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Founded in the 12th century, the Principality of Muscovy, was able to emerge from over 200 years of Mongol domination (13th-15th centuries) and to gradually conquer and absorb surrounding principalities. In the early 17th century, a new Romanov Dynasty continued this policy of expansion across Siberia to the Pacific. Under PETER I (ruled 1682-1725), hegemony was extended to the Baltic Sea and the country was renamed the Russian Empire. During the 19th century, more territorial acquisitions were made in Europe and Asia. Repeated devastating defeats of the Russian army in World War I led to widespread rioting in the major cities of the Russian Empire and to the overthrow in 1917 of the imperial household. The Communists under Vladimir LENIN seized power soon after and formed the USSR. The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1928-53) strengthened Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize Communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the Communist period. While some progress has been made on the economic front, recent years have seen a recentralization of power under Vladimir PUTIN and an erosion in nascent democratic institutions.




Eastern Europe, Northern Asia (that part west of the Urals is included with Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean.


Total: 17,075,200 sq km. Land: 16,995,800 sq km. Water: 79,400 sq km.

Area - comparative:

Approximately 1.8 times the size of the US.

Land boundaries:

Total: 20,017 km. Border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 294 km, Finland 1,340 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 19 km, Latvia 217 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227 km, Mongolia 3,485 km, Norway 196 km, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Ukraine 1,576 km.


37,653 km.

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 12 nm, exclusive economic zone: 200 nm, continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation.


Ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast.


Broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions.

Elevation extremes:

Lowest point: Caspian Sea – -28 m, highest point: Gora Elbrus – 5,633 m.

Natural resources:

Wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber. Note: formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources.

Land use:

Arable land: 7.33%, permanent crops: 0.11%, other: 92.56% (2001).

Irrigated land:

46,630 sq km (1998 est.).

Natural hazards:

Permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula; spring floods and summer/autumn forest fires throughout Siberia and parts of European Russia.

Environment - current issues:

Air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and seacoasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination; groundwater contamination from toxic waste; urban solid waste management; abandoned stocks of obsolete pesticides.

Environment - international agreements:

Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling, signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulfur 94.

Geography - note:

Largest country in the world in terms of area but unfavorably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world; despite its size, much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture; Mount Elbrus is Europe's tallest peak.




143,420,309 (July 2005 est.).

Age structure:

0-14 years: 14.6% (male 10,704,617 / female 10,173,313); 15-64 years: 71.3% (male 49,429,716 / female 52,799,740); 65 years and over: 14.2% (male 6,405,027 / female 13,907,896) (2005 est.).

Median age:

Total: 38.15 years; male: 34.99 years; female: 41.03 years (2005 est.).

Population growth rate:

-0.37% (2005 est.).

Birth rate:

9.8 births/1,000 population (2005 est.).

Death rate:

14.52 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.).

Sex ratio:

At birth: 1.06 male(s) / female; under 15 years: 1.05 male(s) / female; 15-64 years: 0.94 male(s) / female; 65 years and over: 0.46 male(s) / female; total population: 0.86 male(s) / female (2005 est.).

Infant mortality rate:

Total: 15.39 deaths / 1,000 live births; male: 17.7 deaths / 1,000 live births; female: 12.94 deaths / 1,000 live births (2005 est.).

Life expectancy at birth:

Total population: 67.1 years; male: 60.55 years; female: 74.04 years (2005 est.).

Total fertility rate:

1.27 children born / woman (2005 est.).


Noun: Russian(s), adjective: Russian.

Ethnic groups:

Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other or unspecified 12.1% (2002 census).


Russian Orthodox, Muslim, other.


Russian, many minority languages.


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write, total population: 99.6%, male: 99.7% , female: 99.5% (2003 est.).



Country name:

Conventional long form: Russian Federation, conventional short form: Russia, local long form: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, local short form: Rossiya, former: Russian Empire, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

