Russia

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Russian Federation
Российская Федерация
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya
Flag
Anthem: 
Государственный гимн Российской Федерации
(tr.: Gosudarstvenny gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii)
(English: State Anthem of the Russian Federation)
Capital
and largest city
Moscow
55°45′N 37°37′E / 55.75°N 37.617°E / 55.75; 37.617
Official languages Russian official throughout the country; 27 others co-official in various regions
Ethnic groups (2002) 79.8% Russians
3.8% Tatars
2.0% Ukrainians
1.2% Bashkirs
1.1% Chuvashes
12.1% Others and Unspecified
Demonym Russian
Government Federal semi-presidential republic
 -  President Vladimir Putin
 -  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
 -  Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko (UR)
 -  Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin (UR)
Legislature Federal Assembly
 -  Upper house Federation Council
 -  Lower house State Duma
Formation
 -  Rurik Dynasty 862 
 -  Kievan Rus' 882 
 -  Vladimir-Suzdal Rus' 1169 
 -  Grand Duchy of Moscow 1283 
 -  Tsardom of Russia 16 January 1547 
 -  Russian Empire 22 October 1721 
 -  Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic 7 November 1917 
 -  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 10 December 1922 
 -  Russian Federation 25 December 1991 
Area
 -  Total 17,075,400 km2 (1st)
6,592,800 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 13[1] (including swamps)
Population
 -  2010 census 142,905,208[2]
 -  Density 8.3/km2 (217th)
21.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $2.376 trillion[3] (6th)
 -  Per capita $16,840[3]
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $1.894 trillion[3] (9th)
 -  Per capita $13,542[3]
Gini (2008) 42.3[4]
medium · [[List of countries by income equality|83rd]]
HDI (2011) Increase 0.755[5]
high · 66th
Currency rouble (RUB)
Time zone (UTC+3 to +12 (exc. +5))
Date format dd.mm.yyyy
Drives on the right
Calling code +7
Internet TLD .ru, .su, .рф
Map of Russia

Russia (also the Russian Federation) is a country which is mostly in Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It is the largest country in the world by land area. About 145 million people live in Russia. The official name for Russia in English is The Russian Federation. The capital city of Russia is Moscow. Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has borders over water with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the United States by the Bering Strait.

Russia is a very large and diverse country. Its government is now based on a democratic form of rule. The president is chosen in direct elections, and its current President is Vladimir Putin. The official language is Russian. Russia produces a lot of energy made from oil and natural gas.[6]

Size and resources[change | change source]

At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the world's eighth most populous nation with 143 million people as of 2012.

Extending from eastern Europe across the whole of northern Asia, Russia spans nine time zones and has a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest reserves of mineral and energy resources[7] and is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.[8][9] Russia has the world's largest forest reserves,[10][11] and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's fresh water.[12]

Constitution[change | change source]

Russia is a federal semi-presidential republic. It has a president and a parliament, and it is made of 83 smaller member republics which also have presidents and parliaments.[13] Important issues are decided by the Federation President; lesser powers are delegated to the member republics.

Elections are held at all levels, but they may not be as open and fair as democracies in the western world. According Steve White, the present government made it clear that they had no intention of establishing a "second edition" of the American or British political system, but rather a system that was closer to Russia's own traditions and circumstances.[14] Richard Sakwa wrote that the Russian government is considered legitimate by the majority of the Russian people. It seeks to deliver a set of public goods without appealing to extra-democratic logic to achieve them, but whether the system is becoming autocratic (dictatorial) is more contentious.[15]

Politics[change | change source]

There are four major political parties in Russia. United Russia (Единая Россия) is the largest party.

