Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Science, (IGRAS) is the oldest academic research center in Russia, specialized in fundamental and practical geography. In 2018 the Institute celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The main areas of research of the Institute are spatial patterns of natural processes and society organization.

21st century brought new challenges such as globalization, digitalization and global and national issues, which cannot be healed without the help of contemporary geography – its academic view is presented in the Institute.

The leading Russian academic geographers in the Institute are working at the following challenges and issues:  

  • Research of climate changes and adaptation of nature, economy and population to it, analyze of reasons and factors of global changes in the natural environment.
  • Development of new methods of evaluation of the natural resources state and conditions for sustainable use of natural resources, diversification of regional development, development of investment attractiveness of regions.
  • Research of new global geopolitical processes, new countries and borders, unevenness of global and regional development, foreign policy and foreign economic conditions.
  • Identification of the new patterns in the development of economic extent and population movement, study of agglomerations and shuttle migration of the population.
  • Assessment of landscape assimilation capacities, creation of regionally adapted schemes of vegetation and soil cover restoration, new methods of environmental damage assessment.
  • Study of natural cryogenic systems, dynamics of processes in the cryosphere.
  • Development of geoinformation technologies and mapping
  • etc.


Modern geography in general and the Institute of Geography particularly use a wide range of interdisciplinary remote and field methods, the latest tools and laboratory analyzes to retrospectively, relevantly and predictively understand the rapidly changing world, its nature, population and economy.

Thus, in paleosoil science and paleogeography occurs an improvement in radiocarbon dating and analysis of the isotopic composition of natural and anthropogenic materials; in biogeography GPS sensors and loggers are widely used to study animal migrations; in many geographical disciplines remote methods, technologies for automated interpretation of space information are widely introduced, drones are used to obtain operational and accurate information about the state of the Earth’s surface, etc. Mathematical modeling of natural and social phenomena and processes is widely developed in geography.

Digital landscape science methods are being actively developed at IGRAS, which allow real-time assessment of the current state of the Earth’s surface, measurement of its properties, determination of its structure, physical, biological and chemical components, and assessment of the volumes of possible ecosystem services.

The Institute of Geography has 17 departments:

·        Laboratory of Radiocarbon dating and Electronic microscopy

·        Laboratory of Hydrology

·        Laboratory of Geomorphology

·        Laboratory of Climatology

·        Laboratory of Cartography

·        Laboratory of Evolutionary geography

·        Laboratory of Paleo archives of the natural environment

·        Laboratory of Anthropogenic changes in the climate system

·        Laboratory of Geoinformation researches

·        Laboratory of Global development geography

·        Laboratory of Geopolitical researches

·        Laboratory of Biogeography

·        Department of Social and economic geography

·        Department of Physical geography and problems of environmental management

·        Department of Glaciology

·        Department of Geography and evolution of soils

The Institute has the Kursk Biosphere Station, the Center for Arctic and Antarctic Research and Collective Use Center based on the Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory. The Institute extensively uses the GIS technologies, navigation methods, computer mapping and modeling, methods of remote sensing of Earth’s surface. Six geographic databases registered in the Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks base have been created.

In 2019 studies in the IGRAS were conducted using grants of Russian Scientific Foundation (14 grants), Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research (42 grants), Russian Geographical Society (2 grants), 3 President grants, and also using programs of foreign scientific foundations and contracts with ministries.

The Institute takes part in publishing of 7 scientific magazines and other periodic issues:

- Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Sciences: geographical series (Rus.)

- Ice and Snow (Rus.)

- Geomorphology (Rus.)

- Regional Research of Russia (Eng.)

- Geography, Environment, Sustainability (Eng.)

- Regional Research (Rus.)

- Problems of Geography (Rus.)

Scientists of the IGRAS publish about 15-20 monographs and 400 articles annually, including 130-170 in the magazines of the Web of Science and Scopus. According to many scientometric indicators, the Institute is among the leaders of its reference group of Earth sciences.

Institute staff conduct field research around the world. The regions traditional for the Institute are Svalbard, Antarctica, the Caucasus, the Urals, the Russian Plain, the Caspian Lowland, as well as Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land, Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, Mongolia.

During last few years the following monographs and geographical atlases were published:

Black Sea: geographic and environmental “portrait” (reference manual; Moscow, GEOS, 2019)

The History of the Natural Reserve System of Russia (Moscow, Russian Geographical Society, 2018)

Deserts and Desertification (Encyclopedia; Moscow, International Relations, 2018)

Russian Borderland: Neighborhood Challenges (Moscow, IP Matushkina I.I., 2018)

Human Colonization of the Arctic: The Interaction Between Early Migration and the Paleoenvironment (London et al., Academic Press, 2017)

Atlas of Russian State Nature Reserves (Moscow, Russian Geographical Society, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, etc., 2017)

Life in the mountains. Natural and cultural diversity - a variety of development models (Moscow, GEOS, 2017)

Droughts of the East European Plain according to hydrometeorological and dendrochronological data (Moscow - St. Petersburg, Nestor-Istoriya, 2017)

Between the house and ... the house. Return spatial mobility of the Russian population (Moscow, New Chronograph, 2016)

The evolution of Central Mexico landscapes over the past 40,000 years. Geomorphological-paleo-soil study of landscapes of the Tlascal block and the Teotihuacan valley (Moscow, Media-PRESS, 2016)

