Moscow is the
capital of Russia. The city is located in western Russia and lies in the broad,
shallow valley of the Moskva River, a tributary of the Oka and thus of the
Volga, in the centre of the vast plain of European Russia. This region is one
of the most highly developed and densely populated areas of Russia.
The climate of
Moscow is of the continental type, modified by the temperate influence of
westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are cold and long, summers are
short and mild . The moderate annual precipitation occurs predominantly in the
summer months, often in brief, heavy downpours.
Only a small
percentage of Moscow's population is employed in the city centre because of the
decentralization of workplaces. Industry is the dominant source of employment,
followed by science and research. Although Moscow's role in the country's
administration is of prime importance, government as a source of employment is
(production of automobiles and trucks, ball bearings, machine tools, and
precision instruments) and metalworking are by far the most important
industries. Other important activities include the manufacture of textiles,
chemicals and derivative products, and consumer goods (foodstuffs, footwear,
and pianos); timber processing; construction; and printing and publishing.
Moscow is the headquarters of state insurance and banking organizations.
The pattern of
rings and radials that marked the historical stages of Moscow's growth remains
evident in its modern layout. Successive epochs of development are traced by
the Boulevard Ring and the Garden Ring (both following the line of former
fortifications), the Moscow Little Ring Railway, and the Moscow Ring Road. From
1960 to the mid-1980s the Ring Road was the administrative limit of the city,
but several areas of the largely greenbelt zone beyond the road have been
annexed since then.
The centre of
the city and the historical heart of Moscow is the fortified enclosure of the
Kremlin. Its crenellated redbrick walls and 20 towers (19 with spires) were
built at the end of the 15th century and were partially rebuilt in later years.
Within the walls of the Kremlin are located the meeting places of the
government of Russia. Among these are the former Senate building (1776-88), the
Kremlin Great Palace (1838-49), and the modern Palace of Congresses (1960-61).
Other features within the Kremlin include the central Cathedral Square, around
which are grouped three cathedrals, all examples of Russian church architecture
at its height in the late 15th and early 16th centuries; a group of palaces of
various periods; the white bell tower of Ivan III the Great; the Armoury
Museum; and the Arsenal (1702-36).
Along the east
wall of the Kremlin lies Red Square, the ceremonial centre of the capital. The
Lenin Mausoleum stands beneath the Kremlin walls, and the Church of the
Intercession, or Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, is at the southern end of
the square. The State Department Store, GUM, faces the Kremlin, and the State
Historical Museum (1875-83) closes off the northern end of the square.
remainder of central Moscow, within the Garden Ring, are buildings
representative of every period of Moscow's development from the 15th century to
the present. Examples of the Moscow Baroque style, the Classical period, and
the revivalist Old Russian style may be found. In the Soviet period streets
were widened, and much of the old part of the inner city was demolished and
replaced by large office and apartment buildings, government ministries,
headquarters of national and international bodies and organizations, hotels and
larger shops, and principal cultural centres.
Garden Ring is a middle zone dominated by 18th- and 19th-century developments;
many factories, railway stations, and freight yards are located there. Since
1960 extensive urban renewal has occurred, producing neighbourhoods of
high-rise apartment buildings. The outer zone has been the site of modern
factory development and extensive housing construction in the 20th century.
Beyond the newer suburbs are areas of open land and forest, together with
satellite industrial towns and dormitory suburbs.
inhabitants are overwhelmingly of Russian nationality, but members of more than
100 other nationalities and ethnic groups also live there. Population density,
though lowered by outward expansion of the city, has remained high because of
the vast number of large apartment buildings.
Moscow has a
large concentration of educational institutions, and its centres of higher
education draw students from throughout Russia. Moscow State University (1755)
is the leading educational institution. The city's many specialized educational
institutions include the Moscow Timiryazev Academy of Agriculture and the
Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. Scientific research is conducted by
the Academy of Sciences of Russia and many institutions linked to industry. The
city's libraries include the V.I. Lenin State Library.
music, and art are important in the city's life. The State Academic Bolshoi
("Great") Theatre (1825), Maly ("Little") Theatre, and
Moscow Art Theatre are especially renowned. Of the many museums and galleries,
the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Tretyakov Gallery are
Few people in
Moscow own automobiles, necessitating heavy reliance on public transportation
provided by the Metropolitan (Metro) subway, buses, streetcars, and trolleybuses.
The Metro system, which reflects the city's street patterns, is known for the
elaborate architecture of its stations. Moscow is the centre of the country's
rail network, on which freight transport is heavily dependent. Trunk rail lines
radiate from the city in all directions to major Russian population and
industrial centres, to Ukraine, Belarus, and eastern Europe, and to Central
Asia. Suburban commuter traffic is facilitated by the Moscow Little Ring
Railway (1908) and the Greater Moscow Ring Railway, which link radial lines.
Passenger trains connect to destinations throughout Russia and Europe. Moscow
is also a major river port and is served by the Moscow Canal. The Volga's
various canals link Moscow to all the seas surrounding European Russia. Moscow
is the centre of the country's airline network; the Sheremetyevo airport, in
the north, handles international flights.
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