Name Ideology Leader MPs
United Russia
Единая Россия
Conservatism, Centrism Vladimir Putin 238
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Коммунистическая партия Российской Федерации
Communism, Marxism-Leninism, Left-wing nationalism Gennady Zyuganov 92
A Just Russia
Справедливая Россия
Social democracy, Democratic socialism Sergei Mironov 62
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
Либерально-Демократическая Партия России
Nationalism, Pan-Slavism Vladimir Zhirinovsky 56

The United Russia is the ruling party, which supports the government. The other parties in the Duma (Russian parliament) do not criticize the government strongly, for fear of losing their places in the Duma. Many opposition parties, such as the People's Freedom Party and the Other Russia, have been unable to register due to very strict rules. In the 2000s the government led a war in Chechnya, and in the process, civil liberties and independent media were restricted. Corruption is widespread and human rights, especially in the North Caucasus, are frequently violated. In 2008 Putin's government was in a war with Georgia in a dispute over a region with many ethnic Russians.

History[change | change source]

Peter the Great proclaimed the Russian Empire in 1721

The roots of Russia's history began when the East Slavs formed a group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD.[16] The Vikings and their descendants founded the first East Slavic state of Kievan Rus' in the 9th century. They adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988[17]. This form of Christianity influenced Russian culture greatly.[17] Kievan Rus' eventually broke up and the lands were divided into many small feudal states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus' was the Grand Duchy of Moscow. This area served as the main force in later Russian unification and the fight against the Golden Horde from Asia. Moscow slowly gained control of the regions around it and dominated the cultural and political life of Kievan Rus'.

By the 18th century, the nation had expanded through conquest, annexation and exploration to become the Russian Empire, the third largest empire in history. It stretched from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth eastward to the Pacific Ocean and Alaska. The empire was ruled by an emperor called the Tsar.

Peter the Great ruled Russia from 1689 until 1725. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to a new city that he built named Saint Petersburg. He made Russian society more modern in many ways. The government under Peter the Great began building ships for the Russian navy.

The Russo-Japanese War started in 1904 and ended in 1905 with Japan winning the war. The Russian defeat was one of the reasons for later revolutions.

In October 1917, the Bolsheviks (later called "Communists"), influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, took over the country and murdered the Tsar and other people who stood against them. Once they took power, the Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, created the first Marxist Communist State.

From the 1920s to the 1950s, Josef Stalin ruled as an absolute dictator. After the death of Lenin, Stalin took over and destroyed anything that was against him ruling, including taking the property of farmers and shopkeepers, causing many millions of people to starve and die. Stalin also removed, or "purged", all military personnel who were not loyal to him, and many were killed or sent to prison camps for many years.

Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany agreed not to attack each other in 1939. But in June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked Russia. The attack was part of World War II. The war lasted in Europe until May 1945, and Russia lost 27 million people during that time. In spite of this large loss, Russia was one of the winners of the war and became a world superpower.

From 1922 to 1991, Russia was the largest part of the Soviet Union, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). People sometimes used the name "Russia" for the whole Soviet Union, or sometimes "Soviet Russia". Russia was only one of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics. The republic was in fact named the "Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic" (RSFSR).

The Soviet Union fell apart in the early 1990s. Russia took over the place of the USSR in the United Nations (UN).

History of present Russian Federation[change | change source]

Boris Yeltsin was elected the President of Russia in June 1991, in the first direct presidential election in Russian history. Wide-ranging reforms took place, including privatization and free trade laws.[18] Radical changes "(shock therapy) were recommended by the United States and International Monetary Fund.[19] A major economic crisis followed. There was 50% decline in GDP and industrial output between 1990–95.[18][20]

The privatization largely shifted control of enterprises from state agencies to individuals with inside connections in the government system. Many of the newly rich businesspeople took billions in cash and assets outside of the country .[21] The depression of state and economy led to the collapse of social services. Millions plunged into poverty, from 1.5% level of poverty in the late Soviet era, to 39–49% by mid-1993.[22] The 1990s saw extreme corruption and lawlessness, rise of criminal gangs and violent crime.[23]

The 1990s were plagued by armed conflicts in the North Caucasus, both local ethnic skirmishes and separatist Islamist insurrections. Since the Chechen separatists had declared independence in the early 1990s, a Chechen War was fought between the rebel groups and the Russian military. Terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by separatists, most notably the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school siege, caused hundreds of deaths.

