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    Tourism provides one of the possibilities to know more about other countries. Now people travel much more than they ever used to. Many people travel in their own country and millions of them travel abroad.

    Russia, the largest country in the world, has always attracted visitors from neighbouring and distant countries. Russia is proud of its architecture, painting, and music. A lot of tourists come to our country to see its beauty and to admire its cultural achievements. As a rule they want to visit Moscow, St. Petersburg and the towns of the "Golden Ring".

    Russia is located in the eastern part of Europe and in the northern part of Asia. It boarders on thirteen countries. Russia is washed by twelve seas and three oceans. Russia is connected with the Atlantic Ocean through the Baltic Sea in the west and the Black Sea in the south. The Arctic Ocean and its seas including the White, Barents, Kara, Laptev, East-Siberian Seas wash Russia in the north. The Pacific Ocean and its seas the Bering, Okhotsk, and Japanese Seas are in the east of Russia.

    The Russian Plain, the Ural Mountains, the West Siberian Plain, the Central Siberian Plateau, and the Far East are the main areas of Russia The Russian Plain occupies the European part of Russia. The Ural Mountains separate Europe from Asia. The West Siberian Plain links with the Central Siberian Plateau. The Far East of Russia comprises the Kamchatka and Chukchi peninsulas and the Kuril and Sakhalin islands.

    Russia's greatest rivers are the Don and Volga in its European part, and the Ob and Yenisey in West Siberia. The Ob is the longest river in Russia, but the Volga is the most important one. Many Russian towns are located along the Volga river.

    Russia is densely populated, but its population is unequally distributed. People prefer to live in the European part of the country. Siberia is thinly inhabited. There are more than sixty nationalities and ethnic groups in Russia. Russia is an urban country - the majority of the Russian citizens live in cities. As Russia occupies vast territories there are various climatic zones in the country. Continental climate, with cold winters and warm summers prevails on the territory of Russia.

    Russia is rich in mineral deposits such as coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as of iron ore, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, aluminium, and tin. Natural resources determine the development of the Russian economy. Russia's heavy industries produce much of the nation's steel and most of its heavy machinery.

    The Russian Federation was founded in 1991. The Constitution was adopted in 1993. Russia is a Presidential Republic. It is headed by the President. The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he makes treaties, enforces laws, appoints the Prime Minister, cabinet members, and key judges.

    The Russian government consists of three branches: the legislative, the executive and the judicial. The power is distributed in such a way that each branch checks and balances the others. The legislative power is vested in the Federal Assembly. It consists of the Federation Council (upper house) and the State Duma (lower house). The members of the State Duma are elected by popular vote for a four-year period. The Federation Council is not elected. It is formed of the heads of the regions. Each Chamber is headed by the Chairman. Legislature is initiated in the State Duma. But to become a law a bill must be approved by the Lower and Upper Houses and signed by the President. The executive power belongs to the Government. The judicial branch is represented by the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and regional courts.

    The national flag of the Russian Federation is three coloured: white, blue and red. The symbol of the country is a two-headed eagle. Russia's hymn was created by Alexandrov and Mikhalkov.

    According to the Chronicle the history of Early Russia began in the year 862. That year Rurik became the first Russian prince having merged Novgorod and Kiev. Rurik's successor Prince Oleg did his best to strengthen and expand the nascent state. In 988 Prince Vladimir, the Red Sun, baptised Russia. After the adoption of Christianity churches and monasteries sprang up in the country. The beautiful cathedrals and churches of Early Russia still stand in their glory. From the 10-th to the 12-th centuries Russia was a progressive Christian state. With the development of feudalism the Russian state disintegrated into separate principalities. The princes quarrelled among themselves and waged feudal wars. The hordes of armed nomads conquered the Russian land. The yoke lasted till 1380. Russia's strength was diminishing. Lands on the Black sea coast and along the Volga river were lost. The campaign to liberate Russia was headed by Moscow. For the first time Moscow was mentioned by the chroniclers in 1147. At that time Russian lands began to unite round Moscow, which led to the establishment of a strong centralised state.

