Russia (Russian: Росси́я, tr. Rossiya, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijə]), officially the Russian
Federation (Russian: Росси́йская Федера́ция, tr. Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijskəjə fʲɪdʲɪˈ
ratsɨjə]), is a country in Eurasia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is the
largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area,
and the ninth most populous, with over 144 million people as of December 2017, excluding Crimea.
About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital,
Moscow is one of the largest cities in the world; other major cities include Saint Petersburg,
Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod.
Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones
and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares
land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both with Kaliningrad Oblast),
Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime
borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait.
The East Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD.
Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in
the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the
synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium.
Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by
the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde in the 13th century.
The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved
independence from the Golden Horde. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through
conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire
in history, stretching from Poland on the west to Alaska on the east.
Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest
and leading constituent of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the world's first constitutionally
socialist state. The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II,
and emerged as a recognized superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet
era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the
world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first humans in space. By the end of 1990,
the Soviet Union had the world's second largest economy, largest standing military in the world and the
largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Following the dissolution of the Soviet
Union in 1991, twelve independent republics emerged from the USSR: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Baltic
states regained independence: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania; the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the
Russian Federation and is recognized as the continuing legal personality and a successor of the Soviet
While it is governed as a federal semi-presidential republic, the country, led by Vladimir Putin since
2000, has been described as authoritarian with Russia's human rights record being inadequate according
to a number of independent observers and human rights groups along with the arrest and supression of
political opposition. LGBT rights have also been curtailed. Since the 2014
takeover and annexation of Crimea which led to sanctions along with the Russia's intervention in
Syria, relations with the Western countries, particularly the United States after its 2016 elections, had
substantially deteriorated in recent years while it maintains its foreign policy with other countries in
good standing. Due to its authoritarian nature, Russia is ranked 135th out of 167 countries in
the 2017 Democracy Index.
The Russian economy ranks as the twelfth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest by purchasing power
parity in 2015. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources are the largest such reserves in
the world, making it one of the leading producers of oil and natural gas globally.
The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile
of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a great power as well as a regional power and has been
characterised as a potential superpower. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council
and an active global partner of ASEAN, as well as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
(SCO), the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Organization
for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as being
the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty
Organization (CSTO) and one of the five members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), along with
Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.