FANDOM


Russia (Template:Lang-ru, Rossiya), also[1] the Russian Federation (Template:Audio-ru, Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic comprising 83 federal subjects. Russia shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast), Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It is also close to the U.S. state of Alaska, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Japan across relatively small stretches of water (the Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and La Pérouse Strait, respectively).

At 17,075,400 square kilometres, Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than an eighth of the Earth’s land area; with 142 million people, it is the ninth largest by population. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest mineral and energy resources,[2] and is considered an energy superpower. It has the world's largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world's unfrozen fresh water.[3]

The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs. The Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD.[4] Founded and ruled by Vikings and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', arose in the 9th century and adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988,[5] beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium.[5] Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated and the lands were divided into many small feudal Russian states. The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus' was Moscow, which served as the main force in the Russian reunification process and independence struggle against the Golden Horde. Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation and exploration to become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean.

Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first and largest constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower. The nation can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences.[4] The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet Union.[6] Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the G8. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

ImagesEdit

Russia at the OlympicsEdit

Russia has competed at the modern Olympic Games on many occasions, but as different nations in its history. As the Russian Empire, the nation first competed at the 1900 Games, and returned again in 1908 and 1912. After the Russian revolution in 1917, and the subsequent establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922, it would be forty years until Russian athletes once again competed at the Olympics, as part of the Soviet Union at the 1952 Summer Olympics. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia competed as part of the Unified Team in 1992, and finally returned once again as Russia at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

The Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Russian athletes have won a total of 251 medals (243 since 1994) at the Summer Olympic Games and another 76 at the Winter Olympic Games. Over the most recent seven Games (since 1994), Russia's 319 total medals, including 118 gold medals, are second only to the United States (with 385 and 151, respectively).

The Russian Olympic Committee was created in 1989 and recognized in 1993.

Medal tablesEdit

Template:See also

Medals by Summer GamesEdit

1900 Paris 0 0 0 0
1904 St. Louis did not participate
1908 London 1 2 0 3
1912 Stockholm 0 2 3 5
1920–1948 did not participate
1952–1988 as part of the Template:FlagIOC
1992 Barcelona as part of the Template:FlagIOC
1996 Atlanta 26 21 16 63
2000 Sydney 32 28 28 88
2004 Athens 27 27 38 92
Total 86 80 85 251

Medals by Winter GamesEdit

1924–1952 did not participate
1956–1988 as part of the Template:FlagIOC
1992 Albertville as part of the Template:FlagIOC
1994 Lillehammer 11 8 4 23
1998 Nagano 9 6 3 18
2002 Salt Lake City 5 4 4 13
2006 Turin 8 6 8 22
Total 33 24 19 76

Medals by summer sportEdit

Wrestling 15 8 6 29
Gymnastics 14 11 12 37
Athletics 12 17 13 42
Fencing 8 2 5 15
Shooting 7 10 7 24
Boxing 6 3 8 17
Cycling 4 4 3 11
Swimming 4 4 3 11
Synchronized swimming 4 0 0 4
Weightlifting 3 4 7 14
Diving 3 4 4 11
Modern pentathlon 2 1 0 3
Tennis 1 1 0 2
Rowing 1 0 3 4
Handball 1 0 1 2
Judo 0 3 5 8
Volleyball 0 3 1 4
Canoeing 0 2 3 5
Water polo 0 1 2 3
Sailing 0 1 1 2
Taekwondo 0 1 0 1
Basketball 0 0 1 1
Total 85 80 85 250

Medals by winter sportEdit

Figure skating 12 7 1 20
Cross-country skiing 12 6 6 24
Biathlon 7 3 6 16
Speed skating 3 3 2 8
Freestyle skiing 0 1 2 3
Ice hockey 0 1 1 2
Alpine skiing 0 1 0 1
Bobsleigh 0 1 0 1
Luge 0 1 0 1
Nordic combined 0 0 1 1
Total 34 24 19 77


SportsEdit

Main article: Sport in Russia
Maria Sharapova Indian Wells 2006 2

Maria Sharapova, the world's highest paid female athlete[7]

Russians have been successful at a number of sports and continuously finishing in the top rankings at the Olympic Games. During the Soviet era, the national team placed first in the total number of medals won at 14 of its 18 appearances;[8] with these performances, the USSR was the dominant Olympic power of its era.[9] Since the 1952 Olympic Games, Soviet and later Russian athletes have always been in the top three for the number of gold medals collected at the Summer Olympics. The 1980 Summer Olympic Games were held in Moscow while the 2014 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Sochi.