Russia took up the responsibility for settling the USSR's external debts, even though its population made up just half of the population of the USSR at the time of its dissolution.[24] High budget deficits caused the 1998 Russian financial crisis[25] and resulted in further GDP decline.[18]

On 31 December 1999 President Yeltsin resigned, handing the post to the recently appointed Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who then won the 2000 presidential election. Putin suppressed the Chechen rebellion violently, but sporadic violence still occurs in the Northern Caucasus.

High oil prices and initially weak currency followed by increasing domestic demand, consumption and investments has helped the economy grow for nine straight years, improving the standard of living and increasing Russia's influence on the world stage. While many reforms made during the Putin presidency have been criticized by Western nations as un-democratic,[26] Putin's leadership led to stability, and progress. This won him widespread popularity in Russia.[27]

On 2 March 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected President of Russia, whilst Putin became Prime Minister. Putin returned to the presidency following the 2012 presidential elections, and Medvedev was appointed Prime Minister.

Geography[change | change source]

Russia's capital and the biggest city is Moscow. The second biggest city is Saint Petersburg, which was the capital of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Other cities in Russia with more than one million people are

The most western point of Russia is near Kaliningrad, formerly named Königsberg. The most eastern point of Russia is Diomid island, 35 km from Chukotka (Russia) and 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Alaska (USA). The most southern point is in Caucasus, on the border with Azerbaijan. The most northern point is on Franz Josef Land archipelago in Arctic Ocean, 900 kilometres (560 mi) from the North Pole.

Russian Federation regions

Demographics[change | change source]

Ethnic composition (2010)
Russians 80.90%
Tatars 3.87%
Ukrainians 1.40%
Bashkirs 1.15%
Chuvash 1.05%
Chechen 1.04%
Armenians 0.86%
Other/unspecified 9.73%
Population (in millions) 1950–January 2009.

Russia has a population of 142 million citizens. Most people (73.7%) live in cities. The population decreased by 5 million people since the fall of the Soviet Union. The current population growth is close to zero, and the population even went down by 0.085% in 2008.

Russia's area is about 17 million square kilometers (6.5 million sq. mi.). It is the largest country in the world.[28] Its population density is about 9 persons per square kilometer (22 per sq. mi.). This is among the lowest country density in the world. The population is most dense in the European part of the country, centering around Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Culture and Religion[change | change source]

Music and ballet[change | change source]

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893), composer.

World-renowned composers of the 20th century included Alexander Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, and Dmitri Shostakovich. Russia has produced some of the greatest pianists: Anton Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz and Vladimir Ashkenazy are among the all-time greats.

Russian composer Tchaikovsky created famous ballets such as The Nutcracker. The impressario Sergei Diaghilev was responsible for the development of ballet in the early 20th century with the Ballets Russes. Dance companies at the Mariinsky Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet produced many famous dancers.[29]

Literature[change | change source]

Russians have contributed many famous works of literature.[30] Alexander Pushkin is considered a founder of modern Russian literature. He was a poet from the 19th century.[31]

Other famous poets and writers of the 19th century were Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Lermontov, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Gogol (he was born in what is now Ukraine, but during his lifetime Ukraine was a part of Russia), Ivan Turgenev and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are considered by many people to be two of the greatest novelists ever.[32][33] Three Russians won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the 20th century: Boris Pasternak (1958), Mikhail Sholokhov (1965) and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1980). Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita was also a novel of the highest quality.

Sports[change | change source]

Soccer, ice hockey and basketball are among the most popular sports. Boxing, gymnastics, weightlifting, and tennis are also popular sports. Track suits are popular clothing items for many Russians. Sports people to gain world fame include former tennis world number one Maria Sharapova, who has won three Grand Slam titles, and was the world's highest paid female athlete in 2008.[34]

Since the 1952 Olympic Games, Soviet and later Russian athletes are in the top three in gold medals collected at the Summer Olympics. The 1980 Summer Olympic Games were held in Moscow while the 2014 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Sochi.