49 oblasts (oblastey, singular - oblast), 21 republics (respublik, singular - respublika), 10 autonomous okrugs (avtonomnykh okrugov, singular - avtonomnyy okrug), 6 krays (krayev, singular - kray), 2 federal cities (singular - gorod), and 1 autonomous oblast (avtonomnaya oblast)
   Oblasts: Amur (Blagoveshchensk), Arkhangelsk, Astrakhan, Belgorod, Bryansk, Chelyabinsk, Chita, Irkutsk, Ivanovo, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kamchatka (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy), Kemerovo, Kirov, Kostroma, Kurgan, Kursk, Leningrad, Lipetsk, Magadan, Moscow, Murmansk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Orel, Penza, Perm, Pskov, Rostov, Ryazan, Sakhalin (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Samara, Saratov, Smolensk, Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), Tambov, Tomsk, Tula, Tver, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk, Vladimir, Volgograd, Vologda, Voronezh, Yaroslavl.
   Republics: Adygeya (Maykop), Altay (Gorno-Altaysk), Bashkortostan (Ufa), Buryatiya (Ulan-Ude), Chechnya (Groznyy), Chuvashiya (Cheboksary), Dagestan (Makhachkala), Ingushetiya (Magas), Kabardino-Balkariya (Nalchik), Kalmykiya (Elista), Karachayevo-Cherkesiya (Cherkessk), Kareliya (Petrozavodsk), Khakasiya (Abakan), Komi (Syktyvkar), Mariy-El (Yoshkar-Ola), Mordoviya (Saransk), Sakha [Yakutiya] (Yakutsk), North Ossetia (Vladikavkaz), Tatarstan (Kazan), Tyva (Kyzyl), Udmurtiya (Izhevsk).
   Autonomous okrugs: Aga Buryat (Aginskoye), Chukotka (Anadyr), Evenk (Tura), Khanty-Mansi, Komi-Permyak (Kudymkar), Koryak (Palana), Nenets (Naryan-Mar), Taymyr [Dolgano-Nenets] (Dudinka), Ust-Orda Buryat (Ust-Ordynskiy), Yamalo-Nenets (Salekhard).
   Krays: Altay (Barnaul), Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Primorskiy (Vladivostok), Stavropol.
   Federal cities: Moscow (Moskva), Saint Petersburg (Sankt-Peterburg).
   Autonomous oblast: Yevrey [Jewish] (Birobidzhan).
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses).


24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union).

National holiday:

Russia Day, 12 June (1990).


Adopted 12 December 1993.

Legal system:

Based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts.


18 years of age; universal.

Flag description:

Three equal horizontal bands of white (top), blue, and red.



Economy - overview:

Russia ended 2004 with its sixth straight year of growth, averaging 6.5% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. Although high oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble are important drivers of this economic rebound, since 2000 investment and consumer-driven demand have played a noticeably increasing role. Real fixed capital investments have averaged gains greater than 10% over the last five years, and real personal incomes have realized average increases over 12%. Russia has also improved its international financial position since the 1998 financial crisis, with its foreign debt declining from 90% of GDP to around 28%. Strong oil export earnings have allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from only $12 billion to some $120 billion at yearend 2004. These achievements, along with a renewed government effort to advance structural reforms, have raised business and investor confidence in Russia's economic prospects. Nevertheless, serious problems persist. Economic growth slowed down in the second half of 2004 and the Russian government forecasts growth of only 4.5% to 6.2% for 2005. Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices. Russia's manufacturing base is dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve broad-based economic growth. Other problems include a weak banking system, a poor business climate that discourages both domestic and foreign investors, corruption, and widespread lack of trust in institutions. In addition, a string of investigations launched against a major Russian oil company, culminating with the arrest of its CEO in the fall of 2003, have raised concerns by some observers that President PUTIN is granting more influence to forces within his government that desire to reassert state control over the economy.


Purchasing power parity - $1.408 trillion (2004 est.). Agriculture: 4.9%, industry: 33.9%, services: 61.2% (2004 est.).

Labor force:

71.83 million (2004 est.). Agriculture 12.3%, industry 22.7%, services 65% (2002 est.).


Revenues: $106.4 billion; expenditures: $93.33 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.).

Agriculture - products:

Grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, vegetables, fruits; beef, milk.


Complete range of mining and extractive industries producing coal, oil, gas, chemicals, and metals; all forms of machine building from rolling mills to high-performance aircraft and space vehicles; defense industries including radar, missile production, and advanced electronic components, shipbuilding; road and rail transportation equipment; communications equipment; agricultural machinery, tractors, and construction equipment; electric power generating and transmitting equipment; medical and scientific instruments; consumer durables, textiles, foodstuffs, handicrafts.

Exports - commodities:

Petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, wood and wood products, metals, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures.

Exports - partners:

Germany 8.4%, Netherlands 6.7%, China 6.4%, US 5.8%, Ukraine 5.7%, Italy 5.4%, Turkey 4.5% (2004).

Imports - commodities:

Machinery and equipment, consumer goods, medicines, meat, sugar, semifinished metal products.

Imports - partners:

Germany 16.7%, China 7.1%, Ukraine 6.7%, Italy 5.9%, Finland 5%, France 4.5%, Japan 4.5% (2004).

Currency (code):

Russian ruble (RUR).



Telephone system:

General assessment: the telephone system underwent significant changes in the 1990s; there are more than 1,000 companies licensed to offer communication services; access to digital lines has improved, particularly in urban centers; Internet and e-mail services are improving; Russia has made progress toward building the telecommunications infrastructure necessary for a market economy; however, a large demand for main line service remains unsatisfied. Domestic: cross-country digital trunk lines run from Saint Petersburg to Khabarovsk, and from Moscow to Novorossiysk; the telephone systems in 60 regional capitals have modern digital infrastructures; cellular services, both analog and digital, are available in many areas; in rural areas, the telephone services are still outdated, inadequate, and low density. International: country code - 7; Russia is connected internationally by three undersea fiber-optic cables; digital switches in several cities provide more than 50,000 lines for international calls; satellite earth stations provide access to Intelsat, Intersputnik, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and Orbita systems.

