Russia is definitely not all about ice and snow. In Southern European Russia, miles of sunny beaches along the Black Sea, tea farms and a mix of cultures make this area a hot spot for anyone who wants to experience friendly weather and enjoy plenty of sub-tropical sun. The Russian President spends many vacations here. The subtropics of the Black Sea is not the only feature that shapes the reputation of the region. The Azov and oil-rich Caspian seas, connected by a chain of Caucasus Mountains with elegant waterfalls on the southern edge of the region are a unique natural ensemble. The northern and middle parts of this region are home to the famous Kuban steppes (plains with rich soil called chernozem) and pre-Caspian lowlands. Two mighty rivers cut through the region. First is our old friend the Volga River. Here she makes her final stop to hug the northern tip of the Caspian Sea and dump the waters brought from the north. The other river is called the Don, the birthplace and home of the Russian Cossacks. Together, these rivers keep alive the Caspian sturgeon and its rare and expensive black and red caviar.
Many archeological discoveries point to the fact that Southern European Russia was dominated by the Scythians (horse nomads) by 1000-750 BC. They eventually developed a centralized state controlled by a ruling minority with Greco-Iranian culture created through trade with Hellenistic Greece after 300 BC, and they continued through Roman times. The Scythians are famous for their metal work. Many golden items of amazingly artistic work were found in dozens of ritual burials discovered on the steppes.
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