Soviet gymnasts, track-and-field athletes, weight lifters, wrestlers, cross country skiers, and boxers were consistently among the best in the world. Even since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian athletes have continued to dominate international competition in these areas. As in most of the world, Association football enjoys wide popularity in Russia. Although ice hockey was only introduced during the Soviet era, the national team soon dominated the sport internationally, winning gold at most of the Olympics and World Championships they contested, most recently in the 2008 World Championships.[10]

Figure skating is another popular sport; in the 1960s, the Soviet Union rose to become a dominant power in figure skating, especially in pair skating and ice dancing. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 until the present day, a Soviet or Russian pair has won gold, often considered the longest winning streak in modern sports history.[11] Since the end of the Soviet era, tennis has grown in popularity and Russia has produced a number of famous tennis players. Chess is a widely popular pastime; from 1927, Soviet and Russian chess grandmasters have held the world championship almost continuously.


GeographyEdit

Main article: Geography of Russia

The Russian Federation stretches across much of the north of the super-continent of Eurasia. Because of its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances.[12] From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert (fringing the Caspian Sea) as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but is taiga. The country contains 23 World Heritage Sites[13] and 40 UNESCO Biosphere reserves.[14]

ClimateEdit

The climate of the Russian Federation formed under the influence of several determining factors. The enormous size of the country and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the continental climate, which is prevalent in European and Asian Russia except for the tundra and the extreme southeast.[12] Mountains in the south obstructing the flow of warm air masses from the Indian Ocean and the plain of the west and north makes the country open to Arctic and Atlantic influences.[15]

Throughout much of the territory there are only two distinct seasons — winter and summer; spring and autumn are usually brief periods of change between extremely low temperatures and extremely high.[15] The coldest month is January (on the shores of the sea—February), the warmest usually is July. Great ranges of temperature are typical. In winter, temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east.[12] Summers can be quite hot and humid, even in Siberia. A small part of Black Sea coast around Sochi is considered in Russia to have subtropical climate.[16] The continental interiors are the driest areas.

Soviet RussiaEdit

Main article: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Lenin 1920

Vladimir Lenin

Following the October Revolution, a civil war broke out between the new regime and the Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and the White movement. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk concluded hostilities with the Central Powers in World War I. Russia lost its Ukrainian, Polish and Baltic territories, and Finland by signing the treaty. The Allied powers launched a military intervention in support of anti-Communist forces and 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. By the end of the Civil War, some 20 million had died and the Russian economy and infrastructure were completely devastated. Following victory in the Civil War, the Russian SFSR together with three other Soviet republics formed the Soviet Union on December 30, 1922. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic dominated the Soviet Union for its entire 74-year history; the USSR was often referred to as "Russia" and its people as "Russians." The largest of the republics, Russia contributed over half the population of the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks introduced free universal health care, education and social-security benefits, as well as the right to work and housing. Women's rights were greatly increased through new laws aimed to wipe away centuries-old inequalities.[17] Notably, Russia became the first country in the world with full freedom of divorce and legalized abortion. After Lenin's death in 1924 Joseph Stalin consolidated power and became dictator. Stalin launched a command economy, rapid industrialization of the largely rural country and collectivization of its agriculture and the Soviet Union transformed from an agrarian economy to a major industrial powerhouse in a short span of time.

File:Soviet soldiers moving at Stalingrad2.jpg

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union with the largest and most powerful invasion force in human history,[21] opening the largest theater of the Second World War. Although the German army had considerable success early on, they suffered defeats after reaching the outskirts of Moscow and were dealt their first major defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–1943.[22] Soviet forces drove through Eastern Europe in 1944–45 and captured Berlin in May, 1945. In the conflict, Soviet military and civilian death toll were 10.6 million and 15.9 million respectively,[23] accounting for half of all World War II casualties. The Soviet economy and infrastructure suffered massive devastation[24] but the Soviet Union emerged as an acknowledged superpower. The Red Army occupied Eastern Europe after the war, including the eastern half of Germany; Stalin installed communist governments in these satellite states. Becoming the world's second nuclear weapons power, the USSR established the Warsaw Pact alliance and entered into a struggle for global dominance with the United States, which became known as the Cold War.

File:Gagarin space suite.jpg

Under Stalin's successor Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 and the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the Earth aboard the first manned spacecraft, Vostok 1. Tensions with the United States heightened when the two rivals clashed over the deployment of the U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Soviet missiles in Cuba. Following the ousting of Khrushchev, another period of rule by collective leadership ensued until Leonid Brezhnev established himself in the early 1970s as the pre-eminent figure in Soviet politics. Brezhnev's rule oversaw economic stagnation and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which dragged on without success and with continuing casualties inflicted by insurgents. Soviet citizens became increasingly discontented with the war, ultimately leading to the withdrawal of Soviet forces by 1989.

From 1985 onwards, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize the country. The USSR economy was the second largest in the world prior to the Soviet collapse.[25] During its last years, the economy was afflicted by shortages of goods in grocery stores, huge budget deficits and explosive growth in money supply leading to inflation.[26] In August 1991, an unsuccessful military coup against Gorbachev aimed at preserving the Soviet Union instead led to its collapse. In Russia, Boris Yeltsin came to power and declared the end of Communist rule. The USSR splintered into fifteen independent republics and was officially dissolved in December 1991. Boris Yeltsin was elected the President of Russia in June 1991, in the first direct presidential election in Russian history.

Russian FederationEdit

Main article: History of post-Soviet Russia
Novgorod Monument LOC 06268u

Millennium of Russia (1862)

During and after the disintegration of the USSR when wide ranging reforms including privatisation and market and trade liberalization were being undertaken,[27] the Russian economy went through a major crisis. This period was characterized by deep contraction of output, with GDP declining by roughly 50 percent between 1990 and the end of 1995 and industrial output declining by over 50 percent.[28][27] In October 1991, Yeltsin announced that Russia would proceed with radical, market-oriented reform along the lines of "shock therapy", as recommended by the United States and International Monetary Fund.[29][30] Price controls were abolished, privatization was started. Millions were plunged into poverty. According to the World Bank, whereas 1.5% of the population was living in poverty in the late Soviet era, by mid-1993 between 39% and 49% of the population was living in poverty.[31] Delays in wage payment became a chronic problem with millions being paid months, even years late. Russia took up the responsibility for settling the USSR's external debts, even though its population made up just half of the population of the USSR at the time of its dissolution.[32] The privatization process largely shifted control of enterprises from state agencies to groups of individuals with inside connections in the Government and the mafia. Violent criminal groups often took over state enterprises, clearing the way through assassinations or extortion. Corruption of government officials became an everyday rule of life. Many of the newly rich mobsters and businesspeople took billions in cash and assets outside of the country in an enormous capital flight.[33] The long and wrenching depression was coupled with social decay. Social services collapsed and the birth rate plummeted while the death rate skyrocketed. The early and mid-1990s was marked by extreme lawlessness. Criminal gangs and organized crime flourished and murders and other violent crime spiraled out of control.[34]

Moscow City 16.05.2008 (1)

Moscow-City under construction. Moscow is the world's most expensive city to live in.[35]

In 1993 a constitutional crisis resulted in the worst civil strife in Moscow since the October Revolution.[36] President Boris Yeltsin illegally[37] dissolved the country's legislature which opposed his moves to consolidate power and push forward with unpopular neo-liberal reforms; in response, legislators barricaded themselves inside the White House, impeached Yeltsin and elected a new President and major protests against Yeltsin's government resulted in hundreds killed. With military support, Yeltsin sent the army to besiege the parliament building and disperse its defenders and used tanks and artillery to eject the legislators.

