The Russian Federation is by far the largest country of the world and spans both Europe and Asia. Russia shares borders with the following countries (in counter-clockwise order): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. Its extensive coastline stretches from the Arctic Ocean to the North Pacific Ocean, as well as to inland seas such as the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea. As the primary successor of the Soviet Union, Russia is still an influential country, in particular in the Commonwealth of Independent States, comprised of many other ex-Soviet Union states.
|National motto: None|
|Prime minister||Mikhail Kasyanov|
- % water
- Total (2000)
|From the Soviet Union|
August 24, 1991
|Time zone||UTC +2 to +12|
|National anthem||The Patriotic Song[?]|
The earliest state in the region was that of the Kievan Rus. In the later Middle Ages it was the Muscovy principality that developed into an empire that from the 15th century onward slowly grew eastward into Asia. Under the tsars, Russia then became a major European power as Imperial Russia modernised and expanded westward from the 18th century onward. However, at the start of the 20th century Russia's power was declining and growing dissatisfaction amongst the population, combined with the military failure during World War I led to the Russian Revolution in 1917 that was followed by the proclamation of the Soviet Union under Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, and the Russian Civil War, in which the Communist or Red forces defeated the Czarist or White forces.
Lenin suffered a series of debilitating strokes which lead to his death in 1924. After a brief power struggle, leadership of the Soviet Union was consolidated by the dictator Joseph Stalin. Stalin's brutal reign would claim millions of lives, as known or suspected political opponents and military officers were executed or exiled to Siberia during the Great Purges of the 1930s.
Following the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany during World War II, the Soviet Union would also develop into a dominant world power during the Cold War, functioning as the main ideological adversary to the United States. The two engaged in a lengthy geopolitical struggle by proxy for control of the hearts and minds of the Third World following the 1956 Suez Crisis. The Soviets created the Warsaw Pact to oppose NATO, and the two sides engaged in a lengthy and expensive arms race to stockpile more nuclear weapons than the other had. In the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev nearly triggered a war with the United States when he placed offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba. The Soviets also ignited the space race by launching Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the Earth, and Col. Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the Earth.
By the late 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev implemented reforms such as glasnost and perestroika, but these measures were unable to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union after a failed military coup in 1991. The Russian Soviet Federal Republic declared its independence on August 24 of that year as the Russian Federation. Russia, as the Soviet Union's primary successor state, has since sought to maintain its global influence, but has been hampered by economic difficulties.
The Russian Federation is a federative democracy with a president, directly elected for a four-year term, who holds considerable executive power. The president, who resides in the Kremlin, nominates the highest state officials, including the prime minister, who must be approved by parliament. The president can pass decrees without consent from parliament and is also head of the armed forces and of the national security council.
Russia's bicameral parliament, the Federative Assembly or Federalnoye Sobraniye consists of an upper house known as the Federative Council (Soviet Federatsii), composed of 178 delegates serving a four-year term (two are appointed from each of the 89 subdivisions), and a lower house known as the State Duma (Gosudarstvennaya Duma), comprised of 450 deputies also serving a four-year term, of which 225 are elected by direct popular vote from single member constituencies and 225 are elected by proportional representation from nation-wide party lists.
The Russian Federation consists of a great number of different political subdivisions, making a total of 89 consituent components. There are 21 republics within the federation that enjoy a high degree of autonomy on most issues and these correspond to some of Russia's ethnic minorities. The remaining territory consists of 49 provinces known as oblasts and 6 regions (krays), in which are found 10 autonomous districts and 1 autonomous oblast. Beyond these there are two federal cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Recently, seven extensive federal districts have been added as a new layer between the above subdivisions and the national level. All are listed here by these federal districts, with the republics marked by a *:
Provisional list, see Talk:Russia for more.
Southern Federal District[?]:
Geography Main article: Geography of Russia
The Russian Federation stretches across much of the north of the supercontinent Eurasia and as such knows a great variety of landscapes and climates. Most of the landscape consists of vast plains, both in the European part and the Asian part that is largely known as Siberia. These plains are predominantly steppe to the south and heavily forested to the north, with tundra along the northern coast. Mountain ranges are found along the southern borders, such as the Caucasus (containing Mount Elbrus, Russia's highest point at 5,633 m) and the Altai, and in the eastern parts, such as the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes on Kamchatka. Notable are the more central Ural Mountains that form the primary divide between Europe and Asia.
Russia has an extensive coastline of over 37,000 km along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as inland seas such as the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas. Smaller bodies of water are part of the oceans; the Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea[?] and East Siberian Sea[?] are part of the Arctic, whereas the Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan belong to the Pacific Ocean. Major islands found in them include Novaya Zemlya, the Franz-Josef Land[?], the New Siberian Islands[?], Wrangel[?], the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin.
Many great rivers flow across the plains into the oceans and seas. In Europe these are the Volga, Don, Kama, Oka and the Northern Dvina[?], while several other rivers originate in Russia but flow into other countries, such as the Dniepr[?] and the Western Dvina. In Asia are found the Ob, Irtysh, Yenisei, Angara, Lena and Amur rivers. Major lakes include Lake Baikal, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega[?].
A decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia is still struggling to establish a modern market economy and achieve strong economic growth. Russia saw its economy contract for five years, as the executive and legislature dithered over the implementation of reforms and Russia's industrial base faced a serious decline.
Russia achieved a slight recovery in 1997. The 1998 financial crisis culminated in the August depreciation of the ruble, a debt default by the government, and a sharp deterioration in living standards for most of the population. The economy subsequently has rebounded, growing by an average of more than 6% annually in 1999-2001 on the back of higher oil prices and a weak ruble.
This recovery, along with a renewed government effort in 2000 and 2001 to advance lagging structural reforms, have raised business and investor confidence over Russia's prospects in its second decade of transition. Russia remains heavily dependent on exports of commodities, particularly oil, natural gas, metals, and timber, which account for over 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices.
Russia is fairly sparsely populated due to its enormous size; population is densest in the European part of Russia, in the Ural Mountains area, and in the south-eastern part of Siberia. The Russian Federation is home to many different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. Over 80% of the population is ethnically Russian, the remainder includes Bashkirs[?], Chechens, Chuvashes[?], Cossacks, Evenkis, Germans, Ingushes, Inuit, Jews, Kalmyks, Karelians, Koreans, Mordvins[?], Ossetians, Taimyrs[?], Tatars, Tuvans, Yakuts and still others.
The Russian language is the only official state language, but the individual republics[?] have often made their native language co-official next to Russian. The Russian Orthodox Church is the dominant Christian religion in the Federation, other religions include Islam, various Protestant faiths, Roman Catholicism, Buddhism and Judaism.
See also: Demographic crisis of Russia