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January 2011

Central Moscow, 1986

Central Moscow, 1986

Central Moscow, 1986 - Index

Central Moscow, 1986 - Index

Central Moscow, 1980

Central Moscow, 1980

Central Moscow, 1980 - Index

Central Moscow, 1980 - Index

Moscow (population 10.4 million) is the capital of Russia and is its largest city. It lies in the eastern portion of the country (55°45′N 37°37′E) at an elevation of 410 ft (124 m). Moscow is also increasingly important as an economic and business center; it has become Russia's principal magnet for foreign investment and business presence. Its cultural tradition is rich, and there are many museums devoted to art, literature, music, dance, history, and science, as well as hundreds of churches and dozens of notable cathedrals.

Although archaeological evidence indicates that the site has been occupied since Neolithic times, the village of Moscow was first mentioned in the Russian chronicles in 1147. Around 1271, Moscow became the seat of the grand dukes of Suzdal−Vladimir. The first stone walls of the Kremlin were built in 1367. Moscow, or Muscovy, achieved dominance over the Russian lands by virtue of its strategic location at the crossroads of medieval trade routes. By the 15th century, Moscow had become the capital of the Russian state, and in 1547, Grand Duke Ivan IV became the first to assume the title of tsar.

Moscow has been an important commercial center since the Middle Ages and the center of many crafts. Burned by the Tatars in 1381 and again in 1572, the city was taken by the Poles during the Time of Troubles. Although the Russian capital was transferred from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712; Moscow’s cultural and social life continued uninterrupted. Built largely of wood until the 19th century, Moscow suffered from numerous fires, the most notable of which occurred in the wake of Napoleon I’s occupation in 1812. Moscow developed from the 1830s as a major textile center. In 1918, the Soviet government transferred the capital back to Moscow and fostered spectacular economic growth in the city. During World War II, Moscow was the goal of a two-pronged German offensive.

Except for its historical core, Moscow was transformed into a sprawling but well−planned modern city under the Soviet government. Moscow’s major industries include machine building, metalworking, machine tools, precision instruments, automobiles, trucks, aircraft, chemicals, oil refining, wood and paper products, textiles, clothing, footwear, filmmaking, and publishing.

In the North Caucasus, there have been credible allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen forces. Rebels also have committed abuses and acts of terrorism. Although the number of kidnappings and disappearances committed by government and rebel forces markedly declined in Chechnya in 2007 and 2008, similar incidents have been reported in neighboring Ingushetiya and Dagestan. Despite an official end to the counterterrorism campaign in Chechnya in April 2009, there was an upsurge in violence.

U.S. State Department Background Notes; The Columbia Gazeteer, 6/2010; 1/2011