Sunday, December 13, 2009


Cultivated a strong interest in sports, physical education and extracurricular activities. Kazakhstan has achieved some success in international competitions in weightlifting, ice hockey, and boxing. Kazakhstan won 8 medals in the 2004 Summer Olympics - the largest tally for any nation in Western Asia.
Football (Soccer) is also popular, with the Kazakhstan Super League being the top-level competition for the sport in the country.
A lot of professional cyclists that compete on the European circuit come from Kazakhstan. Most notable is Alexander Vinokourov whose achievements include 2 Paris-Nice's and 3rd place in the 2003 Tour de France and the Amstel Gold Race. Alexander Vinokourov leads the Astana Team which is supported by a coalition of Kazakh companies. This team is registered on the UCI Pro Tour and competes in the major races including the Tour de France.
Rugby union also has a wide following in Kazakhstan, with over 10,000 fans consistently turning up to watch the national team play. Recent big wins over Sri Lanka and Arabian Gulf have given the Kazakhstan side reason to believe that they could be contenders to qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

flag of Kazakhstan

The current flag of Kazakhstan or Kazakh flag (Kazakh: Қазақстан байрағы, Қазақ байрағы, Qazaqstan bayrağı) was adopted on June 4, 1992, replacing the flag of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. The flag was designed by Shaken Niyazbekov.
The national flag of the Republic of Kazakhstan looks as a rectangular breadth of blue color with the sun in its center surrounded by 32 beams, and a Steppe Eagle flying beneath it. Near hoist is a vertical strip with a national ornament. Images of the sun, beams, eagle and ornament — are all gold-colored. The width of the flag to its length is 1:2.[1

The pattern represents the art and cultural traditions of the old khanate and the Kazakh people. The light blue background stands for the various Turkic peoples that make up the present-day population of the country, including the Kazakhs, Tatars, Mongols, Uyghurs and others. Among these people blue has a religious significance, representing the sky god Tengri, "the eternal wide blue sky", and water as well.[2] The light blue color also symbolizes cultural and ethnic unity of Kazakhstani people.
The sun represents the source of life and energy. It is also a symbol of wealth and abundance; the sun's rays are like grain which is the basis of abundance and prosperity.
People of different Kazakh tribes had the golden eagle on their flags for centuries. The eagle symbolizes the power of the state. For the modern nation of Kazakhstan the eagle is a symbol of independence, freedom and flight to future.[3]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kazakhstan's political system

Kazakhstan is a presidential republic. The president is Nursultan Nazarbayev. The president also is the commander in chief of the armed forces and may veto legislation that has been passed by the Parliament. The prime minister chairs the Cabinet of Ministers and serves as Kazakhstan's head of government. There are three deputy prime ministers and 16 ministers in the Cabinet. Karim Massimov has served as the Prime Minister since January 10, 2007.
Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament, made up of the lower house (the Majilis) and upper house (the Senate). Single mandate districts popularly elect 67 seats in the Majilis; there also are ten members elected by party-list vote rather than by single mandate districts. The Senate has 39 members. Two senators are selected by each of the elected assemblies (Maslikhats) of Kazakhstan's 16 principal administrative divisions (14 provinces, plus the cities of Astana and Almaty). The president appoints the remaining seven senators. Majilis deputies and the government both have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the Parliament.

by Becky:)


Kazakstan, , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is an Asian country which is ranked as the ninth largest country in the world. It is also the world's largest landlocked country. Its territory of 2,727,300 km² is greater than Western Europe. It is neighbored clockwise from the north by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea. The capital moved in 1997 to Astana from Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city. Vast in size, the terrain of Kazakhstan ranges from flatlands, steppes, taigas, rock-canyons, hills, deltas, in part snow-capped mountains and deserts. With 16.4 million people (2009 census), Kazakhstan has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than 6 people per square kilometre. For most of its history the territory of modern-day Kazakhstan has been inhabited by nomadic tribes. By the 16th century the Kazakhs emerged as a distinct group, divided into three hordes. The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century all of Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganised several times before becoming the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936, a part of the USSR. During the 20th century, Kazakhstan was the site of major Soviet projects, including Khrushchev's Virgin Lands campaign, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and the Semipalatinsk "Polygon", the USSR's primary nuclear weapon testing site. Kazakhstan declared itself an independent country on December 16, 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so. Its communist-era leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the country's new president. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy, especially its hydrocarbon industry. While the country's economic outlook is improving, President Nazarbayev maintains strict control over the country's politics. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan's international prestige is building. It is now considered to be the dominant state in Central Asia. The country is a member of many international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO's Partnership for Peace, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In 2010, Kazakhstan will chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Kazakhstan is ethnically and culturally diverse, in part due to mass deportations of many ethnic groups to the country during Stalin's rule. Kazakhs are the largest group. Kazakhstan allows freedom of religion, and many different beliefs are represented in the country. Islam is the primary religion. The Kazakh language is the state language, while Russian is also officially used as an "equal" language (to Kazakh) in Kazakhstan's institutions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

