When you try to explain Russia, it is hard to find a starting point.
The country is huge and somewhat of an enigma. Each Russian region and city is so different to the next: the nature, the weather, the standard of living, the architecture, the lifestyle all vary from place to place.
If you really want to get to know Russia you have to prepare yourself for many adventures, for which you will need a lot of time, energy and dedication.
For most westerners, Russia is associated with its largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. But of course Russia is much bigger than this. Within its vast expanse you can find the largest freshwater lake in the world, rivers and forests teeming with fish and wildlife, awe-inspiring volcanos, and towering mountains. Russia is the largest country on earth, with enormous tracts of land that have only been opened to foreign travelers in the last few years. It takes over 8 hours by plane from Moscow to reach Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. To the west of the Ural Mountains, stretching south to the Black Sea and below the Arctic Sea, lies a broad plain with low hills where the historical core of the Russian nation is located. East of the Urals from the border of Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia and extending north to the Arctic coast lies Siberia - a scarcely- populated area covered by primeval forest, swamps and tundra in the north and mountainous terrain in the south.
…find the largest freshwater lake in the world, rivers and forests teeming with fish and wildlife, awe-inspiring volcanos, and towering mountains
Taking into account the size of the country and its tumultuous history - especially the hard times experienced under communism - it is understandable that changes happen slowly here. The transition from communism to capitalism is a very painful process and truly difficult for every generation. The largest cities are adjusting at a faster pace than the rest of Russia. Cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, in addition to their mystical (yes, mystical!) architecture and unique way of life are also very modern, with a high standard of living, advanced economies and a
◄ WHAT IS RUSSIA?
An introduction to the biggest country on earth - are you ready?
►See below for list of Russian History and Geography Articles.
Russian people, by the way, are really not any different from other people around the world. In the big cities people are well educated and hurry with Western-like urgency. Sometimes they seem a bit cold, and smiling certainly isn't a national pasttime. However in central Russia and in smaller towns people are extremely kind, warm and welcoming. This probably has something to do with their simpler and often harder way of life, in which co-operation is a necessity.
It's important to understand that throughout Russia's history, the people have always struggled through hard times and it has never been truly peaceful and easy living here. Today, Russia is still the period of transition mentioned earlier, one which has both economic and social aspects. Although everything is gradually improving and the economy is taking off , many problems remain which are going to take years to resolve. Still, most people here have an optimistic view of the future and are open, welcoming and ready to share Russia's great treasures with visitors from all over the world.
Begin your adventure with the following guide to Russia's geography and history…
THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
An explanation of the politics, economics, and social components of contemporary Russia, with specific attention paid to regional and national factors.
WHAT THE CIA KNOWS
A clear and concise collection of facts about Russia courtesy of the CIA. Details everything from population demographics and education levels to questions of geopolitical significance and economics.
From the freezing temperatures of Siberia to the near constant summer of the Black Sea, an in- depth explanation of the country most known for cold.
With more time zones than any other nation on Earth, you need helpful guide to what time it is where. Here it is.
IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK?
Some things you didn't know about Russia and challenging some things you thought you knew!
THE MAIN REGIONS OF RUSSIA
General information about the many federal districts that make up the whole of the Russian Federation
THE CENTRAL FEDERAL DISTRICT
The heart of Russia, complete with the complexities of the Kremlin and the beauty of the Golden Ring, is explored here. Tourist destinations as well as historically and politically significant regions are covered in detail.
NORTH-WESTERN FEDERAL DISTRICT
Home to the "Venice of the North" and the beautiful nature of Karelia; explore the Russia that is a "Window into Europe". Use this guide to find some of the oldest fortresses and towns in Russia.
THE VOLGA FEDERAL DISTRICT
A close examination of the region of Russia's greatest river and the bread basket of modern Russia. Covers everything from the impressive agricultural significance of the region to the ancient cities to the economy of today.
SOUTH FEDERAL DISTRICT
A survey of the Russia that never gets cold. This section of Russia has been subject to travel warnings lately, look here for the latest information for the best and safest trip possible.
SIBERIAN FEDERAL DISTRICT
Looking past the mythologies of Polar Bears on the streets and into the reality of life in the climactically- harsh but resource-rich region that made up the first frontier of Russia.
URAL FEDERAL DISTRICT
An analysis of the region that many call the "Boundary of Europe", with explanations of the major cities and points of interest.
FAR EASTERN FEDERAL DISTRICT
An in-depth look at the Russia of the pioneers that felt the influence of the East far more than the West. Whether you are interested in the Datzuns of Ulan-Ude or tracing the remnants of the Mongolian conquest, the intricacy of the cultural blends found here entrance you.
RUSSIA BEFORE THE RUSSIANS
The first inhabitants of what would become Russia. How they lived and what they did.
The first capital of Russia was Kiev - here is a look at Russia's beginnings in the Ukraine.
THE MONGOL INVASIONS
An analysis of one of the greatest empires in world history: how the Mongols impacted Russia from the time of the conquests through to the continuing ramifications of their presence in the Far East.
The relocation of the capital and the beginning of modern-day Russia.
Amazing information about the great dynasties of Russia.
THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
How and why did the revolution happen? Here is a look at the beginning of the Socialist state.
Russia from Lenin to Perestroika.
THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TODAY
The Russia of today holds much from the past while at the same time being a completely new and rather unpredictable entity. Read an analysis of the situation.