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EASTERN EUROPE PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Physical Geography of Eastern Europe Landforms • The area is characterized by several mountain ranges that are extensions of the Swiss Alps. • Lowlands within this region have a karst topography, areas of barren and rocky ground. • The Balkan Peninsula’s rugged landscape makes traveling over land difficult, thereby increasing the importance of waterways for transportation. • The Balkan Mountains provide a climate barrier between the Danube River valley and the transitional climate south of the mountains. Karst Topography Balkan Mountains Water Systems • Large rivers and seas act as natural borders between countries and are important to economic activities in the region. • The Danube is the second largest river in Europe, passing through nine countries and emptying into the Black Sea. • The Vistula River in Poland serves many major cities and industrial centers, including Warsaw. • Other waterways, such as the Oder River, branch out from the main rivers to provide access inland. Physical Geography of Eastern Europe Climate, Biomes, and Resources • Much of Eastern Europe has a humid continental climate. • The Carpathian and Balkan Mountains, along with the Hungarian Plain, make up the Danube region. • Some coastal regions along the Black Sea have microbiomes. • The Carpathian Mountains contain large energy reserves, while areas around the Baltic Mountains rely on water as a natural resource. RUSSIAN CORE PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Physical Geography of the Russian Core Landforms • The Ural Mountains form a natural barrier between European Russia and Siberian Russia. • The majority of the Russian population lives in the southern part of the Northern European Plain where there are waterways and fertile soil. • Ukraine, the second largest European country, has vast stretches of plains and plateaus. • Belarus, the smallest of the three Slavic republics that were once part of the Soviet Union, is a landlocked country with many lakes. Physical Geography of the Russian Core Water Systems • The longest river in Europe, the Volga, along with its tributaries, is an important commercial, transportation, and hydroelectric resource in Russia. • The Dnieper River in Ukraine creates hydroelectric power, enables commerce, and provides fresh water. • Lake Baikal in Siberia, the world’s oldest and deepest lake, is home to many unusual freshwater marine species. Physical Geography of the Russian Core Climate, Biomes, and Resources • Russia’s vast expanse of land lies at a high latitude, resulting in cold, snowy winters. • The interior of the country experiences continentality, or the effect of extreme variation in temperature and very little precipitation. • Much of Russia’s abundant natural resources are in remote and climatically unfavorable areas, making them difficult to utilize.