The 1990s were plagued by armed ethnic conflicts in the North Caucasus. Such conflicts took a form of separatist Islamist insurrections against federal power (most notably in Chechnya), or of ethnic/clan conflicts between local groups (e.g., in North Ossetia-Alania between Ossetians and Ingushs, or between different clans in Chechnya). Since the Chechen separatists declared independence in the early 1990s, an intermittent guerrilla war (First Chechen War, Second Chechen War) has been fought between disparate Chechen rebel groups and the Russian military. Terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by Chechen separatists, most notably the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school siege, caused hundreds of deaths and drew worldwide attention. High budget deficits and the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis caused the financial crisis of 1998[38] and resulted in further GDP decline.[27] On December 31, 1999 Boris Yeltsin resigned from the presidency, handing the post to the recently appointed prime minister, Vladimir Putin, who then won the 2000 election. Putin won popularity for suppressing the Chechen insurgency, although sporadic violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus. High oil prices and initially weak currency followed by increasing domestic demand, consumption and investments has helped the economy grow for nine straight years, alleviating the standard of living and increasing Russia's clout on the world stage.[39] While many reforms made under Putin’s rule have been generally criticized by Western nations as un-democratic,[40] Putin's leadership over the return of order, stability and progress has won him widespread popularity in Russia,[41] as well as recognition abroad.[42]

Government and politicsEdit

Main article: Government of Russia
Russian Duma 1

The State Duma building

According to the Constitution, which was adopted by national referendum on December 12, 1993 following the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, Russia is a federation and a semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the head of state[43] and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy. Executive power is exercised by the government.[44] Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Federal Assembly.[45] The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which serves as the country's supreme legal document and as a social contract for the people of the Russian Federation.

File:Kremlin Senate.jpg

The federal government is composed of three branches:

According to the Constitution of Russia, constitutional justice in the court is based on the equality of all citizens,[46] judges are independent and subject only to the law,[47] trials are to be open and the accused is guaranteed a defense.[48] Since 1996, Russia has instituted a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia, although capital punishment has not been abolished by law.

The president is elected by popular vote for a four-year term[49] (eligible for a second term but constitutionally barred for a third consecutive term);[50] election last held 2 March 2008. Ministries of the government are composed of the premier and his deputies, ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the president. The national legislature is the Federal Assembly, which consists of two chambers; the 450-member State Duma[51] and the 176-member Federation Council. Leading political parties in Russia include United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Fair Russia.

SubdivisionsEdit

Main article: Subdivisions of Russia
Federal subjects

The Russian Federation comprises 83 federal subjects.[52] These subjects have equal representation—two delegates each—in the Federation Council.[53] However, they differ in the degree of autonomy they enjoy.

  • 46 oblasts (provinces): most common type of federal subjects, with federally appointed governor and locally elected legislature.
  • 21 republics: nominally autonomous; each has its own constitution, president, and parliament. Republics are allowed to establish their own official language alongside Russian but are represented by the federal government in international affairs. Republics are meant to be home to specific ethnic minorities.
  • Nine krais (territories): essentially the same as oblasts. The "territory" designation is historic, originally given to frontier regions and later also to administrative divisions that comprised autonomous okrugs or autonomous oblasts.
  • Four autonomous okrugs (autonomous districts): originally autonomous entities within oblasts and krais created for ethnic minorities, their status was elevated to that of federal subjects in the 1990s. With the exception of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, all autonomous okrugs are still administratively subordinated to a krai or an oblast of which they are a part.
  • One autonomous oblast (the Jewish Autonomous Oblast): originally autonomous oblasts were administrative units subordinated to krais. In 1990, all of them except the Jewish AO were elevated in status to that of a republic.
  • Two federal cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg): major cities that function as separate regions.
Federal districts and economic regions

Federal subjects are grouped into seven federal districts, each administered by an envoy appointed by the President of Russia.[54] Unlike the federal subjects, the federal districts are not a subnational level of government, but are a level of administration of the federal government. Federal districts' envoys serve as liaisons between the federal subjects and the federal government and are primarily responsible for overseeing the compliance of the federal subjects with the federal laws.


Foreign relations and militaryEdit

Main article: Foreign relations of Russia
File:1 RIA07-026034-3404.jpg

The Russian Federation is recognized in international law as continuing the legal personality of the former Soviet Union.[6] Russia continues to implement the international commitments of the USSR, and has assumed the USSR's permanent seat on the UN Security Council, membership in other international organizations, the rights and obligations under international treaties and property and debts. Russia has a multifaceted foreign policy. It maintains diplomatic relations with 178 countries and has 140 embassies.[55] Russia's foreign policy is determined by the President and implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[56]