October Revolution

The October Revolution, also known as the Bolshevik Revolution, was the second phase of the Russian Revolution, the first having been instigated by the events around the February Revolution. It was led by Vladimir Lenin and marked the first officially communist revolution of the twentieth century, based upon the ideas of Karl Marx.
On November 7, 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin led his leftist revolutionaries in a nearly bloodless uprising in Petrograd, the then capital of Russia, against the ineffective Kerensky Provisional Government (Russia was still using the Julian Calendar at the time, so period references show an October 25 date). Later official accounts of the revolution from the Soviet Union would depict the events in October as being far more dramatic than they actually had been.
For the most part, the revolt in Petrograd was bloodless, with the Bolsheviks taking over major government facilities with little opposition before finally launching an assault on the Winter Palace. Official films made much later showed a huge storming of the Winter Palace and fierce fighting, but in reality the Bolshevik insurgents faced little or no opposition and were practically able to just walk into the building and take over.
The Second Congress of Soviets was occurring at the same time, and of its elected 649 delegates, 390 were Bolshevik and nearly a hundred were Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who also supported the overthrow of the Kerensky Government. When the fall of the Winter Palace was announced, the Congress adopted a decree transferring power to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, thus ratifying the Revolution. The transfer of power was not without disagreement. Many of the Socialist Revolutionaries believed that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had illegally seized power and they walked out before the resolution was passed. As they exited they were taunted by Leon Trotsky who told them "yes, walk out, go ahead, leave, you are entering the dust heap of society." The following day, the Soviet elected a Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) as the basis of a new Soviet Government, pending the convocation of a Constituent Assembly, and passed a Decree of Peace and a Decree on Land.
The success of the October uprising ended the phase of the revolution instigated in February and transformed the Russian Revolution from liberal to socialist in character. An attempt to take over Moscow a month later was met with much more violent resistance, and the Bolsheviks did not seize full control of the city until March 1918.
The United States did not recognize the new Russian government until the 1930s. The U.S. even sent 10,000 troops to assist a Japanese invasion, as a way to speak out against the Bolshevist takeover of Russia.
The Great October Socialist Revolution was the official name for the October Revolution in the Soviet Union, used since the 10th anniversary celebration of the Revolution in 1927. Today this name is used mainly by Russian Communists.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

