Coordinates: 66°N 94°E / 66°N 94°E / 66; 94
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Russian Federation
Российская Федерация (Russian)
Государственный гимн Российской Федерации
Gosudarstvennyy gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii
Ethnic groups
(2021, including Russia and Crimea)[4]
  • 38.2%
    Vyacheslav Lebedev
LegislatureFederal Assembly
Federation Council
State Duma
16 January 1547
2 November 1721
15 March 1917
30 December 1922
12 June 1990
12 December 1991
12 December 1993
8 December 1999
• Total
17,098,246 km2 (6,601,670 sq mi)[11] (within internationally recognised borders) 17,234,028 km2 (6,654,095 sq mi) (including claimed territories) (1st)
• Water (%)
13[12] (including swamps)
• 2022 estimate
₽) (RUB)
Time zoneUTC+2 to +12
Driving sideright
Calling code+7
ISO 3166 codeRU
Internet TLD

Russia (Russian: Россия, romanizedRossiya, [rɐˈsʲijə]), or the Russian Federation,[c] is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, encompassing one-eighth of Earth's inhabitable landmass. Russia extends across eleven time zones and shares land boundaries with fourteen countries.[d] It is the world's ninth-most populous country and Europe's most populous country. The country's capital and largest city is Moscow. Saint Petersburg is Russia's cultural centre and second-largest city. Other major urban areas in the country include Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Kazan.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognisable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries CE. The first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', arose in the 9th century, and in 988, it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. Rus' ultimately disintegrated, with the Grand Duchy of Moscow growing to become the Tsardom of Russia. By the early 18th century, Russia had vastly expanded through conquest, annexation, and the efforts of Russian explorers, developing into the Russian Empire, which remains the third-largest empire in history. However, with the Russian Revolution in 1917, Russia's monarchic rule was abolished and eventually replaced by the Russian SFSR—the world's first constitutionally socialist state. Following the Russian Civil War, the Russian SFSR established the Soviet Union with three other Soviet republics, within which it was the largest and principal constituent. At the expense of millions of lives, the Soviet Union underwent rapid industrialisation in the 1930s, and later played a decisive role for the Allies of World War II by leading large-scale efforts on the Eastern Front. With the onset of the Cold War, it competed with the United States for global ideological influence; the Soviet era of the 20th century saw some of the most significant Russian technological achievements, including the first human-made satellite and the first human expedition into outer space.

In 1991, the Russian SFSR emerged from the

ongoing invasion

Internationally, Russia

democracy, human rights and freedom of the press; the country also has high levels of perceived corruption. The Russian economy ranks 11th by nominal GDP, relying heavily upon its abundant natural resources. Its mineral and energy sources are the world's largest, and its figures for oil production and natural gas production rank high globally. The Russian GDP ranks 65th by per capita, Russia possesses the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, and has the third-highest military expenditure. The country is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council; a member state of the G20, the SCO, BRICS, the APEC, the OSCE, and the WTO; and is the leading member state of post-Soviet organizations such as the CIS, the CSTO, and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Russia is home to 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites


The name Russia comes from a

Novgorod, and later founded a state centred on Kiev.[22] Another Medieval Latin name for Rus' was Ruthenia.[23]

In Russian, the current name of the country, Россия (Rossiya), comes from the

Byzantine Greek name for Rus', Ρωσία (Rosía).[24] A new form of the name Rus', Росия (Rosiya), was borrowed from the Greek term and first attested in 1387,[25] before coming into official use by the 15th century, though the country was still often referred to by its inhabitants as Rus' or the Russian land until the end of the 17th century.[26][27] There are two words in Russian which translate to "Russians" in English – русские (russkiye), which refers to ethnic Russians, and россияне (rossiyane), which refers to Russian citizens, regardless of ethnicity.[27][28]


Early history

The first human settlement on Russia dates back to the

archaic human hybrid that was half Neanderthal and half Denisovan, and lived some 90,000 years ago, was also found within the latter cave.[32] Russia was home to some of the last surviving Neanderthals, from about 45,000 years ago, found in Mezmaiskaya cave.[33]

