 Background
– Russia and newly independent neighbors once
formed the USSR and cover an enormous area
– European part of region includes Baltic states of
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania / Belarus, Ukraine
and Moldova. Also includes Transcaucasus states
of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan
– Asian part of region includes Central Asian
republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,
Turmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tadzhikistan
– region occupies 1/6 of earth’s landsurface,
stretches 6,000 miles from west to east and 3,000
north to south; spans 12 time zones
– image of unlimited raw materials and virgin
lands compromised by difficulty of exploitation,
remoteness of territory, lack of capital, and bad
– Russia occupies 3/4 of former USSR
 Natural
– large Eurasian landmass and high latitudinal
location strongly influence severe continental
climate (southern most area same latitude as
Memphis, TN)
– Moscow further north than Edmonton, Canada
– 75% of area is north of 49th parallel (northern
border of US/Canada)
 Importance
of Rivers to Russia
– Longest north-south river is Volga which flows
from the north to Caspian Sea
– Dnieper River empties into Black Sea
– Don River into Sea of Azov
– “Mutushka” (mother) name of Volga
– Boatmen towed barges up Volga to Moscow
(The Volga Boatmen)
– Volga-Don canal important for transportation
 Landforms
– European section
 Baltic
states, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine lie within
Eastern European plain
 drained by numerous rivers like Volga and Dnieper
 fairly flat with low mountains on Kola peninsula
 mountains border plain on south- Carpathian Mts.,
Crimean Mts., Caucasus Mts.
 Mt.. Elbrus 18.5 k, highest peak in Europe
 European plain ends at Ural Mts..
– Siberia
 western
Siberian lowland 1,000 miles to Pacific
 Ob
river drains most of western Siberian lowland
 Yenisey and Lena Kazakhstan and Central Asia
 Kazay uplands to south of western Siberian lowland
 Aral sea fed by two rivers that originate in Pamir and
Tian Shan Mts- Amu Darya and Syr Darya
– Vegetation zones
 Tundra
13% of Russian republic
mean temperature in warmest month 50-32 degrees F
short growing season, poor soils, only hardy plants
permafrost and high winds
very sparsely populated with only a few military
bases, tribes, hunters, trappers, and miners
 Forest
– taiga of Russia
• coniferous forests with swamps and meadows
• subartic climate with temperatures as low as 90
degrees F
• Permafrost much of the year
• short summers, very cold winters, 100 day
growing season
• transportation and constructions problems
• timber, fur-bearing animals, precious metals, oil and gas
– mixed forests of Baltics, Belarus, Ukraine and European
• coniferous and broadleaf trees
• temperatures and growing season increase toward south
• less acidic and more fertile soils
– broadleaf forests of Siberia in Far East
• broadleaf forests
• cold, dry winters, hot, humid summers
 Forest
steppe and steppe
forest steppe gives way to true steppe in south
Moldova, Ukraine, western Siberia, and Kzakhstan
chernozerm (black earth) soils in steppe
important for agriculture but unreliable rainfall
 Deserts
– trans-Volga area, southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,
– 10 inches of rain per year
– very hot, dry conditions in summer; cold in winter
– vegetation consists of grasses and plants that can store
 Subtropical
– east coast of Black Sea (Georgia) and Crimean peninsula in
– Crimean mountains help protect narrow coastal region from
cold north winds
– famous resort areas on Black Sea
– specialized agriculture with tea, citrus fruits, fertile soils, good
 Mountain
– Central Asia countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikstan,
Uzbekistan, and Transcaucasus
– Russian Far East
Russia: Physical Map
Russian Plain
Ural Mts
Kazay uplands
Russian Climate Map
 Russian
– Polar climate (permafrost, very cold)
– Continental climate (cold winters, cool
summers, short growing season)
– Dry climate (mid latitude steppe and desert
with limited rainfall
– Humid subtropical climate (hot summers, mild
winters, longer growing season, good moisture)