Grand Duchy of Moscow

Grand Duchy of Moscow

The rise of Moscow
Daniil Aleksandrovich, the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky, founded the principality of Moscow (known as Muscovy), which eventually expelled the Tatars from Russia. Well-situated in the central river system of Russia and surrounded by protective forests and marshes, Moscow was at first only a vassal of Vladimir, but soon it absorbed its parent state. A major factor in the ascendancy of Moscow was the cooperation of its rulers with the Mongol overlords, who granted them the title of Grand Prince of Moscow and made them agents for collecting the Tatar tribute from the Russian principalities. The principality's prestige was further enhanced when it became the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its head, the Metropolitan, fled from Kiev to Vladimir in 1299 and a few years later established the permanent headquarters of the Church in Moscow under the original title of Kiev Metropolitan.
By the middle of the 14th century, the power of the Mongols was declining, and the Grand Princes felt able to openly oppose the Mongol yoke. In 1380, at Kulikovo on the Don River, the Mongols were defeated, and although this hard-fought victory did not end Tatar rule of Russia, it did bring great fame to the Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy. Moscow's leadership in Russia was now firmly based and by the middle of the fourteenth century its territory had greatly expanded through purchase, war, and marriage.
Ivan III, the Great
Ivan III tears off the Khan's missive letter demanding the tribute in front of Khan's mission
In the 15th century, the grand princes of Moscow went on gathering Russian lands to increase the population and wealth under their rule. The most successful practitioner of this process was Ivan III who laid the foundations for a Russian national state. Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, for control over some of the semi-independent Upper Principalities in the upper Dnieper and Oka River basins. Through the defections of some princes, border skirmishes, and a long war with the Novgorod Republic, Ivan III was able to annex Novgorod and Tver. As a result, the Grand Duchy of Moscow tripled in size under his rule. During his conflict with Pskov, a monk named Filofei (Philotheus of Pskov) composed a letter to Ivan III, with the prophecy that the latter's kingdom will be the Third Rome. The Fall of Constantinople and the death of the last Greek Orthodox Christian emperor contributed to this new idea of Moscow as 'New Rome' and the seat of Orthodox Christianity. A contemporary of the Tudors and other "new monarchs" in Western Europe, Ivan proclaimed his absolute sovereignty over all Russian princes and nobles. Refusing further tribute to the Tatars, Ivan initiated a series of attacks that opened the way for the complete defeat of the declining Golden Horde, now divided into several Khanates and hordes. Ivan and his successors sought to protect the southern boundaries of their domain against attacks of the Crimean Tatars and other hordes. To achieve this aim, they sponsored the construction of the Great Abatis Belt and granted manors to nobles, who were obliged to serve in the military. The manor system provided a basis for an emerging horse army.
In this way, internal consolidation accompanied outward expansion of the state. By the 16th century, the rulers of Moscow considered the entire Russian territory their collective property. Various semi-independent princes still claimed specific territories, but Ivan III forced the lesser princes to acknowledge the grand prince of Moscow and his descendants as unquestioned rulers with control over military, judicial, and foreign affairs. Gradually, the Russian ruler emerged as a powerful, autocratic ruler, a tsar. The first Russian ruler to officially crown himself "Tsar" was Ivan IV.

Friday, November 6, 2009

RUSSIA history

The history of Russia begins with that of the East Slavs. The first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state, finally succumbing to Mongol invaders in the 1230s. During this time a number of regional magnates, in particular Novgorod and Pskov, fought to inherit the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. After the 13th century, Moscow gradually came to dominate the former cultural center. By the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow had become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean. Expansion in the western direction sharpened Russia's awareness of its separation from much of the rest of Europe and shattered the isolation in which the initial stages of expansion had occurred. Successive regimes of the 19th century responded to such pressures with a combination of halfhearted reform and repression. Russian serfdom was abolished in 1861, but its abolition was achieved on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to increase revolutionary pressures. Between the abolition of serfdom and the beginning of World War I in 1914, the Stolypin reforms, the constitution of 1906 and State Duma introduced notable changes to the economy and politics of Russia,[3] but the tsars were still not willing to relinquish autocratic rule, or share their power. The Russian Revolution in 1917 was triggered by a combination of economic breakdown, war weariness, and discontent with the autocratic system of government, and it first brought a coalition of liberals and moderate socialists to power, but their failed policies led to seizure of power by the Communist Bolsheviks on October 25. Between 1922 and 1991, the history of Russia is essentially the history of the Soviet Union, effectively an ideologically based state which was roughly conterminous with the Russian Empire before the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The approach to the building of socialism, however, varied over different periods in Soviet history, from the mixed economy and diverse society and culture of the 1920s to the command economy and repressions of the Stalin era to the "era of stagnation" in the 1980s. From its first years, government in the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the Communists, as the Bolsheviks called themselves, beginning in March 1918. However, by the late 1980s, with the weaknesses of its economic and political structures becoming acute, the Communist leaders embarked on major reforms, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The history of the Russian Federation is brief, dating back only to the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. Since gaining its independence, Russia was recognized as the legal successor to the Soviet Union on the international stage. However, Russia has lost its superpower status as it faced serious challenges in its efforts to forge a new post-Soviet political and economic system. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state ownership of property of the Soviet era, Russia attempted to build an economy with elements of market capitalism, with often painful results. Even today Russia shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky was born and raised in Moscow by Russian Orthodox parents. His father, a military surgeon and an alcoholic of harsh, despotic temperament, was brutally slain (1839) by his own serfs. This event haunted Dostoyevsky all his life and perhaps accounts in part for the preoccupation with murder and guilt in his writings. Dostoyevsky attended military engineering school in St. Petersburg and upon graduation entered government service as a draftsman. He soon abandoned this career for writing.
Dostoyevsky's first published work, Poor Folk (1846), which brought him immediate critical and public recognition, reveals his characteristic compassion for the downtrodden. His second novel, The Double (1846), less favorably received, shows the profound insight into human character that dominates his later works.
At about this time Dostoyevsky became involved with a group of radical utopians. The discovery of their illegal printing press brought about their arrest and condemnation. The prisoners were reprieved but were forced to take part in a pre-execution ceremony before the reprieve was read to them. Dostoyevsky was sentenced to four years at hard labor in a Siberian penal colony. During this harrowing period he suffered great physical and mental pain, including repeated attacks of epilepsy. The prison experience worked a profound change of heart in him. He abandoned his belief in the liberal, atheistic ideologies of Western Europe and turned wholeheartedly to religion and to the belief that Orthodox Russia was destined to be the spiritual leader of the world.
After several years of obligatory military service in Siberia, he was allowed to return to St. Petersburg. With him was the widow he had married in Siberia and her son. Dostoyevsky joined his beloved brother Mikhail in editing the magazine Time, which serialized The Insulted and The Injured (1861–62) and the record of his experience in the penal colony, The House of the Dead (1862). He made several trips to Western Europe. One result was Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (1863), reflecting his severely anti-Western attitudes.
Financial troubles, combined with a turbulent love affair and a passion for roulette, led to a nightmarish period in Germany, partly described in the short novel The Gambler (1866). In 1864 his unhappy marriage ended with the death of his wife. The same year his financial problems increased when his brother died and Dostoyevsky assumed responsibility for the remaining family. In 1867 he married his young secretary, who gave him profound affection and understanding and greatly enriched his later years.

