Monday, September 17, 2007

the big guns

g'afternoon, my lil' learners!

i'm pleased to announce that i was just offered two more full weeks of work in the airport bringing my 3-week job up to a whopping 5-week position. this means, obviously, more money for me and more blogspots for you.

due to the fact that last friday i had to skip my daily message due to an unexpected visitor who hung out with me for three of the six hours of my shift (hooray for friends! make sure you tell them you love them on a regular basis!), i'm going to cover the country which i had meant to cover at that point rather than move on to a different continent right away.

thus being said, i bring you....RUSSIA.

holy smokes. this is a big one to tackle! i honestly don't even know where to begin so i think i'm going to just focus on all the incredible facts i've found and leave out the really massive political/historical details. if you want to study Soviet through Post-Soviet Russia, by all means don't let me stop you. But if you want to continue reading short blogs that give you a little something interesting and not 20 page long dissertations on historical mumble-jumble, then i have no other choice.

ok, so first of all, it's the LARGEST country in the world (see, i wasn't kidding you!); it's nearly twice the size of the second-largest country (canada) and extends over both europe and asia. that's a lot of land!

once upon a time, it was a republic under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) but in 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved and it just became Russia. here is a very brief summary of what happened:

lenin took control in 1917 and focused on a couple key agendas:
-modernising industry and agriculture
-providing free health care to all
-raising women's rights
-teaching everyone to read and write

some believe he failed; others believe he succeeded (to this day, russia has a 100% literacy rate with a free education system that is one of the strongest in the world).

when stalin took over as dictator in 1924, he focused on these agendas:
-industrialising as much of the country as possible
-making agriculture a collective project

generally speaking, he succeeded. the soviet union became a major industrial force. even now, it boasts the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. unfortunately, in the process of changing so quickly from agriculture to industry, widespread famine, political repression, and poverty occurred. people were pissed, particularly the germans (who fought during WWII in the deadliest "theatre" of war known to man) and the british and US (who fought during the cold war, which led to gorbachev being thrown from power in 1991). yeltsin took over, declared communism over, and dissolved the USSR in december 1991. then in 2000, vladimir putin was elected and improved the russian standards of living to a point that is generally accepted throughout the country. he focused on its natural reserves to boost the economy and (CHRIS, pay attention!) that was a very wise decision because russia has:

1. the largest natural gas reserves ...
2. the largest forest reserves (it's often called the "lungs of europe" because of all the carbon dioxide it ingests)
3. the second largest coal reserves...
4. the eighth largest oil reserves...
............IN THE WORLD.

a bit about the topography:

the furthest points from east to west as the crow flies are over 5,000 miles apart. the furthest points from north to south as the crow flies are over 4,000 miles apart. the country is practically a HUGE SQUARE.

remember this lake: lake baikal.

it's impressive! it's the world's largest lake and contains over 1/5 of the world's fresh surface water. as if this isn't outstanding enough, it's big enough to attract nearly 1,700 species of plants and animals and 66% of them can't be found ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET. they must really dig that lake. maybe it's the name? it rolls off the tongue so smoothly and attracts me, too. road trip to lake baikal, anyone?

speaking of foreign tongues, the russian language is the most geographically widespread language in Eurasia and is the language of science which i think all of you would appreciate, but particularly tara. over 1/4 of the world's scientific literature is published in russian and between 60-70% of "all world information" is published in russian and english. that's a pretty vague phrase but it must be true if wikipedia says it. an interesting side note is that google's mission is similar to russia's achievement, i.e. to “organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible”. google and russia must have a working partnership or something....

tomorrow not today,

1 comment:

Keri said...

they say you shouldn't trust wikipedia, but i tend to feel the way you do. it hasn't failed me yet.