History | Top Attractions | Metro | Museums | Handicrafts | Hotels | Restaurants | Transportation
Moscow, the capital of Russia, center of the Moscow region, is located at 55.55' of northern latitude and 37.37' to the east of the Greenwich's meridian, in the center of the East-European plain. In the past geographers used to say that Moscow "stands on seven hills", but in the strict geographical sense of the word it is impossible to call the area "hills". It lies at a height of 30-35 meters above the river Moskva, and about 150 meters above sea level.
The central and eastern parts of the town's area are flatter and lower, and its major part is occupied by the valley of Moskva river and its tributaries.
The Moscow climate is moderately continental. Moscow has on average 228 days a year in which the temperature is above zero, however the climate is rather changeable. Temperature amplitude is 28°C. The cold period of the year starts in September and ends in May. Normally, the rainfall ranges within 540...650 mm per year. The duration of the severe snow period is estimated thus: November, 26th - April, 11th. The height of the snow cover reaches 35 cm by end of winter. There may be long frosts or periods of thaw. In summer heat may suddenly give way to cold spells and rain. A tourist would be well advised to carry an umbrella and a warm overcoat at most times.
Atmospheric pressure, that doesn't strongly change during the year, is 747 mm. Winds in Moscow may blow in any direction, but during periods of warm weather the north-western ones prevail, while the south-western winds are proper to cool seasons. Weather is rather unstable in Moscow, and the weather forecast service is a common object for jokes. One of possible reasons justifying not quite reliable forecasts is a considerable temperature amplitude between parts of Moscow, it may reach 10°C in spring or autumn.
Moscow is one of the world biggest megalopolis. In 2002 its population was about 10 mln people. The territory of Moscow is about 1100 square kilometers. The boundary of Moscow (since 1960) corresponds to the Moscow ring road that is situated at 15-17 kilometers from the city center. The city is 42 km from north to south and 35 km from east to west. In terms of urban ecology, Moscow was advertised as a very clean city during the stagnation period. Later, with positive political changes, the real situation became known: air and water pollution by chemicals is rather heavy, in the southern and south-eastern parts of the town, specifically. This is explained by the pattern of enterprises and by the predominant winds. Moreover, information on radioactive pollution is now available, and separate strongly polluted sites have been discovered. Unfortunately, they are dispersed all over the territory of the town including its public gardens and densely populated blocks ("sleeping regions").
People and Language
More than 10 mln people are living in Moscow, and more than 12 mln in Moscow with its suburbs. More than five million Muscovites work in industry, in construction, at scientific institutions, within transport services, and in catering services, in educational and cultural institutions, in health and social security, in housing and social services and in management. There are representatives of more than one hundred nations and ethnic groups living in Moscow. Initially, Russians predominated, and this is true now as well, although there are some changes in proportions between Russians, Tatars, Jews and people from the Caucasus republics. Moscovites by birth are not so numerous now. The Moscow dialect was specific: a tendency to use the sound "a" instead of "�" was recorded by scientists and writers; in the same time, the Moscow dialect is thought to be the closest to the correct "pure" language.
Christianity is a predominant religion in Moscow. Russian Orthodox Church is most popular. Other religious societies are active: Moslems, Protestants, Old-believers, Single-believers, Judaism.
Vegetation and Animals
The position of Moscow in the mixed-forest zone determines the type of original vegetation. Oak and lime grow in the south, spruce and oak - in the north-west, pine - in the east and north-east, spruce and deciduous tree species are common in the north. Original vegetation on the city's territory is almost eliminated. There are only some oldest gardens with rare original plants having survived. There are over 160 species of birds, 34 species of mammals, 15 species of fish. Among birds sparrow, pigeon, jackdaw, swallow, rook, crow are common. The most widely spread among mammals are squirrel and hare, as well as mole, mouse, rat.
Moscow Standard Time (MST) differs from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Summer MST equals GMT + 4 hours, and winter MST is GMT + 3 hours.