Russia Historical Geography

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Russia Gotoarrow.png Historical Geography

The Russian Federation stretches across much of the north of the supercontinent of Eurasia. Although it contains a large share of the world's Arctic and sub-Arctic areas, and therefore has less population, economic activity, and physical variety per unit area than most countries, the great area south of these still accommodates a great variety of landscapes and climates. The mid-annual temperature is +5.5°C (42°F).

Most of the land consists of vast plains, both in the European part and the part of Asian territory that is largely known as Siberia. These plains are predominantly steppe (vast grasslands) to the south and heavily forested to the north, with tundra along the northern coast. The permafrost (areas of Siberia and the Far East) occupies more than half of the territory of Russia. Mountain ranges are found along the southern borders, such as the Caucasus (containing Mount Elbrus, Russia's and Europe's highest point at 5,642 m / 18,511 ft) and the Altai, and in the eastern parts, such as the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes on Kamchatka. The more central Ural Mountains, a north-south range that form the primary divide between Europe and Asia, are also notable.

Russia has an extensive coastline of over 37,000 kilometers (23,000 mi) along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as more or less inland seas such as the Baltic, Black and Caspian seas. Some smaller bodies of water are part of the open oceans; the Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea are part of the Arctic, whereas the Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan belong to the Pacific Ocean.

Localities[edit | edit source]

In 1708 Peter the Great divided Imperial Russia into eight large provinces - gubernii. A county - uyezd was the subdivision of a guberniya.

The statute of 1775 instituted by Catherine the Great divided Russia into 40 provinces, each divided into an average of 10 counties.

In 1797 each county was divided into districts - volosti and villages - derevnya or selo, distinguished by the fact that a selo normally had a church. A stan was known to be a police jurisdiction. This organization remained fairly stable.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were 50 provinces in European Russia; not including Finland, Poland, and the Caucasus. Most of the provinces in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Far East corresponding to imperial provinces were called oblasti.

In 1914, there were 78 gubernii and 20 oblasti.

In modern Russia, an oblast is an equivalent to an imperial province. There are more provinces in modern Russia than there were provinces in Imperial Russia. Often, the records of several modern povinces are found in the archive of a single modern province whose capital happened to be the capital of an imperial province.

A region raion is the intermediate jurisdiction in modern Russia, taking the place of counties and districts.

Geographic Terminology[edit | edit source]

Small localities like villages belong to larger administrative units or jurisdictions, which in turn belong to other larger jurisdictions. Among other things, gazetteers generally identify such jurisdictions and help us to localize places and often to distinguish between places with the same name. Following are some terms that are used for jurisdictions in Russia for both the times before and after the Revolution.

Imperial Russia terms
Province ― Губерния (Guberniya)
County ―Уездь (Uyezd)
District (civil) ― Волост (Volost)
District (police) ― Cтaн (Stan)
City ― Город (Gorod)
Village with church ― Село (Selo)
Village without church ― Деревне (Derevne)
Place ― Место (Mesto)

Soviet Union & Russian Federation terms
Province ― Област (Oblast)
Region ― Район (Raion)
City ― Город (Gorod)
Village ― Деревне (Derevne)
Place ― Место (Mesto)

Border Changes[edit | edit source]

Bessarabia/Ottoman Empire
--1945-->W--Moldova, E--Ukraine

Bucovina/Ottoman Empire
--1945-->N--Ukraine, S--Romania

Courland (Kurland)/Russia
--1918-- >Latvia

East Prussia/Germany
--1945-->N--Kaliningrad (Russia), S--Poland


--1945-->E--Ukraine, W--Poland

--1945-->E--Belarus, W--Poland


Livland (Livonia)/Russia
--1918-- >N --Estonia, S--Latvia

Memel/East Prussia

--1772,1793,1795-->E--Russia, N--Prussia, S--Austria
--1939-->NE--Belarus; SE--Ukraine

--1918-->N--Lithuania, S--Poland


--1945 -->Ukraine

--1945-->N--Lithuania, S--Belarus

--1918-->N--Latvia, S--Belarus, E--Russia

--1945-- >Ukraine


Commonwealth of Independent States.[edit | edit source]

CIS = Commonwealth of Independent States. It is a union of twelve of the independent states that formerly were republics in the Soviet Union. The Baltic States are not part of this union. (The union does not function particularly well.)

Republics of the Soviet Union

1. Russia (Russian Federation = Republic)
2. Belorussia
3. Ukraine
4. Moldova

Baltic States:
5. Estonia
6. Latvia
7. Lithuania

8. Georgia (Gruziya)
9. Armenia
10. Azerbaijan

Central Asia:
11. Kazakhstan
12. Kyrgystan
13. Tajikistan
14. Turkmenistan
15. Uzbekistan