Monday, November 2, 2009

matryoshka doll

A matryoshka doll, also known as a Russian nested doll, is a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other. "Matryoshka" (Матрёшка) is presumably derived from the Russian female first name "Matryona" (Матрёна).
Matryoshka dolls are sometimes incorrectly termed "babushka doll" (grandmother doll) in English. The origin of this misconception is uncertain, and there is no equivalent in the Russian language.

Matryoshkas date from 1890, and are said to have been inspired by souvenir dolls from Japan. The concept of nested objects was familiar in Russia at that time, having been applied to carved wooden apples and Easter eggs.
The first Russian nested doll set was carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin from a design by Sergei Maliutin, who was a folk crafts painter in the Abramtsevo estate of the Russian industrialist and patron of arts Savva Mamontov. The doll set was painted by Maliutin himself. Maliutin's design was inspired by a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune. Maluitin's doll set consisted of eight dolls -- the outermost was a girl holding a rooster, six inner dolls were girls, the fifth doll was a boy, and the innermost was a baby.
In 1900, Savva Mamontov's wife presented the dolls at the World Exhibition in Paris, and the toy earned a bronze medal. Soon after, matryoshki dolls were being made in several places in Russia.


Ivan the Terrible

Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Russian: Ива́н Четвёртый, Васи́льевич​ (help·info), Ivan Chetvyorty, Vasilyevich), known in English as Ivan the Terrible (= inspiring fear) (Ivan Grozny Russian: Ива́н Гро́зный​ (help·info)) ( 25 August 1530, Moscow – 28 March [O.S. 18 March] 1584,[1] Moscow) was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533. The epithet "Grozny" is associated with might, power and strictness, rather than poor performance, horror or cruelty.[2][3][4] Ivan oversaw numerous changes in the transition from a medieval nation state to an empire and emerging regional power, becoming the first Tsar of a new more powerful nation, acknowledged as "Tsar of All Russia" from 1547.
Ivan is described in contrary terms: intelligent, devout, and impulsive by some; given to rages and prone to episodic outbreaks of mental illness by others. One notable outburst resulted in the death of his groomed and chosen heir Ivan Ivanovich (although this version is supported mainly by foreign authors of that time and those Russian historians who quote them; the exact cause of his death is still disputed), and resulted in the passing of the Tsardom to the younger son: the arguably mentally retarded[5] Feodor I of Russia. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost 1 billion acres, growing during his term at a rate of approximately 50 square miles a day.[6]
The Tsardom of Rus' (Russian: Царство Русское) was the official[7] name for the Russian state between Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar (Emperor) in 1547 and Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721. The name originated from the fact that it contained all of the Rus lands that were at the time free of foreign states' domination. This new name was recognized by England in 1554 and by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilan II in 1576.[8] To this day some Western sources refer to this state as Muscovite Russia[9] or Muscovy, the term originally applied in Western and Central Europe to its medieval predecessor, the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Diverse researchers consider the propagation of this term in Western Europe as a result of political interests and active diplomacy of Poland[7][8], the strongest international power in Northern-eastern Europe at the dawn of the Early Modern era.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Russia Culture

