A Geography of Russia and it Neighbors

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Russia is a country unlike any other. It occupies much of the world’s largest landmass, 
Eurasia; it stretches across 11 time zones and covers over 17 million km2. Its average climate is 
the coldest of any country on earth. Its land is 
extremely varied, with large plains and bogs, forests and deserts, rivers and lakes. Underneath its 
soil are thousands of tons of precious and semiprecious metals; millions of pounds of iron ore, 
bauxite, and coal; billions of barrels of oil; and 
trillions of cubic meters of natural gas. Its peoples are numerous and diverse, speaking over 130 
languages. Its main language, Russian, is among 
the world’s 10 most common and has produced 
some of the greatest literary works. Russia is also 
home to world-class fine and performing arts. 
Its temples and museums display the precious 
heritage of countless generations, admired the 
world over. The two main religious traditions of 
its former empire—Orthodox Christianity and 
Islam—have had tremendous internal influence 
and are becoming more widespread in the rest of 
the world. Russia sent the first human-made object into space, as well as the first human to orbit 
the earth. In the 20th century it helped defeat 
fascism, but it also nearly destroyed itself in one 
of the bloodiest dictatorships ever known. This 
country remains an enigma to outsiders, and 
even to some people within its own borders.