Good afternoon, friends!
Let’s start the meeting of our English Language Club, The Traveling Bear.
The theme of our meeting is "The Russian Federation and the United States of
America”. Today we’ll speak about Russia and the U.S.A. It’s interesting to compare
these two great countries.
Now let’s begin our discussion about Russia and the U.S.A. Answer my questions,
1. Where are the Russian Federation and the United States of America situated?
The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world. It is situated in the
eastern part of Europe and the northern part of Asia. It occupies the territory of about
17 million square kilometers. There are 7 regions in the Russian Federation. They are the
European North, the Central Region, the Volga Basin, the Urals, Western Siberia, Eastern
Siberia and the Far East. Kaliningrad Oblast is not connected to the country. You can see
it on this map.
The U.S.A. is one of the richest and one of the largest countries in the world. It is
situated in the central part of the North American Continent. It occupies the
territory of over 9 million square kilometers. There are 50 states in the United
States of America. Two of these states – Alaska and
Hawaii – are not connected to the other states. You can see it on this map.
2. What is the population of Russia and the United States of America?
The population of Russia is about 150 million people. 83% of the population is Russian.
There are 1,030 towns and cities in our country. 70% of the population live in cities.
About 9 million people live in Moscow, the capitol of Russia.
The population of the United States is nearly 250 million people. Most of the people
live in towns and cities. Nearly 3 million people live in Washington, D.C., the capitol of
3. What can you say about the system of government of Russia and the U.S.A.?
The Russian Federation is a Presidential Republic. The Federation Government consists
of three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative power is
represented by the Federal Assembly. It consists of two chambers. The Upper Chamber is the
Council of Federation; the Lower Chamber is the State Duma. The executive power
belongs to the Government which is headed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister forms
his cabinet. The judicial power is represented by the Constitutional Court, the
Supreme Court and regional courts. The President checks up on these branches.
The U.S.A. is a federal republic consisting of fifty states, each of which has its own
The seat of the central (federal) government is Washington D. C. According to the U.S.
Constitution, the power of the government is divided into three branches: the executive
headed by the President with his cabinet, the legislative, exercised by the
Congress which has two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the judicial,
represented by the Supreme Court, and other federal and regional courts. There are two
main political parties
in the United States. They are the Republicans and the Democrats.
4. What are the Russian and American symbols?
The Russian national flag is one Russian symbol. This flag has three wide
horizontal stripes on it. The bottom stripe is red; the middle stripe is blue; the top
stripe is white. These colors have always been symbolic in Russia: white – nobility and
sincerity; blue – honesty and devotion, to friends, family and country; red – love and
A new national emblem is a two-headed eagle which is the most ancient
symbol of Russia. You can see the eagle on the back of some Russian coins.
The national hymn of Russia is "The State hymn of Russian Federation”. It was
written by S.Mikhalkov. The music is by A.Alexandrov.
The other symbol of Russia which all Russian people know and love is the birch tree.
You can find these trees everywhere. People sing beautiful songs with poetic words
about birch trees, and plant them near their houses.
The Kremlin is the symbol of Russia, and its main feature is the Savior’s
Tower. It was built in 1491 and gets its name from the icon of the Savior that
formerly stood above the tower gate. The tower is 71 meters high. It is notable for the
clock whose melodious chimes are well-known to all Russian people.
The American flag is the main symbol of the United States. It is often called
"The Stars and Stripes”. Its colors are red, white and blue. In the upper left-hand
corner there is a field of blue with 50 stars on it – one for each of the 50 states.
The rest of the flag consists of 13 horizontal red and white stripes, alternating, but
beginning and ending in red. These stripes represent each of the original thirteen
The bald eagle became the official national symbol in 1782. It holds an olive
branch (symbol of peace) and arrows (symbol of strength) in its claws. You can see the
eagle on the back of a one dollar bill. The national anthem of America is "The
Star-Spangled Banner”. It was written
by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812.
Uncle Sam is a cartoon symbol of the American government. He has appeared for the
last 150 years. In 1812 a man named Samuel Wilson sold meat to the American government for
its soldiers. Everyone called him "Uncle Sam”. The first letters of Uncle Sam were the
same as the first letters of the United States; so soon cartoons of Uncle Sam as the
American government began to appear.
One of the most famous symbols of the United States is the Statue of Liberty.
France gave the statue to America in 1884 as a symbol of friendship. The Statue is in New
York harbor on Liberty Island. It is one of the first things people see when they arrive
in New York by sea.
5. What seas and oceans wash Russia and the U.S.A.?
Russia is washed by the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Pacific Ocean in the east. It
is also washed by 12 seas: the Azov Sea, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the White Sea, the
Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, the Lapters Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Chukchi Sea, the
Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Japan Sea.
