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Unformatted text preview: The Geography of Russias New Political Economy MICHAEL BRADSHAW Sitting astride the Eurasian landmass and occupying a territory of 17,098.2 thousand square kilometres, and spanning 11 time zones from Kaliningrad in the west to Kamchatka in the east, Russia is the largest state in the world in terms of territorial extent. Its northern shores wash against the Artic Ocean, while the southern resort region of Krasnodar enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Today Russias population is 142.2 million, and the average population density is 8.3 persons per square kilometre. However, this hides considerable regional variation: the average population density in the Central Federal District, which includes Moscow, is 57.7 persons per square kilometre, while in the Far Eastern Federal District it is only 1.1 persons. The Central Federal District occupies 3.8 per cent of Russias territory and was home to 26.2 per cent of Russias population at the beginning of 2006. In 2005 it accounted for 34.2 per cent of total gross regional product (GRP), a significant increase from 28.2 per cent in 1998. By contrast, the Far Eastern Federal District occupies 36.1 per cent of Russias territory, was home to 4.6 per cent of Russias population at the beginning of 2006 and produced 4.6 per cent of total GRP in 2005, down from 6.4 per cent in 1998 (see Table 1). The purpose of this parade of statistics is twofold: first, to highlight the sheer scale of Russia; and, second, to point out that the relative weight of the regions that comprise Russias federation is in a state of flux. Given the geographical scale of Russia and the heterogeneity of its political economy, it should come as no surprise that processes of systemic transform- ation have had a highly differential impact upon Russias regions, have reshuffled the pack of winners and losers more than once, and have generated new patterns of growth, decline and inequality. The aim of this short article is to capture some of the dynamics of the geography of Russias new political economy. It is divided into three parts. The first part con- siders the consequences of Soviet central planning in terms of its impact on the spatial distribution of economy and settlement. The second part assesses the impact of the transitional recession of the 1990s on Russias economic geogra- phy. The third part examines the new geographies of Russias economic recovery from 1998 onwards. A brief conclusion considers the political and economic challenges now posed by Russias new economic geography. New Political Economy, Vol. 13, No. 2, June 2008 Michael Bradshaw, Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK....
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