The first trace of an early modern human in Russia dates back to 45,000 years, in Western Siberia.[34] The discovery of high concentration cultural remains of anatomically modern humans, from at least 40,000 years ago, was found at Kostyonki–Borshchyovo,[35] and at Sungir, dating back to 34,600 years ago—both in western Russia.[36] Humans reached Arctic Russia at least 40,000 years ago, in Mamontovaya Kurya.[37] Ancient North Eurasian populations from Siberia genetically similar to Mal'ta–Buret' culture and Afontova Gora were an important genetic contributor to Ancient Native Americans and Eastern Hunter-Gatherers.[38]

Bronze Age spread of Yamnaya Steppe pastoralist ancestry between 3300 and 1500 BC,[39] including the Afanasievo culture
of southern Siberia


classical civilization to the trade emporiums in Tanais and Phanagoria.[49]

In the 3rd to 4th centuries CE, the Gothic kingdom of Oium existed in southern Russia, which was later overrun by Huns.[50][failed verification] Between the 3rd and 6th centuries CE, the Bosporan Kingdom, which was a Hellenistic polity that succeeded the Greek colonies,[51] was also overwhelmed by nomadic invasions led by warlike tribes such as the Huns and Eurasian Avars.[52] The Khazars, who were of Turkic origin, ruled the steppes between the Caucasus in the south, to the east past the Volga river basin, and west as far as Kyiv on the Dnieper river until the 10th century.[53] After them came the Pechenegs who created a large confederacy, which was subsequently taken over by the Cumans and the Kipchaks.[54]

The ancestors of

Novgorod and Rostov. From the 7th century onwards, the East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in western Russia,[56] and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finnic peoples.[50]

Kievan Rus'

The establishment of the first East Slavic states in the 9th century coincided with the arrival of

In the 10th to 11th centuries, Kievan Rus' became one of the largest and most prosperous states in Europe. The reigns of

Galicia-Volhynia in the south-west.[50] By the 12th century, Kiev lost its pre-eminence and Kievan Rus' had fragmented into different principalities.[61] Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky sacked Kiev in 1169 and made Vladimir his base,[61] leading to political power being shifted to the north-east.[50]

Led by Prince Alexander Nevsky, Novgorodians repelled the invading Swedes in the Battle of the Neva in 1240,[62] as well as the Germanic crusaders in the Battle on the Ice in 1242.[63]

Kievan Rus' finally fell to the

Poland, while the Novgorod Republic continued to prosper in the north. In the northeast, the Byzantine-Slavic traditions of Kievan Rus' were adapted to form the Russian autocratic state.[50]

Grand Duchy of Moscow

Trinity Sergius Lavra, before the Battle of Kulikovo, depicted in a painting by Ernst Lissner

The destruction of Kievan Rus' saw the eventual rise of the

Mongol-Tatars and with their connivance, Moscow began to assert its influence in the region in the early 14th century,[66] gradually becoming the leading force in the "gathering of the Russian lands".[67] When the seat of the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church moved to Moscow in 1325, its influence increased.[68] Moscow's last rival, the Novgorod Republic, prospered as the chief fur trade centre and the easternmost port of the Hanseatic League.[69]

Led by Prince

a milestone defeat on the Mongol-Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.[50] Moscow gradually absorbed its parent duchy and surrounding principalities, including formerly strong rivals such as Tver and Novgorod.[67]

Constantine XI, and made the Byzantine double-headed eagle his own, and eventually Russia's, coat-of-arms.[67] Vasili III completed the task of uniting all of Russia by annexing the last few independent Russian states in the early 16th century.[70]

Tsardom of Russia

Tsar of Russia
until his death in 1584.

