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RUSSIAN FEDERATION AND CENTRAL ASIA

The Asian part of the Russian Federation is a land of bleak, frozen tundra and cold conifer forest. To the south and west are windswept grasslands known as the steppes, rugged, mountainous plateau, and arid deserts.

WHICH ANCIENT CITY IN UZBEKISTAN IS ON THE SILK ROAD?

The ancient Islamic city of Samarkand lies on the Silk Road, an ancient trading route that linked China with central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Samarkand was once the center for China’s silk trade, and the manufacture of silk and cotton textiles is still the city’s main industry.

HOW DO PEOPLE LIVE IN CENTRAL ASIA?

In the grasslands of central Asia, many people breed animals and move from place to place searching for fresh pasture. In Afghanistan, for example, sheep-herders are nomadic. They live in tents with very few belongings, surviving on their animals’ milk, meat, and wool and selling the excess in towns and cities.

WHERE IS THE WORLD’S LONGEST RAILROAD?

The Trans-Siberian Railroad, the world’s longest continuous rail line, crosses the Russian Federation. It starts in Moscow and runs 5,870 miles (9,446 km) to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. The whole journey crosses eight time zones and takes eight days to complete.

DO MANY PEOPLE LIVE IN SIBERIA?

Siberia, a vast, bitterly cold region of tundra, pine forest, rivers, and lakes, is sparsely populated. The Yakut and other native peoples survive there by hunting, fishing, and herding reindeer. Siberia stretches from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. The region is rich in natural resources, such as coal, oil, gas, diamonds, and gold.

NENETS PEOPLE, SIBERIA, RUSSIAN FEDERATION

The Nenets people live in a cold, inhospitable Arctic region of the Russian Federation. This Siberian community traditionally survived by herding reindeer or trapping wild animals. Today, however, the region is being developed for its huge reserves of gas.

WHY IS THE ARAL SEA SHRINKING?

The Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan was once the world’s fourth-largest freshwater lake. Today it is shrinking at an alarming rate because the rivers that feed it, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, have been diverted to irrigate cotton fields. A fishing village that once stood on the lake’s banks now stands 30 miles (48 km) from the shore.

FACTFILE: RUSSIAN FEDERATION & CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA

Capital city: T’bilisi

Area: 26,911 sq miles (69,700 sq km)

Population: 5.2 million

Official languages: Georgian and Abkhazian (in Abkhazia)

ARMENIA

Capital city: Yerevan

Area: 11,506 sq miles (29,800 sq km)

Population: 3.8 million

Official language: Armenian

AZERBAIJAN

Capital city: Baku

Area: 33,436 sq miles (86,600 sq km)

Population: 8.1 million

Official language: Azerbaijani

KAZAKHSTAN

Capital city: Astana

Area: 1,049,150 sq miles (2,717,300 sq km)

Population: 16 million

Official language: Kazakh

TURKMENISTAN

Capital city: Ashgabat

Area: 188,455 sq miles (488,100 sq km)

Population: 4.9 million

Official language: Turkmen

AFGHANISTAN

Capital city: Kabul

Area: 250,000 sq miles (647,500 sq km)

Population: 23.3 million

Official languages: Pashtu and Dari

UZBEKISTAN

Capital city: Tashkent

Area: 172,741 sq miles (447,400 sq km)

Population: 25.6 million

Official language: Uzbek

TAJIKISTAN

Capital city: Dushanbe

Area: 55,251 sq miles (143,100 sq km)

Population: 6.2 million

Official language: Tajik

KYRGYZSTAN

Capital city: Bishkek

Area: 76,641 sq miles (198,500 sq km)

Population: 5 million

Official languages: Kyrgyz and Russian

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Capital city: Moscow

Area: 6,592,800 sq miles (17,075,400 sq km)

Population: 143 million

Official language: Russian

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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