Anthropogenic impacts on the runoff of the Moscow river (Moscow MAKS Press, 2015)

Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow: 222 years later (in 2 books; Moscow, LENAND, 2015)

Modern changes in the glaciers of the mountainous regions of Russia (Moscow, KMK, 2015)

The Second Roshydromet Assessment Report on Climate Change and its Consequences in the Russian Federation. General Summary (Moscow, Rosgidromet, 2014)

The support framework for the resettlement and economy of modern India (Moscow, MAKS Press, 2014)

Modern and scenario changes in river flow in the basins of the largest rivers of Russia. Part 2. Volga and Don River Basins (Moscow, MAKS Press, 2014)

Atlas of the Kuril Islands (Moscow - Vladivostok, Design. Information. Cartography - Theory, 2009)

Earth's nature and resources (atlas) / Resources and environment, World Atlas (Wien - Moscow, Hölzel - Institute of Geography RAS, 1998)

Atlas of snow and ice resources of the world (Moscow, Institute of Geography RAS, 1997)

Every year, scientists of the Institute of Geography publish dozens of scientific articles in leading international journals, which can be found here.


Geographical research in Russia in the twentieth century, all their vectors and trends are not only directly related to the history of the Institute of Geography, but also have being developed within it.

The development of Russian geography after 1917 was generally associated with the emergence and rising of the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The ideological basis of its creation were Russian scientific geographical schools of the late XIX - early XX centuries, the works of V.V. Dokuchaev, P.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, A.I. Voeikov and D.N. Anuchin, who proposed organizing a Central Geographical Institute in Russia to study "the internal parts of our country" back in 1915.

The Institute arose initially as the Industrial and Geographic Division of KEPS (Commission for the Study of Natural Productive Forces), only six months after the change of power in 1917. The young Republic needed a clear economic and geographical assessment of the state of the country and its natural and resource potential, and the assessment needed to be strategic. After 10 years, the institute was renamed the Geographic Department of KEPS, and academician A.A. Grigoryev became its director. A huge country began to develop remote regions, the nature of which was little known. In 1934, the department became the Geomorphological Institute, then, after the USSR Academy of Sciences moved to Moscow, the Institute of Physical Geography, and in 1936, the Institute of Geography, USSR Academy of Sciences (IGAN).

By 1941, the Institute stuff went over 100 scientists. The priority task of the Institute was a physical and geographical description of the USSR territory on the basis of the results of expeditionary studies and their monographic generalization in a series of books “Geography of the USSR”. In the war period (1941–1945) and until the mid-1950s in the activities of the Institute, and indeed in almost all of domestic geography, the country studies dominated. It allowed to compose a kind of “geographical portrait of the country”, in the creation of which the Institute took an active part.

Name of academician I.P. Gerasimov, who replaced A.A. Grigoryev in 1951 as director of the Institute, is associated with the development of a new direction in Russia geography - the so-called "constructive geography", which included a new methodology for non-economic assessment, planning, forecasting, monitoring, scientific examination. In 1956, the Commission of the USSR Academy of Sciences on nature reserves was established at the USSR Academy of Sciences – actually, in the Institute. In 1958, the efforts of his employees - D.L. Armand, S.V. Kirikov, A.N. Formozov and others - a new plan for the development of the USSR nature reserve system was prepared, and a draft of the first law on nature protection in the Russian Federation, adopted in 1960, was created. During these years, the Institute laid the geographical foundations of rational nature management, territorial planning and forecasting.

By 1957, the Institute already employed 370 people, representing mainly the physical and geographical wing of the scientific community. «Defrosting» of the 1950s and 60s slightly opened for domestic geographers the achievements of global geography, primarily its socio-economic areas. After the 23rd International Geographical Congress in Moscow in 1976, in the organization of which the Institute took an active part, the IGAN moved to the country's leading geographical institution, which included many prominent scientists, laureates of different awards and authors of recognized scientific works. Among this pleiad should be called G.A. Avsyuk, B.L. Dzerdzeevsky, G.M. Lappo, M.I. Lvovich, Yu.A. Meshcheryakov, A.A. Mints, G.D. Richter and many others.

By the mid-1980s and by the start of perestroika, the Institute had grown to 700 people.

In 1986, academician V.M. Kotlyakov was elected the new director of the Institute. He has been working in this position for almost 30 years. The end of the twentieth century was marked by a sharp greening and globalization of public consciousness and the rapid growth of interest to the global problems of science. During these years, the Institute took a leading position in the Academy of Sciences in the field of world environmental problems, headed a number of councils and committees of the Academy of Sciences: the Scientific Council for the Study of the Arctic and Antarctic, the National Committee for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, the Committee for System Analysis of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Joint Scientific Council on fundamental geographical problems at the International Association of Academies of Sciences.

Among the main areas of work of the Institute of Geography at the turn of the century was a global approach to geographical research, which found its expression in the publication of two world atlases in the late 1990s: “The natural environment and world resources” and “Atlas of snow and ice resources of the world”. Global changes and processes in social geography, the geography of risk and disaster were studied. New research methods based on isotope-geochemical, geoinformation and computational methods were actively introduced. Although the staff of the Institute was reduced to 350 employees, the IGRAS continued its work on a wide field of geography and remained the methodological center of all geographical research in Russia.

Now the Institute continues a wide range of work under the leadership of the corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences O.N. Solomina, who was elected to be a director in 2015.