In development of the

Ivan IV ("the Terrible") was officially crowned the first tsar of Russia in 1547. The tsar promulgated a new code of laws (Sudebnik of 1550), established the first Russian feudal representative body (the Zemsky Sobor), revamped the military, curbed the influence of the clergy, and reorganised local government.[67] During his long reign, Ivan nearly doubled the already large Russian territory by annexing the three Tatar khanates: Kazan and Astrakhan along the Volga,[71] and the Khanate of Sibir in southwestern Siberia. Ultimately, by the end of the 16th century, Russia expanded east of the Ural Mountains.[72] However, the Tsardom was weakened by the long and unsuccessful Livonian War against the coalition of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (later the united Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth), the Kingdom of Sweden, and Denmark–Norway for access to the Baltic coast and sea trade.[73] In 1572, an invading army of Crimean Tatars were thoroughly defeated in the crucial Battle of Molodi.[74]

The death of Ivan's sons marked the end of the ancient

Romanov dynasty acceded to the throne in 1613 by the decision of the Zemsky Sobor, and the country started its gradual recovery from the crisis.[78]

Russia continued its territorial growth through the 17th century, which was the age of the

Semyon Dezhnyov became the first European to navigate through the Bering Strait.[81]

Imperial Russia

Under Peter the Great, Russia was proclaimed an empire in 1721, and established itself as one of the European great powers. Ruling from 1682 to 1725, Peter defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War (1700–1721), securing Russia's access to the sea and sea trade. In 1703, on the Baltic Sea, Peter founded Saint Petersburg as Russia's new capital. Throughout his rule, sweeping reforms were made, which brought significant Western European cultural influences to Russia.[82] The reign of Peter I's daughter Elizabeth in 1741–1762 saw Russia's participation in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). During the conflict, Russian troops overran East Prussia, reaching Berlin.[83] However, upon Elizabeth's death, all these conquests were returned to the Kingdom of Prussia by pro-Prussian Peter III of Russia.[84]

annexing Crimea.[86] As a result of victories over Qajar Iran through the Russo-Persian Wars, by the first half of the 19th century, Russia also conquered the Caucasus.[87] Catherine's successor, her son Paul, was unstable and focused predominantly on domestic issues.[88] Following his short reign, Catherine's strategy was continued with Alexander I's (1801–1825) wresting of Finland from the weakened Sweden in 1809,[89] and of Bessarabia from the Ottomans in 1812.[90] In North America, the Russians became the first Europeans to reach and colonise Alaska.[91] In 1803–1806, the first Russian circumnavigation was made.[92] In 1820, a Russian expedition discovered the continent of Antarctica.[93]

Great power and development of society, sciences and arts

During the

Russian winter led to a disastrous defeat of invaders, in which the pan-European Grande Armée faced utter destruction. Led by Mikhail Kutuzov and Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, the Imperial Russian Army ousted Napoleon and drove throughout Europe in the War of the Sixth Coalition, ultimately entering Paris.[94] Alexander I controlled Russia's delegation at the Congress of Vienna, which defined the map of post-Napoleonic Europe.[95]

Napoleon's retreat from Moscow by Albrecht Adam

The officers who pursued Napoleon into Western Europe brought ideas of liberalism back to Russia, and attempted to curtail the tsar's powers during the abortive Decembrist revolt of 1825.[96] At the end of the conservative reign of Nicholas I (1825–1855), a zenith period of Russia's power and influence in Europe, was disrupted by defeat in the Crimean War.[97]

Great liberal reforms and capitalism

Nicholas's successor Alexander II (1855–1881) enacted significant changes throughout the country, including the emancipation reform of 1861.[98] These reforms spurred industrialisation, and modernised the Imperial Russian Army, which liberated much of the Balkans from Ottoman rule in the aftermath of the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War.[99] During most of the 19th and early 20th century, Russia and Britain colluded over Afghanistan and its neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia; the rivalry between the two major European empires came to be known as the Great Game.[100]

The late 19th century saw the rise of various socialist movements in Russia. Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 by revolutionary terrorists.[101] The reign of his son Alexander III (1881–1894) was less liberal but more peaceful.[102]

Constitutional monarchy and World War

Under last Russian emperor,

Revolution of 1905 was triggered by the failure of the humiliating Russo-Japanese War.[103] The uprising was put down, but the government was forced to concede major reforms (Russian Constitution of 1906), including granting freedoms of speech and assembly, the legalisation of political parties, and the creation of an elected legislative body, the State Duma.[104]

