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Introduction

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Map of Russia and link to http://www.city.ru
Map of Russia and link to http://www.city.ru

The Birth of Russia

In the 7th century B.C., nomadic Scythians migrated north into fertile Russian territories. Herodotus the Greek, who visited southern Russia in the 5th century B.C., observed that "Some tribes cultivated the land; the builders of the Parthenon would have gone hungry without Russian wheat; but the ruling element remained nomads, living in tents, yet not altogether eschewing the arts of civilization"

These people also began trading furs and honey with Constantinople; eventually, the merchants acted as middlemen between other settlements in the far north (inhabited by Finnish tribes) and the Roman Empire

As these early Slavic people began to cultivate the land, villages and towns sprang up, protected by wooden citadels, or kremlins, cut from the abundant forest timber. The inhabitants gradually occupied an area from St. Petersburg to Kiev and spoke a language (originating from Greek) quite similar to modern Russian

The Retention of Power Status

The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 left the Russian Federation with the bulk of the massive Soviet weapons of mass destruction complex. This legacy has allowed Russia to retain its great power status even as its economy has collapsed, but the burden of supporting this oversized complex has strained the Russian political and economic system. Russia's nuclear and missile capabilities presupposes its crucial role in arms control and nonproliferation, while the remnants of chemical and biological weapons programs pose major environmental and proliferation threats

And now, the Future

Moscow at night

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union there has been an enormous resurgence of interest in Russia's pre-Soviet past, as well as a great deal of debate and reconsideration of the Soviet era itself. This shift has not resulted in a simple vilification of everything Soviet or a naive embrace of all that preceded it, but it has spurred an unprecedented effort to regain the ancient Russian national heritage. Churches are being restored all across the country, great Russian writers and artists whose works were banned are once again being honored, and the individual character of ancient cities and communities is once again becoming established

Natural Resources

Russia has vast quantities of natural resources and is believed to have the second largest oil reserves in the world - second only to Saudi Arabia. And by even the most conservative estimates, Russia has the world's largest reserves of natural gas. However, economic and ongoing political difficulties have hampered development of these enormous energy resources

In the western Siberian oil basin which is Russia's premier petroleum producing province, resources account for between 70 and 80 percent of the country's oil reserves and 90 percent of its natural gas

The region, just below the Arctic circle, covers almost 20 percent of Russia's total land mass, an area equivalent to five times the size of Texas, and the basin holds an estimated 200 billion barrels of oil. Net production in 2001 averaged 27,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day

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