The Russian Federation, often referred to as Russia, is a federal state located in Eurasia. Russia is the world’s biggest nation, encompassing more than one-eighth of the planet’s populated land area at 17,075,200 square kilometers (6,592,800 square miles), and the tenth most populous, with over 146.6 million inhabitants as of March 2016. The western European portion of the nation is much more populous and urbanized than the eastern part; about 77 percent of the population lives in western Europe. Moscow, Russia’s capital, is one of the world’s biggest cities; other significant metropolitan areas include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Samara.
Russia covers eleven time zones and has a diverse variety of ecosystems and landforms. Russia has land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland (all of which are part of the Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea, in order of northwest to southeast. It is connected to Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and to the United States of America via the Bering Strait.
The nation’s history started with the East Slavs, who established themselves as a distinct ethnic group in Europe between the third and eighth centuries AD. The medieval kingdom of Rusa was founded and controlled by a Varangian military elite and their successors in the ninth century. It accepted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, thus initiating the fusion of Byzantine and Slavic civilizations that would characterize Russian culture for the following century. The Rus’ eventually dissolved into a variety of smaller kingdoms; in the 13th century, the majority of the Rus’ territories were conquered by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow progressively reunified the neighboring Russian kingdoms, gained independence from the Golden Horde, and eventually came to dominate Kievan Rus’ cultural and political heritage. By the 18th century, the country had grown significantly via conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, the third biggest empire in history, spanning from Poland to Alaska.
Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ biggest and most powerful component, the world’s first constitutional socialist state. The Soviet Union was instrumental in Allied victory in World War II and developed as a recognized superpower and adversary of the United States throughout the Cold War. The Soviet period produced some of the twentieth century’s most important technical accomplishments, including the world’s first human-made satellite and the first human spaceflight. By the end of 1990, the Soviet Union had the world’s second biggest economy, the world’s largest standing military, and the world’s largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, fourteen independent republics emerged; the Russian SFSR, as the largest, most populous, and most economically developed republic, reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation and is recognized as the Soviet Union’s sole surviving legal personality and sole successor state. It is a federal semi-presidential republic ruled by a federal president.
In 2015, Russia’s economy was ranked twelfth in terms of nominal GDP and sixth in terms of purchasing power parity. Russia’s vast mineral and energy resources are the world’s biggest, making it one of the world’s top producers of oil and natural gas. The nation is one of five acknowledged nuclear weapons powers and has the world’s biggest arsenal of conventional weapons. Russia is a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, as well as a member of the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).