What are the key differences between the US' and the Soviet Union's economy geography and governments?
The Soviet Union and the United States represented two very conflicting ideologies.
1. Geography - The Soviet Union and the United States actually shared many geographical similarities.
A key difference would be size. And the Soviet Union possessed a great deal of tundra in the far north and east.
The Soviet Union had regions that would be comparable to any region in the U.S., Russia is most known for its flat wide open steppe however, and its continental climate which mean hot summers and cold winters. However the Ural Mountains and Caucasus mountains are similar the Appalachian and Rockies in some ways. Mt. Olympia is much like Mt. Elbrus, both are two of the tallest points in the world and feature year round skiing. In the South Russia and other Soviet states have beautiful beach resort areas in sub-tropical areas, similar to Florida. Regions in Kazakhstan are completely similar to places in the U.S. central North West. The Steppe is similar to the U.S. great Plains. The great Russian Forrests are much like the great Pine forests of the North West. Alaska is much like the other side of the Bering Sea.
The Soviet Economy was a Marxist-Leninist Social economy. The economy focused primarily on heavy industry to support its military industrial complex. Light industry, like consumer goods were not an area of major concern. This is why Soviet citizens tended to save their money in savings accounts rather than spend it because there was nothing to really spend their money on! The Soviet Union was a welfare state in that it employed large numbers of people to do jobs that required far less, but this was part of the Marxist-Leninist idea to achieve true full employment. Their economy was also planned, each organization was to fulfill a quota which was negotiated upon by the factory director. An entire lesson in Soviet economy is impossible here.
The U.S. economy is primarily capitalist. At this time the U.S. was moving out of production of goods and focusing more on services. The capitalist system is not based on the welfare state and therefor allowed greater efficiency. The U.S. economy had a healthy balance of consumer goods/light industry and heavy industry.
The Soviet government was one of repression, it was Communist system. This repressive tendency is partially to do with prevailing political cultures in the region left over from tsarist times. The socialist system is one that is not entirely popular, which is why it required a great deal of emphasis on patriotism, military accomplishment, and repression to maintain power.
The U.S. government is a democracy, and as such the citizens have a greater deal of freedom of expression, which leads to greater happiness and at least manageable discontent. That is not to say that repression did not exist like say with the Civil Rights movement, etc, but it was much less frequent.
By Soviet Union, I take it you mean 'Russia' - Economically the countries are very different. Russia is blessed with size and resources, but isn't blessed with fair weather; unfortunately a good portion of the country is tundra. The government of Russia and the United States are both currently democracies, but Russia's government is currently of the 'fledgling' varietiey, it is not a 'mature' democracy and to a certain extent this creates some political instability; coupled with an active resistance against Russian rule in Checnya, it is easy to see how the United States is inherently more stable.