|Russian Federation |
|Capital and largest city||Moscow|
- Prime Minister
|- Upper house
- Lower house
|- Kievan Rus
6,590,000 sq. mi.|
17,000,000 sq. km.
21 / mi²; 8.4 / km²
3 trillion (6th)|
|Drives on the
.ru, .su, .рф
Russia (Russian: Росси́я, tr. Rossiya), officially the Russian Federation (Russian: Росси́йская Федерáция, tr. Rossiyskaya Federatsiya) is a country in eastern Europe and northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, with an area of 17 million square kilometers, and has a population of 143 million people, which makes it the ninth most populous country. It is a semi-presidential republic, and the capital and largest city is Moscow. The official language is Russian, and ethnic Russians make up about 81 percent of the population; the largest minorities are Tatars and Ukrainians.
Russian scientists, writers and artists began to be recognized in the West in the 1800s. Great minds like Aleksandr Pushkin, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and many others exemplified the Russian creative tradition and became famous worldwide, and Soviet science launched the first human into space, in addition to other achievements.
Russia has a GDP of US$3 trillion (PPP), which makes it the sixth largest economy. Russia is the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas and possesses immense reserves of natural resources. It is the number one weapons exporter and has the world's third largest defense expenditure.
The Russian Federation is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a G8 nation and the newest major World Trade Organization member. Russian initiative leads the integration of post-Soviet space with CSTO, the CIS and the Eurasian Union. Russia is also a member of BRICS, the Council of Europe and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Considered a great power, the multipolar worldview sees Russia as a potential superpower.
Main article: History of Russia
Around the 8th century AD, modern-day European Russia was inhabited by various different peoples, including Uralic, Finno-Ugric, Slavic and Turkic peoples. The Kievan Rus culture began to arise as these peoples spread to the east, experiencing cultural exchange with their Uralic neighbors. In the mid 800s, Rurik, a Varangian chief, came from Scandinavia and established the Rurikid Dynasty in Kiev. In 988, Grand Prince Vladimir I of Kiev led a mass baptism of people in the river Dniepr, which symbolized the conversion of Rus to Christianity. Around that time, Slavic people began displacing Uralic peoples throughout modern-day Russia. By the 12th century, there was still little political unity in the Russian states. Turkic nomads and Teutonic knights would repeatedly invade and try to convert Russian states. This constant warfare would give rise to a military culture in Russia.
Main article: Politics of Russia
The Constitution of Russia states that Russia is a semi-presidential federal republic. The government is structured as a multiparty democracy, although in reality Russia is currently a dominant-party state. The government generally consists of three branches:
- Executive – the most powerful branch of the government, headed by the President, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and appoints the cabinet. The President can veto bills and is popularly elected for up to two six-year terms.
- Legislative – consists of the Federal Assembly of Russia, a bicameral legislature made up of the State Duma (lower house) and the Federation Council, a senate. The legislature controls the budget, creates laws and declares war.
- Judicial – The Supreme Court is the highest court, although a separate Constitutional Court decides the constitutionality of laws. The Supreme Court of Arbitration is the highest court for commercial disputes.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and approved by the State Duma, and is formally known as the Chairman of the Government. The President also appoints governors of federal subjects. The most powerful political party in Russia is United Russia, and although its majority is slowly eroding, it continues to dominate politics on virtually every level. Major opposition parties include the Communist Party, A Just Russia and the LDPR.
Main article: Foreign relations of Russia
By international law, the Russian Federation is considered the successor state to the Soviet Union. It assumes the USSR's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and maintains the USSR's former internal and external commitments.
Russia is generally considered a great power and a reinstating or potential superpower, especially by those supporting a multipolar worldview. Russia has tightened relations with other rising powers, including India, China and Brazil, forming BRICS with the addition of South Africa.
Many Western organizations, particularly those originating in the United States, criticize the status of Russia's civil and political rights. Freedom House ranks Russia as "not free", claiming fabricated elections and the absence of political debate. Other organizations have put forth similar opinions, which the Russian government largely ignores. The Russian government maintains that the United States has turned human rights into a political weapon and that American-funded freedom reports have a vested interest with their parent organizations.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has maintained close ties with many post-Soviet states. Central Asian nations, especially Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, participate in organizations like CSTO and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia is also close with Belarus, and the two countries together form the Union State mechanism. The Eurasian Union, a brainchild of Vladimir Putin, seeks to reintegrate the post-Soviet space, and consists of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Baltic states have joined the European Union, while Ukraine is not in the CIS and is undergoing intense political debate regarding cooperation with NATO and the European Union.