    During its long history Moscow was exposed to several invasions. In 1237 it fell under the power of the Golden Horde. Moscow began to rise in the 14-th century. Under Ivan III the Great, in the mid-fifteenth century, Moscow became the principal city of the state of Muscovy. During the Time of Troubles Moscow was occupied by the Polish invaders but they were defeated by the popular levy headed by Minin and Pozharsky. The army of Napoleon entered Moscow on September 15, 1812. The emperor was disappointed that no Russian bowed forward, offering him the city keys. Napoleon settled in the Kremlin. The city was set ablaze. Fires spread to the edge of the Kremlin. Napoleon tried to open peace talks. But Alexander I, who was in St. Petersburg, did not wish to discuss peace. Napoleon left Moscow. His warriors were routed by the Russian troops. In 1941 the German armies were defeated not far from Moscow.

    Nowadays Moscow is the capital of Russia. It is the largest city of the country. Moscow lies in the valley of the Moskva river. Moscow is a political, administrative, economic, industrial, educational and cultural centre of the Russian Federation. A lot of educational institutions are located here.

    There are many places of interest in Moscow. There are a lot of historical monuments, museums, art galleries and theatres in the city. The Historical Museum, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Tretyakov Gallery are known all over the world. The Bolshoy, Mali and Art theatres are famous too.

    The Kremlin - the oldest historical and architectural centre - is the heart of Moscow. At first the Kremlin was a wooden fort. Under Dmitry Donskoy the Kremlin was built of white stone. Redbrick walls and towers replaced the walls of white stone at the end of the 15th century. The most ancient tower is the Secret one. It was built in 1485. The Saviour Tower with its Kremlin chimes is the symbol of Russia. The chiming clock was established in 1625. Ivan III invited Italian architects to construct the Kremlin cathedrals. In 1547 Ivan the Terrible was the first Russian tsar to be crowned in the five-domed Assumption Cathedral. From 1721 the coronations of all Russian Emperors were held there. The Archangel Cathedral was the burial place of the Russian Princes and Tsars. Grand Prince Ivan Kalita was the first to be buried here. Altogether there are 53 royal tombs there. The Annunciation Cathedral is the main Russian Cathedral. It is famous for the icons created by Andrew Rublev and his apprentices. Not far from the Assumption Cathedral we can see the Faceted Palace. It is the oldest secular building in Moscow. All coronation feasts were held here. Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the construction of the 16th century, rises in the centre of the Kremlin. On the stone pedestal at the foot of the Bell Tower stands the Tsar-Bell, the largest bell in the world. The bell was cast for the Assumption Belfry. It was damaged during the great fire of Moscow in 1737. In 1836 it was put on the pedestal. Not far from it is the Tsar-Cannon. Senate Square is located between the Senate and the Arsenal. The Grand Kremlin Palace is situated not far from Senate Square. The Russian Emperors usually stayed in the palace when they came to Moscow. It was designed by the architect K. A. Ton in 1840. The Armoury Chamber is the famous museum where military trophies, Tsar's regalia and church ceremonial items are displayed. The Kremlin workshop was made a museum of military glory after the battle of Poltava in 1709 by Peter Гs order.

    All the ceremonies are held in Red Square. At its one end we can see St. Basil's Cathedral the Blessed. It was built in the mid-16 century for Tsar Ivan IV to commemorate the victory over the Golden Horde. Lobnoye Mesto, a lifted railed platform of white stone, is situated to the left of St. Basil's Cathedral. Built in the 16-th century it was the place from which all Tsar's edicts were announced. Lenin's Mausoleum, designed by A. Shchusev in 1924, is located in Red Square. Until recently it was a monument of great significance. The Historical Museum locks the other end of Red Square. Next to it one can see the reconstructed Iverskay Chapel and the Resurrection gates. Alexander Gardens, laid out at the beginning of the 19-th century, are located beneath the Kremlin walls. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is near the entrance to the Gardens. It is the major memorial to the warriors of the Great Patriotic War.

    St. Petersburg is the second Russia's largest city. St. Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, has played an important role in Russian history. It was founded by Peter I in 1703. St. Petersburg is situated on the Neva river. The city once spread across nearly 100 islands. Canals and natural channels make St. Petersburg a city of waterways and bridges. For two centuries St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire. After the revolutions of 1917, which took place in St. Petersburg it was renamed into Leningrad. During World War II the city was besieged and fiercely defended. Today the city is an important industrial centre and the nation's largest seaport. In 1991 St. Petersburg got its original name back.

