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Russia

Capital Moscow
Continent Asia
Code +7
Currency Russian Ruble (RUB)
Languages Russian , Russian

Description

Russia or the Russian Federation is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, covering over 17,125,191 square kilometers (6,612,073 sq mi), and encompassing one-eighth of Earth's inhabitable landmass. Russia extends across eleven time zones, and has the most borders of any country in the world, with sixteen sovereign nations It has a population of 146.2 million and is the most populous country in Europe and the ninth-most populous country in the world. Moscow, the capital, is the largest city entirely within Europe; while Saint Petersburg is the country's second-largest city and cultural center. Russians are the most populous European nation, and Russian is the most spoken native language in Europe.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. The medieval state of Rus' arose in the 9th century. In 988, it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated, until it was finally reunified by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the 15th century. By the 18th century, the nation had vastly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to evolve into the Russian Empire, the third-largest empire in history.

Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian SFSR became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first constitutionally socialist state. The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II and emerged as a superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first human in space. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation. In the aftermath of the constitutional crisis of 1993, a new constitution was adopted, and Russia has since been governed as a federal semi-presidential republic. Vladimir Putin has dominated Russia's political system since 2000; during the period Russia has experienced democratic backsliding and has shifted to an authoritarian state.

Russia is a great power and a potential superpower. It is ranked 52nd in the Human Development Index, with a universal healthcare system, and free university education. Russia's economy is the world's eleventh-largest by nominal GDP and the sixth-largest by PPP. It is a recognized nuclear-weapons state, possessing the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons; with the second-most powerful military, and the fourth-highest military expenditure. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources are the world's largest, and it is among the leading producers of oil and natural gas globally. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G20, the SCO, the Council of Europe, BRICS, the APEC, the OSCE, the IIB, and the WTO, as well as the leading member of the CIS, the CSTO, and the EAEU. Russia is also home to 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History

The area that is today the country of Russia has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The first modern state in Russia was founded in 862 by King Rurik of the Rus, who was made the ruler of Novgorod. Some years later, the Rus conquered the city of Kiev and started the kingdom of the Kievan Rus. Over the 10th and 11th centuries, the Kievan Rus became a powerful empire in Europe reaching its peak under Vladimir the Great and Yaroslav I the Wise. During the 13th century, the Mongols led by Batu Khan overran the area and wiped out the Kievan Rus. In the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscow rose to power. It became the head of the Eastern Roman Empire and Ivan IV the Terrible crowned himself the first Tsar of Russia in 1547. Tsar was another name for Caesar as the Russians called their empire the "Third Rome". In 1613, Mikhail Romanov established the Romanov dynasty that would rule Russia for many years. Under the rule of Tsar Peter the Great (1689-1725), the Russian Empire continued to expand. It became a major power throughout Europe. Peter the Great moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg. During the 19th century, Russian culture was at its peak. Famous artists and writers such as Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky, and Tolstoy became famous throughout the world.

After World War I, in 1917, the people of Russia fought against the leadership of the Tsars. Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Party in revolution overthrowing the Tsar. Civil war broke out in 1918. Linen's side won and the communist state the Soviet Union was born in 1922. After Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin seized power. Under Stalin, millions of people died in famines and executions. During World War II, Russia initially allied with the Germans. However, the Germans invaded Russia in 1941. Over 20 million Russians died in World War II including over 2 million Jewish people who were killed as part of the Holocaust.

In 1949, the Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons. An arms race developed between Russia and the United States in what was called the Cold War. The Soviet economy suffered under communism and isolationism. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and many of its member nations declared independence. The remaining area became the country of Russia.

Geography

Russia is a transcontinental country stretching vastly over two continents, Europe and Asia. It spans the northernmost edge of Eurasia; and has the world's fourth-longest coastline, of over 37,653 km (23,396 mi). Russia lies between latitudes 41° and 82° N, and longitudes 19° E and 169° W; and most of it lies within an area that extends 2,500 to 4,000 km (1,600 to 2,500 mi) from north to south, and some 9,000 km (5,600 mi) east to west. Even along a geodesic, some non-contiguous parts of Russia are about 8,000 km (5,000 mi) apart from each other. Russia is larger than the three continents of the world and has the same surface area as Pluto.

Russia has nine major mountain ranges, and they are found along the southern regions, which share a significant portion of the Caucasus Mountains (containing Mount Elbrus, which at 5,642 m (18,510 ft) is the highest peak in Russia and Europe); the Altai and Sayan Mountains in Siberia; and in the East Siberian Mountains and the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East (containing Klyuchevskaya Sopka, which at 4,750 m (15,584 ft) is the highest active volcano in Eurasia). The Ural Mountains, running north to south through the country's west, are rich in mineral resources and form the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia.

Russia, as one of the world's only two countries bordering three oceans, has links with a great number of seas. Its major islands and archipelagos include Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, the New Siberian Islands, Wrangel Island, the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin. The Diomede Islands, administered by Russia and the United States, are just 3.8 km (2.4 mi) apart; and Kunashir Island in the extreme southeast of Russia is just 20 km (12.4 mi) from Hokkaido, Japan.

