ABOUT From the windy Baltic Sea to the Pacific coast, from the Arctic ices to the wild steppe, expands a country, occupying one sixth of the world's landmass - Russia. This is a country of rustling birch woods and silent pine forests, frosty winters and spectacular summers, mighty Siberian rivers and desolate marshes, frozen tundra and never-ending steppe, golden wheat fields and enormous blue skies, sprawling cities and forgotten villages, onion-domed churches and picturesque Mosques, white-walled monasteries and Imperial palaces, heroic past and thrilling legends, enigmatic icons and stirring symphonies, the home land of Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago, Peter Tchaikovsky and Wassily Kandinsky, the Maryinsky opera and the Bolshoy ballet. These are just some of the attractions of this vast and romantic land. Russia has changed a lot over the past fifteen years. Overcoming the difficulties of transforming itself into a modern capitalist nation Russia is a country with a great potential.

CLIMATE The climate of Russia is formed under the influence of several determining factors. The enormous size of the country and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the continental climate. The Russian winter certainly guarantees plenty of snow and frost… but not everywhere. Winters in Russia’s European part are nothing like as terrifying as you might imagine. In Moscow and St. Petersburg the first snow usually falls in late November and stays till early April. The average winter temperature is about -10°C. Colder snaps are not uncommon, but winter chills are compensated for by splendid summers. St. Petersburg usually enjoys 20-25°C and Moscow often swelters in highs of 35-37°C. The Black Sea resort of Sochi makes up for the rest of the country with a sizzling 35°C between June and August.

BEWARE Most visits to Russia are trouble-free, but petty crime does happen in cities. Be alert to the possibility of mugging, pick pocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. Be wary of groups of women and children who beg. In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist.