Moscow is the capital of Russia. The city located in western Russia and lies in the broad, shallow valley of the Moscow River, a tributary of the Oka and thus of the Volga, in the centre of the vast plain of European Russia. This region is one of the most highly developed and densely populated areas of Russia. The climate of Moscow is of the continental type, modified by the temperate influence of westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are cold and long, summers are short and mild. The moderate annual precipitation occurs predominantly in the summer months, often in brief, heavy downpours.
The centre of the city and the historical heart of Moscow is the fortified enclosure of the Kremlin. Its crenellated redbrick walls and 20 towers (19 with spires) were built at the end of the 15 century and were partially rebuilt in later years. Within the walls of the Kremlin are located the meeting places of the government of Russia. Among these are the former Senate building (1776-88), the Kremlin Great Palace (1838-49), and the modern Palace of Congresses (1960-61). Other features within Kremlin include the central Cathedral Square, around which are grouped three cathedrals, all examples of Russian church architecture at its height in the late 15th and early 16th centuries; the white bell tower of Ivan III the Great; the Armoury Museum; and the Arsenal (1702-36); a group of palaces of various periods.
Along the east wall of the Kremlin lies Red Square, the ceremonial centre of the capital. The Lenin Mausoleum stands beneath the Kremlin walls, and the Church of Intercession, or Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, is at the southern end of the square. The State department Store (GUM) faces the Kremlin, and the State Historical Museum (1875-83) closes off the northern end of the square. In the remainder of central Moscow, within the Garden Ring, are buildings representative of every period of Moscow’s development from the 15th century to the present.
Examples of the Moscow Baroque style, the Classical period, and the revivalist Old Russian style may be found. Beyond the newer suburbs are areas of open land and forest, together with satellite industrial towns and dormitory suburbs. Moscow’s inhabitants are overwhelmingly of Russian nationality, but members of more than 100 other nationalities and ethnic groups also live there.
Only a small percentage of Moscow’s population is employed in the city centre because of the decentralization of workplaces. Industry is the dominant source of employment, followed by science and research. Engineering (production of automobiles and trucks, ball bearings, machine tools, and precision instruments) and metalworking are by far the most important industries. Other important activities include the manufacture of textiles, chemicals and derivative products, and consumer goods (foodstuff, footwear, and pianos); timber processing; construction; and printing and publishing. Moscow is the headquarters of state insurance and banking organizations.
Moscow has a large concentration of educational institutions, and its centres of higher education draw students from throughout Russia. Moscow State University (1755), the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory are some of the leading educational institutions. Scientific research is conducted by the Academy of Sciences of Russia, the libraries include the V.I. Lenin State Library. Theatre, music and art are important in the city’s life too. The State Academic Bolshoi (“Great”) Theatre (1825), Maly (“Little”) Theatre, and Moscow Art Theatre are especially renowned. Of many museums and galleries, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Tretyakov Gallery are notable.
The Metro system is known for the elaborate architecture of its stations. Moscow is also a major river port and is served by the Moscow Canal. The Volga’s various canals link Moscow to all the seas surrounding European Russia. Moscow is the centre of the country’s rail and airline network. The Sheremetyevo airport handles international flights.