2. The Immense Russian Flatland
The foundation of Russian society was literally its ground: the endless, flat Russian steppes. For half a millennium, Russia literally had no southern border, only a frontier. Invaders, raiders, and marauders continually moved across the steppe at will.
Relief maps of the world demonstrate clearly that Russia encompasses by far the largest flat expanse on earth: 3,500 miles of open land.
Russia encompasses by far the largest flatland on earth, known as the steppes.
Graphic courtesy WorldMapsOnline.com.
Westerners often mistakenly think the Ural Mountains protected European Russia. But the Urals are for the most part low and easily traversed. Their southern end peters out in the open steppe. It’s easy to enter European Russia via the southern frontier, the direction of its most dangerous menace.
Map of the Russian Empire, circa 1912. The Ural Mountains provide no protection against
incursion from the south and southeast, the direction of greatest threat to Russia.
Graphic courtesy U.S. Library of Congress.