–General Observations
of 15 republics that once constituted
the former USSR was 290 million; Russia alone has
150 million
most populous country of the world
soviet states vary in size from Estonia at 1.5
mil to 52 mil in the Ukraine
–Formation of a Multinational State
state of Russia about 3/4 size of USSR
Tsarist and Soviet rulers able to expand territory
at expense of indigenous peoples
 Latvians,
Lithuanians, Armenians, and Tadzhiks also
speak languages belonging to Indo-European family
 pervasive power of state maintained empire with
allowance for a few ethnic rights- native languages,
ethnic customs, etc
 CPSU dominated by Russians
 practice of Russification
 after 73 years of communist rule, ethnic cleavages
could not be contained any longer
– Ethnic Composition
 eastern
Slavs- Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians
speak languages belonging to Indo-European family
 50
million in Central Asia speak a language belonging
to the Altaic family. Live in Central Asia, middle Volga
Valley and Caucasus
 small representation of Uralian family (5 million) in
Estonia, northern Europe, western Siberian section
 variety of other languages spoken by Georgians,
Mongols, Koreans, tribes in Siberia
– Religious composition
 Eastern
Orthodox- Moscow core region
 Christianity- Baltic states
 Islam- Southern Muslim Republics
 Roman Catholicism- Baltic states
 Jewish- Russia
– Political Divisions
 Former
political units of USSR were the 15 union republics
 In early 90’s all become independent republics
 CIS- Commonwealth of Independent States (12/15 SSR’s)
 host of other ethnic groups wanted representation
 Russians were significant minorities in the Baltics, Central
Asian republics, and other territories
 Gorbachev’s call for “demokratizatsiya” opened up
Pandora’s box
 old Soviet constitution said USSR was a “voluntary”
federation with right of succession
 demonstrations
and conflicts all over Russia
 Lithuania took boldest step in declaring independence
 abortive 1991 coup by right wing Communist officials leads
to other declarations of independence in Latvia and Estonia
 By 1992 all former SSR’s declared statehood
 hammer and sickle on Soviet flag replaced by old Tsarist
flag; Gorbachev resigns as president
– Post-Independence Nationality Problems
 challenge
of political cooperation among different ethnic
 80 border disputes due to ethnic conflicts
 citizenship questions for Russian minorities in ethnic
 Russians
and Ukrainians in Moldova declared Dniester
 War between Armenia and Azerbaijan over NagornoKarabakh
 Southern Ossetians and Abkhazy declared independence
from Georgia
 Tatars in middle Volga demand independence
 Chechnya war raging since 1990.Devastation of Grozny,
the capital of Chechnya today.
 50 million Muslims in Central Asia desire pan-Islamic
 Russian federation main successor to RSFSR (Russian
Soviet Federative Socialist Republic)
– demographic characteristics
 Slavs
and Baltic peoples have low birth rates and low death
 ethnic groups in Central, Caucasus, and Siberia have high
birth rates and low death rates
 Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and
Azerbaijan have birth rtes like Third World
 between 1979-89 Russian grew by 5.6% and Ukrainians
grew by 4.2%
 Tadzhiks, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz grew by 45%, 34%,
34%, and 33% respectively
 Slavs have declined from 75% of total population in 1959 to
51% today
 life
expectancy in Russia is 64 years for Russian males vs
72 in US
 life expectancy in Russia is 74 years for Russian females vs
79 in US
 Alcoholism and inadequate health care
 imbalance of male/female ratios (USSR lost 20 million men
in WW II)
 imbalances slowly being rectified
 use of females in labor force
 shortages in labor force
 pronatal policies of Marxist ideology plus stipends have not
increase birth rate
 birth rate too high in Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and
Caucasuses but too low in urbanized, Slavic Russia
Russia: Fertile Triangle
– distribution of population
 fertile
triangle from St. Petersburg to Urals to Crimea on
Black Sea (Russian core area)
 distribution varies from 250 people per sq. mile western
