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As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances.Russia shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea.Russia has a largely continental climate because of its sheer size and compact configuration.Most of its land is more than 250 miles (400km) from the sea, and the center is 2386 miles (3840km) from the sea.From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed forest, broadleaf forest, grassland (steppe), and semidesert (fringing the Caspian Sea) reflecting the changes in climate.Siberia supports a similar sequence but lacks the mixed forest. Environmental issues include air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and seacoasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination; groundwater contamination from toxic waste; urban solid waste management; and abandoned stocks of obsolete pesticides.

The country is considered the Soviet Union's successor state in diplomatic matters, and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.The most prominent of Russia's bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and most capacious freshwater lake.Lake Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world's liquid fresh surface water.Russia has the world's largest forest reserves, which supply lumber, pulp and paper, and raw material for woodworking industries.Formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources.