Top tip: Know your Chess board
The Russian Federation is almost twice the size of the United States, stretching from the enclave of Kaliningrad in the west over the Ural mountains and the endless Siberian plains to the Sea of Okhotsk in the east. European Russia and Asian Siberia are divided by the Ural Mountains, the Ural River and the Manych Depression.
European Russia extends from the North Polar Sea across the Central Russian Uplands to the Black Sea, the Northern Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Siberia stretches from the West Siberian Plain across the Central Siberian Plateau to the Lena River and includes the Sayan and Yablonovy mountain ranges in the south. The Far East of Russia, a region almost as big as Siberia itself, runs all the way to the Pacific coast, taking in the lengthy Chukotka and Kamchatka peninsulas.
Moscow and St Petersburg do have a certain romance in the sparkling snow, but nevertheless, most visitors prefer the warmer months of June to August. This means the so-called “shoulder seasons” of April-May and September-October are preferable for tourists wishing to avoid the major crowds – prices are also more affordable during these periods. Spring, unfortunately, is often characterised by roads covered in slush in the cities – Siberia typically has devastatingly cold winters, while its summers are can be pleasantly mild, though rainy. Near the Black Sea winters are mild, but again there is heavy rainfall.
Facts and Figures
|17,075,400 sq km (6,592,850 sq miles).
|Moscow. – population 8,436,447 (1994)
|Russian. English, French or German are spoken by some people.
|Mainly Christian with Russian Orthodox being the largest Christian community. Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish minorities also exist.
|GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from the last Sunday in March to Saturday before ast Sunday in October).
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