Chess[change | change source]

Chess is the main intellectual sport in Russia. In the 20th century there were nine Russian World Chess Champions, more than all other nations combined.

Religion[change | change source]

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demolished during the Soviet period, was reconstructed from 1990–2000.

The main religion in Russia is the Russian Orthodox Church. It is one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Other pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "The Russian federation: general characteristics". Federal State Statistics Service. http://www.gks.ru/scripts/free/1c.exe?XXXX09F.2.1/010000R. Retrieved 5 Apr. 2008.
  2. "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1 [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1)]" (in Russian). Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (2010 All-Russia Population Census). Federal State Statistics Service. 2011. http://www.gks.ru/free_doc/new_site/perepis2010/croc/perepis_itogi1612.htm. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Russia". International Monetary Fund.
  4. "Distribution of family income – Gini index". The World Factbook. CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2172.html. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  5. "2011 Human development Report". United Nations Development Programme. pp. 148–151. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Table1.pdf. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
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  8. Supply of oil: IEA archive
  9. CIA World Factbook
  10. FAO. 2010. Global Forest Resources Assesment 2010. Main Report. FAO Forestry Working Paper 163, Rome, Italy
  11. FAO. 2010. Global Forest Resources Assesment 2010. Main Report. FAO Forestry Working Paper 163, Rome, Italy (Russian)
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  13. "The Constitution of the Russian Federation". (Article 80, §1). http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-05.htm. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
  14. White, Stephen (2010). "Classifying Russia's Politics". In White, Stephen. Developments in Russian Politics 7. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-22449-0.
  15. Sakwa, Richard (2010). "Politics in Russia". In White, Stephen. Developments in Russian Politics 7. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-22449-0.
  16. "Russia". Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9109504/Russia. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  17. 17.0 17.1 excerpted from Glenn E. Curtis (ed.) (1998). "Russia: A Country Study: Kievan Rus' and Mongol Periods". Washington, DC: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Kievan.html. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
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  21. "Russia: Clawing Its Way Back to Life (int'l edition)". BusinessWeek. http://www.businessweek.com/1999/99_48/b3657252.htm. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
  22. Branko Milanovic (1998). Income, Inequality, and Poverty During the Transformation from Planned to Market Economy. The World Bank. pp. 186–189.
  23. Jason Bush (19 October 2006). "What's Behind Russia's Crime Wave?". BusinessWeek Journal. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2006/gb20061019_110749_page_2.htm.
  24. "Russia pays off USSR's entire debt, sets to become crediting country". Pravda.ru. http://english.pravda.ru/russia/economics/22-08-2006/84038-paris-club-0. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
  25. Aslund A. "Russia's Capitalist Revolution" (PDF). http://www.iie.com/publications/papers/aslund0108.pdf. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  26. Treisman, D. "Is Russia's Experiment with Democracy Over?". UCLA International Institute. http://www.international.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=16294. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
  27. Stone, N (4 December 2007). "No wonder they like Putin". The Times (UK). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2994651.ece. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
  28. Largest Countries in the World Infoplease - Accessed 7 September 2011
  29. "A Tale of Two Operas". Petersburg City. http://petersburgcity.com/news/culture/2005/11/18/theatre/. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  30. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007. "Russian Literature". http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761564269/Russian_Literature.html. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  31. Kelly, Catriona. Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback). Oxford Paperbacks. ISBN 0192801449. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Russian-Literature-Short-Introduction-Introductions/dp/0192801449.
  32. "Russian literature; Leo Tolstoy". Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-29157/Russian-literature. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  33. Otto Friedrich. "Freaking-Out with Fyodor". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,943893,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  34. Tom Van Riper and Kurt Badenhausen. "Top-Earning Female Athletes". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/2008/07/22/women-athletes-endorsements-biz-sports-cx_tvr_kb_0722athletes.html. Retrieved 2008-08-01.