Facts about Russia

World Facts Index

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, RussiaFounded 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. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 contributed to the Revolution of 1905, which resulted in the formation of a parliament and other reforms. 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 Iosif STALIN (1928-53) strengthened Communist rule and 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 Russia and 14 other independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the social, political, and economic controls of the Communist period. In tandem with its prudent management of Russia's windfall energy wealth, which has helped the country rebound from the economic collapse of the 1990s, the Kremlin in recent years has overseen a recentralization of power that has undermined democratic institutions. Russia has severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement, although violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus.

Geography of Russia

Northern Asia (that part west of the Urals is included with Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean
60 00 N, 100 00 E
total: 17,075,200 sq km
water: 79,400 sq km
land: 16,995,800 sq km
Area comparative:
approximately 1.8 times the size of the US
Land boundaries:
total: 19,990 km
border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 294 km, Finland 1,313 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:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
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 El'brus 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
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
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

More Geography

Population of Russia

140,702,096 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.2% (male 10,441,151/female 9,921,102)
15-64 years: 71.3% (male 49,271,698/female 52,679,463)
65 years and over: 14.4% (male 6,500,814/female 14,079,312)
Median age:
38.4 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
15.13 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.08 years
male: 60.45 years
female: 74.1 years
Fertility rate:
1.28 children born/woman
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%
Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2%
Russian, other
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.5% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Russian Federation
local long form: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya
former: Russian Empire, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
local short form: Rossiya
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; note - when using a place name with an adjectival ending 'skaya' or 'skiy,' the word Oblast' or Avonomnyy Okrug or Kray should be added to the place name
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
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Dmitriy Anatolyevich MEDVEDEV (since 7 May 2008)
head of government: Premier Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN (since 8 May 2008); First Deputy Premiers Igor Ivanovich SHUVALOV and Viktor Alekseyevich ZUBKOV (since 12 May 2008); Deputy Premiers Sergey Borisovich IVANOV (since 12 May 2008), Aleksey Leonidovich KUDRIN (since 24 September 2007), Igor Ivanovich SECHIN (since 12 May 2008), Sergey Semenovich SOBYANIN (since 12 May 2008), and Aleksandr Dmitriyevich ZHUKOV (since 9 March 2004)
cabinet: Ministries of the Government or "Government" composed of the premier and his deputies, ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the president
note: there is also a Presidential Administration (PA) that provides staff and policy support to the president, drafts presidential decrees, and coordinates policy among government agencies; a Security Council also reports directly to the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 2 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2012); note - no vice president; if the president dies in office, cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is impeached, or resigns, the premier serves as acting president until a new presidential election is held, which must be within three months; premier appointed by the president with the approval of the Duma.
Legislative branch:
bicameral Federal Assembly or Federalnoye Sobraniye consists of the Federation Council or Sovet Federatsii (178 seats; as of July 2000, members appointed by the top executive and legislative officials in each of the 88 federal administrative units - oblasts, krays, republics, autonomous okrugs and oblasts, and the federal cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg; members serve four-year terms) and the State Duma or Gosudarstvennaya Duma (450 seats; currently elected by proportional representation from party lists winning at least 7% of the vote; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Supreme Arbitration Court; judges for all courts are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president


Russia ended 2007 with its ninth straight year of growth, averaging 7% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. Although high oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble initially drove this growth, since 2003 consumer demand and, more recently, investment have played a significant role. Over the last six years, fixed capital investments have averaged real gains greater than 10% per year and personal incomes have achieved real gains more than 12% per year. During this time, poverty has declined steadily and the middle class has continued to expand. Russia has also improved its international financial position since the 1998 financial crisis. The federal budget has run surpluses since 2001 and ended 2007 with a surplus of about 3% of GDP. Over the past several years, Russia has used its stabilization fund based on oil taxes to prepay all Soviet-era sovereign debt to Paris Club creditors and the IMF. Foreign debt is approximately one-third of GDP. The state component of foreign debt has declined, but commercial debt to foreigners has risen strongly. Oil export earnings have allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to some $470 billion at yearend 2007, the third largest reserves in the world. During President PUTIN's first administration, a number of important reforms were implemented in the areas of tax, banking, labor, and land codes. These achievements have raised business and investor confidence in Russia's economic prospects, with foreign direct investment rising from $14.6 billion in 2005 to approximately $45 billion in 2007. In 2007, Russia's GDP grew 8.1%, led by non-tradable services and goods for the domestic market, as opposed to oil or mineral extraction and exports. Rising inflation returned in the second half of 2007, driven largely by unsterilized capital inflows and by rising food costs, and approached 12% by year-end. In 2006, Russia signed a bilateral market access agreement with the US as a prelude to possible WTO entry, and its companies are involved in global merger and acquisition activity in the oil and gas, metals, and telecom sectors. Despite Russia's recent success, serious problems persist. Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of exports and 30% of government revenues, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world commodity prices. Russia's manufacturing base is dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve broad-based economic growth. The banking system, while increasing consumer lending and growing at a high rate, is still small relative to the banking sectors of Russia's emerging market peers. Political uncertainties associated with this year's power transition, corruption, and lack of trust in institutions continue to dampen domestic and foreign investor sentiment. PUTIN has granted more influence to forces within his government that desire to reassert state control over the economy. Russia has made little progress in building the rule of law, the bedrock of a modern market economy. The government has promised additional legislative amendments to make its intellectual property protection WTO-consistent, but enforcement remains problematic.

$2.097 trillion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.4%
industry: 37.1%
services: 57.5%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
74.22 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 10.3%
industry: 21.4%
services: 68.3%
7.6% plus considerable underemployment
revenues: $176.7 billion
expenditures: $125.6 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 66.3%
hydro: 17.2%
other: 0.1%
nuclear: 16.4%
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
grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, vegetables, fruits; beef, milk
petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, wood and wood products, metals, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures
Export partners:
Netherlands 9.2%, Germany 8.5%, Italy 7.3%, Ukraine 5.5%, China 5.5%, Turkey 4.5%, Switzerland 4.3%, US 4%
machinery and equipment, consumer goods, medicines, meat, sugar, semifinished metal products
Import partners:
Germany 16%, China 10.8%, Ukraine 6.8%, Italy 5.4%, Japan 4.8%, Finland 4.8% 
Russian ruble (RUR)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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