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February 2013

Russia -- administrative divisions

Russia -- administrative divisions

Commonwealth of Independent States

Commonwealth of Independent States

A meteor weighing about 10 tons struck west of the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, near the town of Chebarkul. The strike point is about 1000 miles (1700 km) to the East of Moscow and about 640 miles (1000 km) Northwest of Astana, Kazakhstan (the capital).

Chebarkul lies within the Chelyabinsk Oblast of Russia, in the Ural mountains. Industries around Chebarkul include: gold, iron and steel forging, forestry, sawmill, clothing, food processing, and small health resorts. The Chelyabinsk oblast experiences humid continental climate with short summers. It's a major industrial and mining region, with textiles, and agricultural centers. Closed to foreigners until 1992 because nuclear weapons and military testing were conducted in the vicinity. The area suffers from radioactive contamination due to nuclear waste and accidents since World War II.

Chelyabinsk is one of 46 provinces (oblasts) inside the Russian Federation, along with 21 republics, four autonomous regions; nine krays; two federal cities; and one autonomous oblast. Russia is the largest country in the world (17,098,242 sq km) - approximately 1.8 times larger than the United States. It borders 14 countries and has a coastline of 37,653 km. Russia's climate ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia, subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; its winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; its summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast. The terrain varies from a broad plain with low hills west of Urals to a vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia to uplands and mountains along southern border regions.

Founded in the 12th century, the Principality of Muscovy, was able to emerge from over 200 years of Mongol domination and to gradually conquer and absorb surrounding principalities. In the early 17th century, a new Romanov Dynasty continued this policy of expansion across Siberia to the Pacific. Under Peter I (ruled 1682-1725), hegemony was extended to the Baltic Sea and the country was renamed the Russian Empire. During the 19th century, more territorial acquisitions were made in Europe and Asia. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 contributed to the Revolution of 1905, which resulted in the formation of a parliament and other reforms.

Overthrow of the imperial household occurred after widespread rioting and repeated defeats during World War I. The Communists under Vladimir Lenin seized power soon after and formed the USSR. The brutal rule of Josef Stalin (1928-53) strengthened Communist rule and Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize Communism. These initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into Russia and 14 other independent republics.

CIA World Factbook; The Columbia Gazeteer, 2/2013; 2/2013