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Africa: Human–Environment Interaction

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Akierou Awe lives in a mud-brick house in Nigeria’s Niger delta, a region that contains most of Nigeria’s oil. On the morning of July 10, 2000, Awe’s four sons had been collecting fuel from a leaking pipeline to help scrape out a living in this poverty-stricken region. They hoped to resell the […]

Climates of Africa

Africa: Climate and Vegetation

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In 1352, 48-year-old Ibn Battuta, a great traveler from Morocco, set out for the empire of Mali in West Africa. His most challenging obstacle was the Sahara, a desert nearly the same size as the continental United States. Battuta and his caravan set out in February. They traveled only in early morning […]

Basins of Africa

Africa: Landforms and Resources

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Angola’s rebel leader Jonas Savimbi kept his forces fighting by bargaining with arms dealers and haggling with international diamond traders. Diamonds—one of the world’s most precious and valuable gems—have enriched some of Africa’s countries, including Botswana and South Africa. However, in other diamond-rich countries such as Angola, people use diamonds to fund […]

Selected Nuclear Reactors in Former Soviet Republics

The Soviet Union’s Nuclear Legacy

As you have read, the breakup of the Soviet Union sparked regional conflicts and economic hardship. Equally serious were the problems caused by the Soviet Union’s nuclear programs. These included nuclear warheads atop ballistic missiles, poorly constructed and maintained nuclear power stations, and decaying nuclear waste dumps. All threatened the region’s people and environment. An […]

Federal Districts of Russia

Russia and the Republics: The Struggle for Economic Reform

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Russians have faced many hardships since the breakup of the Soviet Union. But few have been as difficult to overcome as the collapse of the Soviet command economy. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the region’s people began to participate in a capitalist system. One Russian bitterly summed up the sudden […]

The Caucasus

Russia and the Republics: Regional Conflict

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE The powerful central government of the Soviet Union once maintained tight control over Russia and the Republics. But when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, central authority weakened. Crime, conflict, and other signs of instability increased. As one former Soviet citizen put it,“We’re floating in a zone of half-lawlessness, half-law. . . […]

The Silk Road

Russia and the Republics: Central Asia

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Central Asia has inspired the dreams of many adventurers—and presented them with many dangers. In the 19th century, agents of the mighty British Empire found that even they were not safe there. In 1842, two British officers were captured in the Central Asian city of Bukhoro. For months, the city’s ruler kept […]

Languages Around the Caucasus

Russia and the Republics: Transcaucasia

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Throughout history, human beings have migrated through Transcaucasia, which today consists of the republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Recent discoveries have shown just how early such migrations began. In the summer of 1999, a team of scientists discovered two 1.7-million-year-old human skulls in the Transcaucasian republic of Georgia. They were the […]

Russian and Soviet Expansion

Russia and the Western Republics

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Early in the 1500s, the Russian leader Ivan the Great put an end to two centuries of foreign rule in his homeland. Russia then entered a period of explosive growth. From its center in Moscow, Russia expanded at a rate of about 55 square miles a day for the next four centuries. […]

Rail Routes Across Russia

Russia and the Republics: Human-Environment Interaction

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Since the 1960s, irrigation policies in Central Asia have had a dramatic impact on the Aral Sea. A recent visitor to an old Aral fishing village described the change: “I stood on what had once been a seaside bluff . . . but I could see no water. The sea was twenty-five […]