Internet country code:

.ru; Russia also has responsibility for a legacy domain ".su" that was allocated to the Soviet Union, and whose legal status and ownership are contested by the Russian Government, ICANN, and several Russian commercial entities. Internet hosts: 560,874 (2004). Internet users: 6 million (2002).




Total: 87,157 km; broad gauge: 86,200 km 1.520-m gauge (40,300 km electrified); narrow gauge: 957 km 1.067-m gauge (on Sakhalin Island).
note: an additional 30,000 km of non-common carrier lines serve industries (2004).


Total: 537,289 km; paved: 362,133 km; unpaved: 175,156 km (2001).


96,000 km
note: 72,000 km system in European Russia links Baltic Sea, White Sea, Caspian Sea, Sea of Azov, and Black Sea (2004).


Condensate 122 km; gas 150,007 km; oil 75,539 km; refined products 13,771 km (2004).

Ports and harbors:

Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinskiy, Arkhangel'sk, Astrakhan', De-Kastri, Indigirskiy, Kaliningrad, Kandalaksha, Kazan', Khabarovsk, Kholmsk, Krasnoyarsk, Lazarev, Mago, Mezen', Moscow, Murmansk, Nakhodka, Nevel'sk, Novorossiysk, Onega, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Rostov, Shakhtersk, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Taganrog, Tuapse, Uglegorsk, Vanino, Vladivostok, Volgograd, Vostochnyy, Vyborg.

Merchant marine:

Total: 1,194 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,521,472 GRT/5,505,118 DWT; by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 45, cargo 767, chemical tanker 20, combination ore/oil 48, container 21, passenger 11, passenger/cargo 8, petroleum tanker 213, refrigerated cargo 46, roll on/roll off 12, specialized tanker 2; foreign-owned: 56 (Belgium 2, Cyprus 1, Estonia 2, Germany 1, Hong Kong 1, Latvia 3, Norway 1, Sweden 1, Turkey 28, Ukraine 10, United Kingdom 2, United States 4); registered in other countries: 326 (2005).


2,586 (2004 est.).



Military branches:

Ground Forces (SV), Navy (VMF), Air Forces (VVS); Airborne Troops (VDV), Strategic Rocket Troops (RVSN), and Space Troops (KV) are independent "combat arms," not subordinate to any of the three branches.

Military manpower - military age and obligation:

18-27 years of age; males are registered for the draft at 17 years of age; 200,000 conscripts were inducted into the armed forces in 2003; length of compulsory military service is 2 years; plans as of August 2004 call for reduction in mandatory service to 1 year by 2008; 2003 planning calls for volunteer servicemen to compose 70% of armed forces by 2010, with the remaining servicemen consisting of conscripts (August 2004).

Military manpower:

Availability: males age 18-49: 35,247,049 (2005 est.). Fit for military service: males age 18-49: 21,049,651 (2005 est.).



Disputes - international:

In 2004, China and Russia divided up the islands in the Amur, Ussuri, and Argun Rivers, ending a century-old border dispute; the sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the "Northern Territories" and in Russia as the "Southern Kurils," occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities; Russia and Georgia agree on delimiting 80% of their common border, leaving certain small, strategic segments and the maritime boundary unresolved; OSCE observers monitor volatile areas such as the Pankisi Gorge in the Akhmeti region and the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia; equidistant seabed treaties were signed and ratified with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the Caspian Sea but no consensus exists on dividing the water column among the littoral states; Russia and Norway dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone; various groups in Finland advocate restoration of Karelia and other areas ceded to the Soviet Union following the Second World War but the Finnish Government asserts no territorial demands; in 1996, the Estonia-Russia technical border agreement was initialed but both have been hesitant to sign and ratify it, with Russia asserting that Estonia needs to better assimilate Russian-speakers and Estonian groups advocating realignment of the boundary based more closely on the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty that would bring the now divided ethnic Setu people and parts of the Narva region within Estonia; the Latvian-Russian boundary treaty of 1997 remains unsigned and unratified with Russia linking it to better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians and Latvian politicians demanding Russian agreement to a declaration that admits Soviet aggression during the Second World War and other issues; in 2003, the Lithuania-Russia land and maritime boundary treaty was ratified and a transit regime established through Lithuania linking Russia and its Kaliningrad coastal exclave, leaving only improvements to the border demarcation in 2005; delimitation of land boundary with Ukraine is complete, but states have agreed to defer demarcation; Russia and Ukraine continue talks but still dispute the alignment of a maritime boundary through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov; Kazakhstan and Russia continue demarcation of their long border; Russian Duma has not yet ratified 1990 Maritime Boundary Agreement with the US in the Bering Sea.

Illicit drugs:

Limited cultivation of illicit cannabis and opium poppy and producer of methamphetamine, mostly for domestic consumption; government has active illicit crop eradication program; used as transshipment point for Asian opiates, cannabis, and Latin American cocaine bound for growing domestic markets, to a lesser extent Western and Central Europe, and occasionally to the US; major source of heroin precursor chemicals; corruption and organized crime are key concerns; heroin increasingly popular in domestic market.

Info from CIA - The World Factbook

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