This chapter describes the major influences on the evolution of the economy and therefore the transport system, and the spatial characteristics of the economy. The Soviet Far East has a very simple transport system. Its backbone is the Trans-Siberian Railway, which hugs the southern border of the region, following the Amur and Ussuri valleys to the Pacific. The railway provides a lifeline for the Far East to the western USSR, a channel for foreign trade through Pacific ports and a transit route from Europe to the Pacific. Distance from the metropolis is important because the resource demands which have stimulated Far Eastern development have originated there rather than in the intervening regions. Prime attractive resources have varied over time, but generally they have been those which could repay the costs of exploitation in an inhospitable environment, as well as long-distance transport to markets: furs, gold, some fish, diamonds, antimony and tin.