As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia plays a major role in maintaining international peace and security, and plays a major role in resolving international conflicts by participating in the Quartet on the Middle East, the Six-party talks with North Korea, promoting the resolution of the Kosovo conflict and resolving nuclear proliferation issues. Russia is a member of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, the Council of Europe, OSCE and APEC. Russia usually takes a leading role in regional organizations such as the CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO, and the SCO. Former President Vladimir Putin had advocated a strategic partnership with close integration in various dimensions including establishment of four common spaces between Russia and the EU.[57] Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has developed a friendlier, albeit volatile relationship with NATO. The NATO-Russia Council was established in 2002 to allow the 26 Allies and Russia to work together as equal partners to pursue opportunities for joint collaboration.[58]

Russian paratroopers 106th VDD

Russian paratroopers at an exercise in Kazakhstan

Russia assumed control of Soviet assets abroad and most of the Soviet Union's production facilities and defense industries are located in the country.[59] The Russian military is divided into the Ground Forces, Navy, and Air Force. There are also three independent arms of service: Strategic Rocket Forces, Military Space Forces, and the Airborne Troops. In 2006, the military had 1.037 million personnel on active duty.[60] Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. It has the second largest fleet of ballistic missile submarines and is the only country apart from the U.S. with a modern strategic bomber force.[61] The country has a large and fully indigenous arms industry, producing all of its own military equipment. Russia is the world's top supplier of weapons, a spot it has held since 2001, accounting for around 30% of worldwide weapons sales[62] and exporting weapons to about 80 countries.[63] Following the Soviet practice, it is mandatory for all male citizens aged 18–27 to be drafted for two years' Armed Forces service, though various problems associated with this is why the armed forces are from 2008 reducing the conscription term from 18 months to 12, and plan to increase contract servicemen to compose 70% of the armed forces by 2010.[39] Defense expenditure has quadrupled over the past six years.[64] Official government military spending for 2008 is $40 billion,[65] though various sources, including US intelligence,[66] and the International Institute for Strategic Studies,[60] have estimated Russia’s military expenditures to be considerably higher.[67] Currently, the military is undergoing a major equipment upgrade with about $200 billion on procurement of military equipment between 2006 and 2015.[68]

EconomyEdit

Main article: Economy of Russia
Russia Regional product pc

Regional product per capita as of 2006 (darker is higher)

Since the turn of the century, rising oil prices, increased foreign investment, higher domestic consumption and greater political stability have bolstered economic growth in Russia. The country ended 2007 with its ninth straight year of growth, averaging 7% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. In 2007, Russia's GDP was $2.076 trillion (est. PPP), the 7th largest in the world, with GDP growing 8.1% from the previous year. Growth was primarily driven by non-traded services and goods for the domestic market, as opposed to oil or mineral extraction and exports.[39] The average salary in Russia was $640 per month in early 2008, up from $80 in 2000.[69] Approximately 14% of Russians lived below the national poverty line in 2007,[70] significantly down from 40% in 1998 at the worst of the post-Soviet collapse.[31] Unemployment in Russia was at 6% in 2007, down from about 12.4% in 1999.[71][72]

Rosneft-azs

A Rosneft petrol station. Russia is the world's leading natural gas exporter and the second leading oil exporter.

Soyuz tm-31 transported to launch pad

Soyuz TMA-2 moves to launch pad, about to carry the first resident crew to the International Space Station

Russia has the world's largest natural gas reserves, the second largest coal reserves and the eighth largest oil reserves. It is the world's leading natural gas exporter and the second leading oil exporter. Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of Russian exports abroad.[39] Since 2003, however, exports of natural resources started decreasing in economic importance as the internal market strengthened considerably. Despite higher energy prices, oil and gas only contribute to 5.7% of Russia's GDP and the government predicts this will drop to 3.7% by 2011.[73] Russia is also considered well ahead of most other resource-rich countries in its economic development, with a long tradition of education, science, and industry.[74] The country has more higher education graduates than any other country in Europe.[75]

A simpler, more streamlined tax code adopted in 2001 reduced the tax burden on people, and dramatically increased state revenue.[76] Russia has a flat personal income tax rate of 13 percent. This ranks it as the country with the second most attractive personal tax system for single managers in the world after the United Arab Emirates, according to a 2007 survey by investment services firm Mercer Human Resource Consulting.[77][78] The federal budget has run surpluses since 2001 and ended 2007 with a surplus of 6% of GDP. Over the past several years, Russia has used oil revenues from its Stabilization Fund of the Russian Federation to prepay all Soviet-era sovereign debt to Paris Club creditors and the IMF. Oil export earnings have allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to some $470 billion at the end of 2007, the third largest reserves in the world.[39] The country has also been able to substantially reduce its formerly massive foreign debt.[79]

