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Soviet Union

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The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union; Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, SSSR written in the Cyrillic alphabet as СССР) was a communist-ruled union with a totalitarian regime that existed from 1922 until 1991. It stretched from the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific Ocean. In its final years it consisted of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs). Russia was by far the largest Republic in the Soviet Union in terms of both land area and population, and also dominated it politically and economically.

Союз Советских Социалистических Республик
Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Workers of the world, unite!
Official language Russian
Capital Moscow
Final President Mikhail Gorbachev
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 1st before collapse
22,402,200 km2
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 3rd before collapse
293,047,571 (July 1991)
13,08/km2 (July 1991)
 - Declared
 - Recognised
Russian Revolution
Currency Ruble
Time zone UTC +3 to +11
National anthem (1917-1944) The International,
(1944-1991) Hymn of the Soviet Union
Internet TLD .SU (still in use)

Table of contents

History Main article: History of the Soviet Union

Unhappiness with the Russian involvement in World War I led to the Russian Revolution and a civil war, ending in the establishing of the Soviet Union, the first communist state, on December 30, 1922.

The Soviet Union was the successor state of the Russian Empire but was smaller as a result of the independence of Poland, Finland and the Baltic States.

The territory of the Soviet Union increased during its period of hostility with Nazi Germany. Under Premier Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union emerged from the World War II as a major world power with a territory including the Baltic States and a significant portion of the territory of pre-war Poland together with a substantial sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. For more details see the article on the Soviet Empire. Political confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States persisted for many years and is termed the Cold War.

In 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart after a failed coup attempt by military leaders.

In chronological order, the leaders of the Soviet Union were:

  1. Vladimir Lenin (1917-1924)
  2. Joseph Stalin (1924-1953)
  3. Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964)
  4. Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982)
  5. Yuri Andropov (1982-1984)
  6. Konstantin Chernenko (1984-1985)
  7. Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991)

Politics Main article: Politics of the Soviet Union[?]

After the revolution, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) outlawed every other political party. The governing of the country was, in theory, to be done by local and regional democratically elected soviets. In practice, however, each level of government was controlled by its corresponding party group (see democratic centralism). The highest legislative body was the Supreme Soviet. The highest executive body was the Politburo. (More about the political organization of the USSR can be found on Organization of the Communist Party of the USSR.)

See also: List of leaders of the Soviet Union

Republics Main article: Republics of the Soviet Union

In its final decades of its existence, the Soviet Union consisted of 15 Socialist Soviet Republics (SSR). Three of these in particular shared some common history and were referred to as the Baltic Republics. They are all independent countries now, only very loosely organized under the heading Commonwealth of Independent States.

Former Soviet Republics

Current Independent Countries


Geography Main article: Geography of the Soviet Union[?]

During the period of its existence, the Soviet Union was by area (22,402,200 sq. km).

Economy Main article: Economy of the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was the first country to base its economy on communist principles, where the state owned all the means of production and farming was collectivized.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was one of the world's most ethnically diverse countries, with more than 100 distinct national ethnicities living within its borders. The total population was estimated at 293 million in 1991. The Soviet Union was so large, in fact, that even after all associated republics gained independence Russia, remains the largest country by area (with Canada second), and remained quite ethnically diverse, including, e.g., minorities of Tatars, Udmurts[?], and many other non-Russian ethnicities.


Main article: Culture of the Soviet Union[?]

DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1New Year's Day  
January 7Eastern Orthodox Christmas  
February 23Heroes Day[?] February Revolution, 1917,
Formation of the Red Army, 1918
March 8International Women's Day[?]  
May 1International Labor Day  
November 7-November 8Great October Socialist Revolution October Revolution 1917

External links

See also: Communism, Socialism, Kishka, World War I, Russian Civil War, World War II, Genocide, Red Army

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