The U.S.A. is washed by the Pacific Ocean in the west; by the Atlantic Ocean in the
east, by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in the South. In the north are 5 Great
6. What countries do Russia and the U.S.A. border on?
Russia borders on many countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland,
Belarus, the Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, North Korea.
In the Far East, Russia is very close to the U.S.A., only separated by the narrow
Bering Strait from the state of Alaska.
The U.S.A. borders on Canada in the north and Mexico in the south.
7. What can you say about the surface of Russia and the U.S.A.?
On the vast territory of the Russian Federation you can find forests, steppes, lowlands
and highlands, mountains and valleys. On the whole, the relief of Russia is mostly flat.
There are two great plains – the Great Russian Plain and the Western Siberian
Continental U.S.A. consists of several surface divisions which are deter-mined by the
mountain ranges that run from north to south. Between the Rocky Mountains and the
Mississippi River lie the Central Lowlands, called the Prairie. The Eastern Lowlands
comprise the Mississippi and
8. What are the main rivers in Russia and the U.S.A.?
Russia is rich in big and small rivers. The Volga River, which flows into the Caspian
Sea is the longest river in Europe. Other rivers are the Don, the Ob, the Enisei, the Lena
and the Amur. The Enisei and the Ob are the longest rivers in Asia.
Many rivers cross the United States, but the greatest is the mighty Mississippi River.
Native Americans called it "The Father of Waters”. Among other big American rivers are
the Colorado, the Ohio, the Missouri and the Columbia Rivers. The Colorado River carved
out the famous Grand Canyon in Arizona. The mighty Columbia River empties into the Pacific
in the northwest.
9. What kinds of lakes are there in Russia and the U.S.A.?
The four largest lakes in Russia are Baikal in south-eastern Siberia, Ladoga and Onega
in northern Russia and the Caspian Sea in the Volga Basin.
The greatest lakes in the world are situated in Russia. The Caspian Sea is the
world’s largest lake in area, while Lake Baikal is the world’s most ancient lake and
the deepest one.
On the northern border between the U.S.A. and Canada there are five Great Lakes: Lake
Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The Great Salt Lake is in northern Utah.
10. What are the main mountain chains of Russia and the U.S.A.?
There are three main mountain chains in Russia. They are the Altai, the Caucasus, and
the Urals. The highest mountain in the Caucasus, in the Russian Federation, and in the
whole of Europe is Mt. Elbrus.
The Urals extends from the Arctic Ocean to the steppes. This mountain chain divides the
European and Asian parts of Russia.
There are many mountains in the U.S.A. The main ranges are the Appalachians in the east
and the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra-Nevada Mountains in the west. The highest peak of
the Sierra-Nevada Mountains in the U.S.A. is 4418 meters and is named Mt. Whitney.
11. What is the main wonder in Russia and the U.S.A.?
Lake Baikal is a wonder of nature. This is not only the deepest lake in the world but
also the cleanest. Baikal is over a mile deep; is actually a cleft in the earth’s
surface; and contains one fifth of the world’s resources of fresh water.
One can look down through the water 70 feet. In this crystal-clear water live about 150
types of plants and fish, plus a species of fresh-water seals. Many of them are found
nowhere else in the world. To protect this lake from pollution is our urgent task.
The appearance of a large paper mill on Baikal’s shores in the 1970s made Russians
environmentally concerned. Some scientists demand Russia turn Lake Baikal into a protected
game preserve, and its southern shores a national park.
The Grand Canyon is one of America’s main tourist attractions. It covers thou-sands
of acres. The Colorado River formed the Grand Canyon over millions of years. Slowly, the
river cut down through hard rock. It is very wide and the rock formations step down like
pyramids. Today the canyon is one mile deep and 277 miles (363 km) long. It is interesting
that there are different kinds of plants and animals on opposite sides of the canyon. The
south side is dry desert country. The north side has full forests.
The canyon looks different at different times of the day and in different seasons.
Early and late sun makes the red, gold, brown and orange rock colors clear and bright.
Winter brings a layer of snow. One can walk down to the bottom of the canyon or ride a
mule, but be sure to carry drinking water.
12. What can you say about the climate of Russia and the U.S.A.?
Covering such a large territory, Russia certainly has different types of climate in
different regions. It varies from arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south. It is
very cold in the north, even in the summer.
The central part of the country has mild climate: winters are cold, springs and autumns
are warm or cool, summers are hot and warm. In the south, winter temperature never
freezes. Summer is really hot. In all, the climate is very favorable.