Revolution and civil war

by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

In 1914,

later executed in Yekaterinburg during the Russian Civil War.[109] The monarchy was replaced by a shaky coalition of political parties that declared itself the Provisional Government.[110] The Provisional Government proclaimed the Russian Republic in September. On 19 January [O.S. 6 January], 1918, the Russian Constituent Assembly declared Russia a democratic federal republic (thus ratifying the Provisional Government's decision). The next day the Constituent Assembly was dissolved by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.[108]

An alternative socialist establishment co-existed, the

anti-communist White movement and the Bolsheviks with its Red Army.[111] In the aftermath of signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that concluded hostilities with the Central Powers of World War I; Bolshevist Russia surrendered most of its western territories, which hosted 34% of its population, 54% of its industries, 32% of its agricultural land, and roughly 90% of its coal mines.[112]

The Allied powers launched an unsuccessful military intervention in support of anti-communist forces.[113] In the meantime, both the Bolsheviks and White movement carried out campaigns of deportations and executions against each other, known respectively as the Red Terror and White Terror.[114] By the end of the violent civil war, Russia's economy and infrastructure were heavily damaged, and as many as 10 million perished during the war, mostly civilians.[115] Millions became White émigrés,[116] and the Russian famine of 1921–1922 claimed up to five million victims.[117]

Soviet Union

Location of the Russian SFSR (red) within the Soviet Union
in 1936

Command economy and Soviet society

On 30 December 1922, Lenin and his aides

formed the Soviet Union, by joining the Russian SFSR into a single state with the Byelorussian, Transcaucasian, and Ukrainian republics.[118] Eventually internal border changes and annexations during World War II created a union of 15 republics; the largest in size and population being the Russian SFSR, which dominated the union for its entire history politically, culturally, and economically.[119][failed verification


Socialism in One Country became the official line.[122] The continued internal struggle in the Bolshevik party culminated in the Great Purge.[123]

Stalinism and violent modernization

Under Stalin's leadership, the government launched a

Soviet famine of 1932–1933; which killed up to 8.7 million, 3.3 million of them in the Russian SFSR.[127] The Soviet Union, ultimately, made the costly transformation from a largely agrarian economy to a major industrial powerhouse within a short span of time.[128]

World War II and United Nations

The Battle of Stalingrad, the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, ended in 1943 with a decisive Soviet victory against the German army

The Soviet Union entered World War II on 17 September 1939 with its invasion of Poland,[129] in accordance with a secret protocol within the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany.[130] The Soviet Union later invaded Finland,[131] and occupied and annexed the Baltic states,[132] as well as parts of Romania.[133]: 91–95  On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union,[134] opening the Eastern Front, the largest theater of World War II.[135]: 7 

Eventually, some 5 million

starved to death or otherwise killed 3.3 million Soviet POWs, and a vast number of civilians, as the "Hunger Plan" sought to fulfil Generalplan Ost.[137]: 175–186  Although the Wehrmacht had considerable early success, their attack was halted in the Battle of Moscow.[138] Subsequently, the Germans were dealt major defeats first at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–1943,[139] and then in the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943.[140] Another German failure was the Siege of Leningrad, in which the city was fully blockaded on land between 1941 and 1944 by German and Finnish forces, and suffered starvation and more than a million deaths, but never surrendered.[141] Soviet forces steamrolled through Eastern and Central Europe in 1944–1945 and captured Berlin in May 1945.[142] In August 1945, the Red Army invaded Manchuria and ousted the Japanese from Northeast Asia, contributing to the Allied victory over Japan.[143]

The 1941–1945 period of World War II is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.[144] The Soviet Union, along with the United States, the United Kingdom and China were considered the Big Four of Allied powers in World War II, and later became the Four Policemen, which was the foundation of the United Nations Security Council.[145]: 27  During the war, Soviet civilian and military death were about 26–27 million,[146] accounting for about half of all World War II casualties.[147]: 295  The Soviet economy and infrastructure suffered massive devastation, which caused the Soviet famine of 1946–1947.[148] However, at the expense of a large sacrifice, the Soviet Union emerged as a global superpower.[149]

Superpower and Cold War