Russia, home to over 100,000 rivers, has one of the world's largest surface water resources, with its lakes containing approximately one-quarter of the world's liquid freshwater. Lake Baikal, the largest and most prominent among Russia's freshwater bodies, is the world's deepest, purest, oldest, and most capacious freshwater lake, containing over one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water. Ladoga and Onega in northwestern Russia are two of the largest lakes in Europe. Russia is second only to Brazil by total renewable water resources. The Volga in western Russia, widely regarded as Russia's national river, is the longest river in Europe; while the rivers of Ob, Yenisey, Lena, and Amur in Siberia are among the longest rivers in the world.

Climate

The sheer size of Russia and the remoteness of many of its areas from the sea result in the dominance of the humid continental climate throughout most of the country, except for the tundra and the extreme southwest. Mountain ranges in the south and east obstruct the flow of warm air masses from the Indian and Pacific oceans, while the European Plain spanning its west and north opens it to influence from the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Most of northwest Russia and Siberia have a subarctic climate, with extremely severe winters in the inner regions of northeast Siberia (mostly Sakha, where the Northern Pole of Cold is located with the record low temperature of −71.2 °C or −96.2 °F), and more moderate winters elsewhere. Russia's vast coastline along the Arctic Ocean and the Russian Arctic islands have a polar climate.

The coastal part of Krasnodar Krai on the Black Sea, most notably Sochi, and some coastal and interior strips of the North Caucasus possess a humid subtropical climate with mild and wet winters. In many regions of East Siberia and the Russian Far East, winter is dry compared to summer; while other parts of the country experience more even precipitation across seasons. Winter precipitation in most parts of the country usually falls as snow. The westernmost parts of Kaliningrad Oblast and some parts in the south of Krasnodar Krai and the North Caucasus have an oceanic climate. The region along the Lower Volga and Caspian Sea coast, as well as some southernmost slivers of Siberia, possess a semi-arid climate.

Throughout much of the territory, there are only two distinct seasons, winter and summer; as spring and autumn are usually brief periods of change between extremely low and extremely high temperatures. The coldest month is January (February on the coastline); the warmest is usually July. Great ranges of temperature are typical. In winter, temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east. Summers can be quite hot, even in Siberia.

Government and politics

Russia, by the constitution, is an asymmetric federation and semi-presidential republic, wherein the president is the head of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a multi-party representative democracy, with the federal government composed of three branches:

  • Legislative: The bicameral Federal Assembly of Russia, made up of the 450-member State Duma and the 170-member Federation Council, adopts federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse and the power of impeachment of the president.
  • Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, can veto legislative bills before they become law and appoints the Government of Russia (Cabinet) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
  • Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional.

The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term, but not for a third consecutive term). Ministries of the government are composed of the premier and his deputies, ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister (whereas the appointment of the latter requires the consent of the State Duma). United Russia is the dominant political party in Russia, and has been described as a "big tent"

Foreign relations

Russia had the world's fifth-largest diplomatic network in 2019. It maintains diplomatic relations with 190 United Nations member states, two partially-recognized states, and three United Nations observer states; along with 144 embassies. Russia is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and is a potential superpower. It has historically been a major great power, and significant regional power. Russia is a member of the G20, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the APEC. It also takes a leading role in organizations such as the CIS, the EAEU, the CSTO, the SCO, and BRICS, as well as forums such as the Arctic Council.

Russia maintains close relations with neighboring Belarus, which is in the Union State, a supranational confederation of the latter with Russia. Serbia has been a historically close ally of Russia, as both countries share a strong mutual cultural, ethnic, and religious affinity. India is the largest customer of Russian military equipment, and the two countries share a strong strategic and diplomatic relations since the Soviet era. Russia wields enormous influence across the geopolitically important South Caucasus and Central Asia—the two regions have been described as Russia's "backyard".

In the 21st century, relations between Russia and China have significantly strengthened bilaterally and economically; due to shared political interests. Turkey and Russia share a complex strategic, energy, and defense relationship. Russia maintains cordial relations with Iran, as it is strategic and economically. Russia has also increasingly pushed to expand its influence across the Arctic, Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle, and Latin America. In contrast, Russia's relations with the Western world; especially the United States, the European Union, and NATO—have worsened gradually, due to its ongoing conflict with neighboring Ukraine since 2014.

Military

The Russian Armed Forces are divided into the Ground Forces, the Navy, and the Aerospace Forces—and there are also two independent arms of service: the Strategic Missile Troops and the Airborne Troops. As of 2021, the military has around a million active-duty personnel, which is the world's fifth-largest, and about 2-20 million reserve personnel. It is mandatory for all male citizens aged 18–27 to be drafted for a year of service in the Armed Forces.

Russia boasts the world's second-most powerful military. It is among the five recognized nuclear-weapons states, with the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons; over half of the world's nuclear weapons are owned by Russia. Russia possesses the second-largest fleet of ballistic missile submarines and is one of the only three countries operating strategic bombers. It has the world's most powerful ground force, and the second-most powerful air force and navy fleet. Russia maintains the world's fourth-highest military expenditure, spending $61.7 billion in 2020. It is the world's second-largest arms exporter, and has a large and entirely indigenous defense industry, producing most of its own military equipment.

