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Rescooped by Matt Mallinson from Geography Education!

How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan

How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan | Classwork Portfolio |
The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles Eesti keel | Estonian language version...


Can you imagine walking over 100 miles without losing your internet connection?  Estonia has done it by making internet access a public service along the lines of water and electricity.  The impacts and effects or profound considering that 9 in 10 Estonians have a computerized ID card that they can use to vote, transfer money and access all the information the state has on them.  Although this may sound very dystopian and authoritarian to many, Estonians argue that it actually empowers citizens to keep the state in check.      

Via Seth Dixon
Brian Nicoll's curator insight, December 11, 2012 11:03 PM

I actually like the idea of the computerized ID card.  Yes, undoubtedly from the outside looking in this does appear to have some big brother qualities but I think it's brilliant.  The card allows people to transfer money and vote.  It's also nice to see a country that doesn't just treat their internet use like a toy.  They use it to benefit their society, making it accessible to everyone in the country and not just those who can afford it. 

Al Picozzi's curator insight, October 13, 2013 10:43 AM

Just an amazing fact to see a county that was once under the controll of the USSR for so long as come so far.  Now a part of NATO and the EU Estonia has stepped out of the control of Russia to become a virbrant place to live.  Once independant and then under the contol of the USSR at the start of WW II it has once again become a nation itself.  Also notice a very different view in the article, the people there feel this electronic system lets them keep and eye on the government and not a big brother view many people in the US have over electronic ID systems.  Is it because they have always been use to being looked at by the government, ie the USSR over the last 50 years and because we are so use to freedoms that we have had for hundreds of years?

Cam E's curator insight, February 27, 2014 11:04 AM

I actually had no idea that Estonia birthed Skype. It was an amazing foresight that Estonia immediately jumped into the computer and internet age, and even more surprising that you can get Wi-fi across most of the country, no matter how remote. That's something that hasn't been accomplished in even the US. They had Internet in most schools by 1997 and can even vote online!

Rescooped by Matt Mallinson from Geography Education!

The Russian Cross

The Russian Cross | Classwork Portfolio |

The economic and social turmoil after the fall of the Soviet Union was profound enough to be seen in the demographic statistics.  Birth rates dropped as the death rates went up.  Typically when birth rates drop it is presented as an indicator of social development, but it clearly is not in this instance.  What explains these statistics?  

Via Seth Dixon
James Hobson's curator insight, October 20, 2014 9:30 PM

(Russia topic 4)

The "Russian Cross" refers to the point at which Russia's population began to shrink. The number of births 'crossed' beneath the number of deaths occurring in a given period of time. Coinciding with the USSR's collapse, this decline in population hinted at a tougher future for the nation. More elderly and fewer young signify a greater dependency upon those who work, causing more of an economic strain. Ironically, this seems to echo the effects of the American 'baby boomers' as they have been approaching retiring age now. Though other factors are certainly involved, it is interesting to note how different situations as these can have such similar outcomes.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 15, 2014 6:52 PM

This graph shows that while we in the west think of the fall of communism as a freeing and positive event in reality many in Russia have been severely damaged by this. While the Soviet government was known for oppression it also provided security and was dependable. With its fall the people were plunged into confusion leading to a decline in birthrate and a raise in suicide and alcoholism.    

Danielle Lip's curator insight, February 16, 7:42 PM

This graph of Births, Death and Natural Growth shows that the Natural Growth along with the Births in Russia have declined since 1950, the main downfall is during the collapse of the U.S.S.R. While the Deaths in Russia are increasing gradually as the collapse of the U.S.S.R approacher. There are many factors that could be causing deaths in Russia, people are not getting enough food into their systems and sickness is easily attracted. The real for the downfall in births is because women and men are not mating and having a child because they are too busy working and building a life for themselves. Back in 1950-1952 families were consisting of 3-4 children and now families only have one child at maximum 2.  How can Russia increase these birth and natural growth rates? The social development of Russia must increase and people have to start living life differently.

Rescooped by Matt Mallinson from Geography Education!

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal | Classwork Portfolio |
Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.


The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.   


Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.

Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 20, 2013 2:43 PM

The story of this particular mono-town is very tough to "pick sides".  The factory undoubtedly pollutes the air and land like most other industrial areas, but being so close to Lake Baikal gives environmentalists a stronger reason to complain.  The lake is considered one of the purest and most unique in the world, yet the paper mill located on its banks raise controversy.  This is where the locals and workers are stuck between a rock and hard place.  Located in Siberia, such a vast and open region with little settlements compared to the western part of the country reminds the people living there that their resources are limited.  Closing down the factory would almost eliminate income and economy for the mono-town.  This is where the fine line is drawn; the workers surely aren't happy about the pollution and environmental hazards that go along with keeping the mill open, but at the same time the people could wither away if it wasn't up and running.

Ashley Raposo's curator insight, December 19, 2013 1:42 AM

THough the Soviet Union has been gone since the early 90s, it's hold on Russia is still creating problems. The creations of monotowns were already flawed. But to have this one monotown on Lake Baikal has gained the attention of enviromentalists. All odds are against that monotown. Without it's paper factory they have no jobs and no need for the town. It is a fight between enviromental geography and human geography in this area of the world. These people are stuck in a time where even the Soviet Union looked a little better than the constant wondering of your finacial stability in an up and coming capitalist nation.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 12:05 PM

The Soviet Union scattered "monotowns" around their territory; these monotowns consist of a job-creating industrial institutions like factories which then allow the formation of towns around them.  They are located all around the former Soviet Union and are very isolated.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these towns continued to run due to the privatization of the industrial center.  Today, Russia's Lake Baikal, which is the deepest lake in the world and contains 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water, is home to one of these monotowns.  This particular town's economy is based on their paper mill which uses and deposits tons of chemicals.  Environmentalists are very concerned for the future of the lake while the citizens are only concerned with feeding their families and this is creating social unrest.  Due to the isolation and distance from Moscow, people cannot just pick up and leave.  Also, working with "cleaner" alternatives is way out of this town's budget.  Today, many citizens in these monotowns miss the support that the Soviet Union offered and people are literally stuck in a place where their only income is dirty.

Rescooped by Matt Mallinson from Geography Education!

50 Pictures Of Chernobyl 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster

50 Pictures Of Chernobyl 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster | Classwork Portfolio |
50 Pictures Of Chernobyl 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster: Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. ...


A haunting gallery that displays the effects of environmental and political mismanagement. 

Via Seth Dixon
Ashley Raposo's curator insight, October 16, 2013 7:51 PM

Absolutely frightening to see a city so empty.  To only imgine what could have been in Chernobyl today if this nuclear disaster didn't happen.

Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 20, 2013 3:03 PM

The pictures are breathtaking.  What was once a modern and prosperous area is now completely devestated and basically irreparable for hundreds of years to come.  In some of the pictures it is possible to see the haste and desertion of buildings and rooms which gives a sense of fear and panic that the people experienced.  There is surely still so much that can be explored, but the radiation limits people and the danger of the area is hard for civilians to be within the boundaries of Chernobyl.  Places like this show how drastic the rise and fall of the Soviet Union really was.  Similar to mono-towns in Siberia, these areas were set up for people to flourish and become successful, but as history went on and disasters ensued, the great empire came crashing down.

Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 11, 2013 3:51 AM

These photo's are rather gripping.  Many of the images seen here are of objects that have not moved or been touched in 25 years.  The entire population of Pripyat had to pack their bags and leave all in an instant. The chaos that must have ensued after the nuclear meltdown must have been haunting. Pripyat will remain like this for years to come, and one can imagine what it will look like in 25 more years.