Ukraine to virtually nothing in Russian tundra and Asian
 75% of total population lives in European Russia
 outside European Russia, heaviest populations
concentrated in foothills and valleys of Central Asia, along
rivers, and irrigated areas
– urbanization
 18%
of population lived in cities in Tsarist Russia
 industrialization in Stalinist Russia increased urbanization
to 33% before WW II
 today
75% of Russian live in cities
 70% of Estonians, Belarussians, Latvians, and Lithuanians
live in cities
 30-40% of Tadzhiks, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks live in cities
 most large cities in European Russia
 large cities in Russian Siberia mostly in southern part of
region or along Trans-Siberian railway
– Summary
 Russia
has diverse environmental and human resources
 serious environmental disruption, polluted atmosphere and
contaminated lakes, rivers, soil
 Nuclear wastes Novaya Zemlya; biological toxins Aral Sea
 control over diverse ethnic mosaic very challenging
problem for Russian government
Russia: Political Map
Russia-Economic Activities
 Background
– prior to Russian Revolution 80% of population
were peasants
– grinding rural poverty, high debts, no land,
inadequate food, unyielding autocracy
– industry growing in 1890’s
– history of revolts, revolutions, demands for
freedom and democracy in Russia
– influence of World War I and the Bolshevik
– Bolshevik Revolution and establishment of Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics
 Soviet Approach
to Development
– Dictatorship of Communist Party of Soviet Union
would lead backward country through economic
development and eventually communism
– significant achievement of industrialization under
Stalinist Five-Year Plans
– heavy costs on workers and rural peasants
– human toll of Stalinist economic policy in 20’s and
 Planned
– Stalinist Five-Year Plans
– planned economy, production goals for all goods
and services
– complexity of economic blueprints created
problems in allocating resources
– achievement of notable success in heavy industry
and military arms (“heavy metal eaters”)
– performance in agriculture and light industries poor
– performance in consumer industries dismal
 Gorbachev’s
economic reforms
economic stagnation and decreasing growth in 70’s
USSR could not feed itself, importing food
ruble valueless (not convertible) outside Russia
military spending consuming 25% of budget
nothing available to buy in state stores
Gorbachev promised glasnost (more openness),
demokratizatsiya (democratization), and perestroika
(restructuring of the economy).
– plan was to improve economic performance by
introducing market reforms
– high inflation unemployment in the short run
– unemployment increased, prices rose, inequality of
incomes apparent, decrease in the standard of living
for many people, political instability
 Challenge
of Development
– reformers losing political influence; nationalists
and ex-communists gaining influence
– level of economic well-being differs from republic
to republic
– difficulties in privatizing state enterprises
– by 1993 most retail shops in private hands
– agricultural and industrial production dropped by
50% in 5 years of market reforms
– defense spending and other government spending
cut, land privatized, inflation, declining economic
growth, joblessness, poverty
– centrally controlled distribution system curtailed
– Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Belarus, and Azerbaijan
have made fewest changes
– Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Lithuania and
Moldova committed to reform but little progress so
– Estonia and Latvia experiencing some success
– military/security problems with soldiers not being
paid, equipment deteriorating, command and control
structures fragile, possibility of nuclear thefts
– former republics highly dependent on trade with other
republics; under market reforms trading between these
former republics is more complicated
– inability to pay for imported goods
– Commonwealth of Independent States created to
facilitate trade and political ties; most new republics
suspicious of Moscow, fear dominance
– Russia benefiting today due to high prices for gas and
oil. New markets East and West.
