About European Russia
Russia, officially the Russian Federation (Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is the world's largest country. It occupies a significant part of the northern portion of the Eurasian continent.
is a transcontinental country, a state which is situated on more than one continent.
Russia spans the northern part of the Eurasian continent; 77% of Russia's area
is in Asia
, the western 23% of the country is located in Europe
. European Russia occupies almost 40% of the total area of Europe.
Manaraga Mountain (1,662 m), a peak in the Yugyd Va National Park. The largest national park in Europe is located on the western slopes of the Ural Mountains, the dividing line between Europe and Asia.
Image: Aleksandr Chazov
By convention, the line of demarcation between Western Asia and the European part of the 'supercontinent' of Eurasia is along the Ural Mountain range, the Ural River, the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, and the Turkish Straits.
European Russia (or Western Russia) is situated in Eastern Europe
on the East European Plain, the eastern part of the Great European Plain
, the largest mountain-free landform in Europe; only some hills and highlands are interspersed within.
The region is bordered to the north by the White Sea
, the Barents Sea
, and the Kara Sea
, all arms and bays of the Arctic Ocean.
In the west, Russia is bordered by Norway
, and a small part of the Baltic Sea
(at the Gulf of Finland). It borders the Baltic states
, and Lithuania
(at Kaliningrad) in the west; in the southwest, it is bordered by Belarus
; there is also a border with Poland
(at Kaliningrad Oblast).
Furthermore, it borders Georgia
, and Kazakhstan
. Western Russia also has coastlines on the Black Sea
and the Caspian Sea
in the southwest.
More about European Russia
The vast area of European Russia stretches from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Caucasus Mountains in the south and from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east. The European part of Russia covers an area
of 3,960,000 km², making it somewhat larger than India
, or about half the size of the Contiguous United States
Map of Western Russia with administrative divisions. There are five federal districts in the European part of the Russian Federation.
Image: kk nationsonline.org
Russia is divided into eight federal districts
(okrugs), five of which are located in Western Russia. The federal districts are groups of federal subjects
, the constituent entities of Russia and the top-level political divisions according to the Constitution of Russia.
In contrast, the federal districts are an additional administrative structure. Each federal district is headed by a representative appointed and authorized by the President of Russia. These representatives (usually called governors or presidents) exercise a control function over the heads of the subjects of the Federation.
Russia's federal districts were established by President Vladimir Putin
in 2000 to help the federal government control the then 89 federal subjects across the country.
- The Central Federal District (CEN) is the most populous district in Russia, with nearly 40 million inhabitants. It is located in the west and borders Belarus and Ukraine, and Moscow is its administrative core.
- The Volga Federal District (PRV) in the east is predominantly located in Europe; the capital is Nizhny Novgorod (formerly known as Gorky).
The Northwestern Federal District (SZA) has an area of 1,687,000 km², which is slightly larger than three times the area of France. Its administrative center is St. Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad.
- The Southern Federal District (JUZ) lies between Ukraine and Kazakhstan; it is bounded in the southwest by the Black Sea and in the southeast by the Caspian Sea. Its administrative capital is Rostov-on-Don, a port city on the Don River.
- The North Caucasus Federal District (SKA), created in 2010, is located in southwestern Russia in the North Caucasus. The district is home to the autonomous republics of Dagestan and Chechnya; it borders Georgia and Azerbaijan to the south and is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east; its administrative center is Pyatigorsk.
Tulips in a protected area of Russia in Iki-Burulsky District in the Republic of Kalmykia. Tulipa suaveolens is one of the most typical spring flowers of the Eurasian Steppe.
The northern portion of Russia lies within the Arctic Circle
. The region includes the Kola Peninsula, parts of the Arkhangelsk Oblast, the Komi Republic, and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, home to the Nenets people. The landscape is dominated by Tundra
, the treeless marshy steppe of the north.
Southward of the Arctic Circle, above 60 degrees north latitude, the landscape is dominated by Taiga
, the swampy coniferous forest of high northern latitudes with a mix of spruces, larches, pines and birch trees in the north giving way southward to broad-leaved trees.
The center of the East European Plain
is covered by temperate broadleaf and mixed forests; the mostly flat plain is here and there disrupted by some hills and highlands, known as the Smolensk-Moscow Upland, the Central Russian Upland, the Volga Hills, and the Northern Hills.
Since modern times, the plain has been extensively developed for agriculture. The primary grains are wheat, barley and rye, and 'industrial' crops such as sunflower seeds, sugar beets, and potatoes.
In the south of Western Russia extends the Western Steppe
(Pontic–Caspian Steppe), the western part of the vast Eurasian Steppe belt is a broad fertile band of treeless, grassy plains with savannas and shrublands, situated to the north of the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Caucasus mountain range and the semidesert along the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. The Western Steppe begins near the mouth of the Danube River and extends northeast almost to Kazan
and then east to the southern tip of the Ural Mountains.
Winter landscape on top of Mount Kachkanar in the central Ural mountain range.
