Russia today is a nation of
enormous diversity and tremendous vitality.
It is as if the cultural traditions of a century ago have re-awakened
with a newfound strength - ancient cathedrals are being rebuilt and
restored, colorful markets hum with activity once again and literature
and the arts are quickly regaining the creative renown they enjoyed
decades ago. A new Russia is now in full bloom. The defeat of the
Russian Empire in World War I led to the seizure of power by the
communists and the formation of the USSR.
The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1924-53) strengthened Russian dominance
of theSoviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet
economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General
Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and
perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism, but
his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991
splintered the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia
has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and
market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic
controls of the communist period
The most important cities on the european side are
Moscow, St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) and
Murmansk. This is the heartland of Imperial Russia, and these
great and ancient cities often become the focus for most tourists.
However there is much more to Russia, a country that spans eleven time
zones and two continents, ending less than 50 miles from North America.
Within this vast expanse lie the largest freshwater lake in the world,
rivers and forests teeming with fish and wildlife, awe inspiring
volcanos, and towering mountains. Russia is the largest country on
earth, with enormous tracts of land that have been opened to travellers
only in the last few years.
Russia has a formidable pool of recreational resources, including
natural landscapes of endless variety and inimitable beauty, monuments
of history and cultural heritage, unique engineering structures, and
unmatched cities, towns and smaller communities.
popular tourist attractions are the old
Russian cities of Vladimir, Suzdal, Sergiev Posad, Pereyaslavl Zalessky,
Rostov, Uglitch, Yaroslavl and Kostroma, the biggest gems of Russia's
Golden Ring. Also high on every tourist's priority list are itineraries
by boat from Moscow to St.Petersburg and the Valaam Island, a central
point of religious piligrimage, or to Kizhi, the wonderland of old
Russian wooden architecture, the Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea
coast, to Mount Elbrus, the Ural mountains, and the Altai country, in
different natural settings, from the Black Sea coast (like Gelenzhik and
Anapa), the Baltic Sea (Sestroretsk, Komarovo, Zelenogorsk, Svetlogorsk,
etc.) to the mountains of the Northern Caucasus (Teberda and Dombai),
Ural (Kisegatch and Uveldy) and Altai (Chemal).
Present-day Moscow is a capital of the Russian Federation.
Moscow is one of the biggest cities in the world. It occupies the area
of 1035 square kilometres. Moscow has more than 5.000 streets. The
population is about 9 million people, plus more than three million
tourists and guests coming annually. Climate is moderate. The average
temperature in July and August is +20(25)°C; in December and January
-10°C. The humidity is moderate. The Moscow's winters are, as a rule,
cold and snowy. Moscow is conveniently sited in the centre of Russia's
European part where the rivers Moskva and Yauza cross the Central
A settlement of artisans and
traders arose at the site of the present-day Kremlin and Zaryadie long
before the first mention of Moscow in chronicles (the year 1147).
Standing at the crossing of the main trading routes (the Moskva river
and the Yauza), it had its centre on Borovitsky Hill. In the 15th
century Moscow became capital of the Russian state. With the transfer of
Russia's capital to St.Petersburg in 1712, it became the country's
second capital. In 1918, it became the capital of the Russian
Federation, and from 1922 to 1991, it was the capital of the USSR.
Administratively, Moscow is
segmented into 10 administration districts. The names of the districts
comply with their location: Central, West, North-West, etc. The
districts are, then, segmented into city regions, there are 128 of them