The economic development of the country though has been uneven geographically with the Moscow region contributing a disproportionately high amount of the country's GDP.[80] Much of Russia, especially indigenous and rural communities in Siberia, lags significantly behind. Nevertheless, the middle class has grown from just 8 million persons in 2000 to 55 million persons in 2006.[81] Russia is home to the largest number of billionaires in the world after the United States, gaining 50 billionaires in 2007 for a total of 110.[82]

Over the last five 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.[39] A principal factor in Russia's growth has been the combination of strong growth in productivity, real wages, and consumption.[83] Despite the country's strong economic performance since 1999, however, the World Bank lists several challenges facing the Russian economy including diversifying the economy, encouraging the growth of small and medium enterprises, building human capital and improving corporate governance.[84] Inflation grew to about 12% by the end of 2007, up from 9% in 2006. The upward trend continued in the first quarter of 2008, driven largely by rising food costs.[70][39]

DemographicsEdit

Main article: Demographics of Russia
Ethnic composition (2002) [85]
Russians79.8%
Tatars3.8%
Ukrainians2.0%
Chuvash1.1%
Chechen0.9%
Armenians0.8%
Other/unspecified10.3%
File:Population of Russia from 1992 to January 2008.PNG

According to preliminary estimates, the resident population of the Russian Federation on 1 January 2008 was 142 million people. In 2007, the population shrank by 237,800 people, or by 0.17% (in 2006 - by 532,600 people, or by 0.37%). Migration grew by 50.2% in 2007[87] to reach 274,000.[88] The vast majority of migrants came from CIS states and were Russians or Russian-speaking.[87] The Russian Federation is a diverse, multi-ethnic society, home to as many as 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples.[89] Though Russia's population is comparatively large, its population density is low because of the country's enormous size.[90] Population is densest in European Russia, near the Ural Mountains, and in the southwest Siberia.

73% of the population lives in urban areas.[91] As of the 2002 Census, the two largest cities in Russia are Moscow (10,126,424 inhabitants) and Saint Petersburg (4,661,219). Eleven other cities have between one and two million inhabitants: Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Omsk, Perm, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Ufa, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg. In 2006, 186,380 migrants arrived to the Russian Federation of which 95% came from CIS countries.[92] There are also an estimated 10 million illegal immigrants from the ex-Soviet states in Russia.[93]

Russia's population peaked in 1991 at 148,689,000.[94] The number of deaths during 2007 was 477,700 greater than the number of births. This is down from 687,100 in 2006.[87] According to data published by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, the mortality rate in Russia declined 4% in 2007, as compared to 2006, reaching some 2 million deaths, while the birth rate grew 8.3% year-on-year to an estimated 1.6 million live births.[88] The primary causes of Russia's population decrease are a high death rate and low birth rate. While Russia's birth-rate is comparable to that of other European countries (11.3 births per 1000 people in 2007[87] compared to the European Union average of 10.00 per 1000)[95] its population declines at much greater rate due to a substantially higher death rate (In 2007, Russia's death rate was 14.7 per 1000 people[87] compared to the European Union average of 10.00 per 1000).[96] However, the Russian health ministry predicts that by 2011, the death rate will equal the birth rate due to increases in fertility and decline in mortality.[97]


EducationEdit

Main article: Education in Russia
Moscow State University 2005

Moscow State University

Russia has a free education system guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution,[98] and has a literacy rate of 99.4%.[39] The country came first in the world in the 2006 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study conducted by Boston College.[99] Entry to higher education is highly competitive.[100] As a result of great emphasis on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and space and aviation research is still generally of a high order.[101][102]

The Russian Constitution grants a universal right to higher education free of charge and through competitive entry.[103] The Government allocates funding to pay the tuition fees within an established quota, or number of students for each state institution. This is considered crucial because it provides access to higher education to all skilled students, as opposed to only those who can afford it. In addition, students are provided with a small stipend and free housing. However, the institutions have to be funded entirely from the federal and regional budgets; institutions have found themselves unable to provide adequate teachers' salaries, students' stipends, and to maintain their facilities.[104] To address the issue, many state institutions started to open commercial positions, which have been growing steadily since.[105] Many private higher education institutions have emerged to address the need for a skilled work-force for high-tech and emerging industries and economic sectors.[104]

