Russia

Just in case you mistakenly heard that it was all ice and snow in Russia, take a peek at the Big Bikini Exposition. This is right on the river Moskva in Moscow!

Moscow has been the capital of Russia for almost its entire history. The exception is during the period of the Russian Empire, which lasted from 1721 until the Russian Revolution 1917. For these two centuries the capital was St. Petersburg. The Russian Empire was the second largest contiguous Empire in world memory; only the Mongol Empire had been greater.

Check out what's happening north of Mongolia these days, in Chita

Although you may not have heard of Sochi, on the Black Sea, they're building up quickly and hope to host the 2014 Olympics.

Other periods of Russian history include the Tsardom of Russia, from Ivan IV to Peter the Great, and the Grand Duchy (14th-16th centuries).

The earliest period of Russian history was ruled by the Novgorod Republic and Kievan Rus, which was the first Russian state dating back to 800AD in Kiev.

Modern Russia remains one of the world's superpowers. They launched the earth's second satellite, called Sputnik 1, and were the first country to put a human being into orbit around earth. (The first one is called the Moon.)

After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became a federal republic of 83 states.

Text by Steve Smith.

Alexei Merinov
Rodelbahn attraction in the Mountain Olympic Village - 2014 at the Rosa Khutor resort (Sochi, South of Russia). Caucasus mountains are hidden under the clouds
Alexei Merinov
at the hotel GREEN FLOV - on the slope, on the edge of the Rosa Plateau - Mountain Olympic Villages of the Rosa Khutor resort on a cloudy summer day. Below is the valley of the Mzymta River
Alexei Merinov
at the Sky Inn hotel - on the slope, in the center of Rosa Plato - Mountain Olympic Village (Rosa Khutor resort. Sochi) on a cloudy summer day. Below is the valley of the Mzymta River
Alexei Merinov
Large panorama of the kuban river and the city of Krasnodar at the end of a summer day.
Alexei Merinov
hydrotechnical structures of the irrigation system for growing rice in the valley of the Kuban River (Krasnodar Territory, southern Russia)
Alexei Merinov
aerial view - harvesting rice in the fields of Krasnodar Territory (South of Russia) on a sunny autumn day
Alexei Merinov
by the road on a slope, in the center of Rosa Plato - Mountain Olympic Village (Rosa Khutor resort. Sochi) on a cloudy summer day. Below is the valley of the Mzymta River
Alexei Merinov
aerial panorama of the Kuban River and Lake Starobrzegokai near the western part of the city of Krasnodar on a sunny day
Alexei Merinov
Large panorama of the Kubans river valley with numerous rice fields (rice paddies) on a sunny day in early autumn. The Kuban River is visible on the horizon
Alexei Merinov
aerial view of the valley of the Kuban River near the village of Novomyshastovskaya with numerous fields of rice (rice paddies) during harvesting with combine harvesters on a sunny day in early autumn.