The climate of Siberia is continental. Summers are hot and dry; winters are very
cold.The coldest spot in the northern hemisphere, where temperatures reach –70 C. is in
Corresponding to climate, there are six vegetation zones stretching across Russia. From
north to south, these are the tundra, the taiga (or pine forest), mixed forest, steppe,
semi-desert and desert. Each vegetation belt has its own flora, fauna and natural
There are great climate variations in the territory of the U.S.A. The northern states
of Minnesota, Montana, Maine and especially Alaska are very cold and snow-covered in
winter. The southern states have a sub-tropical climate – Florida, Louisiana, Texas,
Arizona, southern California and especially Hawaii, out in the middle of the Pacific
The climate of the prairie lands is often windy and dry, and tornadoes sometimes form.
On the whole, the climate of the U.S. is continental and favorable for much agriculture
13. What kind of mineral resources do Russia and the U.S.A. have?
Three-quarters of Russia’s minerals and fuels, including oil, natural gas, coal,
diamonds and gold are concentrated in Siberia and the Far East. There are also ferrous
ores near Kursk, and in the Urals, where half of the world’s variety of minerals and
gemstones can be found.
The U.S.A. is rich in mineral resources. There are large deposits of oil in southern
California, Texas, Oklahoma, and off-shore drilling. There is much natural gas, coal, iron
ores, copper and other metalsas well.
14. What animals live in Russia and the U.S.A.?
In the north of Russia live the walrus, seal, polar bear, polar fox and reindeer.
In the forest zone live black bear, wolf,fox, lynx, sable, ermine, elk, deer, wild
In the Far East live the tiger and leopard.
The bald eagle, America’s national bird, lives in many of the forest areas of the
U.S.A., but it is now becoming rare. The buffalo once lived in great numbers on the
central plains of America, but now are found only in zoos or protected private herds.
Beavers are furry animals with large front teeth and large flat tails. They are trapped
for their valuable fur, along with ocean seals which live in the Pacific Ocean from San
Francisco to Alaska. Whales live in the oceans off American coasts. Wolves, coyotes,
cougars and bobcats prowl the mountains and foothills of northern and western America.
There are many kinds of bears in America, including the black bear and the grizzly.
Alligators and crocodiles live in the wet areas of southeastern America.
15. What plants grow in Russia and the U.S.A.?
Among the trees growing in the European part of Russia are birch, pine and oak. In
Siberia, one sees cedar, larch and fir trees. Far East Russia produces iron and cork
trees, locust, ginseng and lianes.
In central California, gigantic trees grow in several protected groves. They are
sequoia and redwood trees, and they grow to over 360 feet high. They are probably the
tallest as well as the oldest living things on earth. The oldest ones are from 2,000 to
4,000 years old!
16. What are the capitols of Russia and the U.S.A.?
Moscow is the capitol city of Russia.It was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy in 1147
on the banks of the Moskva River. Moscow is the political, economic, commercial,
scientific, and cultural center of Russia; and one of the most beautiful cities in the
Washington D. C. is the capitol city of the U.S.A. It is not in any of the 50 states
but has its own private land, the District of Columbia (hence D.C.). It was founded in
1791 and was named in honor of the first President of the United States, George
Washington. It lies on the left bank of the Potomac River. Washington D.C. is the
political, cultural and scientific center of America.
17. What are some interesting sites and places in Moscow and Washington D.C.?
One of the most popular sites of Moscow is Red Square. It is the heart of the city.
Inside the Kremlin on the Cathedral Square one can see monumental and magnificent
architectural buildings. They are the Dormition Cathedral, the Annunciation Cathedral, the
Archangel Cathedral, the Granovitaya Palata, the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great, the Tsar
Bell and the Tsar Cannon.The Bolshoi Theatre is one of the famous theatres all over the
world. The Tretyekov Art Gallery is a treasure house of Russian art. The State Moscow
University is one of the oldest and biggest educational institutions in Russia. It was
founded in 1455 by the great Russian scientist, Mikhail Lomonosov.
The heart of Washington D.C. is the national Capitol Building with its huge
round dome and two wings – one to house the Senate and one to house the House of
Representatives. The White House is the official residence of the American president. The
Washington Monument is very tall and thin, like an Egyptian obelisk. The Jefferson
Memorial is a small, round marble temple with a heroic statue of the third President of
the United States. The Lincoln Memorial is a large Greek-style marble building with a huge
seated statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the U.S.
18. What is one main masterpiece of Russian and American architecture?
St. Basil’s Cathedral or the Cathedral of the Intercession – Pokrovsky, on Red
Square, is a unique creation of Russian national art. It was built in 1555-1561 by great
Russian architects Barma and Postnic. It has nine domes, each of a different color and
pattern. Everyone admires its fantastic beauty.
It was erected by the order of Ivan (the Terrible) to commemorate the annexation of the
Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates to Russia.It is the masterpiece of Russian architecture.
The beauty and the splendor of St.Basil’s Cathedral gave rise to a popular legend.
Ivan the Terrible asked the builders whether they could build anything finer and more
wonderful than what they had already done. When they answered that they could, the
outraged tsar ordered the men to be blinded so that there would never be anything more
beautiful in the world than the Cathedral of the Intercession.