HealthEdit

Rostov19

Rostov seen from Lake Nero

Russia's constitution guarantees free, universal health care for all citizens.[106] While Russia has more physicians, hospitals, and health care workers than almost any other country in the world,[107][108] since the collapse of the Soviet Union the health of the Russian population has declined considerably as a result of social, economic, and lifestyle changes.[109] As of 2007, the average life expectancy in Russia is 61.5 years for males and 73.9 years for females.[110] The average Russian life expectancy of 67.7 years at birth is 10.8 years shorter than the overall figure in the European Union.[111] The biggest factor contributing to this relatively low life expectancy for males is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes (e.g., alcohol poisoning, stress, smoking, traffic accidents, violent crimes). Mortality among Russian men rose by 60% since 1991, four to five times higher than in Europe.[112] As a result of the large difference in life expectancy between men and women and because of the lasting effect of World War II, where Russia lost more men than any other nation in the world, the gender imbalance remains to this day and there are 0.859 males to every female.[39]

Heart diseases account for 56.7% of total deaths, with about 30% involving people still of working age. About 16 million Russians suffer from cardiovascular diseases, placing Russia second in the world, after Ukraine, in this respect.[112] Death rates from homicide, suicide and cancer are also especially high.[113] According to a 2007 survey by Romir Monitoring, 52% of men and 15% of women smoke. More than 260,000 lives are lost each year as a result of tobacco use.[114] HIV/AIDS, virtually non-existent in the Soviet era, rapidly spread following the collapse, mainly through the explosive growth of intravenous drug use.[115] According to official statistics, there are currently more than 364,000 people in Russia registered with HIV, but independent experts place the number significantly higher.[116] In increasing efforts to combat the disease, the government increased spending on HIV control measures 20-fold in 2006, and the 2007 budget doubled that of 2006.[117] Since the Soviet collapse, there has also been a dramatic rise in both cases of and deaths from tuberculosis, with the disease being particularly widespread amongst prison inmates.[118]

In an effort to stem Russia’s demographic crisis, the government is implementing a number of programs designed to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants to alleviate the problem. The government has doubled monthly child support payments and offered a one-time payment of 250,000 Rubles (around US$10,000) to women who had a second child since 2007.[119] In 2007, Russia saw the highest birth rate since the collapse of the USSR.[120] The First Deputy PM also said about 20 billion rubles (about US$1 billion) will be invested in new prenatal centres in Russia in 2008–2009. Immigration is increasingly seen as necessary to sustain the country's population.[121]

LanguageEdit

RussianLanguageMap

Countries where the Russian language is spoken

Main article: Russian language

Russia's 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages.[4] According to the 2002 census, 142.6 million people speak Russian, followed by Tatar with 5.3 million and German with 2.9 million speakers.[122] Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to Russian.[123] Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic language.[124] Russian belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of three (or, according to some authorities, four) living members of the East Slavic languages; the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn). Written examples of Old East Slavic (Old Russian) are attested from the 10th century onwards.[125]

Over a quarter of the world's scientific literature is published in Russian. Russian is also applied as a means of coding and storage of universal knowledge—60–70% of all world information is published in English and Russian languages.[126] The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

ReligionEdit

Main article: Religion in Russia
Russia-Moscow-Cathedral of Christ the Saviour-6

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demolished during the Soviet period, was reconstructed from 1990–2000

Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism are Russia’s traditional religions, deemed part of Russia's "historical heritage" in a law passed in 1997.[127] Estimates of believers widely fluctuate among sources, and some reports put the number of non-believers in Russia as high as 16–48% of the population.[128] Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in Russia.[129] 95% of the registered Orthodox parishes belong to the Russian Orthodox Church while there are a number of smaller Orthodox Churches.[130] However, the vast majority of Orthodox believers do not attend church on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the church is widely respected by both believers and nonbelievers, who see it as a symbol of Russian heritage and culture.[131] Smaller Christian denominations such as Roman Catholics, Armenian Gregorian and various Protestants exist.