Although life in modern Russia allows many more liberties for gays and lesbians, unofficial discrimination and fear are still rampant. "It would be foolish to interpret some new freedoms as tolerance," said Igor Kon, a sociologist who is Russia's best-known expert on sexual practices, and author of The Sexual Revolution in Russia. Gay life in Russian is less open than western countries, while major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg now have LGBT clubs and venues; with more quickly growing acceptance. In 1989, 31 percent of the Russian population said in polls that homosexuals should be executed, and 32 percent said they should be isolated. Only 12 percent said they should be left alone. The figures are shifting slightly, however: in 1994, 23 percent in a poll said homosexuals should be killed, 24 percent said they should be isolated, and 29 percent said they should be left alone. "What everyone here knows -- gay or straight -- is how to have a private life that is different from their public life," said David Tuller, an American journalist and author of Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay and Lesbian Russia. "In the West we would call that living a lie," he said. "Here they don't think that way. This is not a talk-show culture. Nobody is ever going to appear on television to talk about wanting to sleep with short men or tall women. They just want to be able to have their lives and not be bothered. Medieval Russia was apparently very tolerant of homosexuality with foreign visitors to the country surprised by displays of affection between homosexuals. The first laws against homosexuals in Russia first appeared in the 18th century, under the reign of Peter the Great, but only in military statutes for soldiers. In 1832, the criminal code that included Article 995, which stated that "muzhelozhstvo" or men lying with men a criminal act punishable by exile to Siberia for up to 5 years. Men lying with men was interpreted by courts as meaning anal sex. Application of the laws was rare, and the turn of the century found a relaxation of these laws and a general growing of tolerance and visibility. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union recriminalized homosexuality in a decree signed in late 1933. The new Article 121, which punished muzhelozhstvo with imprisonment for up to 5 years saw raids and arrests. Nikolai Yezhov, senior figure in the NKVD (Soviet secret police) during 1930s. At his trial he was accused of being gay. Article 121 was often used commonly used to extend prison sentences and to control dissidents. Among those imprisoned were the film director Sergei Paradjanov and the poet Gennady Trifonov. Under Mikhail Gorbachev's administration, the first gay organization came into being. The Moscow Gay & Lesbian Alliance was headed by Yevgeniya Debryanskaya, and Roman Kalinin who became the editor of the first officially registered gay newspaper, Tema. The fall of the USSR accelerated the progress of the gay movement in Russia. Gay publications and plays appeared. In 1993, a new Russian Criminal Code was signed, without Article 121. Men who had been imprisoned began to be released. Modern gay life in Russia is in the process of increasing openness. The first gay oriented businesses appeared including bars, discos, saunas, even a travel agency. Life for gays and lesbians in the provinces remains difficult, but there are gay communities and open gay culture in large cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg. At a press conference on 1 February 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked for his opinion in the midst of a row over the decision by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to ban a Gay pride in Moscow, called Moscow Pride. Vladimir Putin said: "With regards to what the heads of regions say, I normally try not to comment. I don’t think it is my business. My relation to gay parades and sexual minorities in general is simple – it is connected with my official duties and the fact that one of the country’s main problems is demographic. But I respect and will continue to respect personal freedom in all its forms, in all its manifestations.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Russian leaders

