The Russian Federation possesses a unique variety and scale of geographic features, even after the collapse of the larger Soviet Union, but it faces grave problems in managing its abundant natural resources. Although the potential remains for construct
ive exploitation of Russia's environment, the economic and political condition of the country does not bode well for an organized effort in that direction. Meanwhile, a large percentage of Russia's population is threatened by numerous grave ecological haz
ards left behind by Soviet regimes as well as by the tolerance the post-Soviet government has for most of those conditions. In the mid-1990s, those threats combine with other health problems, a low birthrate, and a declining life expectancy to give Russia
one of the least positive demographic profiles in the world.
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Two classic authorities on the geography of Russia are Paul E. Lydolph's Geography of the U.S.S.R.
and David Hooson's The Soviet Union: People and Regions
. A post-Soviet treatment of the topic is found in Russian Regions Today: Atlas of the New Federation
, published in 1994 by the International Center in Washington, D.C. Environmental problems are discussed at length in D.J. Peterson's Troubled Lands: The Legacy of Soviet Environmental Destruction
and in Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege
, edited by Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly. Information on the current demographic crisis is provided by Valentina Bodrova's "Reproductive Behaviour of Russia's Population in the Transition Period" and Penny Morvant's "Alarm over Falling Life Expecta
ncy." (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of July 1996