    Central St. Petersburg is divided by the Neva River into four parts: the Admiralty Side, Vasilyevsky Island, the Petrograd Side, and the Vyborg Side. The Admiralty Side is rich in museums, monuments, historical buildings and squares. From the Admiralty, the heart of Peter's city, an avenue known as Nevsky Prospect runs eastward. There are a lot of palaces, churches, stores, cafes, and theatres there.

    St. Petersburg is proud of its rich architecture that includes the cathedral of the Peter-Paul Fortress, the Summer Palace, the Winter Palace, the Smolny Convent, the Kazan and St. Isaac's cathedrals, the Smolny Institute, the new Admiralty, and the Senate. There are many important educational and scientific research centres in St. Petersburg. Among these are: the University of Saint Petersburg, the Academy of Fine Arts, the Institute of Mines, and the Military Medical Academy.

    St. Petersburg is a city of culture. There are a lot of theatres and concert halls there. The Mariinsky Theatre has long enjoyed an international reputation. Famous museums include the State Russian Museum, which specialises in Russian painting, and the Hermitage with a rich collection of western European painting. In 1764 the Hermitage was established by Catherine II. It was opened to the public in 1852. In St. Petersburg there are many stadiums and other outdoor recreation facilities provided by the Kirov Park, the Zoo, the botanical gardens, and numerous other parks and gardens.

    The "Golden Ring" is a very popular tourist route. It includes towns and villages in the north-eastern part of the former State of Muscovy. It is rich in historical and architectural monuments. Among the most notable towns of the "Golden Ring" route are Pereslavl-Zalessky, the birthplace of the Russian Prince Alexander Nevsky; Rostov Veliky, the finest and largest town of Prince Andrew Bogolyubsky's principality; Borisoglebsky, the Fortress-Monastery, founded for the protection of the travellers; Uglich, the tragic stage of Tsarevich Dmitry death; Kostroma, known for its elaborate churches and cathedrals; Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Suzdal, and others. All these towns played a very important role in the making of the state of Russia.

    The history of Vladimir dates back to the year 1108 when it was founded by Vladimir Monomakh. Prince Andrew Bogolyubsky moved his capital from Kiev to Vladimir in 1157. In 1160 he invited craftsmen to build the Assumption Cathedral. By the 15-th century the city declined. Now Vladimir is famous for its architecture of early Russia.

    Suzdal was the capital city of Yury Dolgoruky's Rostov-Suzdal Principality. After the fall of Kiev Suzdal became a religious, political and economic centre of medieval Russia. Many of its monasteries and convents are associated with the banished princes and nobility. Numerous churches and monasteries were built in Suzdal during the reign of Andrew Bogolyubsky. In the 13-th and 14-th centuries Suzdal-Vladimir principality disintegrated.

    I am sure that everything that our foreign guests will see in Russia they will never be able to forget.

    - How long are the Urals?

    - The Urals stretch for about 2,100 km from north to south.

    - What is the highest peak of the Ural Mountains?

    - The highest peak, Mount Narodnaya, reaches 1,895 m, and other maintain tops range from 900 to 1,500 m.

    - Is Moscow your native city?

    - Yes, it is. I was born in Moscow.

    - Have you recently visited any museums or theatres?

    - Recently I have been to the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts to enjoy the Impressionists' works of art and the Picasso. As for the theatre, the performance that impressed me greatly was "Tsar Fyodor Ioanovich" at the Mali Theatre. This classical play was wonderfully performed.

    - What monuments would you recommend your foreign guests to see?

    - ~ First of all they should visit Red Square. There they will see the monuments connected with the history of Russia. In Red Square they will see a monument to Minin and Pozharsky. It was erected in 1818 to commemorate their victory over the Polish invaders in 1612. In front of the Historical museum they will see a monument to Marshal Zhukov. Under his leadership the Soviet Union won World War II. The monument was erected in May 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the victory over Fascist Germany. Then walking up Tverskaya Street their attention can be attracted by the monument to Yury Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow. In Pushkin Square they will see the monument to Alexander Pushkin, the great Russian poet. In Mayakovskaya Square there is a monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Russian poet of the 20-th century. If our guests want to see the dismantled monuments to the political leaders of the previous epoch I shall take them to the square attached to the Central House of Painters.
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