Russia

Russia is the largest country in the world with the total area 17 075 400 square kilometers (over 6.5 million square miles), that is about 1,8 times the size of the USA. It’s situated in the Eastern part of Europe and Northern part of Asia. The main part of the European territory of Russia is situated within the Eastern European Plain (Vostochno-Evropeyskaya Ravnina). The southern border is on the North Caucasus. The main part of the Asian area of Russia is on Zapadno-Sibirskaya Ravnina and Sredne-Sibirskoye Ploskogor’ye. The territory of Russia spans through 11 times zones.

Russia borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and North Korea by land, and with Sweden, Turkey, Japan and the USA by sea.

The climate of Russia varies from the steppes in the south and coastal on the north-west through humid continental in much of European Russia; sub arctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north and monsoon on the Far East. The average temperatures of January vary from 0 to -50°C, July – from 1 to 25°C. Many regions of Siberia and Far East are situated in the permafrost zone. Thus, Russia is one of the coldest countries in the world. The town of Oimyakon in north-east Siberia is the coldest inhabited place on earth, with temperatures recorded at more than 70°C below zero. The inhabited areas are mostly in the continental climate zones with long freezing winters (5-6 months long) and short warm summers. Total population is about 144.7 mln people, with about 72.9% urban population. Most of the population are Russians (81,5%), with more than 100 other nationalities (Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%).Russia is potentially one of the wealthiest countries with its natural resources, a well-educated population (99.6% adult literacy; 64% tertiary education enrollment rate), and a diverse industrial base. Nevertheless, its economic situation has deteriorated since the beginning of Perestroika in 1985, which announced moving from centrally planned economy to a market economy. The absence of a clear economical doctrine and means led to destruction of internal economical structure and declining of industries. In its turn, it led to significant raise of unemployment, with official unemployment figures of 10.2% (which might be in reality twice as high, since many people do not file for unemployment benefits).

Russian health and education systems, which used to be of the highest standard during the Soviet times, were slowly deteriorating. Inflation, started in 1992, reached its peak in 1994, and increased 10 000% by the end of 1997. In 1998 the government implemented a 1000% denomination of national currency (Rouble), turning back prices from thousands rubles to rubles