Russian Federation is the largest of the 21 republics that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States. It occupies most of eastern Europe and north Asia, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caucasus in the south. Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of area, but it’s unfavorably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world. Much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture. Russia contains Mount El’brus, Europe’s tallest peak, and Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. Lake Baikal is estimated to hold one fifth of the world’s fresh water.