Russia changed drastically after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but it continues to be a powerful and important nation. It has one of the world's fastest growing economies and the world's eight largest GDP by nominal GDP. Russia is also one of the five countries which officially recognized nuclear weapons states. In conjunction with this title, Russia is also a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the G8, APEC and the SCO, and is a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
A European city in a country that lies over a vast part of Asia, Moscow holds one-tenth of all Russian residents. The city is located in the western region of Russia and is the capital and epicentre of political, economic, cultural, religious, financial, educational, and transportation happenings. "Muscovites", as residents are known, tend to be cultured and worldly. This may be due to the many scientific, educational, and artistic institutions that are based here. An intoxicating mix of the exotic and the familiar, it is the largest city in Europe with the Moscow metropolitan area ranking among the largest urban areas in the world.
The city is situated on the banks of the Moskva River which flows through much of central Russia. Moscow is actually located in a basin for the Volga, Oka, Klyazma, and Moscow rivers. The city of Moscow is 994 sq. km with 49 bridges spanning the rivers and canals that criss-cross the city.
Forests are another part of Moscow's make-up. They coveer over a third of the territory in the region. A variety of animals like elk, wild boar, deer, foxes, weasels, lynx, martens, and birds make their home here.
Located in the UTC+3 time zone, Moscow has a humid continental climate. The summers tend to be warm and humid and the winters are long, cold, and hard. High temperatures occur during the warm months of June, July and August at about 23 °C (73 °F). Heat waves sometimes grip the city anywhere between May to September with temperatures spiking up to 30 °C (86 °F). Winters are harshly chilly with temperatures dropping to approximately 9 °C (15.8 °F). There is consistent snow cover for 3 to 5 months a year, usually from November to March.