Russia is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group of Asian states that includes India and China. Russia is an observer in many international organizations, and a member of the World Trade Organization. It is part of the G8 industrialized nations, APEC and the Council of Europe.
Main article: Russian Armed Forces
The military of Russia is known as the Russian Armed Forces. They are divided into the Ground Forces, Navy and Air Force, and also contain the separate Aerospace Forces, Airborne Troops and Strategic Missile Troops.
The Russian military has just over 1 million active duty personnel. Russia inherited the majority of the USSR's nuclear arsenal and controls the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, with over 8,000 active warheads, about 1,500 of which are operational. Conscription is mandatory in Russia at age 18, unless enrolled full-time at a university. Russia has by far the largest tank force in the world, and among the largest air and submarine forces globally. Russia has one of the world's largest defense budgets, about US$90 billion annually; the actual expenditure may be much higher than the face value. The Russian arms industry is fully indigenous, originating from the very first arms works of Imperial Russia. Russia is the world's largest arms exporter, accounting for a third of global sales. The high military expenditure is partly due to a major equipment upgrade intended to modernize the armed forces.
Main article: Federal subjects of Russia
Republics enjoy a greater degree of self-determination, having their own legislature, and are intended as a homeland for a particular ethnic group. Oblasts and Krais are functionally analagous and are the standard subdivision. Autonomous okrugs are typically administered as part of an oblast, and the subdivision is currently being phased out by combining AOs with their parent oblast.
Main article: Geography of Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world, at over 17,000,000 square kilometers (6,590,000 sq. mi.). Due to its immense size, it contains a great variety of climates and landforms. A vast wealth of natural resources, including the world's largest timber reserves, defines the nation's sparsely populated expanses.
Russia is roughly 8000 kilometers long (east to west) and 2100 kilometers wide (north to south). The country is generally divided by the Ural Mountains into European and Asian halves. European Russia is dominated by forests in the north and the Eurasian Steppe in the south. The geography of Asian Russia varies widely, ranging from seasonal marshes in the Ob River basin to low mountain ranges in the Far East.
The Urals, one of the world's oldest mountain ranges, run between Asian and European Russia, creating a natural divide. The south of European Russia is bounded by the Caucasus Mountains, which contain Elbrus, Europe's highest point at 5,600 meters. The Central Russian Upland is a vast, low plateau that extends throughout most of central European Russia and eastern Ukraine. It has an average elevation of 250 meters. In Asia, the West Siberian Plain begins past the Urals, mostly occupied by the Ob-Irtysh Basin. The Central Siberian Plateau is farther east, made up of sharply defined low ridge lines. Southern Siberia contains the Altai Mountains, which extend into Kazakhstan and China. The Far East contains several low mountain ridges, such as the Verkhoyansk Ridge
Russia touches three oceans, the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific. The Atlantic Ocean reaches Russia via the Baltic Sea in the north and the Black Sea in the south. The Arctic Ocean forms Russia's northern coastline, forming (west to east) the Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea and Chukchi Sea. The Pacific Ocean creates the Bering Sea in the north, the Sea of Okhotsk bounded by Kamchatka, and the Sea of Japan (East Sea) farther south. The Caspian Sea, the world's largest lake, is located between Asia and the south of European Russia.
Russia has hundreds of thousands of lakes and rivers, and contains the world's second largest renewable freshwater reserves. Lake Ladoga in northern European Russia is Europe's largest lake, located next to somewhat smaller Lake Onega. The Volga is the longest river in Europe, famous for its pivotal role in Russian history. It drains into the Caspian. The Don River is to the west, flowing into the Sea of Azov, part of the Black Sea. The great Siberian rivers – the Ob, Yenisei, Lena and Amur, are some of the longest rivers in the world.
Main article: Climate of Russia
Most of Russia's remoteness from the sea means that most of the country experiences a continental climate. However, the country contains a wide variety of climates due to its expansiveness. European Russia has a more temperate climate, northern Europe being warmed by the sea and only experiencing a subarctic climate. Some mainland territory, as well as the Russian Arctic islands, experience an arctic climate. Winters are very severe in northern European Russia and most of Siberia. In Siberia, however, spring and autumn are very short, and temperatures change very quickly from extremely cold in the winter to very hot in the summer. The Sakha Republic contains an area known as the Pole of Cold, where inland climate and high latitude combine to produce the coldest temperatures outside of Antarctica. The Siberian village of Verkhoyansk has the record for the coldest inhabited place at -71 ºC. Parts of southern Siberia have a semiarid climate, while areas around the Black Sea have a humid subtropical climate.
