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    Leningrad Region

Geography

The Leningrad Region was formed on the 1st of August 1927. It is a part of the north -western economical district of the Russian Federation and occupies 90,000 square kilometres that is about the size of Austria. The region has external borders with Estonia and Finland. Its population is about 1,700,000, 2/3 of which lives in towns. The capital of the Leningrad region, St. Petersburg (with nearly 5 million inhabitants) founded by Peter the Great, had long been the capital of Russia and proudly bears the name of the Northern Capital. Modern St. Petersburg is not only the second most important centre of Russia but also one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

The region is situated on the Baltic lowland. Its north -western part lies on the Karelian Isthmus, eastern and north -eastern parts in the spurs of Valday and Olonets heights. St. Petersburg is situated on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea, in the mouth of the Neva River, on 42 islands of its delta. There are 1800 lakes in the Leningrad Region, including Lake Ladoga, which is the largest and the deepest one in Europe. The total length of all rivers in the region is 50,000 kilometres, the main ones are Neva, Svir, Volhov and Vuoksa. Neva is a relatively young river: it formed just 3 thousand years ago. An interesting geological feature of the region is that Neva divides the territory into two different parts: the northern one is lifting up above the sea, while the southern one is dipping down. Two banks of Neva moving in opposite directions explains occasional seismic activity in St. Petersburg rather unusual phenomenon in that part of Europe.

Because of the regions high northern altitude location, one can enjoy beautiful summer white nights there. They begin in late May when evening and morning dusk start to overlap, and end in mid July. It is impossible to observe even the brightest stars at white nights. The longest daytime for St. Petersburg is 18 hours 53 minutes (21 22 June).

Neva floods are typical for St. Petersburg. They are caused by strong winds of Atlantic cyclones that force high waves of the Gulf of Finland up the river. The worst case was recorded in 1824 when the water level rose up to 4 metres and more than a half of the city was flooded. The protecting dam, which is 8 metres high, 35 metres wide and 25 kilometres long, is currently under construction.

The Leningrad Region is situated in the southern sub zone of taiga. Now forests occupy about 40% of the territory of the region, swamps more than 10%. Natural landscapes of the region are extremely diverse. There are cliffs in the Gulf of Vyborg and to the north of Ladoga, huge swampy to the south of Ladoga, marshy valleys with granite boulders on the Karelian Isthmus, canyons and waterfalls, plains and hills to the south of Neva.

Climate

Due to the unique geographical location of the region, the climate of the region is damp, moderate continental, close to sea climate, with moderately warm summer and relatively long moderately cold winter. Average temperature is about 9 11oC for January and +16 +17oC for July. Due to the urban effect, average winter temperature for the capital is a few degrees higher than that for the rest of the region. In St. Petersburg, there are only 40 sunny days per year and 170 cloudy days, especially in winter. Although yearly precipitation is relatively low: about 600 mm, humidity is rather high in the city because of the lack of sunny days. Intensive cyclone activity and frequent changes of air masses cause very unstable weather in all seasons. On average, vegetation period begins in mid May and finishes in late September; the deviations can be significant.

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