An approximately chronological list of leaders of the Soviet Union (heads of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Soviet Union). The formal structure of power in the Soviet Union consisted of three main branches that gave rise to three top positions. The first position of importance was that of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, informally translated as President of the Soviet Union. Theoretically it was the highest position, since the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was an interim organ of the Congress of Soviets, the latter being the supreme power of people, according to the Constitution of the Soviet Union. The head of the government was the Premier of the Soviet Union. This was the most important position in Lenin's time. In practice, the leader or G eneral Secretary of the Communist Party used to occupy another position, which led to confusion in the West as to who the number one person in the USSR was: Lenin, Stalin and Malenkov preferred the post of the premier, while Khrushchev, Brezhnev and his successors preferred that of the president (called Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and changed to President of the Soviet Union in 1990).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Volga River

The Volga is the longest river in Europe. It belongs to the closed basin of the Caspian Sea. Rising in the Valdai Hills 225 meters (738 ft) above sea level . Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is located there.
The Volga has many tributaries, most importantly the Kama, the Oka, the Vetluga, and the Sura rivers. The Volga and its tributaries form the Volga river system, which drains an area of about 1.35 million square kilometres in the most heavily populated part of Russia. The Volga Delta has a length of about 160 kilometres and includes as many as 500 channels and smaller rivers. The largest estuary in Europe, it is the only place in Russia where pelicans, flamingoes, and lotuses may be found. The Volga freezes for most of its length during three months of each year.
The Volga drains most of Western Russia. Its many large reservoirs provide irrigation and hydroelectric power. Waterways connecting Moscow to the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. High levels of chemical pollution currently give cause for environmental concern.
The fertile river valley provides large quantities of wheat, and also has many mineral riches. A substantial petroleum industry centres on the Volga valley. Other minerals include natural gas, salt, and potash. The Volga Delta and the nearby Caspian Sea offer superb fishing grounds. Astrakhan, at the delta, is the centre of the caviar industry.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Russia geography

The geography of Russia entails the physical and human geography of Russia, a country extending over much of northern Eurasia. Comprising much of eastern Europe and northern Asia, it is the world's largest country in total area. Due to its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances. From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest, mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland, and semi-desert the as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but is taiga. The country contains 40 UNESCO Biosphere reserves. The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a noble Viking warrior class and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', arose in the 9th century and adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988,[16] beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus' was Moscow, which served as the main force in the Russian reunification process and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland to Alaska.

Ural Mountains

The Ural Mountains (also known as the Urals) are a mountain range that runs roughly north-south through western Russia. They are usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.
In Greco-Roman antiquity, Pliny the Elder thought that the Urals correspond to the Riphean Mountains mentioned by various authors. They are also known as the Great Stone Belt in Russian history and folklore.
The Urals extend 2,498 km from the Kazakh steppes along the northern border of Kazakhstan to the coast of the Arctic ocean. Vaygach Island and the island of Novaya Zemlya form a further continuation of the chain. Geographically this range marks the northern part of the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Its highest peak is Mount Narodnaya (Poznurr, 1,895 m). Erosion has exposed considerable mineral wealth in the Urals, including gems such as topaz and beryl. The Virgin Komi Forests in the northern Urals are recognized as a World Heritage site. 68% of the Ural Mountains are located in Russia, whilst the remaining 32% are located in Kazakhstan.[1][2] Geographers have divided the Urals into five regions: South, Middle, North, Subarctic and Arctic. The tree line drops from 1,400 metres to sea level as progressing north. Sections of the south and middle regions are completely forested.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Croatia national football team

