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Most of us have some idea of the enormous size of Russia, but not all of us realize that Siberia alone is considerably larger than Europe.
Yet this vast territory, stretching from the Urals to the Pacific, and from Turkestan and Mongolia north to the Arctic Ocean, has only a small population.
Soviet Russia was the largest country in the world. It occupied half of Europe and one third of Asia. The territory of the Soviet Union exceeded 22.4 million sq. km, which is one-sixth of the habitable area of the globe. The shortest distance from the North to the South of USSR was more than 4500 kms. The Soviet Union was the largest country of the world and one of the two super powers with mighty powers and life force. It was a Federal Socialist Republic. Russia's capital is Moscow and national language is Russian. The country extends across 170° of longitude and 45° of latitude.
It stretches from the Baltic ocean west to east and from the Arctic to Iran and Turkey form north to south. It is three times bigger than U.S.A. The population is not evenly distributed too. Its concentration is between Urals and the boundary of Eastern Europe. Large parts of the country particularly Asian land are sparsely populated and much remains to be done for the growth of population in this part of the country. Its resources are tremendous in size and have been exploited to the utmost capacity.
There are the Great Caucasian, Ural and Tienshan Mountain ranges; the broad plains; the Tundras; the coniferous forests; the sandy deserts; long rivers and lakes large as sea. European Russia is a vast plain, intersected only by slight undulations of the ground.
The belt of higher land, which extends from the Valdai Hills south between the Dnieper and Don, or the one which occupies the Western bank of the Volga, seldom exceeds 300 meters in elevation and has slopes so gradual as to be almost imperceptible.
The land is so flat that drainage is poor and large areas of marshy lands exist. The rivers in this flat land are slow flowing and have a meandering course. The rivers have cut wide, gently sloping valleys in the lower part of the plain, but in the higher ground, they have made deep gorge like valleys from which access to the neighboring plain is difficult.
The plain north of 50°N and West of 45°E has been glaciated and is therefore covered with a thick glacial deposit generally infertile. To the south of 50° N, however, the land is covered with rich deposits of loess made more fertile by the addition of humus from the local grasses. The poor soil thus retard agriculture in the northern and central parts of the country while the fertile loess favors it in the south.
The country can be divided into six distinct physio graphic regions namely Russian plain, West Siberia, Central Siberia, Eastern Siberia, the Far east region and the Central Asian region of Russia.
(1) Russian plain. This plain covers most of the part of European Russia. It is a big plain of sedimentary rocks. It not only covers the greater part of European Russia, but also it continues across the Urals towards the vast lowlands of West Siberia and also stretches towards the south in the desert basin of the Aral sea. The plain has average elevation of three hundred feet from the sea level but in uplands it rises to 1000 feet as well and because of this height it has rolling characteristics.
(2) Western Siberia The boundary of this region is between the Ural Mountains and the Yenisey River. Between the two lies that vast expanse of the flat low land. Two rivers flow on this flat low land one is Ob River and the other is its tributary known as Irtysh. In this low land vast flood plains are the main relief features. To the south of Western Siberia lowland comes to an end in the Kazekh Uplands and south Ural. Towards the southeast this lowland of West Siberia has its border with two mountain systems termed as Altai and Sayan mountain systems.
(3) Central Siberia This physiographic region of Russia lies between the Yenisey and Lena Rivers. It is an upland region, but its height does not exceed more than 3000 feet. This region in the south stretches up to Sayan and Baikal mountains and in the north this upland meets' the low lands which continue up to the Arctic sea.
(4) Eastern Siberia The Lena Rivers on one hand and the Pacific Coast Ranges on the other make the boundary of this region. This region is a mixture of mountain systems, rolling plateaus and low lands marked with swamps. The main mountains of this physiographic region are: the Verkhoyansk, Chersky, the Kolyma, Yablonoy and Stanovoy.
(5) The Far east region of Russia: Pacific coastal parts of Siberia, the Kamachatka Peninsula, the Kurile islands, the basin of lower Amur River and Sakhalin islands form this region. It is primarily a mountainous region. Coastal lowlands are narrow. Amur and its tributary Ussari have made a valley, which is not well drained. The region is mostly unproductive.
(6) Central Asian region: This region comprises mountains, sandy deserts, plateaus, lowlands and drainage basins. The sand deserts are known as Karakum, Kyzye Kum. Usturt plateau is between the Caspian and the Ural seas. On the southern border of Central Asian Russia some important mountains lie. The names are Kopet Dag, the high Pamirs, the Tien Shan, the AlaTau and the Altai Mountain lies in the east. Two important rivers of this region are Amu Dariya and Syr Dariya, which flow across the sandy desert and then fall in the Aral Sea. The most important valley of this region is the Fergana valley, which is drained by the Syr Dariya.