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A Geography of the Soviet Union by John C. Dewdney and W. B. Fisher (Auth.)

By John C. Dewdney and W. B. Fisher (Auth.)

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17 18 A Geography of the Soviet Union D i s t a n c e f r o m t h e Sea T h e vast size of t h e Soviet U n i o n ensures t h a t s o m e 75 p e r c e n t of its t e r r i t o r y is m o r e t h a n 400 k m from t h e sea, this d i s t a n c e r e a c h i n g a m a x i m u m of n e a r l y 2500 k m in p a r t s of s o u t h e r n S i b e r i a . T h e longest coastline is t h a t of t h e A r c t i c O c e a n , frozen for m o r e t h a n h a l f t h e y e a r , while t h e Pacific shore is w a s h e d b y cold c u r r e n t s a n d s e p a r a t e d from t h e i n t e r i o r b y h i g h m o u n t a i n r a n g e s .

As a result, m a r i t i m e influences from these t w o w a t e r bodies a r e of limited i m p o r t a n c e , a n d it is t h e A t l a n t i c w h i c h h a s most effect, its influence b e i n g discernible to a slight d e g r e e as far east as t h e Yenisey. T h e c o m b i n a t i o n of these t h r e e factors—high l a t i t u d e , low a l t i t u d e a n d g r e a t d i s t a n c e from t h e sea—means t h a t t h e g r e a t e r p a r t of t h e Soviet U n i o n h a s a c o n t i n e n t a l c l i m a t i c r é g i m e c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y g r e a t e x t r e m e s of t e m p e r a t u r e a n d relatively s m a l l a m o u n t s of rainfall.

R . east of t h e Yenisey. O v e r such a vast a r e a t h e r e a r e c o n s i d e r a b l e differences of c l i m a t e , soil a n d v e g e t a t i o n , b u t t h e region h a s a basic u n i t y d e r i v e d from its e x t r e m e c o n t i n e n t a l i t y , its podsolic soils a n d t h e p r e d o m i n a n c e of coniferous forest. T h e t a i g a is u s u a l l y d i v i d e d i n t o western a n d e a s t e r n sections a l o n g t h e line of t h e R i v e r Yenisey, reflecting the fact t h a t t e m p e r a t u r e c o n d i t i o n s b e c o m e m o r e e x t r e m e a n d rainfall d i m i n i s h e s from west to east.

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