 Economic
Development Potential
– Russia and Ukraine have best chance of economic
– Ukraine has extensive agricultural land, industrial
resources, good manufacturing capability
– Russia has extensive natural resources, largest
industrial regions, good agricultural land
– Baltics have good prospects for industrialization and
agricultural development
– most other regions except the Baltics have economic
– Central Asian Republics particularly weak
 Industrial
– Russian region ranks among the leaders in natural
resources, but these are not evenly distributed
– many resources in remote areas, costly to obtain,
harsh environment
– Energy
 good
growth potential for oil and gas production
 USSR prior to 1992 was world’s leading producer of oil
and gas
 1/2 of region’s oil comes from West Siberian fields
 problem of permafrost
 antiquated equipment and poor management
 Volga
Urals fields second most important oil-producing
 Caspian Sea area has major reserves rivaling that of the
Persian Gulf
 Japan and US interested in foreign investment
 Soviet Union was world’s leading producer of coal
 good reserves in Siberia; most coal production today in
western Russia and Ukraine
 Donets Basin is major source of coal
 electric generation from peat, coal, oil or gas
 atomic power about 10% now could rise to 25% soon
 15% of generation from hydroelectric with Volga and
Kama rivers particularly important
Caspian Oil
– Metallic Ores
 diverse
base of metals
 iron ore reserves largest in world (40% of known
 50% of iron ore extracted in USSR came from Ukrainian
Krivoi Rog fields
 Urals and Kursk deposits
 manganese and mercury in Ukraine
 Kazakhstan has bauxite, tungsten, molybdenum,
chromium, led, zing, and world’s largest copper deposits
 mercury and gold in Uzbekistan
 Industrial
– Soviets attempted to disperse location of industrial
regions for security reasons
– Kuznetsk metallurgical base in Siberia
– impact of German occupation in WW II
– Soviet planning favored development of
manufacturing in several areas: (1) Center around
Moscow; (2) St. Petersburg; (3) Mid-Volga area;
(4) the Urals; (5) Kuznetsk Basin in Siberia;
(6) Ukraine Industrial District
– Center
 Moscow
most populous and largest industrial city
 large market; good supply of skilled labor; good
 good electrical supply from Volga hydroelectric and gas/oil
pipelines from Ukraine
 manufacture linen, cotton, wool, silk fabrics
 machine construction, engineering, chemical, food
processing and woodworking
– St. Petersburg
 Peter
the Great, window to the West
 deficient in resources
 machine tools, shipbuilding
– Mid Volga
 extensive
energy resources
 petroleum producing areas in “Volga-Urals fields
 hydroelectricity
 good transportation along Volga with 60% of all freight
transported by river
 automotive plant build at Tolyatti with Fiat
– Urals
 third
largest industrial production center
 iron and steel industries
 copper smelting, zinc refining, aluminum production
 Yekaterinburg major rail center
– Siberia
 rich
coal deposits in Kuznetsk Basin
 Novosibirsk, major rail junction on Trans-Siberian line
 great industrial potential but high transportation costs and
high production costs
 location of industries with high power requirements
because of good hydroelectric potential
 Baikal-Amur Mainline Railroad (BAM)
 development of Siberia could be facilitated by Japanese but
political problems complicate relations
– Ukraine Industrial District
 principal
heavy-manufacturing area
 good availability of coal, iron, ore, ferroalloys, heavy
machinery construction
 gas fields to north and oil fields in Caucasus
 high productivity of agriculture
 food processing and agricultural equipment
 Kiev- capital with diversified industrial base
 Kharkov- important in production of heavy machinery
 Odessa- main port city
Russian Industrial Regions
 Agriculture
– agriculture not as developed historically as industry
– production increases from 1950’s to 1980’s
– productivity of Soviet farms poor with one American
farm worker producing 8 times more than his Soviet
– 22% of Soviet work force in agriculture vs 2% in US
– one Soviet farm worker feeds 8 Russians while one
US farmer feeds 52 Americans
– Collectivization of agriculture in 20’s proved to be a
– Problems of Collectives
 peasants
thought to be a latent capital class
 wanted to control peasants
 forced peasants into collectives
 control of agricultural prices and wages at low levels
 feed industrial labor force cheaply
 mechanization possible
 millions of peasants (kulaks) killed
 livestock herds slaughtered rather than surrender them
– Types of farm organization
 collective
farms (kolkhoz)
 state farms (sovkhoz)
 collective
farms brought several villages together with
centrally located machinery and private plots near houses
 state farms paid a set wage with bonuses for extra
 insufficient incentives to increase production
 state investment in fertilizers, machinery and technology
 private plots took up 4% of cultivated land but produced
48% of vegetables, 52% of meat, 67% of milk, and 84%
of eggs.
 agriculture was Achilles heel of Soviet system

Russia - Saint Martin's University