Soviet Union Table of Contents
Any geographic description of the Soviet Union is replete with superlatives. Its inventory of land and water contains the world's largest and deepest lakes, the most expansive plain, and Europe's highest mountain and longest river. Desert scenes from Soviet Central Asia resemble the Australian outback. The Crimean coast on the Black Sea is the Soviet Riviera, and the mountains rimming the southern boundary are as imposing as the Swiss Alps. However, most of the topography and climate resembles that of the northernmost portion of the North American continent. The northern forests and the plains to the south find their closest counterparts in the Yukon Territory and in the wide swath of land extending across most of Canada. Similarities in terrain, climate, and settlement patterns between Siberia and Alaska and Canada are unmistakable.
After the Bolshevik Revolution and the ensuing Civil War (1918- 21), Soviet regimes transformed, often radically, the country's physical environment. In the 1970s and 1980s, Soviet citizens, from the highest officials to ordinary factory workers and farmers, began to examine negative aspects of this transformation and to call for more prudent use of natural resources and greater concern for environmental protection.
Data as of May 1989