Russia has been in the news a fair bit lately, and perhaps you have decided it is time to learn a little bit more about Russia. Perhaps you noticed the news recently - that over a course of several days (February 6 - 15, 2017), five Russian heads resigned... heads of the the republics of Karelia and Buryatia, and the governors of Novgorod and Ryazan oblasts, as well as the governor of Perm krai. And then your next thought, without a doubt, was, "Wait, what are these oblasts, republics and krais anyway?"
So here you are, about to find out.
Russia, officially known as the Russian Federation, is made up of 85 federal subjects - republics, krais, oblasts, autonomous okrugs, federal cities and an autonomous oblast. It can be pretty confusing to understand the differences, and keep straight what's what and where.
So I've brought you a couple of resources that might help you out a bit.
First up, a youtube video by VanDeGraph: Russian Federation Explained. Watch this video to learn the history of how the various federal subjects came to be, and what their primary differences are in terms of powers.
If you want to memorize the names of the federal subjects and where they are, you could watch this next video. It's cheesy and annoying, and you probably STILL won't know where all the federal subjects are, but you will hear how to pronounce their names... and the chorus is catchy.
Chances are, you still can't name them all or place them on a map... 'cause c'mon, there are 85 of them and it's no easy task. So we've turned our Russian: federal subjects quiz into a customizable quiz. This way, you can pick which ones you want to start with, and learn at your own pace. The Russian: federal subjects quiz can be customized by anyone with a free account on Lizard Point Quizzes.
Or you could try one of these quizzes to start off:
The supposed meridian, passing through the Observatory (dotted line) and the actual one, 334 feet to the east in Greenwich Park. (Image: 2014 Google Maps, Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky)
Many geography fans would consider the Prime Meridian an absolute must in terms of places to visit. And the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England is likely to be the point on the Meridian that comes to most people's minds. We've been there a couple of times and have always patiently stood in line to place one foot on both sides of the famous east/west dividing line. Then taken the pictures to prove it. Imagine our surprise to learn that the real meridian is about 333 feet east, marked unceremoniously by a litter can!
As most of our readers will know, any place on the earth can be referenced by its position on imaginary lines going north/south (latitude) and east/west (longitude). A line of longitude is called a meridian. Unlike latitude, where 0 degrees (the equator) is fixed by a natural definition (the axis of the earth's rotation), 0 degrees longitude is arbitrary. It could have been placed on any east/west point. Greenwich was established as the Prime Meridian of the world in 1884 - essentially by a vote (22 - 1 with 1 absention).
As Jacobs describes, the problem with the placement was grounded on a mis-measurement at the time that wasn't discovered until GPS technology arrived more than a century later. So, if you do go to the Royal Observatory (it's definitely fun), be sure and get that picture astride two hemispheres near that litter bin.
Lizard Point's creator, Lyndsey, standing on what she thought was the Prime Meridian.