By: Jason Bochnowicz Erica Burnetti
Permafrost- The layer of soil that stays frozen all year in a polar climate
Taiga- A forest of evergreen trees that is south of the tundra in Russia
Steppe- An area of grassland and fertile soil that is south of the taiga in Russia
Chromium- A hard metal that is strong and does not rust easily
Reform- changes meant to make things better
Czar-The Russian word for Caesar, or ruler
Abdicate- Give up
Totalitarian-Someone who has a complete control over a country and its people
Purge- To get rid of
Cold War- A conflict of word and ideas between nations rather than armies
Perestroika- A “reconstructing” or rebuilding of the Soviet political and economic systems
Glasnost- The ‘openness’ or new freedom that aloud soviet citizens to speak out without
fear of punishment
Light Industry- Industry that focuses on the production of consumer goods such as
appliances and clothing
Heavy Industry- Industry that usually involves manufacturing based on large commercial
Cosmonauts- The name given to a Russian space explorer
Displaced- To move from the usual or proper; to move people against their will
The Land of Russia
The largest country that is in the CIS is Russia. Russia is also one of the largest
countries in the world. Russia also covers up 10% of land on the Earth. The
big country can be divided into five different land regions the Great
European Plain, the Ural Mountains, the West Siberian Uplands, the
Central Siberian Plateau, and last but not least the East Siberian Uplands.
Russia has two large cities and they are Moscow and St.Petersburg. The
Great European Plain covers a lot of Russia’s land in Europe. East of the
Great Plain are the Ural Mountains which is one of the five land regions.
They form a boundary between the European and Asia which are parts of
Russia. The Mountains run north and south from the Arctic Ocean to the
Kazakhstan. To the east of the Ural Mountains are the West Siberian Plain.
The huge plain covers more than one million square miles but it doesn’t go
higher than 500 above the sea level.
Ukraine is about the size of Texas which covers more than 233,00 square miles.
Ukraine has flat land which was filled with steppes. The steppes are part of a
large plain that travels from the southern Ukraine to the central Asia, most
of the plains in central Asia are dry. Ukraine also has a lot of fresh water
because many of the streams run through Ukraine. The Black sea which is
in Ukraine has been badly polluted and Dr. Lawrence Mee who is a scientist
says that the Ukrainians have to start protecting and stop polluting it. To the
north of Ukraine is a place called Belarus. Belarus’s rivers, streams, and lakes
are very important natural resources. The people in Belarus use the river to
create something that is called hydroelectric power. One-third of Belarus is
filled with forest. More than 10,00 different types of animals and plants can
be found in the Belarus’s forests.
The Caucasus Mountains cut across 700 miles between the Black and
Caspian Seas. The mountains include Mt.Elbrus which is the highest
point in Europe, it is 18,510 feet tall. The region of the former Soviet
Union includes the countries of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and
some of the southern Russia. The mountains cover northern and
eastern Georgia. Armenia is a land of rugged mountains and
volcanoes. Along the shores of the Caspian sea the workers drill for
oil. The people in Azerbaijan call the country the “land of fire.” Many
people believe that visitors gave Azerbaijan this name.
Across Caspian from Azerbaijan are Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,
and last but not least Kyrgyzstan. Many CIS countries have very large areas of fertile
plains ideal for farming. Kazakhstan is half the size of the United States and it is the
second largest country in the CIS. Kazakhstan’s climate is very harsh with cold
winters and extremely hat summers. For thousands of years nomadic groups travel
through land moving in search of very few vegetations. Today many natural
resources have been put to very few use. The country’s rich natural resources have
remained untouched. Kazakhstan also has one of the world largest supple of gold.
The country of Kazakhstan also faces a very special environment problem. The
environment problem is the destruction of the Aral sea. The sea is located on the
boarder between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The changes in the direction of the
Syr Darya and Amu Darya Rivers that have been drying up the Aral sea. The ships
that used to be in the Aral sea are now to look like they are in the middle of the
In the A.D. 400s the Slavic people settled in Eastern Europe and then soon they started
to make their way over to which is now Russia. The Slavs were farmers, cattle
herders, and also the craftsman people. One of the settlements which was Novgorod
which was a trading center. Novgorod is near what is today the Russian city St.
Petersburg. In A.D. 862 a Viking named Rurik led an invasion of Novgorod. The
Viking Rurik established a kingdom of Kievan Rus. The city of Kiev later became its
capital. In the year of 1222 the Mongols invaded the capital of Kiev. The Mongols
conquered Kiev and ruled it for 200 years until year of 1480. In that year the Slav
prince named Ivan lll took control of Kiev. Ivan was also called Ivan the great and
was the first true ruler of Russia. Ivan’s grandson called Prince Ivan lV later became
the first czar of Russia.
During the early 1800s Russia suffered from economic problems. The hard period which is
called the times of troubles slowed down Russia’s growth By the end of the 1600s Western
Europe started to become a modern society while Russia has changed just a little since the
Middle Ages. A new leader who was called Peter the Great became a czar in the late 1600s.
