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RUSSIA
 
   
   
 

Russia Identity Card

Country name:
~ conventional long form: Russian Federation
~ conventional short form: Russia
~ local long form: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya
~ local short form: Rossiya
 


 
Area: 17,075,200 sq km
Coastline: 37,653 km
Highest point: Gora El'brus 5,633 m
Population: 143,420,309
Density: 8/km2
Population growth rate: -0.37%
Language: Russian
Religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim, other
Government type: federation
Capital: Moscow
GDP - per capita: $9,800
Inflation rate: 11.5%
Currency (code): Russian ruble (RUR)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: RUS
ISO CODE Alpha2: RU
ISO CODE Alpha3: RUS
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 643
Calling code: +7
Internet country code: .ru
Time Zone: +2.0 H / +11.0 H

 

 
 
 
 

State University, Moscow

Russia or the Rossiyskaya Federatsiya is quite a large country in respect of size. At par with it’s physical size is the diversity of culture with at least a few dozens of ethnic groups that sets the country apart with contributions of distinctly dissimilar folk music, languages and religions have given rise to its kaleidoscopic cultural heritage. Although atheism has been officially acknowledged to be the fundamental religion of the country over an expanded span of almost a century, a large part of the Russian population are now finding their basis to be rooted in Christianity; so much so is the religious tolerance of the country that even with the Russian Orthodox Churches prevalent in full practice, they do not hamper the natural flow of literature, opera, musical ballet and drama performances unlike the days of Cossack-Dom. Perhaps the only place where vivid imagery of a rich history comes alive with an unsurpassed beauty, post-communism Russia beckons all to avail the fresh opportunity to explore the astounding regalia.

Geography

Russia extends across North Eurasia sharing the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas and constitutes of vast plains in Siberia with Tundra along the northern coast. Mountain ranges like Caucasus and Altai occupy the southern borders, whereas the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes on Kamchatka dominates the East. The Ural Mountains are a north-south range that divides Europe and Asia. Russia’s extensive coastline runs over 37,000 km along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans besides the coasts of the Baltic, Black and Caspian seas. Russian rivers in Europe are the Volga, Don, Kama, Oka and the Northern Dvina; however the Dnieper and the Western Dvina flow into the adjoining countries. The important rivers in the Asian part are the Ob, Irtysh, Yenisei, Angara, Lena, Amur, Yana, Indigirka and Kolyma.


Caucasian Mountains

Climate

Russia mostly lies in the zones of a continental and Arctic-type climate. Being the coldest country in the world, the Mid-annual temperature of the country lies at −5.5 °C on an average.


Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater at night

History

Volgograd World War II Memorial

To the rest of the world, Russian history is a blurry ragbag of everything that’s scornful, but in reality, Russia has a multi-phased and colourful history that can be divided into four distinct parts, namely: Ancient History, Imperial History, Russian History as a part of Soviet Union and the Post Soviet history.
Ancient history of Russia states the existence of disunited and scattered tribes suffering in the hands of the Goths, Huns and the Turkish Avars between the third and sixth centuries AD, after which, the Iranian Scythians took up the southern steppes and the Khazars in the western portion. After the Vikings took over and established the city of Novgorod, the Scythians and Khazars gradually merged with the Slavic ruling classes. This was the 8th century AD.
Territories of Russia were dominated by the Varangian or the Viking dynasty for over the last couple of centuries, thus moving the capital to Kiev in 1169 A.D. and making the term "Rhos", or "Russ" applicable to the population in that region. Internal disputes took their tolls in the 13th century; eastern invaders like the Golden Horde of the pagan Mongols and Muslim Turkic-speaking nomads plundered Kievan Rus for over three centuries taking the southern and central portions of present-day Russia within their jurisdiction. The western zone went under the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, separating the Russians from the Belarusians and Ukrainians, while northern Russia including Novgorod went autonomous.
The greatness of Russia lies in its revival through its self-organised re-conquest, as a result of which it remained the only functional Christian state on the Eastern European frontier, after Constantinople came down in 1453. Russia now stood as the only country to claim the succession of Eastern Roman Empire and marked the beginning of its Imperial history; though occasionally perturbed by the Mongols until late in the 14th century.
16th century saw the Russian state conquering back the lost Russian territories from the Mongols; initiatives were also taken to protect the southern boundaries from the steppe nomads. The Russian noblemen were given the responsibilities, who, because of the manor system under the crowned head, were obliged to do so. This system resulted in the advent of the noble Russian Cavalry.
The first Tsar of the Imperial rule was Ivan the Great of Moscow who unified the surrounding areas under the dominion of Moscow. 16th century Russia witnessed the Cossacks flocking in Western Siberia; within another century Russian settlements extended further to Eastern Siberia, and then to Chukotka, the river Amur and the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Consequently, the passage between America and Asia was opened marking the birth of the Russian Empire.


