Moscow is the capital of Russia. The city is located in westernRussia and lies in the broad, shallow valley of the Moskva River, a tributaryof the Oka and thus of the Volga, in the centre of the vast plain of EuropeanRussia. This region is one of the most highly developed and densely populatedareas of Russia.
The climate of Moscow is of the continental type, modified by thetemperate influence of westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are coldand long, summers are short and mild. The moderate annual precipitation occurspredominantly in the summer months, often in brief, heavy downpours.
Only a small percentage of Moscow's population is employed in thecity centre because of the decentralization of workplaces. Industry is thedominant source of employment, followed by science and research. AlthoughMoscow's role in the country's administration is of prime importance,government as a source of employment is relatively minor.
Engineering (production of automobiles and trucks, ball bearings,machine tools, and precision instruments) and metalworking are by far the mostimportant industries. Other important activities include the manufacture oftextiles, chemicals and derivative products, and consumer goods (foodstuffs,footwear, and pianos); timber processing; construction; and printing andpublishing. Moscow is the headquarters of state insurance and bankingorganizations.
The pattern of rings and radials that marked the historicalstages of Moscow's growth remains evident in its modern layout. Successiveepochs of development are traced by the Boulevard Ring and the Garden Ring(both following the line of former fortifications), the Moscow Little RingRailway, and the Moscow Ring Road. From 1960 to the mid-1980s the Ring Road wasthe administrative limit of the city, but several areas of the largelygreenbelt zone beyond the road have been annexed since then.
The centre of the city and the historical heart of Moscow is thefortified enclosure of the Kremlin. Its crenellated redbrick walls and 20towers (19 with spires) were built at the end of the 15th century and werepartially rebuilt in later years. Within the walls of the Kremlin are located themeeting places of the government of Russia. Among these are the former Senatebuilding (1776-88), the Kremlin Great Palace (1838-49), and the modern Palaceof Congresses (1960-61). Other features within the Kremlin include the centralCathedral Square, around which are grouped three cathedrals, all examples ofRussian church architecture at its height in the late 15th and early 16thcenturies; a group of palaces of various periods; the white bell tower of IvanIII the Great; the Armoury Museum; and the Arsenal (1702-36).
Along the east wall of the Kremlin lies Red Square, theceremonial centre of the capital. The Lenin Mausoleum stands beneath theKremlin walls, and the Church of the Intercession, or Cathedral of St. Basilthe 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 offthe northern end of the square.
In the remainder of central Moscow, within the Garden Ring, arebuildings representative of every period of Moscow's development from the 15thcentury to the present. Examples of the Moscow Baroque style, the Classicalperiod, and the revivalist Old Russian style may be found. In the Soviet periodstreets were widened, and much of the old part of the inner city was demolishedand replaced by large office and apartment buildings, government ministries,headquarters of national and international bodies and organizations, hotels andlarger shops, and principal cultural centres.
Beyond the Garden Ring is a middle zone dominated by 18th- and19th-century developments; many factories, railway stations, and freight yardsare located there. Since 1960 extensive urban renewal has occurred, producingneighbourhoods of high-rise apartment buildings. The outer zone has been thesite of modern factory development and extensive housing construction in the20th century. Beyond the newer suburbs are areas of open land and forest,together with satellite industrial towns and dormitory suburbs.
Moscow's inhabitants are overwhelmingly of Russian nationality,but members of more than 100 other nationalities and ethnic groups also livethere. Population density, though lowered by outward expansion of the city, hasremained high because of the vast number of large apartment buildings.
Moscow has a large concentration of educational institutions, andits centres of higher education draw students from throughout Russia. MoscowState University (1755) is the leading educational institution. The city's manyspecialized educational institutions include the Moscow Timiryazev Academy ofAgriculture and the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. Scientificresearch is conducted by the Academy of Sciences of Russia and manyinstitutions linked to industry. The city's libraries include the V.I. LeninState Library.
Theatre, music, and art are important in the city's life. TheState 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 andthe State Tretyakov Gallery are notable.
Few people in Moscow own automobiles, necessitating heavyreliance on public transportation provided by the Metropolitan (Metro) subway,buses, streetcars, and trolleybuses. The Metro system, which reflects thecity's street patterns, is known for the elaborate architecture of itsstations. Moscow is the centre of the country's rail network, on which freighttransport is heavily dependent. Trunk rail lines radiate from the city in alldirections to major Russian population and industrial centres, to Ukraine,Belarus, and eastern Europe, and to Central Asia. Suburban commuter traffic isfacilitated by the Moscow Little Ring Railway (1908) and the Greater MoscowRing Railway, which link radial lines. Passenger trains connect to destinationsthroughout Russia and Europe. Moscow is also a major river port and is servedby the Moscow Canal. The Volga's various canals link Moscow to all the seassurrounding European Russia. Moscow is the centre of the country's airlinenetwork; the Sheremetyevo airport, in the north, handles international flights.
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