He built schools, libraries, museums, and also factories. He has also expanded Russia’s
borders so now the people in Russia had new access to new trade routes. When Peter’s
grandson later became leader if Russia. Peter was a really bad leader and people wanted
him gone. Later he got assassinated and his wife Catherine became the new leader. She
was the first person to get a smallpox vaccination. By the end of her leadership the
Russians have seen very little change. The czar’s and also the nobles had all of Russia’s
wealth and also its power. The last czar who was named Nicholas ll was brought into
power in 1894. In January 1905 people came to his castle to demand better living
conditions and than soldiers surrounded the castle and fired at the demanding crowd.
That day became the Bloody Sunday. The Russians went on strike after all the killings.
They quit working until their demands were met and Nichols gave very few of the people
their demands. The government adopted a constitution and it formed a law making called
Duma. On March 2 1917 Bolsheviks forced Nicholas to give up his spot as ruler. In July
1918 Lenin ordered Nicholas and his family to death. After 300 years the rule of the czars
have ended.
In 1922 the Bolsheviks formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Union
stretched from the Baltic and the Black Seas in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the
east. It ruled 15 republics and the largest of the 15 was Russia. When someone
named Lenin in 1924 a guy named Joseph Stalin became the new leader of the
Union. He set up collectives in Russia and he ordered the people to give their land to
the government. Those who refused were killed and soon he controlled every person
in the Union. He ordered his agents to kill the people that he saw as a threat to the
communism. Shortly before World War 2 the Union formed an alliance with Nazi
Germany. Hitler went against the agreement and started attacking Russia. By the
end of the war the Soviets and their allies began to disagree. When World War 2
ended the Union took control of Eastern Europe.
The leaders that ruled after Stalin tried to extend communism beyond the Eastern
Europe. As a result of the United States and other countries working to stop
communism form spreading and this started a new war. This war became known as
the Cold War. Each country feared by being attacked by another one so they built
large supplies of dangerous weapons. The Soviet Union spent about one-third of its
country’s GDP on the military. Precious natural resources had to be sold to pay for
food and other things. Communist countries in Eastern Europe also wanted more
freedom. Gorbachev finally realized that the Union could no longer control the
countries. In the beginning of 1989 the people got their way and in that year
communism end in Poland and soon in other countries in Europe became
independent too. People in the Union wanted more than just the communism
recalled they also wanted democracy but the communists feared this idea. So they
fought to keep control of Russia. In December 1991 Gorbachev stepped down as
leader and the Russian president Boris Yelistin became the leader. In May 2000
Vladimir Putin won the election as the new leader of Russia. His primary or 1st goal
was to increase wealth and the standard of living for all Russian people.
People of many different cultures and backgrounds make up the population of the CIS.
Most people in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have Slavic ancestors. At least 70% of
the people in the CIS speak Russian. Almost every country in the CIS speak their
own language. The countries of the CIS have a very rich cultural history. Folk art
and music are common and a well known kind of Russian folk art is the matryoshka
which is a series of wooden dolls that vary in size. Many people think chess is just a
game but people in the former Union think that is a sport. Chess players from
Georgia and Russia are international chess champions. Food in the region varies
from country to country. A dinner guest will probably get borschet, a soup of reed
beets, and maybe also some meat. People in Azerbaijan eat a variety of breads, fruits,
and also grains. The Ukrainians are very drawn to sausages and other meats. Potatoes
are also a very important part of the diet in many peoples life. Religion practice is on
the rise in Russia and the former Union republics. The Soviet don’t allow people to
practice their religion freely. After the Union collapsed the people could practice
religion freely. People in Chechnya also want to have independence.
The end of communism has brought a lot of changes in the economy. The government
sold many of the factories, farms, and other business to private owners and they were
called light industry. Privately owned companies now own many of the heavy
industry factories. Other heavy industries sell cars, boats, and farm equipment to
consumers. Under communism all of the citizens were guaranteed a job. Some
people didn’t have a choice on which job they picked. After the end of communism
people didn’t have a choice of their job. Now that communism has ended many
people in the CIS are unemployed. The government faced new problems. They
didn’t have enough money to pay for all of the government workers. Many people
lost their jobs because of that. By the mid-1990s nearly 12% or 18 million people
couldn’t find a jobs. The economy began to improve in the early 2000s, More people
had jobs and small businesses were growing and some factories also. Russia’s space
program is even using making new advances. More than 40 years ago the Russians
were the leaders in space exploration. Later in the Soviet period there was very little
money for such an expensive program. The road for to a better economy has not
been very easy for the people in the CIS.
Russian’s urban areas are home to many people of many cultures. People used to move
to large towns and cities in search of work. The Soviets moved people against their
own will. During World War 2 the people left their homes to escape the fighting and
many came to live in Moscow and other large cities. Today cities are still growing.
The Russian capital of Moscow has become a very fast paced and a modern city.
About 10 million people live there and earn more than 70% of Russia’s income.
Businesspeople from around the world to talk investments and also Russia’s future.
While many of the Russian people suffer economically but some were very
successful. Selling natural resources such as oil also brings wealth to people and the
government. A new social class of wealthy citizens which is called “New Russians.”
Traditional life has never been lost. One of the neighborhoods called Arbat have cafes
where they can eat borscht, black bread, sausage, and also other favorites. Each year
on June 12 the Russians celebrate their independence form the Soviet Union.