Economy

Russia has a mixed economy, with enormous natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas. It has the world's eleventh-largest economy by nominal GDP and the sixth-largest by PPP. In 2017, the large service sector contributed to 62% of the total GDP, the industrial sector 32%, and the small agricultural sector roughly 5%. Russia has a low unemployment rate of 4.5%, and more than 70% of its population is categorized as middle class officially. Russia's foreign exchange reserves are worth $630 billion and are the world's fifth-largest. It has a labor force of roughly 70 million, which is the world's sixth-largest. Russia's large automotive industry ranks as the world's tenth-largest by production.

Russia is the world's twentieth-largest exporter and importer. In 2016, the oil-and-gas sector accounted for 36% of federal budget revenues. In 2019, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry estimated the value of natural resources to be 60% of the country's GDP. Russia has one of the lowest external debts among major developed countries and ranked high among the "very easy" countries in the 2019 Ease of Doing Business Index. It has a flat tax rate of 13% and has the world's second-most attractive personal tax system for single managers after the United Arab Emirates. However, inequality of household income and wealth in the country has also been noted.

Science and technology

Russia's research and development budget is the world's ninth-highest, with an expenditure of approximately 422 billion rubles on domestic research and development. In 2019, Russia was ranked tenth worldwide in the number of scientific publications. Russia ranked 45th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021. Since 1904, Nobel Prize was awarded to twenty-six Soviets and Russians in physics, chemistry, medicine, economy, literature, and peace.

Mikhail Lomonosov proposed the law of conservation of matter preceding the energy conservation law. Since the times of Nikolay Lobachevsky (the "Copernicus of Geometry" who pioneered the non-Euclidean geometry) and a prominent tutor Pafnuty Chebyshev, Russian mathematicians became among the world's most influential. Dmitry Mendeleev invented the Periodic table, the main framework of modern chemistry. Nine Soviet/Russian mathematicians were awarded with the Fields Medal. Grigori Perelman was offered the first-ever Clay Millennium Prize Problems Award for his final proof of the Poincaré conjecture in 2002, as well as the Fields Medal in 2006, both of which he infamously declined.

Alexander Popov was among the inventors of the radio, while Nikolai Basov and Alexander Prokhorov were co-inventors of laser and maser. Many famous Russian scientists and inventors were émigrés, among them are Igor Sikorsky, and Vladimir Zworykin, while many foreign ones lived and worked in Russia for a long time, such as Leonard Euler, and Alfred Nobel. Russian discoveries and inventions include the transformer, electric filament lamp, the aircraft, the safety parachute, the electrical microscope, color photos, caterpillar tracks, track assembly, electrically powered railway wagons, videotape recorder, the helicopter, the solar cell, probiotics (found in some yogurts), the television, petrol cracking, synthetic rubber, and grain harvester.

Demographics

Russia is one of the world's most sparsely populated and urbanized countries, with the vast majority of its population concentrated within its western part. It had a population of 142.8 million according to the 2010 census, which rose to 146.2 million as of 2021. Russia is the most populous country in Europe, and the world's ninth-most populous country, with a population density of 9 inhabitants per square kilometer (23 per square mile).

Since the 1990s, Russia's death rate has exceeded its birth rate, which has been called by analysts a demographic crisis. In 2019, the total fertility rate across Russia was estimated to be 1.5 children born per woman, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1 and is one of the world's lowest fertility rates. Subsequently, the nation has one of the world's oldest populations, with a median age of 40.3 years. In 2009, it recorded annual population growth for the first time in fifteen years; and since the 2010s, Russia has seen increased population growth due to declining death rates, increased birth rates, and increased immigration. However, since 2020, due to excessive deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's population has undergone its largest peacetime decline in history.

Russia is a multinational state, home to over 193 ethnic groups nationwide. In the 2010 Census, roughly 81% of the population were ethnic Russians, and the remaining 19% of the population were ethnic minorities; while roughly 85% of Russia's population was of European descent—of which the vast majority were Slavs, with a substantial minority of Finnic and Germanic peoples. According to the United Nations, Russia's immigrant population is the world's third-largest, numbering over 11.6 million; most of which are from post-Soviet states, mainly Ukrainians.

Culture

Russian culture has been formed by the nation's history, its geographical location, and its vast expanse, religious and social traditions, and Western influence. Russian writers and philosophers have played an important role in the development of European thought. The Russians have also greatly influenced classical music, ballet, sport, architecture, painting, and cinema. The nation has also made pioneering contributions to science and technology and space exploration.

Russia is home to 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 19 out of which are cultural; while 27 more sites lie on the tentative list. The large global Russian diaspora has also played a major role in spreading Russian culture throughout the world. Russia's national symbol, the double-headed eagle, dates back to the Tsardom period and is featured in its coat of arms and heraldry. The Russian Bear and Mother Russia are often used as national personifications of the country. Matryoshka dolls are considered a cultural icon of Russia.

Images

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St Basil's Cathedral

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Kremlin Palace at Red Square

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Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg

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