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    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Russia

WARNING: Russia's border with Ukraine is unstable and tensions are high, read this travel warning before going!

Geography

Russian Geography - Horses on Ukok Plateau
Horses on Ukok Plateau

Russia is the world's largest country by size and it stretches across almost half the world. It reaches north almost to the North Pole, west into Europe, south into the Caucus Mountains and the Steppe, and in the east all the way into Asia and up to China. It borders the following bodies of water: Arctic Ocean (north), Baltic Sea (west), Black Sea (southwest), Caspian Sea (southwest), Sea of Japan (east), Pacific Ocean (east), and the Bering Sea (east) along with numerous smaller seas and bays. It also borders Norway (northwest), Finland (northwest), Estonia (west), Latvia (west), Belarus (west), Ukraine (west), Georgia (southwest), Azerbaijan (southwest), Kazakhstan (south), China (south and southeast), Mongolia (south), and North Korea (southeast). Additionally, it controls islands a short distance from both the United States and Japan, plus Russia controls the region of Kaliningrad, which sits on the Baltic Sea and borders Poland (south) and Lithuania (northeast).

Russian Geography - Lake in Karelia
Lake in Karelia

Geographically, Russia has nearly everything. Any landmass that stretches over half the earth will be diverse and Russia is no exception. European Russia (bordered by the Ural Mountains in the east) is where most of the population lives as this region is home to numerous rivers, lakes, and lowlands. Asian Russia (east of the Ural Mountains) is very inhospitable as much of this region is at elevation and receives little rain. This area also boasts most of Russia's geographic diversity as there are numerous mountain ranges, long isolated rivers, and some large lakes. As a whole, Russia's diversity ranges from swampland in much of the north to alpine peaks in the Caucus Mountains and huge lakes such as Lake Baikal in Siberia to volcanic ranges like the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Weather

Russian Geography - Lazovsky Nature Reserve
Lazovsky Nature Reserve

Russia's seasons are very distinct, there are great geographical differences, and taking into consideration the fact that Russia is the world's largest country, generalizing weather in the country is difficult.

Along the Black Sea coast temperatures average about 45˚ F (7˚ C) during the winters, while Moscow and St. Petersburg average 14˚ F (-10˚ C), and, although the far north tends to get the coldest, even cities along the trans-Siberian train route like Izhevsk average -6˚ F (-21˚ C) in winter. The Caucus Mountains are also cold, but not unbearable, however the Urals are very cold and much of them only receive a few hours of daylight during winter days.

The country experiences a major thaw in the spring, making everything muddy and difficult to maneuver on foot, while falls (autumns) can experience quick drops in temperature.

The Caucus and Ural Mountains are pleasant and accessible in the summers (although they can be very dry and dusty), the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg have long days with average temperatures between 65-70˚ F (18-21˚ C), Siberia comes into bloom and reveals beautiful hidden lakes, and the Black Sea coast rarely gets above 80˚ F (27˚ C), which compared to a winter in Moscow, feels like a sauna.

Wildlife

Russian Geography - Kamchatka Peninsula
Grizzly in the Kamchatka Peninsula

Russia's wildlife is extraordinarily diverse considering the country's massive size and geographic diversity. There a dozens of mammals in the country, from wolf and antelope in the southern steppe to fox and beavers in the Arctic regions. Depending on the particular region, you may find elk, bear, deer, squirrel, marmot, mice, and skunk. The country also boasts a long coastline and plenty of lakes and rivers, making fish a common sight. Herring is especially popular in European Russia.

There are also many birds in Russia, most of which are migratory. Siberia boasts a huge number of birds in the summer, while during winters only a few species stay around.

This page was last updated: November, 2013