The ancestors of many of today’s Russians adopted Orthodox Christianity in the 10th century.[131] The 2007 International Religious Freedom Report published by the US Department of State said that approximately 100 million citizens consider themselves Russian Orthodox Christians.[132] According to a poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 63% of respondents considered themselves Russian Orthodox, 6% of respondents considered themselves Muslim and less than 1% considered themselves either Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant or Jewish. Another 12% said they believe in God, but did not practice any religion, and 16% said they are non-believers.[133]

It is estimated that Russia is home to some 15–20 million Muslims.[134][135] However, surveys say that there are only 7 to 9 million people who adhere to the Islamic faith in Russia.[136] Russia also has an estimated 3 million to 4 million Muslim migrants from the ex-Soviet states.[137] Most Muslims live in the Volga-Ural region, as well as in the North Caucasus, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and western Siberia.[138] Buddhism is traditional for three regions of the Russian Federation: Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia.[139] Some residents of the Siberian and Far Eastern regions, Yakutia, Chukotka, etc., practice pantheistic and pagan rites, along with the major religions. Induction into religion takes place primarily along ethnic lines. Slavs are overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian. Turkic speakers are predominantly Muslim, although several Turkic groups in Russia are not.[140]

CultureEdit

Main article: Russian culture

Classical music and balletEdit

Main article: Russian music
Peter Tschaikowski

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893), composer

Russia's large number of ethnic groups have distinctive traditions of folk music. Music in 19th century Russia was defined by the tension between classical composer Mikhail Glinka and his followers, who embraced Russian national identity and added religious and folk elements to their compositions, and the Russian Musical Society led by composers Anton and Nikolay Rubinstein, which was musically conservative. The later Romantic tradition of Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era whose music has come to be known and loved for its distinctly Russian character as well as its rich harmonies and stirring melodies, was brought into the 20th century by Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of the last great champions of the Romantic style of European classical music.

World-renowned composers of the 20th century included Scriabin, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. During most of the Soviet Era, music was highly scrutinized and kept within a conservative, accessible idiom in conformity with the Stalinist policy of socialist realism. Russian conservatories have turned out generations of world-renowned soloists. Among the best known are violinists David Oistrakh and Gidon Kremer, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels, and vocalist Galina Vishnevskaya.

Bolshoi theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre. Currently, it is undergoing a four-year, $730 million restoration[141]

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the world's most famous works of ballet—Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. During the early 20th century, Russian dancers Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky rose to fame, and impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes' travels abroad profoundly influenced the development of dance worldwide.[142] Soviet ballet preserved the perfected 19th century traditions,[143] and the Soviet Union's choreography schools produced one internationally famous star after another, including Maya Plisetskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and the Kirov in Saint Petersburg remain famous throughout the world.[144]

SportsEdit

Main article: Sport in Russia
Maria Sharapova Indian Wells 2006 2

Maria Sharapova, the world's highest paid female athlete[145]

Russians have been successful at a number of sports and continuously finishing in the top rankings at the Olympic Games. During the Soviet era, the national team placed first in the total number of medals won at 14 of its 18 appearances;[146] with these performances, the USSR was the dominant Olympic power of its era.[147] Since the 1952 Olympic Games, Soviet and later Russian athletes have always been in the top three for the number of gold medals collected at the Summer Olympics. The 1980 Summer Olympic Games were held in Moscow while the 2014 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Sochi.

Soviet gymnasts, track-and-field athletes, weight lifters, wrestlers, cross country skiers, and boxers were consistently among the best in the world. Even since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian athletes have continued to dominate international competition in these areas. As in most of the world, Association football enjoys wide popularity in Russia. Although ice hockey was only introduced during the Soviet era, the national team soon dominated the sport internationally, winning gold at most of the Olympics and World Championships they contested, most recently in the 2008 World Championships.[10]

Figure skating is another popular sport; in the 1960s, the Soviet Union rose to become a dominant power in figure skating, especially in pair skating and ice dancing. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 until the present day, a Soviet or Russian pair has won gold, often considered the longest winning streak in modern sports history.[148] Since the end of the Soviet era, tennis has grown in popularity and Russia has produced a number of famous tennis players. Chess is a widely popular pastime; from 1927, Soviet and Russian chess grandmasters have held the world championship almost continuously.

GamesEdit

  • The 2015 world long course swim championships are in Kazan, Russia (also known as RUS) Flag of Russia, in early August, 2015.

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