The Croatia national football team represents the Republic of Croatia in international football. The team is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation, the governing body for football in the country, and has been managed since 2006 by Slaven Bilić. A recognized national team represented the short-lived Banovina of Croatia and Independent State of Croatia in nineteen friendly matches between 1940 and 1944. Although this team was affiliated with FIFA, Croatia remained a constituent federal republic of Yugoslavia during the period and did not field a separate team for competitive matches.
The modern team was formed in 1990, shortly before Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia, and by 1993 had gained membership in FIFA and UEFA. The team first played competitive matches in a successful qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 96, leading to its first appearance at a major European championship. At Croatia's first FIFA World Cup in 1998 the team finished third and provided the tournament's top scorer, Davor Šuker. Since becoming eligible to participate in 1993, Croatia have qualified for every World Cup (several times without losing a match) and have missed only one European Cup tournament, in 2000.
Most home matches are played at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, though some fixtures take place at the Poljud Stadium in Split or at other, smaller venues, depending on the nature of the match. The team was undefeated in its first 36 home competitive matches, the run ending with a 2008 defeat to England.
With a population of just over 4 million, Croatia is arguably the most successful 'small' country in football. Croatia was named FIFA's "Best Mover of the Year" in 1994 and 1998, becoming the only team to win the award more than once. On admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world; following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side ranked third, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park lies in the Plitvice plateau which is surrounded by three mountains part of the Dinaric Alps [1]: Plješevica mountain (Gornja Plješevica peak 1,640 m) and the Mala Kapela mountain (Seliški Vrh peak at 1,280 m) and Medveđak (884 m).
The national Park is underlain by karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone with associated lakes and caves, this has given rise to the most distinctive feature of the lakes.
The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year.
The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 m to 503 m over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two km², with the water exiting from the lowest lake to form the Korana River.
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight. cathy

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes are one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. UNESCO pearl Plitvice Lakes complex is a whole of beautiful forests, meadows, rocks and drop-down lake whose water countless cascades and waterfalls tumble and overflow through 16 beautiful stepwise, blue lake to the river Korana, which runs deep and rocky canyon in the karst, forming a special attraction for tourists. River Korana can be seen from the promenade, or cultural-historic fortress Dreznik City (which fought against Ottoman conquerors for centuries).
There are also Barac caves located near the village of Rakovica in which was established the first Croatian government. River Korana and underground caves are connection between Plitvice Lakes National Park and Rastoke (mill town). Plitvice Lakes National Park is the origin of Winnetou, which again can be seen in the nearby Winnetoulandu. Added to this bike path, climb, ski resort and other recreational facilities as well as indigenous Škripavac cheese, plum brandy, bread, and lamb under a baking lid, there is no end of satisfaction.Plitvice Lakes are one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. UNESCO pearl Plitvice Lakes complex is a whole of beautiful forests, meadows, rocks and drop-down lake whose water countless cascades and waterfalls tumble and overflow through 16 beautiful stepwise, blue lake to the river Korana, which runs deep and rocky canyon in the karst, forming a special attraction for tourists. River Korana can be seen from the promenade, or cultural-historic fortress Dreznik City (which fought against Ottoman conquerors for centuries).
There are also Barac caves located near the village of Rakovica in which was established the first Croatian government. River Korana and underground caves are connection between Plitvice Lakes National Park and Rastoke (mill town). Plitvice Lakes National Park is the origin of Winnetou, which again can be seen in the nearby Winnetoulandu. Added to this bike path, climb, ski resort and other recreational facilities as well as indigenous Škripavac cheese, plum brandy, bread, and lamb under a baking lid, there is no end of satisfaction.



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trogir, Croatia

Trogir is located in southern Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. It was first settled by Greek colonists in the 3rd century BC and it developed into a major port until the Roman period.

Trogir has a fascinating 2300 years of continuous urban tradition. Its rich culture was created under the influence of old Greeks, Romans, and Venetians. Trogir has a high concentration of palaces, churches, and towers, as well as a fortress on a small island.
The orthogonal street plan of this island settlement dates back to the time of the Greeks and it was embellished by successive rulers with many fine public and domestic buildings and fortifications. Its beautiful Romanesque churches are complemented by the outstanding Rennaisance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period. Trogir is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic Sea, but in all of Central Europe. Trogir's medieval core, surrounded by walls, comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
-Teacher Karl


Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is a country in Southeast Europe, at the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital (and largest city) is Zagreb. Croatia borders Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the so utheast, and Serbia and Montenegro to the east. The Croats arrived in the early seventh century in what is Croatia today. They organized the state into two dukedoms. The first king, Tomislav I was crowned in AD 925 and Croatia was elevated into a kingdom. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for almost two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Petar Krešimir IV and Zvonimir. Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102. In 1526, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand from the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne. In 1918, Croatia declared independence from Austria–Hungary and co-founded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After the Second World War, Croatia became a founding member of Second Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence and beca me a sovereign state. Situated in a secluded place, on the southern coast of Brac, Bol is the oldest town of Brac and one of the most famous seaside resorts of the Adriatic. Apart from cultural monuments, Bol also features a number of natural beauties. East and west of Bol are numerous shores, beautiful beaches; the most famous - and probably the most beautiful on the Adriatic is Zlatni Rat.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Budapest Bath Houses

If you spend time in Budapest, at least a part of it should be at the soothing thermal spring baths. The Romans reaped the health benefits of hot springs here, but it was during the 16th- and 17th- century Turkish occupation that the bath culture was developed. Some of these spas are still in operation today.