Russia hosts a variety of biomes. In general, these progress sequentially by latitude. The south of Russia is dominated by the Eurasian steppe or grassland. Farther north is a transition zone of temperate forests, generally a mixed forest. Beyond that is a belt of coniferous forests, known as the taiga. In the northernmost regions, barren arctic tundra defines the landscape. This progression is most apparent in European Russia, as Siberia's physical size creates climate variations due to distance from large bodies of water; Siberia itself is mostly taiga. Russia is not as biologically diverse as the Amazon rainforest or other hotspots, but contains a variety of creatures throughout its territory. Many typical mammal species have ingrained themselves in the folk culture, including foxes, squirrels, rabbits, wolves and the brown bear, which is a popular symbol of Russia in the west.
Main article: Economy of Russia
Russia has a market economy that is both industrialized and an emerging market. While many domestic industries exist as a relic of Soviet self-reliance, the export market is dominated by raw materials, of which Russia possesses immense reserves. The 21st century has seen a recovery from Russia's post-Soviet crisis. In 2000, the middle class was virtually nonexistent; this group represented about a third of Russia's population in 2010. Poverty has been reduced from roughly 50% in the mid 1990s to 13%, a rate slightly lower than that of the United States. Development is highly uneven, with the Moscow region contributing a disproportionate amount to the economy and receiving most economic benefits.
Russia's agriculture industry was heavily supported by the government after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as the bedrock of the economy. While agriculture no longer has a preeminent role in the economy, Russia is one of the world's largest agricultural producers and has the fourth largest area of cultivated land. In general, land in Russia is underutilized; the country possesses about a quarter of Earth's arable land and forest reserves.
Russian agriculture suffered a severe decline in the 1990s and slowly recovered through the 2000s. Soviet kolkhozes were rapidly privatized into enormous corporate farms, which dominated production and struggled to adapt to a market economy. Nowadays, relatively small family enterprises account for more than half of production. Small, private plots have accounted for most of Russia's fruit and vegetable production throughout the post-command and market era. Fishing is also a large part of the economic market, although Russian fleets are not as modernized and intensive as their Japanese and Western counterparts.
Russia has been described as an energy superpower. The country is the world's largest exporter of oil and natural gas; it is the second largest natural gas producer and largest oil producer. Russia is the world's third largest producer of electricity, after China and the United States. It is also one of the largest producers of renewable energy due to a developed hydroelectric power infrastructure. Nuclear power is also a major component of the Russian energy system, managed by Rosatom, a state-controlled corporation. The role of nuclear energy is planned to expand in the coming years.
Russia has a vast transportation network of railways, waterways, highways, airports and public transport. Russian Railways, a state-owned corporation, controls almost all rail transport in the country. Russia has the world's second largest rail network, after the United States. Unlike many countries, Russia uses broad gauge (1,520 mm), a relic of transport in the Russian Empire. This renders it incompatible with trains from Europe and means passengers must switch over. Russia also has the world's largest network of electrified rail. The Trans-Siberian Railway is Russia's most well-known rail route, offering the world's longest rail journeys.
Russia has an extensive network of inland waterways, linking the Black, Caspian, Baltic and White seas. The Volga and Don rivers form important connections to major cities. Major ports include Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg on the Baltic, Arkhangelsk on the White Sea, Rostov-on-Don on the Sea of Azov and Astrakhan on the Caspian. With the receding Arctic ice pack, the Northern Sea Route promises to cut shipping costs from Asia to Europe dramatically and is being more and more exploited, passing through Russian territorial waters.
Typically, major Russian cities have well-developed systems of public transport, with the most common varieties of exploited vehicles being bus, trolleybus and tram. Seven Russian cities, namely Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara, Yekaterinburg and Kazan, have underground metros. Moscow Metro and Saint Petersburg Metro are the oldest in Russia, opened in 1935 and the 1950s respectively. These two are among the fastest and busiest metro systems in the world, and are famous for rich decorations and unique designs of their stations, which is a common tradition on Russian metros and railways.
Science and technologyEdit
Main article: Demographics of Russia
Main article: List of cities in Russia by population
Main article: Religion in Russia
Main article: Education in Russia
Main article: Russian culture