In 1588 a small chapel was built next to the Cathedral, over the grave of a certain
man, Vassily, a God’s fool well-known at the time.Ever since, the Cathedral of the
Intercession has been known as the Church of Vassily, the Blessed, or St. Basil’s
Mount Rushmore is a very unique, gigantic memorial in the state of South Dakota in the
United States. On the top and side of a granite mountain, four faces are carved. They are
of four U.S. Presidents – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and
Theodore Roosevelt. The faces are 60 feet high.
The drive to this National Monument is through pine forests and mountain road. An
evening patriotic program is concluded with huge floodlights illuminating the entire
mountain carvings. It is most impressive.
19. What crafts are there in Russia and the U.S.A.?
There are many villages in Russia famous for their specific crafts: painted boxes in
Palekh, wooden tableware in Khokhloma and toys in Demkovo. Log houses usually decorated
with wood carving are typical for Russian villages.
Handmade quilts are a very traditional craft in America. Many tiny pieces of fabric are
sewn together to make a pattern; then three padded layers are stitched together to form a
covering for a bed. Handmade dolls, pottery, stitched handicrafts of all kinds,
woodcarving, leatherwork are all made. American Indians make silver and gemstone jewelry,
rugs and weavings.
20. What are the main traditions in Russia and the U.S.A.?
Not long ago people in Russian villages performed traditional Kharovodes (a kind of
round dance) and Chastushki (folk chanted rhymes) and rode in troikas (sleighs drawn by
teams of three horses abreast).
Now young people prefer modern dances, motorcycles and motor cars. However, village
residents still prefer to drink tea from samovars.
One main custom of Russia is to meet guests with bread and salt.
America has several traditions of the "Wild West”. Life in the wild west was
dangerous and lawless. Native Americans did not like the whites taking their property and
sometimes attacked settlers. Wild animals as well, made it necessary to carry a gun. Today
many Americans still keep a gun in their house, and all American police officers carry a
Another tradition lingering from the wild west is "cowboy clothing”. Cowboy boots,
chaps and Levis are just for showing off today.
Today’s rodeos began when the cowboys of the frontier days used to catch wild cows,
learn to break and tame wild horses, control bulls on the huge ranches. Rodeos are still
popular today. One of the largest is Cheyenne Frontier Days in the state of Wyoming every
21. What are the most famous holidays and festivals of Russia and the U.S.A.?
One special festival is Maslenitsa (Shrovetide), the holiday which lasts for a week, to
say "good bye” to winter. It comes at the end of February or the first part of March.
During Maslenitsa Week people always cook pancakes. They invite their closest friends
and relatives over to visit and eat pancakes. The greatest national holiday in Russia is
Victory Day. On the 9th of May, 1945, the Soviet Army and its allies completely
defeated the German fascists; and the Second World War (we call it the Great Patriotic
Each year in the U.S.A. there are festivals to celebrate almost anything you can think
Festivals that many people enjoy are the State Fairs. These are usually at the end of
summer. Farmers enter their animals and produce in competitions and hope to win a ribbon
– blue for first place, red for second place and white for third place. Homemade food,
clothes, toys, art, flowers, etc. are also judged.
One of the best known festivals in the world is Mardi Gras which takes place in
February or March of each year in New Orleans, Louisiana. For two weeks there are big
parades, parties and dances. Jazz musicians from all over the world come to play at the
Several holidays are only celebrated by Americans. They are Thanksgiving Day, Memorial
Day, and the Fourth of July.
22. What can you say about Russian and U.S.A. cuisine?
Traditional Russian cooking includes porridges, pancakes, various aspics, chicken soup,
cabbage soup (shchi), beet and cabbage soup (borsch), mushroom soup, fish soup, piroshki
(turnovers) and kvass (a beverage made from fermented rye bread).
Siberian cuisine has such dishes as stroganika (frozen fish), and pelmeni (meat-filled
In the spring and summer when it’s hot, it’s so nice to have the so-called
"okroshka”, a traditional Russian dish of cold kvass soup with chopped vegetables and
meat or fish.
There are some generalities of American cuisine. Americans drink a lot of juice and
soda pop; eat a lot of meat, fruit and vegetables, and not large quantities of bread. For
breakfast they have cereal or eggs or pancakes with ham or bacon, milk, orange juice and
coffee. Lunch often includes sandwiches and potato chips, salads and dessert. Many times
it is a "fast food” hamburger with French fries and a milkshake, or a pizza. Dinner is
the most important meal of the day, and many families eat together at that time. They
usually have meat and potatoes, a salad, vegetables; or sometimes macaroni and cheese or
spaghetti. Dessert is often ice cream or cake or cookies. Turkey, ham and apple pie are
traditional foods for Christmas and Thanks-giving Day dinners.