Kemerovo quick take: city and region
OK, to start from the beginning: Kemerovo is located in Siberia, which is part of Russia, the largest country in the world. The Russian President is currently Vladimir Putin. The capital of Russia is Moscow.
Siberia is huge! It stretches from the Ural mountains on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east. All of Europe could fit inside of Siberia several times over. Siberia is well known for its huge deposits of natural resources such as coal, gas, oil, fur, timber, etc. The largest cities in Siberia are Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, Novokuznetsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk.
Kemerovo Region is located in the southern part of western Siberia, about 3,500 km from Moscow (four hours by air). Over 3 million people live here, mostly in large cities. In fact, Kemerovo Region is a very urbanised part of Russia, with about 87% of the population residing in cities. Kemerovo Region is also known as Kuzbass - from "Kuznetsk basin" - the name of the largest coal deposit on Earth, which is located here.
Kemerovo region is known for industries such as mining, metallurgy, chemicals, and machining. In the Soviet era, Kemerovo region was heavily industrialised, which meant pollution. That's gotten a lot better now, mainly because of cutbacks in production since the collapse of the Soviet economy.
The two really big cities in Kemerovo region are Kemerovo (city) and Novokuznetsk. Almost half of the population lives in these two cities of similar size. There are also smaller cities such as Anzhero-Sudzhensk, Leninsk-Kuznetskiy, Prokopievsk, Kiselyovsk, Mezhdurechensk, among others.
The climate in Kemerovo region is extreme in many ways. Temperatures reach extremes of -45 C in winter and + 45 C in summer. Thank God that those extremes only last for about a week each! In between those extreme weeks life here is OK: it is neither deadly cold in Winter, nor hellishly hot in Summer. Snow covers everything throughout Winter, so it is quite dirty when it all melts in the Spring. For more info on what to wear, please visit the Hints and Tips section.
Finally we come to Kemerovo city itself. It is a relatively big one, with more than 500 thousand residents. Numerous chemical and machinery plants are located here, as well as other enterprises and hordes of small businesses.
What is life in Kemerovo like?
People live mostly in block apartments. Private houses are rare, inhabited mostly by the very poor or the very rich. The poor continue to live in their old, run-down houses because they can't afford repairs or to step up to an apartment. The rich buy very nice houses which are, for them, success symbols.
Block apartments utilise either gas or electricity for cooking. About half of all apartments have telephones. The majority of apartment buildings are five floors tall with relatively small flats. The flats are called Khrustchovka (singular) - after Khrustchov, one of our better-known General Secretaries back in Soviet times who built this type of structure as a quick and relatively inexpensive way to provide apartments on a large scale. These five-floor buildings don't have elevators, though taller buildings usually do.
The average worker (for example, a clerk) earns about 180 dollars a month (2160 dollars a year). The average manager will get probably twice that: 360 dollars a month, 4320 a year. You might be surprised by such low levels of income: don't be! In Kemerovo region, this is quite enough to live on.
Why you might be interested in coming here
Scenario 1 - Business. As we said, the region is heavily industrialised, and after the recent change in regime and ensuing economic decline it stands in serious need of both a) management skills and b) money. You might be a management consultant working on a project from donor agencies such as DFID or Tacis. As another example you might be, say, manager of a mining equipment manufacturing company that has decided to establish an office here. The demand for quality mining equipment here is high because the mining industry is well developed and there is not much available in the way of good quality mining machinery on the market.
Our region has other advantages to entice you:
- a cheap and well-educated workforce (the average monthly salary is around 180 dollars per month, and nearly half of the working population has a graduate degree), and
- a strong market for equipment for mining, chemical and metallurgical industries.
Scenario 2 - Leisure/Adventure. You've been to Moscow: just another capital city. Now come to the REAL Russia, to a place in the middle of Siberia that you could never imagine visiting even a decade ago. It's an adventure! And in addition to the feeling of adventure, Kemerovo region can offer a number of things to keep you busy, especially local tourism - rafting, horseback riding, mountain and Nordic skiing, hunting, mountain climbing and much more.
The level of service is not always the highest, but prices are amazingly low. If you ever wanted to feel like a millionaire, Kemerovo is a great place to start from. Anyone, from day labourers to entry-level office workers, can experience what it's like to have a few dollars go a very long way. For info on entertainment, please visit our Entertainment Around section.
One final point. Russian ladies surpass all competition in both beauty and intellect. This is not just our imagination! We have heard this report from every single foreign visitor we have ever spoken to about it.
Things to have in mind when considering a visit to Kemerovo
In most cases you will need a visa to enter Russia. Apply to your Russian embassy for further information.
Few people here speak English, and most of those that do are younger. So don't expect that a General Director of a mine will be able to speak to you without an interpreter. Be sure to bring an interpreter with you, or meet someone in Kemerovo who can provide one. This translation/interpreting serivce might come handy - www.translaterussian.org
Kemerovo is quite civilised. You can expect that phones are working here. For mobile phones, consult the company that supports the standard your phone uses. Information about this can be found in our Phones and Internet section. Internet and e-mail are also available, though it may not be the same high speed that you generally find in Europe or the US. All the other attributes of modern civilisation are also present - TV (but not in English), FM radio (plays lots of English/American music), public transport of all kinds, police, banking, fast food, Dolby cinemas, night clubs, etc.
Our money is called Roubles (pronounced 'rublz'). The average rate of exchange for one dollar is 31-32 Roubles. Dollars are also widespread in Russia, although you can exchange them only through banks (officially). It is also unlikely that you will be able to pay in dollars for services, such as eating at a restaurant, or taking a taxi. German Marks are also popular, but not to the extent of the dollar. ATMs for most systems such as Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, etc. are available, but not wide spread. Only a few businesses accept credit cards. For more information on money issues, exchanges, rates, ATMs, etc. in Kemerovo, please visit our Hints and Tips section.
People in Russia and in Kemerovo are generally very friendly to foreigners, so in most cases you won't have any problems. Instead, most people are usually glad to help you. We do recommend that you avoid arguments with drunk people on sensitive matters such as Chechnya, Serbia/Kosovo, Yeltsin, Communism, etc!
Additional info can be found in Hits and Tips section.
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