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Primorye-The Maritime Region of Russia

The legend says, "while distributing treasures among different lands, God forgot about Primorye. When he remembered, he threw it the leftovers out of his sack".

In addition, it is particularly true of the Ussuri taiga, the dense forest of Primorye. There, species of flora and fauna live in great variety and profusion. As in a fairy tale, the coniferous and deciduous trees of the North bind themselves with lianas of the South.

Primorye's most important geographical distinctions are that it lies on the Pacific coast and it is mountainous. The forested Sikhote Alin range covers 77% of the region. It stretches along the coastal line of the Sea of Japan.

Khanka valley, the "food basket" of the region and the largest plain in Primorye, covers the South Western fifth of the territory and abounds in fertile soil.

The largest and the only navigable river of Primorye is the Ussuri (the combination of two words denoting "water" in Chinese and Tungusic).

Primorye's rivers are of great economic significance. The logging industry uses their waters and it is to these rivers that the salmon goes to spawn. The Ussuri taiga is unique in its beauty.

Nature was generous here. Almost 2,000 plants including 250 tree and shrub species call it their home.

The Ussuri taiga is a veritable botanical garden serving the Dauria larch, the Ayan spruce, the pine, the silver fir, different kinds of maples and birches, the Manchurian nut-tree, the Amur cork-tree, the ash, the oak, the white Amur lilac, the lime, the choke cherry tree, rhododendron and many others.

There are some rare species. For example, locally known as cedar and called "red pine" for its beautiful pink wood, the Korean pine, is one of the most valuable regional species. The nut of this tree contains more oil than walnuts and it is better in quality even than olive oil. The locals use its top quality lumber for deck planking and house construction.

Furthermore, over 30 varieties of birch grow in Primorye and have special qualities. For example, the rare Schmidt birch is stronger than the cast iron and sinks in water.

The Ussuri taiga is also home to the legendary world-famous "root of life" - ginseng; Siberian Ginseng (eleutherococcus), used in preparing both medicines and foodstuffs; Schizandra Chinensis, an arboreal climbing liana called so because the liana and the roots smell of lemon, a true store of vitamin C, is known to instantly relieve pain or tiredness.

On Khanka Lake, which is the largest body of water in Primorye and borders the People's Republic of China grows the aquatic plant, the lotus, famed in eastern legends.

The fauna of Primorye is also unique.

The Ussuri taiga provides an excellent habitat for species such as the tiger, the Amur leopard, the Himalayan bear and many others.

Inhabitants of Primorye worshiped the tiger, believing that "amba," as they called it, was a human being with whom one could reason.

The stripes on the head of the Siberian tiger (known to biologist as the Ussuri tiger) form a sign, which in Chinese means, "Lord.

"The Lord of the Ussuri" tiger is larger than its Indian counterpart.

It grows to a length of 3 meters (10ft.), a height of 1.5 meters (5ft.), and a weight of 250-300 kilos (551-661lb.).

The Ussuri tiger can withstand the coldest weather: -40 degrees C. This gives the big cat a roaming range covering the whole of Primorye.

Primorye is home to a multitude of hoofed animals, from the Manchurian deer, the reindeer, the musk deer and the spotted deer (also called the "flower deer") to the roe, the wild boar, and others.