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European Russia may be divided into four climatic zones: the cold zone, which includes the coasts of the Arctic Ocean and their adjacent islands, and extends beyond the Arctic Circle; its winter lasts nine months, and its summer three; the cold-temperate zone, from the Arctic Circle to 61º N.
lat.; its winter Lasts six months, and each of the other seasons two months; the temperate zone, extending from 61º to 48º N.
Russia forms a vast, compact territory, the area of its islands being only 107,262 sq.
The boundaries of Russia are: on the north, the Arctic Ocean; on the west, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic Sea, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Rumania ; on the south, the Black Sea, Turkey, Persia, the Caspian Sea; Afghanistan, and China ; on the east, the Pacific Ocean.
The ice, whether fixed or floating, blocks the way of ships; these ply however in the White Sea, which is free of ice for three months of the year, and the waters of which form the Gulfs of Mezen, the Dwina, Onega, and Kandalak, the latter being the most frequented.
There are but few islands in this immense extent of ice; the more important ones are the islands of Kolguet, Vaigatch, Nova Zembla, New Siberia, and the islands of Solovka, on one of which is a famous monastery founded in the fifteenth century by St. Among the most important peninsulas may be cited that of Kola or Russian Lapland.
Russia shares the possession of the Baltic Sea with Sweden, Germany, and Denmark, and its waters have been the highway of Russian commerce since the time of Peter the Great, although their shores are rugged and reefs numerous.
The Gulfs of Bothnia, Finland and Riga are frozen for several months of the year, while the Gulf of Livadia is frozen for six weeks, although it sometimes remains free of ice through the whole year.
In Western Russia, the cold of winter is never greater than 31º below zero, while the heat of summer is never in excess of 86º; but in Eastern Russia the thermometer falls to 40º below zero in winter, and rises to 109º in summer.European Russia presents graduated variations of climate between 40º and 70º N. At Nova Zembla the lowest winter temperature is 16º F., while at the south of the Crimea it rises to 56.3º in summer.The isothermal lines of European Russia are not coincident with the parallels of latitude, but diverge towards the southeast.Notwithstanding these natural obstacles, Russian commerce has been developed on the Baltic, the shortest route for the exportation of Russian products to European countries and America.The Baltic Sea is studded with islands, of which the following belong to Russia: the numerous Aland group, eighty of which are inhabited; the Islands of Dago, Oesel, Mohn, Wornes, and Kotlin; on the last is built the formidable fortress of Kronstadt.
On the coast of the Black Sea between Batum and Sukhum, the temperature seldom falls below 32º; in January the temperature rises as high as 43º.