.
Almost three quarters of the people live in urban areas. The chief cities are St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhni Novgorod, and the capital, Moscow, which was also the capital of both the Russian Federation and the Soviet Union.
Climate and Weather
Because of its size Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances. The climates of both European and Asian Russia are continental except for the tundra and the extreme southeast. Great ranges of temperature are typical. In winter temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east. Summers can be quite hot and humid, even in Siberia.
Russia also has low annual precipitation that almost everywhere averages less than 20 inches (51 centimeters) and peaks in summer usually in July or August. The continental interiors are the driest areas.
From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed forest, broadleaf forest, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert (fringing the Caspian Sea ) as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but lacks the mixed forest. Most of Siberia is taiga. Soils vary from rich, black loams in the steppe to very acidic podzols in the taiga to bog types in the tundra and Siberian swamps.
The capital of Russia is Moscow - the barometer and nucleus of the changes sweeping through Russia. Nowhere are Russia 's contrasts more apparent than here - ancient monasteries and ultra-modern monoliths stand side by side, and New Russian millionaires and poverty-stricken pensioners walk the same streets.
Moscow 's origins as a symbol of Russian spiritual and political power go back 850 years. It reflects Russia 's state of flux in its day-to-day life, and when the winds of change start blowing, they blow through Moscow first.
Another important city in Russia 's political and cultural life is St. Petersburg , founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. It was Russia 's capital during the time of the Russian Empire, until after the October revolution, when Moscow was restored as the capital by the Bolsheviks. St .Petersburg remains an influential city today in terms of economy, trade, culture and government.
Multinational Russia includes 24 minority republics, four autonomous oblasts (provinces), four autonomous okrugs (districts), six krays (regions), and 49 oblasts.
Russia is a democratic state with a republican form of government.
The people are governed by a parliament, the Congress of People's Deputies. The Parliament of Russia, The Federal Assembly, is the nation's highest representative and legislative body. It consists of two chambers, the Federation Council and the State Duma. Two deputies from each of the 89 federation members are elected to the Federation Council. The 450 deputies of the State Duma are elected from parties and public movements, or as individual candidates.
In 1991 the new post of president was created to head the executive branch and to be elected by popular vote. The head of state is the President, designed to be the guarantor of legality and governmental compliance with the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. In accordance with his status, he determines the main direction of domestic and foreign policy and represents the country in its foreign relations. The president is elected for a five year term by national direct suffrage and cannot be elected for more than two consecutive terms.
In elections held in June, 1991 Boris Yeltsin became the first democratically elected leader of the republic. He outlined a plan to give greater political and economic authority to the federation and to diminish the role of the central government. Yeltsin's defiance of the coup that briefly deposed Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August inspired a popular uprising that led to the unraveling of the old central controls. The Soviet Union officially disbanded in December 1991, Russia became an independent state officially known as the Russian Federation, and it joined with ten of the other former Soviet republics to form the new Commonwealth of Independent States.
The current President of the Russian Federation is Dmitry Medvedev.