The vast and varied landscape of Russia stretches over the continents of Europe and Asia, covering 11 time zones and bordering 14 different countries. The Russian climate is a story of extremes, ranging from the subzero temperatures of eastern Siberia to the humid continental climate of the North European Plain.
The Land Russia is the world's largest country, with vast plains spanning nearly half of its surface. About 75 percent of Russia's population live on its North European Plain. This region is home to Russia's major cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Mountain ranges punctuate an otherwise flat landscape. The Caucasus Mountains contain Mt. ElbrusóRussia's highest point, and the Ural Mountains mark the traditional border between European Russia and Asian Russia. The country contains some of the world's largest lakes and Europe's longest river. Russia has ample supplies of natural resources. Mineral and energy resources are large but often difficult to tap. Only 10 percent of Russia's land can support agriculture, but the Black Earth Belt with its rich soil called chernozem supports high yields of wheat, barley, rye, and other crops that feed much of Russia. Forests supply much of the world's timber, and fishing remains an important industry.
Climate and Vegetation Russia is a country of climate extremes. On the northern fringes of Russia's high-latitude climate lies the tundra, where average temperatures remain below zero. Vegetation is limited to mosses, lichen, algae, and dwarf shrubs, due to the region's permafrost and very short growing season. Russia's dominant climate, the subarctic, spans across European Russian and parts of Siberia. This climate supports the taiga, a densely wooded region that contains the world's largest coniferous forest. A humid continental climate with milder winters and longer summers dominates the mid-latitudes, where most people live and the majority of Russia's agriculture is located. In a small area between the Black and Caspian Seas is Russia's steppe climate. This temperate grassland area has dry summers and long, cold, dry winters with swirling, sparse snow.