When we think of Russia, what comes to mind? We relate Russia to communism, the Cold War, and/or producing great hockey players, among other things. But geographically speaking, we think of it as nothing more than the big, bulky land mass to the east of Europe where it is freezing cold all the time. But Russia is much more geographically complex than simply being big and cold. Different physiographical and climatic factors have allowed Russia to grow and develop into a major world influence despite also providing less than ideal and very tough living conditions.
First off, let us take a look at population. Many people make the mistake that because Russia is so large; it has to have an insanely large population. "With an area of 17,075,200 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia constitutes more than one-ninth of the world's land area." (MSN Encarta 1) That is actually false.
The population of Russia is roughly 143 Million, which is less than half of the approximate population of 300 Million in the United States. "Russia's total population in 2006 was estimated at 142,893,540, making the country the sixth most populous, after China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil." (MSN Encarta 5) Russia's population is actually very small relative to the amount of land it possesses.
With all of that said it would be safe to assume that the people of Russia have high standards of living because there is so much space and so few people, comparatively speaking. However, the problem is that so much of the land in Russia is terribly difficult, if not impossible, to live in, and so many of the people are cramped into the little habitable space that's there. "Most of the country's people are concentrated in European Russia in the so-called fertile triangle,