Image: Copper Kettle
The Ural Mountains
are a mountain range stretching over 2,100 km (1,300 mi) from the Kara Sea
(Arctic Ocean) in the north to northwestern Kazakhstan (Mugodzhar Hills) in the south. The natural barrier dividing the Eurasian continent is considered the border between Europe and Asia
. The highest peak of the Ural Mountains is Mount Narodnaya
at 1,895 m.
Geomorphic processes shaped Western Russia's mostly flat landscape during the Pleistocene Epoch
(i.e., about 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago, commonly known as the Ice Age), a period of repeated glaciations.
Continental-sized ice sheets covered most of Northern Europe; their movements scoured and abraded the plain's surface, eroded mountains to their bases and rendered the whole landscape flat. After the last glacial period, the melting ice left behind a lot of water. European Russia has many freshwater lakes, especially in the northwest and on the Kola Peninsula; almost all were created by glacial erosion.
Rivers and Lakes
Western Russia's largest lakes are Lake Ladoga
, the largest lake located entirely in Europe, and Lake Onega
, Europe's second-largest lake. The Rybinsk Reservoir
or Rybinsk Sea is a human-made reservoir and the northernmost point of the Volga river. Other major lakes are Lake Peipus (shared with Estonia
), Lake Beloye (the White Lake), Lake Vygozero, Lake Kovdozero, and Lake Segozero.
Major rivers in Western Russia
The Northern Dvina embankment of Arkhangelsk with the rebuilt Archangel Michael Cathedral in the center and the icebreakers "Dikson" and "Kapitan Kosolapov" in front of Arkhangelsk' marine passenger terminal.
The Volga, the longest river in Europe (3,688 km), is one of the most important waterways in Russia and navigable for most of its length. The river is considered the historic cradle of the Russian civilization. It rises in the upland region of the Valdai Hills and flows into the Caspian Sea.
Image: Gennadiy Shtalbaum
- The Northern Dvina is formed by the confluence of the Yug and Sukhona rivers in the North Russian Plain near Veliky Ustyug, the mouth of the river is in the Dvina Bay of the White Sea (Arctic Ocean) near Arkhangelsk.
- The 857 km long Mezen is one of the biggest rivers of European Russia. It rises in the Timan Ridge and flows into the Mezen Bay of the White Sea.
- The Moskva is a 470 km long river that flows through Russia's capital Moscow, which was named after it.
- The Neva is a 74 km long river connecting Lake Ladoga with the Gulf of Finland (Baltic Sea). The Neva is the only outflow of Lake Ladoga and played a vital role in the history of St. Petersburg and the region.
- The Ural is a river originating in the southern Ural Mountains, flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan and emptying into the Caspian Sea; the river is considered part of the border between Europe and Asia.
- The White Sea-Baltic Canal consists of a system of rivers, lakes and canals that eventually connects the White Sea of the Arctic Ocean with the Gulf of Finland (Baltic Sea).
View of central Moscow from Sofiyskaya Embankment with the famous building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (left), the southwest corner of the Kremlin Wall (Vodovzvodnaya Tower), and the high-rises of the Moscow International Business Center (Moscow-City, Presnensky District) in the background.
European Russia has a population
of 113 million people (in 2020), making it the most populous country in Europe. About 77% of Russia's total population lives west of the Ural Mountains. Therefore, almost all of Russia's largest cities are in the western part of the country. These cities are important social, political, economic, industrial and cultural centers.
The most populated cities in Russia
The most populous city in Russia is Moscow
(pop. 12,2 million), the second-largest city is Saint Petersburg
(pop. 5.5 million), a major seaport and former capital of imperial Russia (until the Russian Revolution in 1918).
Other major cities with more than one million people are Nizhny Novgorod
; until 1990, it was known as Gorky, an important economic hub and a major center of river tourism in Russia.
is a port on the River Volga; it is also the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan.
, known until 1991 as Kuybyshev, is a port and an industrial city at the Samara Bend of the Volga river opposite the wooded Zhiguli Mountains. It is the capital of the Oblast of the same name.
Aerial view of Peter and Paul Fortress on Hare Island (Zayachy Is.) in the Neva River, the original citadel of St. Petersburg. Today, the star fortress is the main site of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg.
Image: Lev Karavanov
is a port city at the Volga-Don Shipping Canal, is one of the largest cities in the European part of the Russian Federation. The capital of the Rostov Oblast is known as the "Gateway to the Caucasus."
is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan; the city lies at the confluence of the Ufa and the Belaya rivers, about 100 km west of the Ural mountains.
, the easternmost metropolis in Europe, is an industrial city and a transportation hub. The city is situated in the Ural foothills on the Kama River, a 1,800 km long major tributary of the Volga.
was formerly known as Stalingrad, an industrial city and the administrative and economic center of Volgograd Oblast. The city is located on the lower Volga.
The cities of Chelyabinsk
, the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast, and Yekaterinburg
, the capital of the Ural Federal District, are technically in Asia, but they belong to the European Russian economic zone.
is a port city on the Kola Peninsula with more than 300,000 inhabitants; it is by far the largest city north of the Arctic Circle. Murmansk and Severomorsk, 20 km to the north, are important bases for the Russian Northern Fleet.
is a coal-mining town with a population of about 70,000 people; it is the easternmost city in Europe.