Getting Oriented

Russia spans 9 time zones and is the world's biggest country, covering over 6.6 million square miles, or about 1/8 of all the inhabitable land area. Russia's landscapes range from the frozen tundra in Siberia to the endless wheat fields and pine forests of central Russia to the jagged mountains and palm trees of the Caucasus in the South.

For Russia's large size, the population is quite small: 142 million people according the last census, and that number is declining. Central Russia is the most densely populated area, with Moscow at the center of everything. The farther east you go, the emptier the country becomes. Once you get past the Ural Mountains, you can ride the train for days without seeing much beyond the pine and birch trees of the forest.

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