Unit 3: Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of physical area, and is almost twice the size of the United States. A coast-to-coast train journey from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok would take an entire week of travel, and you would travel through eight time zones! Russia extends from its European core across the Ural Mountains into Siberia, further to the Pacific Ocean in the east. Its extensive landscapes include major metropolitan areas like Moscow, vast territories in the Arctic north, the immense forests of Siberia, massive grain farms, and mountain communities in the Caucasus. Russia is rich natural resources, and has a slowly declining population with extremes of wealth and poverty.
In this unit, we will explore Russia's physical characteristics, its cultural diversity, and its environmental challenges. We will look at the historical development patterns of Russia and its economy, starting with its Revolution in the early 1900s. Next, we will examine collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the political and economic realities of post-Soviet Russia. Finally, we will end the unit by exploring specific regions within Russia.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- describe the physical geography of Russia;
- explain how the Czars expanded their territorial power to create the Russian Empire;
- compare and contrast how issues of ethnic diversity were handled under the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union;
- describe some of the environmental problems facing Russia today;
- define the main tenets of a socialist economy;
- describe some of the conditions of life in the Soviet Union;
- discuss the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR);
- describe the post-Soviet economic and political situation;
- explain the Chechen-Russian conflict; and
- discuss the reasons behind Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008.
- Can you name the regions, seas, countries, mountain ranges, and cities marked on this map of Russia?
3.1: Introducing Russia
This section introduces the physical and cultural characteristics of Russia and explores its history, including the creation of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and how issues of ethnic diversity were handled under both regimes. It also explores some of the environmental problems that Russia experiences today.
In this exercise, you will explore Russia's expansion from 1553 to 1914. Follow the instructions and answer the questions in this document.
3.2: The USSR and the Russian Federation
This section introduces the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the major cultural and economic tenets of a socialist economy. It also explores why the USSR eventually collapsed.
Watch this video, which examines the Russian Revolution of 1917 from a digital and social media perspective.
Watch this video, which gives a glimpse into Russian youth culture.
3.3: Regions of Russia
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of the major cities in Russia's regions, including its core and its eastern frontier. It also explores the reasons behind the Chechen-Russian conflict and why Russia invaded Georgia in 2008.