But there is an array of baths from more recent Hungarian times, such as the wonderful Art Nouveau Gellért Baths at the luxurious Gellért Hotel. And the Lavish Széchenyi Baths in the City Park. You will also find plenty of thermal hot springs and wells throughout Hungary. There are nearly 1,000 of them in the country, spewing in towns such as Bük, Balf, Gyula and Hajdúszoboszló.

The Romans first developed the baths of Budapest, and the Turks and Habsburgs followed suit. The thermal lake at Heviz is probably Hungary’s most impressive spa , though public thermal pools at Budapest, Eger, Gyor, Harkany and Szeged.

Budapest is a major spa centre with numerous thermal baths that are open to the public. Here the Danube follows the geological fault separating the Buda Hills from the Great Plain and over 40 million litres of warm mineral water gush forth daily from more than 100 thermal springs.

-Teacher Karl


The Danube is the longest river in the European Union and Europe's second longest river after the Volga.
The river originates in the Black Forest in Germany as the much smaller Brigach and Breg rivers which join at the German town Donaueschingen, after which it is known as the Danube and flows eastwards for a distance of some 2850 km (1771 miles), passing through four Central and Eastern European capitals, before emptying into the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine.
Known to history as one of the long-standing frontiers of the Roman Empire, the river flows through—or forms a part of the borders of—ten countries: Germany (7.5%), Austria (10.3%), Slovakia (5.8%), Hungary (11.7%), Croatia (4.5%), Serbia (10.3%), Romania (28.9%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Moldova (1.7%), and Ukraine (3.8%).[citation needed

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst

Hungary Slovakia
Date of Inscription: 1995

Extension: 2000

Minor modification inscribed year: 2008

Criteria: (viii)

Property : 56650.5700 ha

Buffer zone: 86797.3300 ha

Districts of Rožnava and Spišská Nová Ves, Region of Košice (SK)N48 28 32.628 E20 29 12.732

Ref: 725ter

Brief Description
The variety of formations and the fact that they are concentrated in a restricted area means that the 712 caves currently identified make up a typical temperate-zone karstic system. Because they display an extremely rare combination of tropical and glacial climatic effects, they make it possible to study geological history over tens of millions of years.


Friday, September 18, 2009


Hungary, in English officially the Republic of Hungary, is a landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin of Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its capital is Budapest. Hungary is a member of OECD, NATO, EU, V4 and is a Schengen state. The official language is Hungarian, which is part of the Finno-Ugric family, thus one of the four official languages of the European Union that are not of Indo-European origin. Following a Celtic (after c. 450 BC) and a Roman period, the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century by the Hungarian ruler Árpád, whose great-grandson Stephen I of Hungary was crowned with a crown sent from Rome by the pope in 1000. After being recognized as a kingdom, Hungary remained a monarchy for 946 years, and at various points was regarded as one of the cultural centers of the Western world, Matthias I, Lajos Kossuth,. A significant power until the end of World War I, Hungary lost over 70% of its territory, along with 3.3 million people of Hungarian ethnicity, under the Treaty of Trianon, the terms of which have been considered humiliating by Hungarians. The kingdom was succeeded by a Communist era (1947–1989) during which Hungary gained widespread international attention regarding the Revolution of 1956 and the seminal move of opening its border with Austria in 1989, thus accelerating the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. The present form of government is a parliamentary republic (since 1989). Today, Hungary is a high-income economy, and a regional leader regarding certain markers. Its current goal is to become a developed country by IMF standards. In the past decade, Hungary was listed as one of the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country is home to the largest thermal water cave system and the second largest thermal lake in the world, the largest lake in Central Europe, and the largest natural grassland in Europe.