The River Moskva near Moscow Kremlin

The control of Moscow on the new-founded nation fought the Polish intervention of 1605-1612 under the Romanov Dynasty. Russia flourished during the reign of Peter the Great (1689 –1725), the harbinger of freshness in ideas and culture from Western Europe; the policy continued even during the reign of Catherine the Great (1762 to 1796) establishing Russia as an Asian power on an equal status with European powers - Britain, France and Germany being the most notable ones. Russia, by this time had extended till the Partitions of Poland, taking in the territories of Belarus and Ukraine. Followed by the victory of the Russian-Turkish wars, Russia extended to the coasts of the Black sea, and then by 1783 Russia and the Georgian Kingdom came under the Treaty of Georgia, which entitled Russia to be Georgia’s protector. However, the approaching World War I challenged the position of Tsar Nicholas II and the Romanov dynasty, which was finally overthrown in 1917 before the Russian Revolution flagged on.
It was at this time the Bolsheviks - followers of Marxist political faction came into power in St. Petersburg and Moscow; under the leadership of Vladimir Illych Lenin, the Bolsheviks changed their name to the Communist Party, setting the mark for a bloody civil war follow between the Bolsheviks' Red Army and the White Army of the monarchist and bourgeois forces. The Red Army triumphed in the war, forming the all-communist Soviet Union in 1922 with a prime objective of being established as a worker's state free from nationalism.
Among the non-Russians who supported and adopted the new trend, the most prominent was Joseph Stalin. Following Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin gradually gained the dictatorship as the decade ended. Political repressions or the Great Purges followed, transporting or killing all whom Stalin thought against his policies.
The Soviet Union successfully transformed under Stalin’s Five Year Plan; agriculture gave way to industry for the price of widespread misery and famine.
Soviet Union was invaded again in 1941, this time by Germany and its allies though chased off by the Red Army at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, followed by the occupancy of Berlin before Germany surrendered in 1945. Soviet Union thus emerged as an acknowledged great power, with The Red Army occupying Eastern Europe and Stalin introducing Communist rules in the newly occupied territories.
Stalin’s rule ended in early 1953 with his death and was succeeded by General Khrushchev, whose greatest offering was the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, till he was removed from power in 1964. A horde of leaders tried to pick up the responsibilities until Leonid Brezhnev in the early 1970s, but it was Mikhail Gorbachev who brought about modernisation through Glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring); an attempt to remove Gorbachev from power led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was Boris Yeltsin who declared the end of Communism splintering USSR into 15 independent republics in the December of 1991.


The Red Square in Moscow

Economy

Russia, following the decline of USSR, is on its goal to achieve a consistent economic growth. 1997’s open market influence brought in a slight recovery, but Ruble (Russian currency) depreciated in 1998 bringing a sharp deterioration in the nation’s living standards. This was intensified by the recession and intense capital flight.
1999 onwards the economy started recovering with GDP growing over 6.7% annually.
The recent recovery came as the result of high world-oil prices, raising business and investor confidence. Russia depends heavily on exports of commodities (oil, natural gas, metals, and timber), though the growing internal consumer demand has increased by over 12% between 2000 and 2005.
Russia lacks SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) due to a young and malfunctioning banking system; however, certain multinationals have started investing heavily in the country that amounts to $26 billion in cumulative foreign direct investment inflows between 2001 and 2004, as per the International Monetary Fund.


Winter Palace in St. Petersburg

Politics

Russia is a federal republic with a president who is elected directly to serve a four-year term. The President is given a considerable executive power and resides at Kremlin. The highest state officials are selected by the State Duma (lower house of Russian parliament) and the governors, who are again selected by the regional legislatures. The president can execute orders without the Parliament’s consent and heads the armed forces and the Russian National Security Council. The next election is due on December 2007; a total of 450 members of the Duma are to be elected from party lists.


Great Kremlin Palace at night, Moscow
 



 

 

 
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